Skip to main content

Why Is Figure Drawing Important?

Learn about the importance of figure drawing from professional artist Kevin Kobasic in this illustration and drawing tips video from Howcast.


Whether you're an illustrator or a comic book artist or an animation artist, you'll find that figure-drawing is sort of the foundation skill that builds a lot of those other skills. Even animation artists who draw Mickey Mouse kind of characters all day, they go to a lot of figure-drawing classes and they learn a lot of anatomy. Because even though they're just drawing characters that are basically blobby shapes that move in impossible ways and do impossible things, they still want to understand how the body works.

Understanding those things and understanding them on a very deep level is what gives those characters a sense of reality. So, if you go to animation school, you'll find that you're going to do a lot of drawings from models. If you go to a figure-drawing class, it's a good idea to find a class where the model is doing quick poses instead of just sitting in a chair like this for three hours. Maybe just doing 10-minute poses, 20-minute poses. Because that trains you to really look at the overall pose and get a quick sense of it and learn how to really, just with a few lines, capture the essence of the pose because that's a really essential skill to learn.

It's easy to sort of get hung up on trying to draw various details. You know, like maybe you start with a foot or you start with a hand. And then, 20 minutes later, the pose is over and you haven't gotten any further than the hand because you were trying to get it right. You really, especially in the beginning, don't think about drawing things right. Think about capturing the idea. Think about capturing a sense of motion, a sense of an object in space. So, you can see this is the same pose just from different angles and I'm learning about the way the muscles connect to the bones and all these different angles. But I'm also trying to capture just a quick sense of the flow of the body.

I'm starting out with getting a sense of how her hips are sitting on the ground and how this arm is holding the rest of the body up. And there's sort of the muscular tension in that arm that's holding her up. And if I just showed you this little piece, you wouldn't even know what that is. It doesn't look anything like a leg. It doesn't look like much of anything. Because all I'm trying to do is capture the idea of a leg. And in context, it starts to sort of make sense.

And here again, I made sure to do a line that sort of describes where her spine is because that's an important structural component. But really, these are just quick shapes that help me kind of understand the roundness of the character.

So, figure drawing is really important. And not as something to create finished drawings. Like, obviously, I'm not going to take these sketches I did in my notebook and sell them to anybody. But it's really the gem. It's really where you exercise your brain and your hand. And how you develop your own ideas of how figures to look and how they move. And it just makes you a better artist.

Popular Categories