What is a Figure Drawing? The Key to Capturing the Human Form

What is a Figure Drawing?

what is figure drawing

Figure drawing is a drawing of a person. It is usually done from a single pose without any changes to the position of the model’s body. The result is a kinesthetic, three-dimensional image on paper. 

The primary purpose of figure drawing is to express the artist’s vision. Another reason is for practice. Once an artist can draw a face or figure, they can draw other objects and people in different situations or poses. 

There are three types: free, gesture, and clothed. Free figure drawing is meant to be done without lines, gestural figure drawings are done with lines to show movement, and clothed figure drawings are done with clothing on the figure.

How to Draw Figures

Drawing Figures is a form of art that encompasses many techniques. It can be challenging to learn how to draw figures, but anyone can do it with the right tools and patience! 

One of the better ways is to start looking at other drawings for inspiration, find what you like about them and incorporate them into your work. When drawing the human figure, remember that there are 3 parts: Head, Torso (Torso), and legs. 

Here are some helpful tips for drawing the human figure:

1. Start with the Head. Think of what you are seeing and how it relates to the anatomy of the Head. A good starting point for drawing the Head is to remove the jawline first.

2. Think about the pose. When drawing a figure, the artist should think about the pose. The pose will outline the figure’s posture and limbs. When looking at a figure, take note of the pose. Below is an example of various poses.

3. Start with the Torso. Think of the Torso and where each part of the body is located.

It is crucial to draw the Torso first.

4. Think about the Limbs. The limbs are another essential part of the drawing. Think of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee.

5. Think about the hair. There are many ways to draw hair. Draw a quick sketch to get the basic shape of the hair.

6. Think about Clothing. The clothing can be a crucial detail. If the character is wearing dress, draw it below their basic structure.

7. Think about Expression. Draw on emotion and how the character is feeling. Think of eyes for a character, and draw their emotions.

What Affects the Outcome of a Figure Drawing?

Drawing a human figure is typically the first assignment given to art students in their first-year drawing class. Figurative drawings can range from simple outlines of figures to more detailed figure renderings. Whether you are drawing a person or an animal, many things affect the outcome of the drawing. Figure drawing is a complex skill with many variables that can alter the outcome.

What is the Subject Matter? 

Figurative drawing can be a fun and challenging medium. However, if the subject matter of the drawing is not complex enough, the drawing could be challenging to complete. 

The art of drawing has been around for millennia. There are many different types of drawing that depict different styles, concepts, and techniques. 

For example, an artist may draw a human figure by filling in the contours of a body, thereby creating a negative space through which other shapes can be drawn. As a result, the figure is defined by the contours left on the page.

What are the Materials Used?

For figure drawing, there are many art materials for use. This can be anything from charcoal to Indian ink to markers. There are even wax sticks for those who like to draw with light. Charcoal, you can use to create lines for the figure’s contours. You can use Indian ink to create blacks and whites. Palette knives and fountain pens allow you to use a wide range of colors for your figures. 

What is the Environment in which the drawing will be Created?

On a typical college campus, there are many different types of environments that you may encounter. For example, you may draw in the hallway of a building or create a drawing in the studio of the art department.

Each Environment has different characteristics that affect a drawing. In a hallway, there are typically a lot of people moving around. The Environment is very busy, causing “noise” in the drawing. 

What is the Level of Detail in the Drawing? 

The level of detail in the drawing affects the quality of the drawing. For example, if you are drawing a figure, you can draw the body’s contours or add details such as facial features, clothing, and accessories.

How Long does it Usually Take to Draw This Figure?

Drawing a figure can be a time-consuming activity. It takes time to plan the drawing, time to practice, and time to complete the drawing.

How Can You Improve the Quality of Your Figure Drawings?

Whether they are beginners or professionals, many artists struggle with figure drawing. Figure drawings are often easy to see in art history books, but what is it? What makes it so difficult? And how can you improve the quality of your figure drawings? You can explore and experiment with various drawing techniques and concepts to help you refine your artistic skills through your drawing practice.

Here’s how!

Take Positive Notes. Make a note each time you draw a figure or practice drawing. If you draw in a notebook, write down the information of each drawing. Do this before you forget, and you will know what to do next time you want to practice drawing.

Allow yourself time to practice and get good at drawing each figure. Then you will find it easier to draw the next one. Avoid Panning, Misdirecting, and Distortion. 

When you draw the figure, don’t look at the figure in front of you. Instead, imagine how the figure will look when you are drawing it. Don’t draw the figure as it is, but rather as you see it. 

Keep your pencil straight. If in your drawing process you make a mistake, go back and draw over it. 

Practice drawing the figure from various viewpoints.

Figure drawing is a genre of drawing which captures the human form in different poses. The most common are frontal pose, backside pose, side view, three-quarter view, and front view. Figure drawings are used to train artists to accurately depict the body. This is done by practicing capturing the figure’s proportions from various viewpoints, making it easier for them to draw when they have to do so without measuring.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It is okay to make mistakes. 

The Importance of Drawing from Reference Material

Artists have been drawing human figures in various poses for centuries. A figure drawing activity effectively builds up your sketching skills, whether studying the human form or comparing different subject drawings.

From artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, figure drawings have been a part of diverse art movements.

When you hear the word “figure drawing,” images of art schools or artists furiously sketching other people come to mind usually. It may seem like an obscure, complicated process that only professional artists do. Still, figure drawing is an excellent way to learn more about human anatomy and design while having fun.

A figure drawing, also known as a life study, is a type of illustration that focuses on the human form.

This illustration aims to capture realistic likenesses and appealingly show the human form. This illustration is not meant to be an accurate representation but an artist’s interpretation of the subject. For that is essential to have a model or reference image to capture all emotions and actions.


Is figure Drawing always nude? 

It is perfectly acceptable to draw the figure clothed. However, you may feel more comfortable drawing the figure nude. 

Can you learn figure drawing?

Yes. In fact, the only way to learn figure drawing is by drawing from reference material. The more references you study, the better artist you’ll become.

Why is figure drawing important?

Figure Drawing is a fundamental skill in the art of drawing. It’s the process of drawing the human form to get an accurate understanding of how muscles are connected. This allows you to understand what your hand needs to do and how it needs to do it.

Figure drawing is a drawing of a person. It is usually done from a single pose without any changes to the position of the model’s body. The result is a kinesthetic, three-dimensional image on paper.