Introduction: Drawing the Human Head and Figure in Proportion

The human figure is complex and one of the most difficult things to draw, yet it's useful to be able to draw a body in proportion. This ability will allow you to create more realistic looking drawings and help you depict your subject matter as accurately as possible. Luckily there are a few helpful guidelines that apply to drawing the human body in proportion and are good to map out as you start your drawing. This set of instructions will take you through a step-by-step process so you will be able to apply what you learn to your own work. This process can take you anywhere from a few minutes to several hours depending on the time and effort you're willing to put in. If you are not that familiar with human anatomy, you might find it helpful to work from a reference as you do this.


Ruler (optional)
Reference (optional)

Step 1: The Figure

1. Decide what size you would like the head to be and sketch it onto your paper.

2. Measure the head however you like and from the head, mark the paper six and half times more times. The ratio of head to body is roughly 1:7.5-8 so in total you should have 7.5-8 marks. These marks will help you judge how to draw the rest of the body.

3. Sketch out the rest of the body according to the following:

2nd head length: Ends just under armpits
3rd head length: Ends at the navel
4th head length: Ends at the crotch
5th head length: Either ends at the tip of the fingers if arms are down by sides, or just draw two head lengths below the knees
6th head length: End under the knees
7th head length: Ends under calves
7.5-8th head length: Ends at the feet

4. Keep in mind that the male body will have wider shoulders than hips, whereas the female body will have narrower shoulders and wider hips. To differentiate between the two, it might be helpful to lightly sketch the lungs and pelvis. The pelvis will be especially helpful when comparing hip to shoulder length.

5. Complete your drawing by erasing any stray marks and adding details to the drawing such as facial features (which you'll read about next).

Step 2: The Head and Face

1. Start by drawing a rectangle that is 2x3 squares, the head will be drawn in here.
             *It might be helpful to note that the width of the rectangle will be about 5 eyes, and the length will be about 7.

2. Draw a circle within the top four squares, this will be the round part of the skull.

3. Draw the jaw and chin in the bottom set of squares, coming down from the circle you've already drawn.

4. Indicate with lines where the eyes and mouth should go. For the eyes, draw a line through the center of the middle set of squares. For the mouth, draw another line through the center of the bottom set of squares.

5. Start adding facial features in any order that you prefer. Helpful tips:
             *The distance between eyes will be the length of about one eye.
             *The width of the mouth will be from about the center of one eye to the center of the other.
             * The length of the ears will usually start at the eyes and end at the base of the nose.

Step 3:

Now that you've finished your drawing, you've learned the basics to drawing the human body and can continue practicing and applying what you've learned. By following these steps, you should now be able to depict the human form more realistically which will improve the quality of your work overall. Furthermore, you will only continue to get better with practice, so keep drawing human subjects by keeping in mind these helpful "guidelines" and eventually it will be second-nature.