How to Draw the Human Body to the Correct Proportions

Art-wise, the human body can be the most intriguing and exciting form to study. For most beginners, it is tricky to nail the proportions of the human body, especially when drawing them in complicated poses. It is best to practice in an easy medium like pencils first before moving on to other media that requires more control. Follow these tips to ensure that your artistic representation of the human body becomes more accurate.

1. Learn the body’s proportions

If you have seen the Virtruvian Man, you will know that artists like Leonardo Da Vinci took human proportions seriously. In general, the body is 8-heads high. The shoulders are two heads width or height depending on how broad you want to illustrate it. The length of the neck is ¼ of a head, and the shoulders start from there too. The three sections from shoulder to hip, hip to top of the knee, and knee to feet, are all of equal length. The hands are big enough the cover the face, but not as big as the head. The length of the foot is slightly smaller than the height of the face. The length from the shoulder to the tip of the fingers is 4 head heights. The bend of the body is the center of the body, where 4 head heights separate both ends. Be mindful of the perspective as well because some poses have the limbs crossing each other, and how different angles can foreshorten a few limbs. By learning these proportions, at every pose you do, it won’t go wrong.

2. Treat human bodies as stick figures

Yes, even a guilty pleasure like drawing stick figures can have a use in art. It’s always good to use stick figures to pose and act as a skeleton for your artwork before going on to fleshing out the body. Do keep in mind the breadth in the hip and shoulder area when using this technique as well.

3. Observe and draw

Some artists may not enjoy the mathematical part to drawing the human body, so the best way is still to observe and draw. Get someone to model a pose for you that you want to practice on. After a sitting, let your art rest. You can pick it up at a later time to check if the proportions are right and adjust the picture as and when you need to. Observational drawing will also train you to draw an object as it is rather than the way you usually perceive it, which will help correct preconceived perspective errors. Also, as you keep on using this method, you’ll find that you’ll need to correct your picture less and less. Your visual library will be built on more and more as you keep drawing from observation, as they become ingrained in your memory.

4. Get a wooden figure model

While there are limitations to the movement of the limbs in a wooden model, it is always good to have it around as reference when you don’t have the privilege of having a model around. Drawing the wooden models as is can also help you nail the basic structure of the human body, art wise. Some basic poses can also be practiced with the use of these wooden stick models.

On a closing note, this phrase shall be regurgitated again, “Practice, practice, practice.” Art is a skill that refines itself as more thought and correction is put in the process. The same goes with drawing human bodies. Anatomical errors are common, but all it takes is refined technique in order to draw the human body to correct proportions.