How To Draw People

How Do I Draw People? Try Starting With the Head

How Do I Draw People? Try Starting With the Head

It’s a universal desire for all artist to be able to draw people.  Probably the number one question I get from artists both new and experienced is “how do I draw people”?  Because they are such a centerpiece to so many forms of art (cartoons, figure drawing, portraits, etc.), it’s a critical skill most artists want to have.

When asked this question, I’ll often tell people to break the subject of a ‘person’ down into its components.  When learning how to draw people, you have to start somewhere, and I recommend starting with the head.  You can learn to draw ahead by first sketching a circle as a framework, and then a vertical and horizontal line as the baseline for the other features.

Once you’ve done this, your artistic skills and sense of perception have to go to work.  Begin to imagine the head in a 3-dimensional manner, as if it was facing to the left or right (up or down is ok too).  If the head is looking off in this direction, where would the features be?  These takes practice, but think carefully about where the eyes, nose, and mouth would be, and again draw baseline lines both vertical and horizontal for each.  You need to think of the head as a 3-dimensional sphere and with the reference lines you’ve drawn, continue filling in the features.  How you draw the eyes, nose, mouth, etc are a whole skill onto themselves, but also where you can add your own personal characters to your drawings.

If you’ve completed the head, what’s next for those wondering “how do I draw people?” Basically, work your way down.  This means moving onto the neck, shoulders, and body in sequence.  But use the same approach as discussed for the head.  First, visualize the basic form, and draw outlines as a foundation.  Don’t worry so much about muscle definition, this is usually done towards the end.

If you think about the next, it is flush with the head in the back, but it is protruded back in the front from the chin.  Think about the angles of the neck depending on what part of the head it is connected.  The shoulders extend out horizontally from the neck.

Now you’ve moved onto the body of your subject, and here you have options.  However, I normally recommend using circles or ovals again similar to what you did for the head as a foundation.  The top of the circle comes to the bottom of the armpits.  Use vertical lines again to divide the body in halves making it easier to create symmetrical body definition.

If you can master the head, neck, shoulders, and body, then by the time you are ready for the limbs, you’ll be set.  Arms, legs, and their details like thighs, calves, hands, and feet really just need practice.  Getting the connection points to the body takes practice but also depend a lot on your individual drawing and subject.  You can start adding definition and structure like flesh and muscles at this point as well.

How Do I Draw People?  Don’t Make It Too Complex

Learning to draw people can seem overwhelming.  But it shouldn’t be.

There are obviously hundreds of details in the human body, and you can find instruction, guides, and coursework on drawing every individual human part – faces, eyes, hand – on and on even how to draw people cartoons.  But it doesn’t have to be so complex if you are just learning.  If you are wondering “how do I draw people”, consider starting with the head, and working your way down.

If you are looking for an online course to help you with your efforts to learn the proper techniques of drawing people, one of the best we have found and one we recommend joining our newsletter.


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