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How to draw female human body

Updated on July 18, 2009

Here I am going to begin this tutorial by addressing

one of the most commonly asked questions

that I receive: how to draw women's breasts

(heh, I never thought I'd actually be making a

tutorial about this.... ^_^). One of the most

important things you should consider is to

make your subject look natural; you can draw

an attractive female without making her look

like a "silicon implant ad," as a friend of mine

put it. ^_^

The main problems people seem to have with

drawing breasts are the shape and the

placement. A lot of artists (professionals as

well as ametuers) make them look like

balloons that have been taped onto the

subject's chest; this is hardly a natural look. If

you look through figure drawing books, you'll

see that they are more like halves of a sphere

or overturned teacups rather than balloons.

Now, note the position. Imagine a central guideline that runs down the center of

your subject's body, as shown at the left. The breasts are at 45 degree angles from

that center line, and are about halfway down the chest (shown by the red diagonal

guidelines). Be very careful not to draw them too close together or too far apart, or

too high on the chest; these are commonly made mistakes. As you will see in

examples below, this basic rule of the 45 degree placement will apply to pretty

much whatever pose you are using.

Here is the another pose, showing the torso from a front view.

Note how the breasts are still located at 45 degree angles

from the center line of the body. Oh, also take note of the

shading. After looking at various examples, I find that

shading in this fashion (rather than just following the lower

curves as you would shade a sphere) makes them look

more natural.It should be realistic its the only way that attract the people.

Here is one last pose to go over the size and placement. It's

harder to see here, but the breasts are still at the 45 degree

angle from the center line (which isn't draw in this picture; sorry

about that ^_^;). Notice that the leftmost breast is drawn as a

half-sphere, not as a full sphere. If you want to exaggerate the

size, that's your choice, but I personally don't think its


 Moving  to the neck and shoulders.

When you draw the shoulders, notice that

they are slope down smoothly, they aren't flat.

Try to take the musculature structure of the

neck and shoulders into consideration,

especially if you are going for a more realistic

look. They should be shaped more like a

clothes hanger, and not drawn flat an hard.

Here are few examples of various

shoulder positions. Notice that the shoulders

are never drawn flat and dull.

One more thing I wanted to say regarding the

torso is how to draw it if an arm is lifted.

have personally found this difficult sometimes, so

I figured it was a good thing to go over. If the arm

is lifted, then the back of the torso will be

exposed. Although a female's torso isn't as round

and full as a males, it should still stick out in the

back. Don't make the upper torso too narrow.

Notice also how the top of the right-most breast

doesn't just keep curving inwards in a circle;

remember that it is not a full sphere, so it is

attached to the muscles of the shoulder.

Next, Coming to the arms. The arms consist of

three basic sections: the upper arm, the forearm, and

the hand. Each can be represented in preliminary

sketches by oval shapes. Now, I know some people

don't like using the shapes; you do not have to do it

this way, this is just one possible way to go about

sketching arms. Some books recommend using

cylinders, but it's better to use flat ovals because they

more closely match the shape of the arm. It isn't

shown here, but if the arms are held loosely at the

side, the hands should come down to the middle of

the thigh. The elbows should be at about waist length.

Once you have your basic shapes of the arms down,

you can refine them and make them look more

realistic. This is a little more difficult.  When

drawing the arms, don't make them straight and flat;

arms have muscles, after all.  Never draw a

straight arm as just a long cylinder (unless you are

doing a super-deformed/chibi pic).  The arm starts

at the shoulder. Notice how the shoulder bulges out

slightly, then curves back down. The arm tapes

slightly inwards until you reach the elbow. At the

elbow, the arm widens again just after the elbow

where the biceps are (as shown in the topmost picture

here). The elbow itself can be a little daunting to draw.

Remember that the arm doesn't just start curving in

the other direction; there is a joint, and it should be

shown (as in the top and bottom left pic). There are

more examples below.

Here are some more poses for arms, this time

showing how the parts of the arm overlap. It is

sometimes easier to visualize the overlapping

or foreshortening if you use basic oval shapes

first, but again, you do not have to use them if

you do not want to. Notice how in the topmost

picture, the arm that is moving away from us

tapers and grows smaller the further away

from us it is.

These poses are a little more difficult to

refine. It is very important that you pay

close attention to the way each par of

the arm is facing, and how the elbow is

to be positioned. Try to imagine the arm

as two different shapes stuck together:

the cylindrical upper arm, and the

forearm, which is sort of shaped like a

bowling pin with a bump on the bottom.

 That should help you in determining

the position of the elbow.

Legs can be another problem area for artists.

It's hard to make them shaped properly

(especially when you don't practice very

much, like me...;) Just like with the arms,

it is important not to make them perfectly

straight like cyliders. It is especially helpful to

use ovals to help you get the shape right

rather than cylinders, because the ovals

better suit the shape of the thighs and

calves. The upper part of each leg should be

thicker, rounder, and shorter than the lower

part of leg. When drawing the legs, start

them thicker at the top, then taper them

down until the reach the knee. As with the

elbow on the previous page, the knee should

be defined; it's a joint and should be drawn,

the leg isn't made of rubber. ^_^ Notice how

the knee bulges outwards slightly; the leg

doesn't just go straight down. The muslces

on the lower leg, especially the calves,

should protrude a little.

Here are some more poses. I didn't use the

prelimiary ovals this time because I forgot,

but you should be able to see the oval

shapes of the various parts of the legs.

Again, I would like to bring attention to the

knee, especially in the lower pictures.

When the leg is bent, the knee can be

drawn like a flat plane. I shaded these legs

to help give you a better idea of their form.

There are better details on this in various

figure drawing books, but since you don't

often see every bone and muscle on an

anime character, I didn't feel the need to go

over everything. ^_^ On the picture to the

far right, notice how the calves obscure

part of the thigh. In the left pictures, notice

that the lower part of the legs that are lifted

up are not visible, since they are hidden

behind the rest of the leg.

Well, just as its important to be able to draw someone

from the front, you may also wish to draw them from

behind. In which case, it helps to know how to actually

draw someone's behind. ^_^ I wasn't going to add

this, but since many anime girls are draw in skin tight

suits or swimsuits, it's kind of important. Umm... I

don't know quite what to say; just be careful how you

make the legs connect to the rest of the body. There's

more info in the next section of this tutorial. If you

need extra reference, get that figure drawing book by

Burne Hogarth mentioned in my recommended

reading section. He has several pages devoted to the

subject. -_^

All right, now that we've gone over the

major areas in detail, lets put them all

together and make a full body pose. :)

When drawing your subject, you can

either begin with the prelimiary ovals

and circles, or you can go straight to

the final draft, whichever you are most

comforable with. If you are using circles

and ovals, then you will notice that the

main body (torso and pelvis) are

composed of two basic shapes, both of

which curve inwards towards the

stomach. I'm not going to go over these

a lot, because they have been well

documented in other figure drawing

tutorials. ^_^ Make sure that both of

these shapes, as well as the head, are

aligned along a central guidline (as

shown). This guidline is pretty much the

spine of the character, and will

determine the pose she is going to be in. Notice here that the center line curves to

the left a little on the pelvis; this is because her weight is shifted and her left hip

sticks out slightly (which makes the pose a little more interesting than if her weight

is evenly balanced). The body can be equally divided in half as shown to by the red

guidelines. You can use that as a general reference when determing how long the

legs should be in proportion to the rest of the body, but often times in anime the

length of the legs is exaggerated, for both males and females, and it looks just fine.

When drawing the midsection, remember to try to keep the hourglass figure shape.

Female anime characters will generally have thin shoulders, a thin stomach, and a

somewhat round waist. Be careful to make the curves look natural, unless you are

really good at figure drawing and can exaggerate the proportions.

Here is a similar pose, this time shown at a side

angle. I have found side views to be difficult, since

I had a hard time finding decent reference

pictures. ^_^ Notice that the body is composed of

the same basic shapes, except the shapes have

been rotated around. One of the things you need

to consider when drawing from this angle is the

shape of the upper torso. It isn't shown very well

here, but as you come straight down from the

neck, the chest will stick out slightly at a sharp

angle as you come to the collarbone. After that

point, the torso is drawn at a smooth diagonal until

you reach the hemisphere shape of the breasts

(remember that they are half spheres; don't draw

them like beach balls!) Beneath that, the torso

continues to protrude outwards slightly until reach

the bottom of what would be the ribcage (it's a little

over one headlength down from the shoulders).

After the ribcage, curve back inwards a little for

the stomach. Other things to look out for are the shape of the legs (the thighs

round out in front, and are flatter in back, while the lower legs are just the opposite)

and the subject's behind (make sure you don't exaggerate it too much).

For the final pose of this chapter, here is an

example of someone drawn from behind

(which you may actually need to draw at

one point, especially if you are going to do

manga ). Just as before, the subject

can be equally divided in half. Things to

look out for at this angle include the neck; it

connects up into the skull, and should

obscure part of the face. The midsection

should be somewhat hourglass shaped,

but again, don't overexaggerate the curve

unless you really know your anatomy (you

have to know the basics before you can

start bending the rules). Don't overdefine

the lines on the behind, since there's little

reason too. Be careful when drawing the

arms; from the back, the elbows should be

more prominent than usual. Check out the

section on arms for more information.

That concludes the female figure drawing

tutorial. I hope this gives you an

understanding of basic anatomy, and helps you out when drawing full body

subjects. :)


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