You can draw a human figure and a portrait with any materials - from pencils to watercolors. The pencil is the most common tool due to its low cost and versatility. Charcoal is great for quick drawings with strong tonal contrast and is less suited for fine detail. For ink, good quality thick, smooth paper is recommended. Mixed media is a simultaneous combination of different materials in one drawing.

Experiment to find your own techniques for the most expressiveness, and try to benefit from random effects.

Fundamentals of Plastic Anatomy

Artists study anatomy with the goal of meaningfully depicting a human figure. To reproduce it reliably, you need not only to see, but also to understand what you are drawing.
Thanks to the knowledge of anatomy, the image becomes more convincing and lively than nature itself.
In general, the shape of the body is determined by the skeleton as the main supporting structure, the muscles that fit it, and the upper layer of fat. It is useful to know and remember the relative sizes of the articulating bones and their proportions relative to each other and to the entire skeleton, because without this information it is impossible to "put" the figure on paper and acquire the skill to depict it logically and consistently.
The main bones of the skull and neck are shown below, along with skin, cartilage, fat, muscle, hair, and more in layers.
The skeleton of the male torso, enclosed in the contours of the body, in the frontal, lateral and dorsal planes. These drawings will help expand your understanding of body shape.
Upper and lower limbs in different planes. As in the previous figure, the skeletal structure is shown inside the body outlines.
It is important for an artist to consider three main aspects of muscles: their appearance (shape, size, volume), location (where it is located in relation to the skeletal structure and adjacent muscles, how deep or superficial) and its mechanism (function, direction of muscle traction, corresponding changes in shape and etc.).


In order for the drawing to come out believable, it is necessary to take into account the proportions of the body and head. The height of the head from the forehead to the chin is often taken as a unit of measure for determining body proportions. The growth of a standard figure is approximately 7.5-8 heads. Remember a few more proportional relationships: the head fits three times in the total height of the body with the neck, the length of the upper limbs is also equal to three heads, and the lower ones - three and a half.
Despite the differences between individuals, they can be divided into three main groups of types with similar characteristics within each - ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs.

Brushes and feet

It is easy to understand why the hands and feet, with their structure and the variety of possible gestures, are considered the most difficult parts of the body to reproduce convincingly, both in drawing and in painting and sculpture.
Drawing your hands and feet is the best way to study them in as much detail as possible. You will be able to make sure that you get quite worthy studies, comparable to facial drawings, and maybe even more expressive.
First, a quick (but diligent) sketch is performed in the desired angle and pose, then with the help of its "geometrization" the necessary anatomical information and volume are transmitted, after which the details and individual outlines are clarified.
As well as for the head and body, knowledge about the structure of the bones of the feet and hands will be useful.
Draw your own hands and feet in different positions. You can use a mirror. Take different objects in your hands and convey the dynamics and mood of the gesture in the drawing.

Head, face, portrait

The main interest for the artist has always been the face and figure. A portrait is not just a reproduction of physical features for the purpose of recognizing a particular character. This is a story through facial expressions about his personality, thoughts and emotions.

Sketches of a man in a sketchbook

A sketch is a quick, spontaneous drawing from nature, completed in a short time with several informative lines. Drawing people in a natural setting, who do not pose on purpose and probably do not know that they are being viewed and portrayed, will seem difficult at first. But there is no real reason to be afraid or to get lost - hardly anyone will pay attention to what you are doing.
The ability to portray strangers in any position and under any circumstance is important for developing technical skills and value judgment. And, of course, regular practice of sketching will hone the gift of observation and interpretation, teach you to look deeper and make quick, confident, understandable and accurate decisions.
Here are some quick tips on how to sketch from life:
  • Make it a habit to always carry a pencil and a small sketchbook - one that fits easily into a bag or pocket - in case something catches your attention or seems interesting.
  • It is worth striving to increase observation and the ability to isolate the main thing and at the same time coordinate visual perception, value judgment and hand movements during the drawing.
  • Do not try to reflect on paper everything that you see in nature. Given the limited amount of time and the risk of changing the pose of the model at any second, focus on the essentials.
  • Learning to use your memory to reproduce a sequence of basic phases of movement requires maximum concentration in observing people.
If you are still embarrassed by the thought of drawing people from life (keep in mind that if someone notices what you are doing, some may be flattered, while others will leave with displeasure), mentally preparing for this and gaining some confidence can help drawing statues. and sculptures in museums or monuments in public places.
Check if you can make sketches in the museum, and if so, feel free to go there and sketch the sculptures from different angles.
This is how they teach drawing in Paris - in the courtyard of the Louvre with sculptures.

Stages of drawing

If you are drawing an entire figure (in clothes or nude), you can first draw a few quick, light lines to outline the space that it will occupy on the sheet of paper (maximum height, maximum width, etc.). Then outline the main body parts (head, torso and limbs) in relative proportions.
Next, pay attention to the dynamics or statics of the figure. Is it symmetrical, motionless? Or is there movement, imbalance in the pose? Pay attention to the angles and slopes that the figure has.

Finish the drawing with substantial contours, shadows and details that cannot be omitted. Erase construction lines if necessary.
In the book "Drawing a Human Figure", each section is analyzed in maximum detail, there are detailed images of the human skeleton in different planes. It is described in detail how to draw the figure of a man, woman, child, elderly person, how to depict a nude and a man in clothes.