So just how difficult is it to learn how to draw feet? Surprisingly, it's not that hard. In this lesson, I will break down some of the key issues that arise. While not as nearly as important as the hands, you will still realize that drawing feet (for posture and locomotion) is important as an artist.
There are just too many times that pictures will look weird when it fails to portray the feet. Unless your character is constantly floating, it is imperative you know how gravity acts on the feet and how the posture is generated from all that pressure.
I know I am also guilty of having my character wear some sort of footwear to ease the need to draw the feet in very complex detail. While it does get rid of the need to draw toes, it does add another layer of complexity in drawing the footwear itself.
There really is no shortcut to understanding the complexities of learning how to draw feet. Luckily, the feet share a lot of similarities with the hands. That means you can quickly apply what you know about hands to draw convincing looking feet.
Before we start looking at drawing feet, we must first look at the overall shape and how it relates to the rest of the body that. For the human body, there are two specific units of measurements: the head and the hands. In these measurements, it is best to split it into thirds.
In terms of length, the feet are about the same height as the head; that the width of the feet is about the same as the hands; that the feet are longer than the hands by an extra one third; and that the toes are half the length of any finger.
On the subject of hands, anytime you are drawing the hands and feet, always start with the flow points and then fill in the individual features, like the fingers and toes, later. Using this method, you can find the proportions relatively quickly and easily.
To add details, use the knuckles to locate tendons. The big toe and the thumb have a tendon that runs separately from the other four toes and fingers. Separating these tendons into its own groups is extremely helpful for connecting good reference points to the wrists.
You will be constantly dealing with foreshortening when you are drawing feet. It is a test of your ability to see objects in space at different angles. Aside from tendons, another good marker is the heel. If the feet are drawn straight on, you will not see the heel. However, if it is tilted a bit, you can use the heel.
If you're drawing the feet from the front, remember where the ankles are and then connect your lines from the ankle bones to your toes. As for the toes, aside from doing the flow points and adding each individual division line to create the individual digits, make sure to round out the ends of the toes and toenails.
For the underside, as you do not have the tendons here to help you out with positioning the individual toes, you need to rely on that curved area underneath the feet. You can always reference what you know about the palm to generate some good measuring points.
For example, the budge leading up to the big toe. The palms of your hands will have this budge. You just need to cater the shape to fit the foot. Use the shape of the Achilles heel to get the initial posture down. Then, add budges at the sides to give an indication that the front of the foot is wider than the back.
A lot of the pivoting will be done with the ankles and toes. Any pressure that moves the foot forward will create a bend in the toes. The maximum bend would be 90 degrees. For the ankles, the maximum bend will be half of that at 45 degrees.
Unlike the toes though, these pivot points of the ankles are not limited to up and down movements. Rather, it can bend 45 degrees in a circular manner. The best way to understand this is to observe and practice drawing how the foot looks like in various action poses and make a note of the degree of the bend.
Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between a male and female foot. The best indicator would be just simply the footwear a character wears. Typically speaking, feminine footwear is pointy near the tip whereas masculine footwear is more rounded at the tip.
Aside from this difference, another point to include would be stress folds in the footwear. There are typically two places that have folds: the toes and the ankle. This should not come to you as a surprise as these are the pivot points. When you are drawing footwear, always keep these folds in mind.
So now that I talked about most of what to know about learning how to draw feet, it's time for me to show you how I would creating a foot drawing. All my drawings will consist of two layers initially: the sketch layer and the fill layer. Here's what happened.
First, I will draw out a simple sketch of the feet. It doesn't have to be very detailed at all so long as I have the right proportions and key flow areas like the tendons connecting the toes to the base of the foot. I also sketch in the ankle roughly to position it properly.
After that, I merged both layers and locked down the entire shape. From here, I block in simple lies using a chalk brush to create some textures. I also use this opportunity to work on the toes and toenails. Details like the shoes are not a concern at this stage.
After I have most of the details ironed out, I then proceed with the footwear itself. This is a simple process that adds shadows and light to chisel out the shoe. The main areas are the heels and platform. My goal is to make sure that the footwear conforms to the foot.
The final step would be to finish off the footwear. Here, we have straps. Once I am certain that the details of the feet are met, then that's when I draw in the straps. Aside from that, there are very subtle light and shading adjustments done overall to make it a bit more real.
So from start to finish, the entire process takes what I know about the foot through a simple sketch with no details. It is only after I am certain that the sketch is anatomically correct, can I begin to chisel out and refine the rest of the feet drawing.
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