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Lesson 05: Rules of Drawing the Human Figure

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    Class# 5: Rules of Drawing the Human Figure           Feb. 8-12, 2016

    Materials needed:  ?Strathmore Sketchbook Pad (9 x 12)?Drawing pencils?Eraser

    CSLO 2.2 Student will be able to manipulate proportion in a drawing.

    CSLO 3.1 Student will be able to evaluate his/her own work of art.

    As we saw in the last class the human figure is an important and enduring theme in visual art.  Almost every artistic discipline has its way of expressing the human figure.  Here are some links to a variety of different ways the human figure can be expressed.

    African art:










    What other examples of the human figure being expressed in art can you think of???How was the human figure shown in Micronesian culture???Or other Pacific islands???Google this subject and see what images you can find. Send one link to your instructor in an email.

    Next, we are going to review some other techniques that allow artists to draw the human figure. 

    Proportion is an important part of drawing the human figure because it helps you determine how large to make the different parts of the body.  Proportion in the human figure was studied heavily by the artists Leonardo da Vinci.  Here is a famous drawing he did trying to demonstrate the perfect proportion for a male figure:


    In art, body proportions are the study of the relation of humanor animal body parts to each other and to the whole (body).  It is important in figure drawingto use correct proportion. Though there are differences between the proportions of different individuals, human proportions fit within a fairly standard range.  In figure drawing, the basic unit of measurement is the 'head', which is the distance from the top of the head to the chin. This unit of measurement is reasonably standard, and has long been used by artists to establish the proportions of the human figure.


    Rules for Drawing the Human Figure:?An average person is generally 7-and-a-half heads tall (including the head).  Here is a picture that demonstrates this idea:


    The "heads" should align on most figure drawings this way:

    1.           First head length: head!

    2.           Second head length: chest line at nipples.

    3.           Third head length: waistline, at bellybutton.

    4.           Forth head length: groin area.

    5.           Fifth head length: a bit above the knee.

    6.           Sixth head length: just below knee.

    7.           Seventh head length: above ankle

    8.            Seven & 1/2 at bottom of feet.

    Here is a website with this example: it is your turn to try this. 

    1.           Take out your drawing pad, drawing pencil, pencil sharpener and eraser.

    2.           Make sure your pencil is sharp.

    3.           Begin sketching seven and a half heads in a vertical line

    4.           Refer back to the lesson and images above and sketch in the rest of the human figure.  As you sketch, press lightly on your pencil at first until you are certain of your lines.  Then you may want to press harder. 

    5.           Add arms, and legs to your figure.  Try to draw every part of the body as a shape.

    Here are some tutorials on how to draw different parts of the human body.??How to draw the human head.??When we draw the human head we start with an egg shape:


    ?The eye is drawn half way down from the top of your egg shaped head:

    How to draw the human hands and feet??Here is a link which shows how to draw a hand step-by-step using simple shapes:



    When drawing feet and other body parts in the beginning stages or during gesture drawing try to use simple shapes.  Here are some examples of how to do this with the human foot:




    Your assignment for this class is to draw the human figure from two views using all the information you have learned.

    •  First, draw a human figure (either man or woman) from a front view including 7 ½ head’s, feet, hands and a head with a face.  Your final drawing should look something like this:?


    •  Now draw a figure from a side view (either a man or a woman)

    Including the 7½ head measurement.  Your drawing could look something like this:


    After you have done your two drawings, each on a single piece of paper, scan your work (should be 2 pages of drawings) and upload it onto your Flickr page.  In the Flickr “Description” panel be sure to include what the drawing is, either a front view or a side view.  Any work that has not been uploaded by the evening of Feb. 12th, will be marked down one letter grade for each week day it is late.

    Complete the "Student Rating" section of the rubric for this assignment.  The rubric is located in the files at the bottom of this page. Email the completed rubric to art101@com.fsm.

    This concludes the fifth class for AR101.  If you have any questions regarding the material or assignment please email your instructor at

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