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How to Draw People

Updated on November 6, 2014

Learning to Draw People

Many people who want to learn to draw aren't sure where to start. Many more are challenged when it comes to drawing people. The shape of a human body is more complex than any building or vase, and adding the illusion of life to a still drawing can be difficult - which can make learning how to draw people a bit of a challenge for anyone.

Recommended Book: Draw Real People

Lee Hammond's book, Draw Real People, includes directions on shading, using grids and proportions, and everything else you'll need to learn to draw people in no time. If you'd like to draw people, pick up a copy of Draw Real People today!

Using a Gesture Line

The Most Important Step of Learning How to Draw People

Fortunately for beginning artists, the journey of a thousand portraits begins with a single simple line: the gesture or "action" line, which shows which direction the body is moving and can be compared to the spine of your subject. In fact, for some artists, the gesture line really is just the location of the spine. Other artists will make the gesture line so long as to encompass the whole body from head to toe, but the general idea is the same.

To practice finding gesture lines:

  • Find some reference photos of people in poses you'd like to draw. Practice drawing a single smooth line which goes through most of the pose (see the pictures above for some examples).
  • Watch how other people move when you're at work/school, shopping, etc. Observe how the spine usually stays in a single smooth curve no matter how complex the pose is, and pay attention to how their limbs go with or against the curve of the spine.
  • Practice drawing stick figures (cartoon characters, real people - depending on your skill level) starting with a gesture line and branching out to include the head and limbs.

Proper Proportions

When drawing people, it's important to draw everything at the right sizes. As a result, many books on how to draw people include charts to show where important proportions are.

The size of a character's head is often used as a unit of measurement. By altering these proportions, you can change the style of an image. Realistic characters are six or seven heads tall. Superhero comic book characters are eight or more heads tall. Little chibi characters are only two or three heads tall. Children also tend to have large heads in comparison to the rest of their bodies, making them only four or five heads tall.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i like it 2

    • LewesDE profile image

      LewesDE 5 years ago

      Great lens. I hope you make more of them!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      nicely presented lens. ~blessed~

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very good tutorial! Some basic stuff but also some very unique stuff. I actually teach people drawing but learned some things from your lens. I will actually link to it! thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      yes excactly BURN

    • kateloving profile image

      Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

      Great job!! Love the topic!! and the flow of the human body!!

      ****5 and faved

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this is not dumd it actually give us a lot of info. get a life

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      well i think yo put a lot of effort and passione into this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Okay for one thing this tutorial, I think, is fun and inspiring. Most of this I already knew...but enjoy looking at others techniques and whatnot. Anyway I'm doing fashion designing and love it. I look to these for simplistic ideas and can be helpful to those who are starting out artisticly and need a little reference as to how to draw a human siluette. Like a friend of mine is a great designer with many unique ideas but is not well to illustrate it. So with this tutorial for example is here for him to look at whenever he wants, and at his own pace. So stop being so Imature and leaving such ignorate, and irritating messages for nothing. Make a comment to improve, suggest, or approve. Otherwise just shut up. I'm not perfect myself but I do have manners. I'm only just starting my twenties but I know better and just had to say something.One more thing,I thought it was so well done & neat to watch that I saved it so I can look at it whenever I want thanx!MEL 22 years old, canadian,Montreal

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      The title of this post should be changed to "I'm sorry the title of this post is confusing to you and that I neglected to include a step-by-step diagram explaining which end of the pencil goes on the paper, but I incorrectly assumed you all weren't absolute morons." Maybe the owner of this site would be kind enough to slap together a tutorial on how to operate these here magical drawing sticks you've all somehow managed to know nothing about. Maybe when he's done that he'll make another on how to blink and breathe simultaneously.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This crap sucks balls

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this issssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss dumb

    • profile image

      baruchz 8 years ago

      Great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this is too hard it does not show step by step it only shows different people poses and talks about it. NO DIRECTIONS. the title is how to draw people LOL

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      WHAT THE HECK IS THIS FOR

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i can draw other things but wat the fuck is an instuction line

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      this thing is stupid it sucks

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to KiKi] lol..

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I <3 to draw. :P

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is RIDICULOUS!!! I can't drwa to save my life!! AHHH!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      How I love to draw. When I am doing nothing I just pick up my pencil and start to draw. And I'm also looking for people by conducting people search in the net.