How to Figure Draw

Figure drawing is one of the artist's essential skills you can by learn using basic shapes and applying an understanding of human proportions.


Up next in How to Draw for Beginners (40 videos)

Learn how to draw with the drawing lessons in this Howcast video series.

You Will Need

  • Model or photo
  • Graphite pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser


  1. Step 1

    Arrange subject

    Arrange your subject in a simple pose, or place the photograph upright in front of you.

  2. Step 2

    Draw body

    Draw the body frame from geometric shapes, sketching cylinders for arms and legs and placing circles at joints. Pay attention to the model's proportion.

  3. A human figure is usually about 8 heads tall, measuring four heads from the hips to toes and two heads from the collarbone to naval.

  4. Step 3

    Round shapes and define contour

    Round the shapes and define the body's contour, paying attention to the effect of the underlying skeletal structure and muscles.

  5. The male body tends to be more angular than the curvy female body.

  6. Step 4

    Erase guidelines

    Erase the shape guidelines you drew to construct the frame.

  7. Step 5

    Add facial features and hair

    Add eyes, centering them between the top of the head and chin. Then add nose, mouth, ears, and frame the face with hair, suggesting texture and flow.

  8. Use more forceful strokes when drawing a male figure to create masculine energy. Lighten pressure on the pencil when sketching females.

  9. Step 6

    Add shading

    Add shading by highlighting areas closest to the light source, darkening areas opposite the light source, and creating cast shadows typically found near protruding features.

  10. Step 7

    Focus on a feature

    If intrigued by a feature, such as your subject's weathered hands or expressive eyes, feel free to further explore them in a detailed sketch on the same paper.

  11. Did you know? The human adult skeletal system contains 206 long, short, flat, and irregular-shaped bones.