Basic proportions of the human body

At Melbourne Art Class we are offering two Life Drawing Courses in November. Tutored Life Drawing with Jesse Dayan and Painting from the Figure with Marco Corsini. We’d love to you join us in the pursuit of mastering the human figure!

It may feel like it obstructs your creativity, however learning the basic proportions of the human figure will help you produce accurate first drawings. I know I have reached a near finishing-point in a sketch only to realise that the shoulders are not wide enough, or the torso is too long. With practise, and really seeing and measuring the human form, these inaccuracies will diminish.

You can measure the below proportions of the body on yourself. Some people are surprised when they find out that the bottom of their nose lines up with their ear, or that they are eight heads tall. We’ve listed these proportions below as a basic guide to the human body (an average adult):

An adult’s head:

When you draw the oval of your head, divide it vertically and horizontally. Front on, you can fit five eyes along the horizontal line (not including the ears); draw your two eyes in the middle with one left in between.  The pupils will be on this line.

The bottom of the nose is about one and a half eye widths down from the eye line.face proportions

One eye width beneath the nose are the lips.

The ears start from the top of the eye and finish at the top of the mouth.

An adult’s body:

A “perfect” adult’s body (developed during the Renaissance) measures eight heads high. It helps if you draw the head and then number another seven heads beneath it (see diagram below).

Draw the pelvis between spaces three and four as a flattened circle. This is important because it is the body’s centre of gravity and stability. You can then draw the line of the spine from the head to the top of the pelvis.

human figureThe thighs will fill the space between four and six, and the calves between seven and eight.

The torso begins halfway between one and two and touches the pelvis.

The shoulders are three head widths on the top of the torso line.

Draw a line down from the top of the shoulders to the fourth head. These are the arms. Elbow joints sit at space number three, wrists at four and your hands take up the space to five.

Practicing life drawing

These basic proportions will aid you to see the human body in sections and will help you produce a more accurate drawing.

It is important to practice as much as you can and get exposure to different human forms if you want to master drawing the figure.

Six ways that Life Drawing improves you

1. Life drawing helps improve your fundamental drawing skills

Drawing the figure demands a lot of an artist as the anatomical and structural complexity of the figure is difficult to master. Many artists use drawing from a model to see and describe subtle nuances of proportion, tone, texture, space and gesture.

Student Life Drawing
Student Life Drawing

2. Drawing from a model increases the fluency and economy of your drawing.

With the inevitable time limitations of a Life Drawing session and the range of expression available from a Life Model, an artist can constantly find new and more economical ways to describe the figure. The possibilities for expression available to an artist are virtually unlimited.3.

3. Drawing the body tunes you to the visual proportions, rhythms and harmonies of the body

As with drawing from nature in general, working from the body’s complex proportions, rhythms and harmonies can tune an artist in to many rich visual possibilities. This could prove useful in in other fields such as architecture, design, various forms of composition and engineering. It could even help art practice!

Student Life Drawing
Student Life Drawing

4. Drawing as a form of meditation

Drawing from a Life Model encourages you to focus your mind upon and respond to the human body and to a human being. Not only is this a great way of clearing your mind but it can invite a reality check by reminding us of our common humanity.

5. Drawing from life is better than drawing from photographs

An authentic experience in our digital era is becoming more of a rarity. Life Drawing allows you to see and capture the human body with a sensitivity and understanding that you simply cannot achieve through copying a photograph.

6. Drawing within a group encourages learning

Life Drawing classes not only bring like-minded people together, they also help artists explore a variety of ways to approach a single subject.

We do not often have the privilege of viewing individual artists’ processes, and Life Drawing classes encourage sharing and critiquing of work in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment. You will always find artists of varying skills in a Life Drawing class.

MAC’s next tutored Life Drawing Short Course with Jesse Dayan begins on October 30. Find out more information here.

Life Drawing short course

Due to the popularity of the Life Drawing course currently being taught by Jesse Dayan, we have decided to run more courses of this type.

The next course will be over 5 x 2.5 hour sessions on Thursday evenings, Sep. 26th, Oct 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th.

I have received some very positive feedback about Jesse’s course, so If you want to spend a period of time really focusing on your drawing then maybe this is for you.

For more information, please go to:

http://melbourneartclass.com/life-drawing/