How to Draw People in Different Positions


Drawing people can be difficult for beginning artists for a number of reasons. One is lack of knowledge about the visual structure of the body's parts and appendages. Beginners won't know, for example, that the side view of the body in standing position doesn't follow a strictly vertical line, as your eyes move from head to toe. It instead weaves around an invisible vertical line of force that represents gravity. Another reason for the challenge of drawing people is that simple shapes become complex when viewed from angles other than front or side view.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and pencil
  • Surf to the resources link that contains the cube template. Then, follow the instructions on the template to build a paper or cardboard cube.

    The cube is a simple form that you can learn to draw easily from many angles. You can also learn to shape and orient the cube with similar ease. Once you draw the cube well, you can sculpt it into parts of the body.

  • Select any viewpoint of the cube where you can see three of its sides at once. Then, draw the cube, starting from the face that appears the largest. Evaluate your drawing by verifying that it matches the orientation and shape of the actual cube.

  • Repeat step two repeatedly, but change the viewpoint of the cube each time. After several cube drawings, try to draw an accurate cube from memory, i.e., without looking at the actual cube.

  • Begin shaping the cube to appear as a torso: After drawing a cube, resize the square face that appears closest to you. Make this width three quarters the usual width. Redraw the cube's other edges to accommodate the changed face. The result should appear as a three-dimensional box whose front face is greater in height than in length.

  • Shape the box to the depth of the torso: Resize either of the box's other two faces so that the box's apparent depth is one third of its current size. Then, adjust the remaining edges as needed to accommodate the change.

    You now have a 3-D box that represents the torso and can draw the torso from any angle. This is possible because you can draw the original cube from any angle and now know how to shape the cube into a torso.

  • Begin forming a leg: Apply your box drawing skills to make a new box that attaches to the bottom left of the torso box and extends downward. Ensure that this leg box has these characteristics:

    Its length is slightly less than twice the length of the torso, and its width is half the torso's width. (The depth is the same as the torso's depth.)

  • Make the right leg the same way, except attach it to the bottom right of the torso box.

  • Form arms: Attach boxes to the left and right sides at the top of the torso box. Ensure that the width of each arm box is slightly less than the leg box width. Extend the box down to just below the bottom of the torso box. Box depth is same as torso depth.

  • Form a head: Draw the head as a cube whose faces are two-thirds the length of the torso. This completes the body's essential parts.

  • Curve all box edges to make the drawing look more organic. Then, begin more detailed shaping of each box by carefully observing the features of body parts in photos and anatomy references.

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  • Vilppu Drawing Manual; Glenn Vilppu; 1997
  • Photo Credit human body image by Alhazm Salemi from
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