How to Draw: Figure Drawing

footballer drawing

This easy to follow figure drawing tutorial will show you how to draw a running sportsman or soccer player (English footballer) - but the process is the same for drawing all sorts of people.

Working from a photo helps to simplify things for beginners (and expert artists!). Find a large clear image - the Sunday newspapers are a good place to look. Bent arms and legs make a more interesting pose and tend to be easier to draw. Arms, legs or bodies coming towards or away from you, tend to be trickier to draw, as you have to deal with foreshortening.

Use a sharp, softer pencil - 2B or 3B - and paper at least as large as the photo you are using. For simplicity, aim to make your drawing the same size or slightly larger than the photo.

Drawing Tips:

Draw all guidelines, very, very lightly - later they will be erased or drawn over.

As a rule of thumb, only erase lines after you've adjusted them, and you are happy with what's left. (Otherwise you tend to redraw what you've just erased!)

 figure drawing guide

Proportions of a Figure

Start by visualising and sketching in a simplified skeleton. (If it helps - imagine you have x-ray vision!) Notice that the shoulders and hips have width. Men tend to have wider shoulders and narrow hips. Women have wider hips.

Use the length of the head as a unit of measure and use it to measure the other parts of the body - e.g. how many heads in a leg or arm? This will help you with any foreshortening too. Look at the relationships of the body parts to each other and the edges of the paper - e.g. which hand and foot is higher or lower?

See Figure Drawing Proportions for more information on the proportions of the human figure.

learn to draw a person

Next: flesh out the 'bones' with ovals or 'sausage and egg' shapes to show the thickness of the body. These are still just guidelines, so keep them extra light.

sportsman drawing

Now it's time to add sports kit, clothes or costume and facial details.

Notice that clothes don't usually cling closely to the body. Soft, fluid lines will suggest fabric shaped by the body underneath and give a more realistic effect.

Add shadows and remove any lines that are no longer needed.

footballer drawing

Fantastic! You have finished your figure drawing! Of course - people are among the most difficult things to draw and all artists feel that their work could be improved... Look for the good qualities in your work and feel pleased with the efforts you have made. Like every other artist, you are learning and improving with each piece of work. Well Done!

More Art Ideas: If you would like to continue working on your figure drawing, you can add colour, or a simple background. If you have a scanner, you could produce a few copies and have fun making several different versions, with different colours. Why not cut them out
and make a wall frieze or mural?

Click on the graphics for a larger version and more drawing tips.