Mastering Human Figure Drawing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Published by Armored Pencil on

wingfox course from artists Salem Shanouha

I’m seeing more and more visits coming to this post and I realized that this was not as elaborate as other posts. As I am digging more into this subject myself I am going to grow this page with learnings and other finds that could help fellow artists.

Armored Pencil

Navigating the art of human figure drawing

Drawing the human figure is a foundational skill for artists, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced illustrator. The human body is a complex and fascinating subject, filled with intricate forms and subtle nuances that can seem daunting to capture on paper or screen. In this short guide, we will break down the process of drawing the human figure into manageable steps, demystifying the art of figure drawing and providing you with the tools to confidently bring the human form to life in your artwork.

Materials and Tools

Before we delve into the drawing process, let’s discuss the materials and tools you’ll need for successful figure drawing:

  1. Paper: Start with a good-quality sketchbook or drawing paper. You can choose between smooth or textured paper, depending on your preferred style.
  2. Pencils: A range of pencils from H (hard) to B (soft) and charcoal pencils for shading will be essential.
  3. Erasers: Invest in both kneaded and vinyl erasers for precision erasing.
  4. Drawing Mannequin or Reference: Having a drawing mannequin or access to human figure references (photographs or life drawing sessions) is extremely helpful.
  5. Ruler and Protractor: These tools can help maintain accurate proportions and angles in your drawings, but it’s probably best to do without them!
  6. Or just a digital equivalent of all the above.

Now, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of drawing the human figure.

Step 1: Basic Proportions

Begin with simple shapes to establish the basic proportions of the human figure. Start with an oval for the head and an elongated oval for the torso. Draw a vertical line down the center to represent the body’s midline.

Step 2: Building the Skeleton

Sketch a stick figure skeleton over your basic shapes. This will serve as the framework for your figure. Pay attention to the proportions of body parts like arms, legs, and the spine. The head typically fits around 7-8 times into the height of the total body.

Step 3: Adding Muscle and Flesh

Now, flesh out your figure by adding basic muscle shapes. Study anatomy references to understand how muscles and bones interact. Keep your lines loose, and don’t worry about details just yet.

Step 4: Defining Features

Refine the details of the face, hands, and feet. Pay close attention to the placement and size of facial features. And the positioning of fingers and toes.

Step 5: Shading and Rendering

Start shading your figure to give it depth and volume. Use a range of pencils to achieve different tones. Pay attention to the direction of light and shadow to make the figure look three-dimensional.

Step 6: Fine Details and Texture

Add finer details like wrinkles, hair, and clothing. Pay attention to the texture of the skin and fabrics. Use various line weights and techniques to create texture and depth.

Step 7: Refinement and Corrections

Take a step back and evaluate your drawing after each step. Make any necessary corrections to proportions, anatomy, or shading before you continue. Use your erasers to clean up any smudges or unwanted lines.


Drawing the human figure is a skill that requires practice and patience. Breaking down the process into these manageable steps. Continually studying anatomy and real-life references, you can improve your figure-drawing abilities over time. Remember that practice is the key to success! So, keep your sketchbook handy, and don’t be afraid to explore different styles and techniques. Whether you aspire to create lifelike portraits or stylized character art, mastering the art of figure drawing will undoubtedly enhance your artistic repertoire.

Need some tutorials? Below is an excellent course I took that can help you significantly!


wingfox course human figure drawing using basic shapes

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Mastering Drawing the Human Figure

I’m focussing more on studying the human figure now and absorbing what ever resource is on my list. This book is a highly recommended one by other artists!


Categories: Tutorials