ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Beginning Life Drawing

Updated on April 13, 2014

A Life Drawing Model Sketch

A student's drawing of their art class model
A student's drawing of their art class model | Source

Life Drawing Classes

Life drawing classes or figure drawing are for serious art students to learn how to draw. It can be for fine arts drawing or for graphic arts. Students are also taking it for other types of art such as animation now.

Life drawing is done because drawing the human body is the most difficult thing to do. After you learn how to draw that, drawing other subjects is much easier to do. You need the foundation in order to know how to draw.

The Models

The models should be treated with the utmost respect. You do not laugh at the model or giggle. You do not point in any way. You will see that the class is very quiet and sedate throughout the drawing. That is, it should all be. It is most usually kept that way. It could be a bad mark for you if you ever did disrupt the class at all.

There can be female or male models. All different types of people can be chosen to be the models. That is because you may be drawing all types of shapes and people. The models are usually paid for their work. The school will want models that are serious about their work. They should be able to do the poses and not mind the work. Many of the models really like their work. They can have fun with it.

Sometimes a student could be asked to model. You should not feel pressured to do any modeling work. The models are paid for their work. You should not feel guilty about it if it would make you uncomfortable.

The Teacher

A good art teacher will help you to become a better artist. The teacher will check on everyone's work. They will tell you what to do to improve your work. It depends on your skill level what they will say.

The teacher alone can't really teach you all about drawing. It is expected that you go and practice on your own. You will be left alone to do the drawing. People have different skill levels.

Sometimes the teacher will admire or take the work of excellent students to put up. You should not get discouraged if your art is not chosen. The other students may have been studying for years. Van Gogh had trouble in his painting class.

It is important to go to the best school with the best teachers that you can get. It helps to have a good teacher.

Art Students


Drawing Times

Short Sketches

These sketches are done quickly. The pose may be held for one to five minutes for instance. They should be done with clean, fast strokes. The idea is to get the action that the model is doing. The model will do different poses. It is not so much to get an exact sketch as to catch the way the model's body is moving.

Longer Sketches

Other times for drawing will be longer. It could be for fifteen minutes or a one half hour drawing time for example. The model will tire of doing the pose and need a break.

If you have a longer time to work on your drawing, you will be expected to be more careful and to go into greater detail. It is your chance to show them just what great artwork you can do.

Different classes will differ as to how long the poses are for.


The idea in a life drawing class is to draw the people as realistically as possible. Try the best you can. Later you can add your own style to it. You can make your own impression of people later if you would like. While you are in class you should make the sketch as near to resembling the person as you can. At first you will not be able to draw everything. You should get better as the class progresses.

Ideally, you should try to capture the essence of the person. If you are very good, it will look like them. The more real it is, the better you will be.

Some students measure the distances on the body with a pencil. That is allowed. It is done from their own seat of course. It is encouraged. You can also just judge distance for yourself.

Some students like to create their own ideas of the model. They may decide to make it look like modern art with cubes. The teacher may let them do that, but they will not really learn how to draw that way. It is a waste of your time to do that.

It can at times get boring to just do the model. You want something else to do. Sometimes the teacher does not mind if you draw something else to go with it. For instance, once there was a dog also there. You can also just draw it on the break.

Student in Art Class


Model Break Time

The models should not be disturbed during their breaks. Usually they will then wear a robe so you can tell they are on their break. It would be considered bad form to annoy them. If the model talks to you, you can of course answer then.


The class will probably have a list of supplies you should have. The teacher can insist on those exact supplies. You will most probably need drawing charcoal, a charcoal pencil, and pencils in the exact sizes that they have requested that you bring. It is usually the softer pencils so that you can draw more easily with them. It will help your drawing to bring the right supplies. You want to also bring the right paper with you. The paper is cheaper so that you can make more sketches.

Male Model Sketch

It is a very good sketch.
It is a very good sketch. | Source

Art Classes on a TV Show

There was an episode on Desperate Housewives where Susan took an art class. The teacher had been angry with her for giggling at the male model. It is not done in class. It is considered to be very unprofessional.

Laurie Notaro, a writer, wrote a story about her life drawing class. Her teacher was rating students on their talent. This can be done at schools. The students are rated from best to worst. She did not like it and I don't blame her. Ms. Notaro was rated at the bottom. She later convinced the teacher to just rate them as not so good.

But, the model she had been working on, told her that she did really well on her drawing. The model was an older woman and Laurie Notaro had trouble with drawing her. It made Ms. Notaro very happy.

Art Schools

The Art Student's League in New York City is one of the best schools that you can attend for art. It also has other classes besides just art.

Another great school is the San Francisco Art Institute. It has a Master of Fine Arts Program.

There is a link to the best Fine Arts programs in the United States.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • WhiteMuse profile image

      M Ziel 3 years ago from San Francisco

      To FlourishAnyway - I always wanted to take art and that helps. I was not that good at first. It can be difficult. The people in class have usually done it all the time. It is very serious usually or it is really not a good class. I do understand someone thinking things are funny.

      If you were in one you probably would not laugh. The model is trying to do their work. The males usually have something on. Everyone is concentrating. It is very addictive to try and be creative. No one really laughs or anything that I saw and I have taken several classes. Maybe somewhere else but in NYC they would not in that school. Everyone seems to be able to draw fairly well. They are not geniuses for the most part. Many will go on to become professional artists or they already are.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is one thing I can never imagine signing up for myself, but I appreciate you writing about it. I do tend to giggle inappropriately and can imagine the wrath I'd incur. Have you ever had anyone in class who absolutely could not draw and you wondered why they were even there?

    Click to Rate This Article