Put Your Artist Mannequin To Work

Sarah Parks, featured in Drawing Secrets Revealed, is here to share tips on how to use an artist mannequin and an understanding of light for successful and simple figure drawing. She tells us that “understanding the elements of lighting is absolutely key to successfully using any of them to realistically render the volume of the human figure.”

In the Drawing Secrets Revealed kit, you’ll find plenty of techniques to practice and master. Scroll down to read some of Parks’s helpful advice. ~Cherie

Online figure drawing | ArtistsNetwork.com

The mannequin’s forward foot is foreshortened.

Learn how to Draw the Figure with an Artist Mannequin by Sarah Parks

Many people think they can’t draw figures because it seems so overwhelming, but by studying an artist mannequin, they can start small and gain more confidence.

Artist mannequins may seem simplistic to work from, but I urge my students to practice drawing them because they provide good learning opportunities to begin to understand the human figure. They have similar body formation and joints as humans and it helps students better grasp how mobile and dynamic the trunk (chest and hip area) is and how the head, arms, and legs respond as the trunk turns and bends.

Artist mannequins also help artists become familiar with foreshortened views–when the hand or foot is extending into the viewer’s eye line–of the arms, legs, and head, which can be tricky. The mannequin can also help you understand movement and how light falls on the planes of the body, which also gives you a good foundation for rendering the contours.

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Shading tips for figure drawing | ArtistsNetwork.com

I teach more on drawing the human figure in my “Drawing Secrets Revealed” online art lessons available from North Light Shop. You’ll receive much more detail in the series, but this is a good start.

Shading the Figure

After drafting the mannequin in the various poses to get you familiar with the proportions of the body, you’ll want to venture into shading.

A foundational concept of shading is understanding the elements of lighting. This principle will help you render light and shadow effectively and is absolutely essential in order to give your drawings a realistic three-dimensionality.

Before you begin to shade, the first step is to determine where the light source is coming from, because light informs all objects. Here you can see how the following main elements of lighting play out. In the diagram below of a sphere (ball), a single strong light source is coming from the upper right so the shadows will be on the left.

Figure drawing lesson by Sarah Parks | ArtistsNetwork.com

Since so many features of the human body are round or cylindrical (arms, legs, fingers, chest, neck, head, etc.), the elements of lighting reveal themselves here, too. In the diagram of the mannequin torso, there is also a single strong light source coming from the upper right, so the elements of lighting will be similar to the sphere. The elements of lighting are always more defined with a single, strong light source. ~Sarah Parks

DRAWING SECRETS REVEALED This popular collection sold out during its release month, so North Light Shop is bringing it back! Go from amateur to amazing in figure and portrait drawings with Sarah Parks.

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