Learning how to correctly how to draw a person as a whole is one of the hardest things any artist will come across. However, there are ways to make it easier. This guide will show a method that works well for me in learning how to create a human body drawing. I feel it might work just as well for you.
A lot of artists have trouble with the body because it is not a set shape like the head. On top of that, making sure every part of the body adheres to proportions and shadowing rules can be very challenging when we deal with characters that are in motion.
With that said, it is not as difficult as you would imagine, either. The trick here is to develop an artist mannequin that contains the flow lines needed to direct muscle placement. Regardless of how realistic your character is, he or she will still be based on the simple human mannequin that you will create over the course of your drawing career.
There is no real method to figuring out your own artistic mannequin. It is as unique as your own style. Some like their mannequins complicated while other prefer a more subtle and simple approach. Even then, there are simple ideas that you want to get across as you build your own.
All proportions can be measured by the use of the head as seen in Figure A. On average, it takes about seven heads to form the body when you are looking at how to draw a person. The second part is weight shifting. Always draw your S-curved spine on your mannequin to show the position of the weight shifts.
Figure B shows range of motion. In any character you draw, you have to make sure the range of motion aligns with the joints. You can imagine invisible circles that your elbows and knee joints will be given the pivot point of the main connectors of the shoulders the hip flexors.
Figure C shows the breakdown and shifting of the head measurements. In any position that you draw your character, whether standing or sitting, aspect ratios must be retained. The upper body will usually have three heads while the lower body may have three to four heads.
Lastly, Figure C is an example of a figure in motion in regards to shifting weight, range of movement, and overall proportions. In all these examples, the mannequin is unique and contains the very basic information needed to create a realistic body. The rest is putting details into the mannequin.
You do not have to be a medical doctor. However, an accurate male torso drawing requires you to know a few major muscle groups when you are learning how to draw a person muscles. Fortunately, despite the complexity, there is not a whole lot of muscles that you need to learn.
From top to bottom and back to back, the major muscle groups are as listed: the trapezius; the deltoid; the Infra spinatus; the teres major; the pectoralis major; the latissimus dorsi; the serratus magnus; the external oblique; the rectus abdominis; the gluteus medius; and the gluteus maximus.
Unless you are teaching this to other students or artists, remembering the names is optional and for your own benefit for the most part. What is more important is that you recognize the shape of these muscle groups and how it interlinks with other muscle groups.
Your mannequin should simplify or create spaces for most of these main muscular areas in some form or way. The more you understand the male torso and cater space to it, the more you can start playing around creating concept art that is not only amazing, but also anatomically correct.
Limbs will help you dive into the second concept of creating flow lines. Despite the complexity of the muscles, it does flow in a general direction. For instance, the major flow point with the legs begin at the hip flexors, flow out to the inner knees, and then flow back out to the ankles to the feet.
In terms of the legs, the main muscle groups from the front view are the: tensor fasciae femoris; adductor longus; gracilis; sartorius; rectus femoris; vastus externus; vastus internus; patella; gastrocnemius inner head; soleus; tibialis anticus; and the peroneus longus.
From the back, the muscle groups for the legs are the: gluteus maximus; gracilis; adductor magnus; semitendinosus; vastus externus; biceps femoris; iliotibial band; satorius; semimembranosus; gastrocnemius (inner and outer) peroneus longus; and the soleus muscle.
Your male arm drawing should contain the majority of the muscle groups listed here: the deltoid; triceps long head; biceps; triceps outer head; triceps inner head; brachialis anticus; pronator teres; brachioradialis; flexor carpi radialis; palmaris longus; and the flexor carpi ulnaris.
From the back, the arm muscles currently listed are: the deltoid; triceps outer head; triceps long head; triceps tendon; brachioradialis; extensor carpi radialis; anconeus; extensor communis; extensor carpi ulnaris; flexor carpi ulnaris; and the extensor of the thumb.
Using a neutral position, the major flow points on the arm is a spiral that starts from the outer shoulders, spiraling down towards the inner elbows, and then continue on to the forearms without changing direction. It is within these flow lines that you dab in the major muscle groups listed.
So how does flow lines and understanding the muscle placements work in its entirety for learning how to draw human figures? The best way would be to draw out an entire human body out of these basic concepts. First, start sketching out your mannequin with the proper proportions.
In the mannequin, sketch out the main cage that houses the torso muscle groups. Then, draw out all the flow lines of the major muscle groups found in the limbs. After this is done, create a new layer under the sketch and fill it in based on the mannequin. Merge both when you are done.
The follow step is almost magical. In essence, use the smudge brush and gently smudge in the rough sketch lines together. Right away, you can see the muscle groups forming based on the flow lines that were drawn.
When you are done smudging, the next logical step would be to use what you learn about the major muscle groups. Using a chalk brush, dab in the areas where the muscle groups are located making sure that the shape fits within the smudged lines.
At last, this is where you can draw in the little details and refine the human body drawing better. There are three parts to this. The first part is detailing in bone joints, fingers, toes, etc. The second part is to add in a light source to signify shading. Finally, erasing into the drawing to finalize the outline.
Once more, it's all about understanding the form to create gesture flow lines in order to dab in muscle placement after it is all smudged in. Getting these stages correct will allow you to make any human body drawing with relative ease no matter the complexity. It is well worth it for the final results.
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