Sketching figures like people takes a lot of precise measurements and proportions. Unless you draw stick people, you need to calculate the right ratio of how long the torso, legs, neck, etc. should be. Different artists draw people figures in different techniques. There are skillful artists that can draw figures without a guide. Before you can draw people with precision without guides, you need to start with the boxes technique and a lot of practice! Get your pencils and sketch pads ready and read on:
Select a reference or a model. Before you can draw good people figures, select a good reference – it can come from a magazine, book or photo or you can reference an actual person. If you’re referencing from a photo or a magazine, be sure the subject shows a whole figure. A model walking the runway would be perfect as subject for drawing people figures.
Study the proportions intently. Take note of each body part’s proportions and how they connect with each other. You should take note that the legs of a person have usually longer proportions than her torso. Study how long the neck and the arms should be. Your main reference should be based on the head.
Begin with drawing the boxes. Depending on the angle of the subject, draw boxes (rectangular) starting from the head. The next box should be for the body but leave a good distance between boxes to draw the neck. Draw longer boxes for each leg. If your reference’s legs are together, draw one long rectangular box for both legs. The hands and feet should be the smallest boxes.
Outline the figure using the guide. Starting with her head, draw the shape of the face using the box guide. Draw it within the box by curving the head from the sides. After outlining the face and head, begin outlining the body. Draw deeper curves along the waist line. Remember not to draw outside the box as well.
Take note of the curves of the legs, follow your guide and work from the thighs going down to the knees and ankles. Form the feet by paying attention to the contours of the soles and the heels. Similar to the legs, curve the outline of the model’s arms and hands within the box guide. The more intricate details should be drawn after the outline is done.
Add the details. By now you will be able to visualize how your figure is going to look like with the outline you’ve just drawn. Starting with the head, add some details to the face – eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Take note of the distances the facial parts should have with the eyes as your basis.
Add details to the body – draw some clothes and trace the outline of the neck. Add the hair after you’ve drawn the body. Trace the legs and add some details like shoes. Add accessories like bags or hats if you wish. You can finish off by adding some color on the figure.
Now that you have learned how to draw people using boxes as a guide, you are on your way to practice it and become a seasoned artist. Once you mastered the proportions of human figures, you can be sure you can draw them with just imaginary boxes as guide. Good luck and have fun!