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From Wikipedia

Figure drawing

Figure drawing is an exercise in drawing the human body in its various shapes and positions. "Life drawing" is the process of drawing the human figure from observation of a live model. Figure drawing is arguably the most difficult subject an artist commonly encounters, and entire classes are dedicated to the subject.

The human figure is one of the most enduring themes in the visual arts, and figure drawing can be applied to portraiture, cartooning and comic book illustration, sculpture, medical illustration, and other fields that use depictions of the human form. Figure drawing can be done very simply, as in gesture drawing, or in greater detail, using charcoal, pencil or other drawing tools. If pigment is used, the process may be called figure painting.


Artists take a variety of approaches to drawing the human figure. They may draw from live models, from photographs or other reference material, from skeletal models, or from memory and imagination. Most instruction focuses on the use of models in "life drawing" courses. The use of photographic reference—although common since the development of photography—is often criticized or discouraged for its tendency to produce "flat" images that fail to capture the dynamic aspects of the subject. Drawing from imagination is often lauded for the expressiveness it encourages, and criticized for the inaccuracies introduced by the artist's lack of knowledge or limited memory in visualizing the human figure; the experience of the artist with other methods has a large influence on the effectiveness of this approach.

In developing the image, some artists focus on the shapes created by the interplay of light and dark values on the surfaces of the body. Others take an anatomical approach, beginning by approximating the internal skeleton of the figure, overlaying the internal organs and musculature, and covering those shapes with the skin, and finally (if applicable) clothing; study of human internal anatomy is usually involved in this technique. Another approach is to loosely construct the body out of geometric shapes, e.g., a sphere for the cranium, a cylinder for the torso, etc. then refine those shapes to more closely resemble the human form.

For those working without visual reference (or as a means of checking one's work), proportions commonly recommended in figure drawing are:

  • An average person is generally 7-and-a-half heads tall (including the head). This can be illustrated to students in the classroom using paper plates to visually demonstrate the length of their bodies.
  • An ideal figure, used for an impression of nobility or grace, is drawn at 8 heads tall.
  • A heroic figure used in the depiction of gods and superheroes is eight-and-a-half heads tall. Most of the additional length comes from a bigger chest and longer legs.

Note that these proportions are most useful for a standing model. Poses which introduce foreshortening of various body parts will cause them to differ.


The French Salon in the 19th century recommended the use of Conté crayons, which are sticks of wax, oil and pigment, combined with specially formulated paper. Erasure was not permitted; instead, the artist was expected to describe the figure in light strokes before making darker, more visible marks.

A popular modern technique is the use of a charcoal stick, prepared from special vines, and a rougher form of paper. The charcoal adheres loosely to the paper, allowing very easy erasure, but the final drawing can be preserved using a spray-on "fixative" to keep the charcoal from rubbing off. Harder compressed charcoal can produce a more deliberate and precise effect, and gradated tones can be produced by smudging with the fingers or with a cylindrical paper tool called a stump.

Graphite pencil is also commonly used for figure drawing. For this purpose artists' pencils are sold in various formulations, ranging from 9B (very soft) to 1B (medium soft), and from 1H (medium hard) to 9H (very hard). Like charcoal, it can be erased and manipulated using a stump.

Ink is another popular medium. The artist will often start with graphite pencil to sketch or outline the drawing, then the final line work is done with a pen or brush, with permanent ink. The ink may be diluted with water to produce gradations, a technique called ink wash. The pencil marks may be erased after the ink is applied, or left in place with the dark inks overpowering them.

Some artists draw directly in ink without the preparation of a pencil sketch, preferring the spontaneity of this approach despite the fact that it limits the ability to correct mistakes. Matisse is an artist known to have worked in this way.

A favored method of Watteau and other 17th and 18th century artists of the Baroque and Rococo era was to start with a colored ground of tone halfway between white and black, and to add shade in black and highlights in white, using pen and ink or "crayon".


The human figure has been the subject of drawings since prehistoric times. While the studio practices of the artists of antiquity are largely a matter of conjecture, that they often drew and modeled from nude models is suggested by the anatomical sophistication of their works. An anecdote related by Pliny describes how Zeuxis reviewed the young women of Agrigentum naked before selecting five whose features he would combine in order to paint an ideal image. The use of nude models in the medieval artist's workshop is implied in the writings of Cennino Cennini, and a manuscript of Villard de Honnecourt confirms that sketching from life was an established practice in the 13th century. The Carracci, who opened their muscles and fat. Skeletal structure grows and changes only up to the point at which a human reaches adulthood and remains essentially the same for rest of his or her life.

During puberty, differentiation of the male and female body occurs for the purposes of reproduction. In adult humans, muscle mass may change due to exercise, and fat distribution may change due to hormone fluctuations. Inherited genes play a large part in the development of body shape.

Body shape has effects on body posture and gait, and has a major role in physical attraction. This is because a body's shape implies an individual's hormone levels during puberty, which implies fertility, and it also indicates current levels of sex hormones. A pleasing shape also implies good health and fitness of the body. The art of figure drawing defines body proportions that are considered ideal.

Skeletal structure

Skeletal structure frames the overall shape of the body and does not alter much over a lifetime. Males are generally taller, but body shape may be analyzed after normalizing with respect to height.

Broad shoulders and expanded chest (in males):
Widening of the shoulders occurs as part of the male pubertal process. Expansion of the ribcage is caused by the effects of testosterone during puberty. Hence males generally have broad shoulders and expanded chests, allowing them to inhale more air to supply their muscles with oxygen.
Wide hips (in females):
Widening of the hip bones occurs as part of the female pubertal process, and estrogen (the predominant sex hormone in females) causes a widening of the pelvis as a part of sexual differentiation. Hence females generally have wider hips, permitting childbirth. Because the female pelvis is flatter, more rounded and proportionally larger, the head of the fetus may pass during childbirth. The sacrum in females is shorter and wider, and also directed more toward the rear (see image). This affects their walking style, resulting in hip sway; also, females generally stand with hips relaxed to one side.

After puberty, female hips are generally wider than female shoulders; males exhibit the opposite configuration. But not everyone follows this stereotypical pattern of secondary sex characteristics. Both male and female hormones are present in the human body, and though only one of them is predominant in an adult, the other hormone has effects on body's shape to some extent.

Facial features

Due to the action of testosterone, males develop these facial-bone features during puberty:

  • A more prominent brow bone.
  • A heavier jaw.
  • More prominent chin.
  • Larger nose bone.

Because females have around 20 times less testosterone, these features do not develop to the same extent. Hence female faces are generally more similar to those of pre-pubertal children.

Fat distribution, muscles and tissues

Body shape is affected by body fat distribution, which is correlated to current levels of sex hormones. Muscles and fat distribution may change from time to time, unlike bone structure, depending on food habits, exercises and hormone levels.

Fat distribution

Estrogen causes fat to be stored in the buttocks, thighs, and hips in women. When women reach menopause and the oestrogen produced by ovaries declines, fat migrates from their buttocks, hips and thighs to their waists; later fat is stored in the belly. Thus females generally have relatively narrow waists and large buttocks, and this along with wide hips make for a wider hip section and a lower waist-hip ratio compared to men.

Estrogen increases fat storage in the body, which results in more fat stored in the female body. Body fat percentage recommendations are higher for females, as this may serve as an energy reserve for pregnancy. Males have less subcutaneous fat in their faces due to the effects of testosterone; testosterone also reduces fat by aiding fat metabolism. Males generally deposit fat around waists and model in a short amount of time, often a little as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session.

In less typical cases the artist may be observing people or animals going about normal activities with no special effort to pause for the artist. For example, drawing from people on the street, performers, athletes, or drawing animals at the zoo.

More generally, a gesture drawing may be any drawing which attempts to capture action or movement.


The primary purpose of gesture drawing is to facilitate the study of the human figure in motion. This exploration of action is helpful for the artist to better understand the exertions of muscles, the effects of twisting on the body, and the natural range of motion in the joints.

The practice allows an artist to draw strenuous or spontaneous poses that cannot be held by the model long enough for an elaborate study, and reinforces the importance of movement, action, and direction, which can be overlooked during a long drawing. Thus, an approach is encouraged which notes basic lines of rhythm within the figure. The rapidity of execution suggests an aesthetic which is most concerned with the essence of the pose, and an economy of means in its representation, rather than a careful study of modeling of light on the form.

For some artists, there is a calisthenic logic: just as an athletewarms up before exercising or participating in sports, artists use gesture drawing to prepare themselves mentally and physically for a figure drawing session. The fast pace of gesture poses help an artist "loosen up" to avoid a stiff drawing style.

The artist who undertakes gesture drawing also receives the benefits of self-training their drawing ability. This kind of very rapid drawing of the figure builds (through the act of frequent repetition) an instinctive understanding of human proportions which may aid the artist when executing more extended works.

For some artists, a gesture drawing is the first step in preparing a more sustained work. Other artists, who seek to capture brief moments of time in a direct manner, consider the gesture drawing to be the end product.

Drawing from life is often preferred over photographic reference as it allows the artist to view the model from multiple angles and without distortion of the lens or lighting. As well, the repetition of short drawings without pausing forces the artist to work intuitively.

Drawings longer than 2 minutes are usually not considered gestures, as they inevitability allow the artist more time to measure and plan the drawing, or to begin to define the form with modeling. Once the artist begins measuring, erasing, shading or otherwise improving the drawing with a second pass, they have ceased to gesture draw and begun rendering. They will be improving the complexity of their current drawing, but they are no longer practicing their ability to draw correctly in from an instant impression.

Body painting


Body painting, or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art. Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most (in the case of Mehndi or "henna tattoo") a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting. Body painting is also referred to as (a form of) temporary tattoo; large scale or full-body painting is more commonly referred to as body painting, while smaller or more detailed work is generally referred to as temporary tattoos.

Traditional body painting

Body painting with clay and other natural pigments existed in most, if not all, tribalist cultures. Often worn during ceremonies, it still survives in this ancient form among the indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and parts of Africa. A semi-permanent form of body painting known as Mehndi, using dyes made of henna (hence also known rather erroneously as "henna tattoo"), was and is still practiced in India and the Middle East, especially on brides. Since the late 1990s, Mehndi has become popular amongst young women in the Western world.

Indigenous peoples of South America traditionally use annatto, huito, or wet charcoal to decorate their faces and bodies. Huito is semi-permanent, and it generally takes weeks for this black dye to fade.

Actors and clowns around the world have painted their faces—and sometimes bodies—for centuries, and continue to do so today. More subdued form of face paints for everyday occasions evolved into the cosmetics we know today.

Modern body painting

There has been a revival of body painting in the Western society since the 1960s, in part prompted by the liberalization of social mores regarding nudity and often comes in sensationalist or exhibitionist forms. Even today there is a constant debate about the legitimacy of body painting as an art form. The current modern revival could be said to date back to the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago where Max Factor and his model were arrested for causing a public disturbance when he bodypainted her with his new make-up formulated for Hollywood films. Body art today evolves to the works more directed towards personal mythologies, as Jana Sterbak, Rebecca Horn, Youri Messen-Jaschin or Javier Perez.

Body painting is not always large pieces on fully nude bodies, but can involve smaller pieces on displayed areas of otherwise clothed bodies.

Body painting led to a minor alternative art movement in the 1950s and 1960s, which involved covering a model in paint and then having the model touch or roll on a canvas or other medium to transfer the paint. French artist Yves Klein is perhaps the most famous for this, with his series of paintings "Anthropometries". The effect produced by this technique creates an image-transfer from the model's body to the medium. This includes all the curves of the model's body (typically female) being reflected in the outline of the image. This technique was not necessarily monotone; multiple colors on different body parts sometimes produced interesting effects.

Joanne Gair is a body paint artist whose work appeared for the tenth consecutive year in the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She burst into prominence with a August 1992 Vanity FairDemi's Birthday Suitcover ofDemi Moore. Her Disappearing Modelwas part of an episode ofRipley's Believe It or Not!.

Body painting is commonly used as a method of gaining attention in political protests, for instance those by PETA against Burberry.

Body painting festivals

Body painting festivals happen annually across the world, bringing together professional body painters as well as keen amateurs. Body paintings can also typically be seen at football matches, at rave parties, and at certain festivals. The World Bodypainting Festival in Seeboden in Austria is the biggest art event in the bodypainting theme and thousands of visitors admire the wonderful work of the participants.

Bodypaint festivals that take pl

From Yahoo Answers

Question:I want to draw human bodies in 3d space. I've read some how to books, and i dont really have anyone to pose for me. Anyone recommend anything, besides practice, practice, practice? (i already to that)

Answers:The best advice I can give you is to work on getting the initial dimensions correct. If you have a wooden, posable figure (can be bought at any art supply store), that may help, but you truly need a real person. Try going out in public and getting gesture drawings of people to work on the general pose. The more complex, 3d rendering stuff requires you to measure, measure and measure some more. You can basically get a figure outline, almost a stick figure, to a finished drawing and have it look right if you have the measurements of the lines correct. If not, no matter how well you "render" it, it will look "wrong".

Question:I have to create 3D models of several human characters and so I need orthographic drawings (front, side and top views) as reference images. I already found a bunch of them to work off of for my male characters, but I can't find any of human females. I have modeled the heads and all I have left are the bodies (its not absolutely necessary to have the head). I need drawings that are either nude or have skin tight clothing (I found one set orthos but it is of a zombie and so they are deformed with chunks of the leg and torso missing).

Answers:look on google and turn off safesearch. oh and look at figure sculptures/drawings. that should help. most of them are female. if you need a lot of help just go to wikipedia.org

Question:i need a song crafts activities etc any ideas will help.

Answers:Get a stethescope and have them listen to their hearts before and after jumping up and down. (If you can't get a stethescope, just have them feel their heart with their hand.) Have them lay down on large paper and outline their bodies with a marker. Gather various craft supplies to become organs they put in their bodies. I used cut up sponge pieces for their brains, pink craft foam for their lungs, cut out red construction paper heart with a picture of their mom in center, red cellophane for their stomach, and a Hawaiin lai for their intestines. We looked at lots of books that showed the insides of bodies as we did this project. (There are some good kid ones these days) Took about 2 weeks but it was alot of fun. Hung them in the hallway and got alot of compliments from other teachers and parents. See if someone you know has x-rays you can show the kids. Provide a doctor kit for your housekeeping area.

Question:I need to choose one of these systems: blood, breathing, digestive, nervous, or skeletal and then I need to make a model of that system (not full size). I need some ideas of out of what I can make it out of. Try to give me details like instead of saying clay say how I can shape it? The more parts I include the better so like if I do all the bones I'll get a higher mark. Any ideas?

Answers:i know this sound generic, but for breathing, you could attach balloons to straws. or, since straws are kind of small, you could empty out one of those giant pixie sticks and use those. you could draw on the balloons the bronchi and bronchioles, and you would be able to label them easily. (sorry that this isn't an exciting idea)

From Youtube

How to Draw the Human Body to Scale : Using a Grid for Scale Drawings :Try using a grid for perfect drawings to scale. Learn how with expert advice and instructions on drawing people in this free video clip on figure drawing to scale. Expert: Craig Browder Bio: Craig Browder started drawing at an early age. He has a Degree from Kendall College in Industrial Design. Filmmaker: Travis Waack

Drawing human figure from your mind :idrawgirls.com Figure drawing tutorial process technique, basic sketching online step by step how to draw woman body girl or female figure video tutorial. Three minutes gesture sketch, draw and construct a female form quickly. I usually keep in mind their body language, gesture, weight distribution, direction of movement, accuracy and simplicity whenever I am sketch, drawing or painting woman figure. More info visit: www.idrawgirls.com