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life drawing 5 by algaegoblin
'Life Drawing 5' by algaegoblin

Do you know how to sketch human figures but do you want to refine your anatomy skills? Or do you not know anatomy at all and you are tired to trust your imagination? Did you notice you create disproportions in your drawings?
If you are aspiring artists and you already have your own style, you might as well believe you have no need of a guide, but you are wrong. Before exaggerating human proportions and begin to have your own style, you first have to know the basics. 
This little guide is the result of an accurate research and 5 years of high school of art, and it's created for all those who want to learn something new or just make a useful review.
For those who have already studied art, my suggestion is to go to step 6 or trying to repeat all steps in Digital format. 


First of all, if you want to learn faster you should draw using traditional tools.  It may seem a stupid or banal rule but it is not. 
You will need a piece of paper and a pencil, preferably a medium-hard pencil or HB ("H" stands for "hardness," while "B" stands for "blackness"). If you  have already familiarity with this hard drawing medium you could obtain different soft pencils instead: B, 2B and 4B will be fine. A putty rubber and a white rubber from a good brand will work fine. 
However, I'm not here to describe which tools are better for drawing traditionally, and for me a hoe would work fine as well: it's the passion that counts!

My tools by thepunisherone

 Now that you have a pencil and F4 paper (F2 is less thick and if you erase often you could ruin it, that's why F4 is ideal) you can start your work. You can also make out with A4 paper which is thicker than normal,  otherwise you will pass the sheet if you use a hard mine (or if your hand is too heavy, if you know what I mean...). 
Well, now that you have the tools, sharpener included, get in a bright spot of your house, preferably on an inclined surface (otherwise your future drawing will look in perspective, and you may not be happy with the result!) and copy the hand your not using for drawing. Try not to erase too much. Try to grasp the structure of your hand through many sketches in which you should only draw the outlines of your hand and fingers, you should forget about the shading for a moment. 
Fill the paper with these sketches of your hand in different poses and please include your wrist if you can. Continue your workout every 2/3 days (preferably daily) for 2 weeks, what am I saying?  Do it until you could see significant improvements! 
Write the date on each work you have done and keep them carefully without rubbing them. The first step to be a good artist is to give value to your works. When the hand really looks like a hand and not a mass of sausages then you're ready for Step 2.

The result will be similar to this, only the folds of flesh and contours of the hands should be visible.
HANDS training by Washu-M

Hand proportions work this way...
Hand Tutorial -Tips+Reference- by Qinni Hand Tutorial 2 by Qinni


So now we better move to the second point. Ok guys, do you remember your own hand? That hand you copied so many times, that fist, that cramp that came while you deformed it? Here you are, you should repeat the procedure but this time you will not have to copy only the outlines of your fingers. You must work hard and point on your hand the dramatic light of a lamp, because this time you should draw your hand and shade it. 
If you are drawing using a HB  pencil then shade using a B or 2B. You will realize soon that it is not so difficult to find the darkest points: the hard part is not to make the whole drawing uniformly black or uniformly gray and creating well balanced halftones. 
You may find some difficulties, yeah right! all normal, because in fact you're seeing your hand in colors (as long as you're not color blind) and you're just simplifying your hand colors using the greyscale instead. So, don't give up! It was hard for everyone at the beginning.
Repeat this exercise every 2/3 days until you can see a clear difference between the first hand  (remember to write the date on the drawings!) and the last hand you drew. Are you satisfied with your improvemente?  Good, because you will have more fun following STEP 3. 

These are practical examples of a good result.
  A study in hands 2 by Spectrum-VII
Hand anatomy by Elthenstorm


Since you are already conversant with your left hand (or right that it is) and you say you know it by heart (if you say so...), now I'm asking you to take your colored pencils and do an experiment. This time I'm asking you NOT to do a preliminary sketch in pencil of your drawing: just draw one or both of your feet, using colored pencils only on semi rough paper F4 of different colors (I recommend a white, a grey, a blue and a black for a good start). Again, do not stop until the result satisfies you. Write the date on the work because now the interesting part begins.
The result should be similar to these, of course in colors.
FEET sketches by Washu-M Feet Study 2 - Steps by irysching

Feet proportions works this way...
+TUTORIAL-Feet drawing guide+ by goku-no-baka


Now that you have experimented with various techniques and you quite understand how your hands and feet are made, you need a model for understanding how the face works. 
Ask one of your friends, your parents, if nobody wants to pose for you then use a picture (but it's always better to do life drawings first!). As tools you will need a ballpoint pen, preferably black or blue, and a white smooth paper (A4 copy paper is fine too). Now make a copy of the person in front of you (face, neck and shoulders), and remember well that you can not/must not erase this time! Yes, I'm evil. Try to do several sessions of the same person until the drawing is really similar to the original and recognizable from others. 
Begin with a front and profile view, then try out 3/4. 
Cacophony by Anapath
'Cacophony' by Anapath

The proportions of the human face work this way...
Face Proportion by endzi-z Profile Proportion by endzi-z


It 's time to understand how the human proportions work. A tip? Never stop taking references from the human figure (as long as you're learning) or you will make a lot of mistakes or exaggerate many anatomical features without even noticed it! 
Now use your live model of choice, or look in fashion magazines and copy a full human figure in different poses, focusing on lines, shading, dynamism and execution speed.
To improve your speed you should first start with 15 minutes poses, then reduce the time to 10 minutes and 5 minutes at last. Use a timer: leave the drawing unfinished and start another one when the time elapses. 
Do many of them, every day. 

The results should be something like this...
Life Drawing Collage 4 by travelingpantscg
'Life Drawing Collage 4' by travelingpantscg

figures 8 by Luthie13 .Life Drawing 2010: 5 Mins. by hino-kitLife drawing 2010 by jeffsimpsonkh
Figure Workshop 13 by JerrySabatini Figure Set 1 by ethician
 life drawing: 5 minutes by scaragh
figures 3 by Luthie13 figures 5 by Luthie13
some figure drawing by Luthie13 some more figure drawing by Luthie13
Figure Drawing Collage by JillJohansenFigure studies. by RoscoeFink
Life Drawing Collage 3 by travelingpantscg
life drawing 042511 by bigbigtruckLife Drawing at CDA 3 pt2 by reiq

If you didn't understand how the anatomy works, you can study some good tutorials for the human body...
Arm Anatomy by Azot2015 Trunk Anatomy by Azot2015
Man Anatomy by Azot2015
 General Body Tutorial by shark-bomb


The time has came. It is time to finish something guys! You should be really excited: you reached execution speed and some anatomy skills but you lack accuracy.
Use your awesome live model again and ask him to pose for a longer session (2/3 hours minimum). Use the tools you like the most, sit comfortably, tools in the hand and start your session.
Here are some good results you may find inspiring.
Prenda XXVII by napoleoman old man_figure drawing by michalivan
12hr figure drawing by infernovball Life drawing:  A sitting by thienbao

I really hope you will find this journal useful and I really hope you enjoyed the journey. ^^ 
Ps: Sorry my English is not my mothertongue. 

Add a Comment:
MadQueenAlthea Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Thank-you so much for this!  I really appreciate these lessons. 
aabuan Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  New Deviant
Steps 2 to 4 the picture is missing.
spotflavoured Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you for this! straight to the point and informative :D
Stettafire Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Browsing online in google brought me here. I was looking for ideas as to little mini-challenges I could do for the 1000 anatomy sketch challenge…
and I came across this and I have decided to work my way through it:)
So far it has been extreamly helpful, so thank you:D
So far I'm on day 1, and I have gotten up to the part where it says
Continue your workout every 2/3 days (preferably daily) for 2 weeks
I will do! I think that it will be a great addition to my daily routine, and hopefully I can improve my ability to draw hands:D
I'm sure my watchers will get sick of me uploading my hand sketches soon enough xP (Tough luck:P)
Stettafire Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
I am now about halfway through stage 2 I think, and I have indeed noticed a massive difference in my ability to draw hands:D I now feel much more confident in drawing hands from imagination, so thank you:D
TheDarkHeretic Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2015
Very helpfull, basic oriented tutorial, thanks you so much for doing that :) !
Attack-On-Titan988 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015
For the first step, if we draw hands that dont look like sausages do we just continue onto the next step? The preview was deleted so idk what would look good enough. σ^_^;
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Ahaha sorry, it seems artists deleted their artwork. I'll fix it somewhen. :°)
jogutks Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2015
Hello, excellent tutorial! I'm going to start today. However, I just have one problem. There are some pictures which I cannot see and it says "No preview". I can't see how some exercises are supposed to look and it would help me a lot.I don't know if it's just my computer or what is it.
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sorry but some dA users have deleted them, it's not your computer at all. ^^
foxfire1345 Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What can you you recommend when someone cant find a model? Or anylife drawing class?
Caramel-Peach Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I just wanted to add, there is this great website if you don't have any models or not a lot of resources in general!
It simulates a figure drawing class, it's a very useful tool!
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I recommend to draw yourself at the mirror.
KaibaGal Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2015  Student Artisan Crafter
Please, never delete this. It is one of the most valuable tutorials I have ever some across.
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I won't! Glad you find it useful. ^^
Cestarian Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You say we should draw with a traditional medium for this, but I didn't see you say why. So why draw with pencil and paper rather than drawing it in sand or on a tablet?
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Because even Michelangelo started from a study in pencil before sculpting. They're called 'the basis' for a reason.
Cestarian Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes he did, and yes they must be called the basis for a reason, so what is the reason?
RivanGarve Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2015  Student Digital Artist
(I hope you don't mind me adding my own opinion on this) The skills you learn form using a pencil are very transferable to other mediums. It is not 100% set in stone but it is one of the best (if not the best tool) to learn to master before moving on to other tools as it will give you fundamental knowledge of using  other tools, if you can't work with a pencil it's unlikely you are able to master any other tool.
It can be reasonably argued that this is true with any tool, but pencils are perhaps one of the safest tools because they are the perfect amount of difficulty in order for most people to learn (tablets have certain feature to make drawing a little more easy and sand is really hard to learn to master proportions with, i found that out the hard way xD) 

TL;DR: It's reliable, safer and more practical to use than sand and has no assisting technology that can slow down your learning that tablets have.
Cestarian Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Allright, that's an ok reason, although in tablets case you don't ahve to use assistant tech like smoothing and all that stuff, and in fact if you turn it off it can actually be a bit harder to draw on the tablet than with a pencil on paper (for me it sure is)

I still don't see why a tablet would be an inferior learning tool to a pencil or pen.
RivanGarve Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Even if you do turn off the assistant technology from the tablet you can still get help from the program you use to draw in (like photoshop) and if you use a program that has none of the helpful features that will help you (like ms paint) it becomes too hard too use in order to learn, in my opinion. 
Saying all this though with art (and learning in general) nothing is 100% true, everyone learns differently so if you are still not sure what to use, try to use both for like 1 week and kinda judge which one you think is more usefully with learning (which I know is more work but can be really useful to learn faster). I know using pencils is one of the rules SirWendigo set, which is a really, really  useful rule but it's not the most important, what is it important is the repetition and the focus. 

FullmetalOtakuX Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I was wondering what is A putty rubber and a white rubber 😞
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I'm sure Google knows it. ;)
FullmetalOtakuX Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I can't get eney of the stuff well natural paper and a pencil wark okay ?
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I think anything will work. :)
FullmetalOtakuX Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay thank you very much ( ^ u ^ )
FullmetalOtakuX Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't think about that 😲 thanks ( ^ u ^ )
mario9312 Featured By Owner May 19, 2015
ma grazie a questa guida riuscirò anche a disegnare pose dalla mia immaginazione? comunque complimenti per la guida :)
SirWendigo Featured By Owner May 19, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Una volta che sai l'anatomia puoi metterla in pratica, quindi sì.
mario9312 Featured By Owner May 22, 2015
grazie per la risposta :)
Jenpendragon Featured By Owner May 12, 2015
Thank you :) 
Hinata-Wolf77 Featured By Owner May 1, 2015   General Artist
Thanks for this.
UZUMASHI Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks a lot for sharing, it's really helpful, so I'm gonna practice now ! 
Lixiee Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2015
not done with thus tutoriol thing , im reading trough the thing before doing it and im on step 3 , but i wonder when u say ''Continue your workout every 2/3 days (preferably daily) for 2 weeks'' what do you mean? do you mean i should do it 2-3 times every day in 2 weeks or 2-3 times each week in two weeks?
SirWendigo Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
'You should draw every 2 or 3 days, but preferably daily for 2 weeks.'
Means you should practice every day, not 2 or 3 times a day, but if you do is nice anyway. :D
RoshaneIngram Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2015  Hobbyist
Love this 
CommanderFluffFluff Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
amazing, thank you
GoodGuyRychard Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
this is extremely helpful, thank you for posting this, seriously.
WolfCrestSox5X Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for this tutorial!!!!
dixiekasilke Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Nothing wrong with your English! and thanks for a cracking, re-assuring tutorial! :nod: :star:
neophobica Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Great guidelines! thank you for sharing :hug:
sebyZart Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2015   Writer
This is my bible from right now. Thank you so much! Heart 
the-absolutus Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2015   General Artist
I it come in useful, thanks.
Mabelyad Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
These lessons are very useful! And your english is good too! Thanks so much babe, keep IMPROVING! ;D
Mabelyad Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2014
This lessons are very useful, and your english is good too! Thanks so much babe, keep improving! :D
SuzumeMizuno Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2014
This is amazing!! Thank you so much!!
SafiriaBloodFlower Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This seems like it's going to be really helpful :) Thanks for posting! 
VaneFox Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Professional Filmographer
The idea of absolutely HAVING to use traditional is unfair.
acidarteries Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
well, you don't necessarily have to. it's just a strong really do learn it faster IMO.
VaneFox Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014  Professional Filmographer
Yeah I get that a lot. I guess I'll have to use traditional a little more. But I probs won't move past pencil and paper.
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