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Figure Drawing Tips
Figure Drawing Tips

  1. Measure!! This is THE most important thing for beginning artists to do. This is the classic step where you measure the size of the head of the figure and use that measurement to establish the proportion of the figure.
  2. Draw the whole figure quickly, then draw in the detail.
  3. Look for basic shape masses (circle, oval, triangle, square, ...etc.).
  4. Look for the centerline of the figure (This establishes balance).
  5. Shadows/Mass/Shapes (Lights and Darks).
  6. Negative shapes (The shapes inbetween the figure).
  7. Foreshortening (Things that are closer to you are drawn larger).
  8. Create an environment for the figure (use perspective for greater depth).
  9. Angles (Check angles by holding up a pencil to compare the angle of the figure with the angle of the line in your drawing). This one constantly amazes me. I draw a lot, but I'm always surprised at the subtle angle changes that happen throughout the figure.
  10. Radial Lines (Imagine a cross section cut through various parts of the body. What would a line that followed that shape around look like?)
  11. Draw BIG. Most artists who are new to drawing the figure draw small figures floating in the middle of the page. Try to break that habit as quickly as possible.
  12. Create an emotion (I'm still working on this one myself).
  13. Draw through and around the figure (Imagine what is behind)
  14. There are no outlines around the figure. Obviously if you're doing a line drawing this would not apply, however, look for ways to represent some edges of your figures without a heavy line. I use a lot of modeling and shadows to establish the form of the figure in many drawings. It's also effective to use background shapes to contrast and define the edges of your figures.
  15. Be aware of the sources of light.

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