How to Draw People
The Basics of Figure Drawing


Learn How to Draw People using the proper dimensions for realism and accuracy. Figure Drawing has been a favorite subject of artists for centuries.

The following guidelines are meant to give you a basic understanding of how the human body is proportioned. It's important to understand that these measurements are approximate. No two people are built exactly alike. However, they are great guidelines for drawing most figures.

Figure Drawing Menu:
Gesture Drawing the Human Figure

Gesture in Color:
Skin tone using Colored Pencils


figure drawing measurements


Figure Drawing Basics:

  • Split the body into 8 sections

  • The head takes up the first section

  • The shoulders fall within the second section

  • The underarms begin at the bottom of the second section

  • The waist falls at the bottom of the third section

  • The elbows fall on the same line as the waist. Try sticking your elbow into your waist right now to see for yourself!

  • The mid-line of the body falls right around the bikini line

  • If the arms are hanging loosely at the side of the body, the fingertips will fall at the bottom of the 5th section.

  • The knees fall right at the top of the second section from the bottom (6th section from the top)

  • The bottom line hits the bottom of the foot if it's flat on the ground

Other important things to notice:

  • These measurements work best on straightforward standing or sitting poses. For more complex poses where body parts are twisted around one another you'll need to employ other drawing techniques such as Measuring, Negative Space shapes, and Contour Lines!

  • Contrapposto is an Italian term for shifting the weight onto one foot. When standing in Contrapposto, one knee might be higher, one shoulder lower, and the hips won't fall on the same horizontal line. This important because it's how people stand most of the time!

figure drawing measurements

Finding the midpoint of the body (this is a quick way for you to know where the mid-line of the body falls):

1. sit perfectly straight in any sturdy chair

2. with both hands, hold each end of an 18 inch ruler or stick

2. lay the ruler or stick in your lap and move it right up to the bend in your body where the legs meet the torso

3. stand up, keeping the ruler flat up against the body. Where you've placed the ruler, that is the mid-line!

Are you ready to learn how to draw people using color? You'll find some useful tips on skin-tone and the figure here: Figure drawing using Colored Pencils


How to Draw People to Learn to Draw - Online Drawing Lessons