figure drawing


  • Close observation of the model’s body was secondary to the rendering of his gesture, and many drawings – consistent with academic theory – seem to present a representative
    figure rather than a specific body or face.

  • For those working without visual reference (or as a means of checking one’s work), proportions commonly recommended in figure drawing are:[3] • An average person is generally
    7-and-a-half heads tall (including the head).

  • The use of photographic reference—although common since the development of photography—is often criticized or discouraged for its tendency to produce “flat” images that fail
    to capture the dynamic aspects of the subject.

  • No two students have exactly the same view, thus their drawing will reflect the perspective of the artist’s unique location relative to the model.

  • Evidence of the artist’s hand is minimized and, although reclining or seated poses are rare, even standing poses are comparatively static…”[7] Before the late 19th century,
    women were generally not admitted to figure drawing classes.

  • An anecdote related by Pliny describes how Zeuxis reviewed the young women of Agrigentum naked before selecting five whose features he would combine in order to paint an ideal

  • Since the purpose of figure drawing classes is to learn how to draw humans of all kinds, male and female models of all ages, shapes, and ethnicities are usually sought, rather
    than selecting only beautiful models or those with “ideal” figures.

  • A life drawing is a drawing of the human figure, traditionally nude, from observation of a live model.

  • 8  Figure drawing is arguably the most difficult subject an artist commonly encounters, and entire courses are dedicated to the subject.

  • A figure drawing is a drawing of the human form in any of its various shapes and postures, using any of the drawing media.

  • Creating life drawings, or life studies, in a life class, has been a large element in the traditional training of artists in the Western world since the Renaissance.

  • Gesture drawing is a warm-up exercise for many artists, although some artists sketch out the gesture as the first step in every figure drawing.

  • These are typically included in the drawing, to the extent that they are visible to the artist.

  • Approaches Artists take a variety of approaches to drawing the human figure.

  • A figure drawing may be a composed work of art or a figure study done in preparation for a more finished work, such as a painting.[1]: Ch.

  • The most prestigious forms of painting required in-depth knowledge of anatomy that was systematically denied to women,[12] who were thereby relegated to less-regarded forms
    of painting such as genre, still life, landscape, and portraiture.

  • Instructors may also favor models of particular body types based on the unique contours or surface textures they provide.

  • [8][9] Academy figure[edit] Further information: Academic art An academy figure is a carefully executed drawing or painting of the nude human body, typically at half life
    size, completed as an exercise in an art school or academy.

  • When taught at the college level, figure drawing models are often (but not always) nude (aside from small jewelry, props or other inconspicuous items).

  • Some artists draw directly in ink without the preparation of a pencil sketch, preferring the spontaneity of this approach despite the fact that it limits the ability to correct

  • It also helps to keep the artist focused on the model instead of the paper.

  • The outcomes can be regarded as a finished artwork, expressing both the subject, the observational, emotional and mark making response to the artists figure drawing experience.

  • Figure-ground relationships and other aspects of composition are also considered.

  • At the beginning of a figure drawing session, the model is often requested to make a series of brief poses in rapid succession.

  • While the studio practices of the artists of antiquity are largely a matter of conjecture, that they often drew and modeled from nude models is suggested by the anatomical
    sophistication of their works.

  • Drawing from imagination is often lauded for the expressiveness it encourages, and criticized for the inaccuracies introduced by the artist’s lack of knowledge or limited
    memory in visualizing the human figure; the experience of the artist with other methods has a large influence on the effectiveness of this approach.

  • It was not until 1893 that female students were allowed access to life drawing at the Royal Academy in London,[11] and even then the model was required to be partially draped.

  • When it comes to the human body, artists are painfully critical; the proportions of a still life do not have to be drawn perfectly to look authentic, but even the slightest
    error in human proportions will be easily detected.

  • Erasure was not permitted; instead, the artist was expected to describe the figure in light strokes before making darker, more visible marks.


Works Cited

[‘1. Berry, William A. (1977). Drawing the Human Form: A Guide to Drawing from Life. New York: Van Nortrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0-442-20717-4.
2. ^ Maureen Johnson & Douglas Johnson (2006). Art Models: Life Nudes for Drawing, Painting, and Sculpting.
Live Model Books. ISBN 978-0976457329.
3. ^ Devin Larsen (January 19, 2014). “Standard proportions of the human body”. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
4. ^ Jump up to:a b Strictly Academic 1974 p. 6.
5. ^ Strictly Academic 1974,
p. 7.
6. ^ Strictly Academic 1974, p. 8.
7. ^ S. Waller, The Invention of the Model: Artists and Models in Paris, 1830-1870. 2016, P. 5.
8. ^ Strictly Academic 1974, p. 9.
9. ^ Jump up to:a b Myers, Nicole. “Women Artists in Nineteenth–Century
France”. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
10. ^ Chilvers, Ian, ed. (2015). The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Oxford University Press.
11. ^ Levin, Kim (November 2007). “Top Ten ARTnews Stories: Exposing the Hidden ‘He'”. ArtNews.
12. ^
Jump up to:a b c Nochlin, Linda. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (PDF). Department of Art History, University of Concordia.
13. ^ Maggioli (2013).Codice delle leggi della scuola, pp. 829–830. ISBN 8838778639 (in Italian)
• Berry,
William A. (1977). Drawing the Human Form: A Guide to Drawing from Life. New York: Van Nortrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0-442-20717-4.
• Clark, Kenneth (1956). The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01788-3.
• Jacobs,
Ted Seth (1986). Drawing with an Open Mind. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. ISBN 0-8230-1464-9.
• Nicolaides, Kimon (1969). The Natural Way to Draw. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0-395-20548-4.
• State University of New York at Binghamton;
Finch College; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (1974). Strictly academic: life drawing in the nineteenth century (Exhibition Catalog). Binghamton. OCLC 5431402.
• Steinhart, Peter (2004). The Undressed Art: Why We Draw. New York: Alfred
A. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4184-8.
• Tast, Brigitte (1992). Modell Gehen. ISBN 3-88842-601-4.
Photo credit:’]