Life Drawing: Demos

As part of the Tutorials and Techniques section, we want share our Life Drawing Demos with you.   Life Drawing is really where you learn so many fundamental techniques that are applicable to all types of sketching.  If you have never taken a Life Drawing class…do it!  You will learn much more than any design sketching class can teach you.  The reality of it is…people are HARD to draw, and if you can sketch a face hand or body….you can sketch anything! Enjoy.

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Figure Sketch- Body Posture +  Process

Well, I was asked to draw a “sexy” chick, and I finally had some time to search for the right pose and draw her today. Here is the process I used to draw this “life” drawing. In this case the pose was from a picture I found on the internet of a nude model. I changed her pose slightly. My objective was to make her have both a sensual pose and look on her face, instead of that of a cold blooded killer. The medium used for this drawing will be pencil. I started the drawing off on regular photocopy/bond paper.

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1. First and foremost is to get the correct pose of the person down. At this point, you also have to make sure the drawing will fit on the page. I start by drawing loose and gestural bone structures to get the overall gesture. In order to proportion the body correctly, I use the size of the head as a reference and split up the paper. This allows me to easily make sure the proportions are correct. Remember to draw light, and don’t bother using an eraser.

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2. The most important step at this point is to check to make sure the posture, proportions, and locations for all of the body parts are correct. If they are too far off, you can always start over since you have not invested a lot of time at this stage of the drawing. Start off with light and gestural contour lines to draw in the body. Recheck the proportions, and then pick the correct line and darken it, following the nuances of the model. Once the outline of the body is drawn in and looks correct, the facial features can be drawn in.

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3. I will usually photocopy the drawing and work out designs for clothing, armor, accessories, etc.

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4. Once I have everything correctly proportioned, and the details of the clothing are decided on, I will use the drawing as an underlay and trace over it with Bienfang Graphics 360 marker paper. As I trace I change the pencil pressure to create light to dark lines keeping in mind my light source. This gives the drawing more life and a sense of light. The details are all refined and the drawing is done and ready for photoshop, or shading. Unfortunately I was at the limit of my scanner and so the detail of the sword’s saya (scabbard) did not come through. If needed, you can use a kneaded eraser to lighten up dark lines, etc.

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Portrait Sketch- Shaping on paper + Line quality + Process

Step 1: This initial sketch is done with basic straight lines.

(A). You start by breaking the page down with lines that extend off the page.   These lines are the dominate composition lines, that help to dictate the main shapes and force of the sketch.

(B).  Next you use Medium length lines  (built off of the extended lines from A.) to help rough some of the bigger shapes, head, hands body are usually roughly formed.

(C).  Using smaller lines, you help complete some of the rough shapes and help to begin the detail elements of the sketch.

Basic line break down

Step 2:  Using the sketch from Step 1 as an underlay, here we begin a new sketch by blocking out the basic shapes.  Circles, triangles, cross section lines and roughly blocked out lines.

Primary shape sketch w/ beginning detailsStep 3:  Using the sketch from Step 2 as an underlay, we start a new sketch using the underlay as the “framework” to hang the more gestural/ expressive line work.  Here we are looking to shape most of the final details, begin to build hierarchy and contrast in the line quality and look for value shifts.  As the building of line work continues, its important to sketch “inside” the lines…using the cross section lines as reference, you can shape areas like the cheek, nose, mouth, eyes, etc.

Shaped Linework and initial shadingStep 4:  Here we have taken the sketch from Step 3, a little further with shading, cross hatching, feathering, etc.  Using different techniques to help build in value, keeps the sketch alive and dynamic.  Working with those different uses of the pencil, you can sepreate skin from cloth, etc.   Finishing the light details on the face and hands, help to finialize the sketch.  The last few details, I like to rough in a background, to help the portrait step off the page.  Hope you can get something from this technique I was taught in a Figure Drawing/Painting class.  Enjoy!

Final Sketch

Step 1: This initial sketch is done with basic straight lines.

(A). You start by breaking the page down with lines that extend off the page.   These lines are the dominate composition lines, that help to dictate the main shapes and force of the sketch.

(B).  Next you use Medium length lines  (built off of the extended lines from A.) to help rough some of the bigger shapes, head, hands body are usually roughly formed.

(C).  Using smaller lines, you help complete some of the rough shapes and help to begin the detail elements of the sketch.

Basic line break down

Step 2:  Using the sketch from Step 1 as an underlay, here we begin a new sketch by blocking out the basic shapes.  Circles, triangles, cross section lines and roughly blocked out lines.

Primary shape sketch w/ beginning detailsStep 3:  Using the sketch from Step 2 as an underlay, we start a new sketch using the underlay as the “framework” to hang the more gestural/ expressive line work.  Here we are looking to shape most of the final details, begin to build hierarchy and contrast in the line quality and look for value shifts.  As the building of line work continues, its important to sketch “inside” the lines…using the cross section lines as reference, you can shape areas like the cheek, nose, mouth, eyes, etc.

Shaped Linework and initial shadingStep 4:  Here we have taken the sketch from Step 3, a little further with shading, cross hatching, feathering, etc.  Using different techniques to help build in value, keeps the sketch alive and dynamic.  Working with those different uses of the pencil, you can sepreate skin from cloth, etc.   Finishing the light details on the face and hands, help to finialize the sketch.  The last few details, I like to rough in a background, to help the portrait step off the page.  Hope you can get something from this technique I was taught in a Figure Drawing/Painting class.  Enjoy!

Final Sketch

  1. Hey bro this is an amazing tutorial, I would like to discuss more things based on the techniques you have used in establishing the simple shapes.

    I am an intermediate artist, can paint can draw, but the issues is I have difficulties in making poses realistic from my head, I love drawing from nature, but I hate using refference for models, because I believe artist should be able to draw human without using a model.

    • Matt
    • October 26th, 2010

    I’m sorry I have to go crazy on you, but I’ve been studying anatomy for some time, and frankly your drawings are giving me a headache.

    Let me list a couple of things that really pop out at me:
    -The girl’s head looks like 1/4 of the top has been chopped off and hair somehow grew out of her brain, not to mention the whole head is proportionally small compared to the rest of her body.
    -Her right boob must have at least 1.5x the mass of her left boob to be hanging down that far.
    -Her right shoulder was drawn way too small, and as a result, the arm is way too small. Strangely enough, you had the shoulder positioned correctly in the skeleton before you changed it for some reason?
    -The more I look at it, the whole thing’s a mess. On the positive side, I will say you did a pretty good job with the face even though the nostril could be wider. Also, her accessories such as the glove, sword, and sheaf look good.

    Onto the monk-dude:
    -The thumb on his left hand is GINORMOUS. His hands in general need a lot of work, but you’ve attempted to draw them in a relatively difficult pose and I’ll give you credit for that.
    -His head is quite alright. The back of it bothers me a bit, but just a very little bit.
    -You need to work on clothing in general.

    I strongly suggest you remove this “tutorial” and put up a much better one. I realize you’re trying to show a certain planning technique for anatomical drawing, but unfortunately you don’t know how to fit the muscles to the bones very well, and sometimes your technique isn’t helping you much at all (e.g. monk’s hands).

    I don’t mean to make you angry. I’m trying to criticize, not bash your drawings.

    • Matt
    • October 26th, 2010

    Dammit I spelled sheath wrong above. >_<

    • Julio
    • March 1st, 2011

    Is that jolie and carradine?

    • Anonymous
    • September 27th, 2011

    nice and knowledgeable

    • rod
    • October 14th, 2011

    you know I love your drawing. to make your drawing better, you should accept constructive criticism like Matt’s. Really, all he said is right. Nice matt. I would love to see more of your drawings better.

    • Anonymous
    • May 23rd, 2012

    rod :
    you know I love your drawing. to make your drawing better, you should accept constructive criticism like Matt’s. Really, all he said is right. Nice matt. I would love to see more of your drawings better.

    • Anonymous
    • September 9th, 2013

    nice skecthup

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    • Zohreh
    • September 2nd, 2014

    Hello
    I`m a novice painter. I have a lot of questions drawing!! can you help me?
    Thanks a lot

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