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Figure Drawing Tips and a WarmUp Excercise
17Jan 07
I wanted to repost a list of my figure drawing tips within this blog post to make them more accessible so here they are:

  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. Draw to the edges and beyond!
  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.


Now it's time for a Warm Up Excercise!

I put together a rotating GIF, below, using six photos that you can use as a warm up exercise anytime you feel like drawing. In most life drawing classes, you start off with gesture drawings to warm up. Typically, these poses last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.The 6 photos of Olivia below rotate once every minute (thanks Olivia!). Use that minute to quickly draw the whole figure, a ground plane, and additional details as time allows. Don't worry about what the end result looks like as this is just a warm up.

6 One Minute Poses

If you enjoyed this little excercise but do not have access to life drawing models or decent photos, you can now get photos of life drawing poses such as these from my new site, " LifeDrawingPhotos.com ". I know this setup seems like a shameless promo, but if you tried the exercise above, you probably realize how powerful and useful life drawing photos such as these can be. I use them all the time for warmups on days when I don't draw from live models. Diss me if you must, but I think this is a cool offering. ; )

E-mail me at: terry@terryvision.com I'll gladly answer your questions or post your comments if you like.

Till Next Time...


Life Drawing Photos Site

I've created a NEW SITE that offers photos of the fabulous life drawing model, "Olivia"! The photos available on this site are intended to be an instructional aid for anyone interested in learning to draw the figure. Check it out at:

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