How to Draw People: Its All About the Proportions
So you want to learn how to draw people? Artists since the beginning of art have been drawing and panting the human body likely more than any other subject. Painting a portrait or performing figure drawing also is an unappreciated way of understanding the subject’s true character – in other words really getting to know them.
Learning how to draw people does not have to be hard, but it does require understanding some basic fundamentals. It also requires practice. But some of the first things you need to learn is the concept of proportions of the human body. The human figures has basic proportions when it comes to its anatomy, and its critical you understand the relative dimensions of human components relative to each other before you even get into drawing details like features, clothing, or hair.
A very good resource on this subject is Adam Reeder, an accomplished artist from The Academy of Art in San Francisco. Adam has written on the proportions of the human figure, and here are some of the points he makes. These are all relative to a normal adult human male (there are similar statistics about other human figures for different ages and sex, see this video on how to draw the human male and female):
- The following lengths are always the same: middle of knee to bottom of foot, top of femur to kneecap, elbow to extended finger, collarbone to belly button, and shoulder to shoulder across chest.
- Arms generally hang to middle of the thigh
- Hips are generally the same width as the length from crotch to knee
- Elbow generally rests at the bottom of the ribcage
- Arm length from pit to to extended finger is the same as base of neck to bottom of buttocks
- The hand is generally the same size of the face
- The foot is generally the length from base of palm to pit of forearm
Learning How to Draw People Starts with Proportions
Very interesting! There is enough data points here that if you are figure drawing and can apply these points in regards to proportions to your figure, you have a good foundation for a realistic looking human figure and in learning how to draw people. If your foundation is good, then as you add flesh, features, and characteristics, there no need to worry about covering up fundamental proportion errors.
It is usually taught in figure drawing classes that getting proportion right is critical. Not matter how skilled, and how elegant the other aspects of your drawing are, when a few set of proportions of the figure are off, the final drawing will simply look off to the average viewer. This is the reason many drawings start with line foundations and baselines to ensure this is correct.
Are You Looking To Learn to Draw Figures?
There are many courses, e-books, and other resources available to artists to help them in the journey to master the art of drawing the human form. Some are better than others, but if you are specifically looking to learn how to draw figures, the one you should consider is Shortcut Secrets of Figure Drawing by Greg Dewolf. He’s helped hundreds of new and experienced artists.