Human Figure Drawing: A Two-Part Guide by Sadie J. Valeri

The human figure is a road map of memories and experiences. Laugh lines tell of the comedies we watch, the silly things we hear children say, or simply good times with friends. Wrinkles show our worry for loved ones on the passage of the years, and stretch marks on the female figure–although they’re dreaded and regretted by many–celebrate the mystery of life itself.

Then there’s shape: the arch of a foot, the curve of a hip, the angle of the jaw. These lines and more have captured our attention since the beginning of time. Perhaps it’s the unique nature of the body that makes us want to learn human figure drawing. No two are alike, and even if people share the same shape or build, they each have their own freckles, scars, and physical idiosyncrasies that make them each an individual. Or, maybe it’s what we have in common; when we study another body during a live drawing session; we can’t help but compare it to our own somehow, for better or for worse. To me, figure drawings are beautiful because they’re timeless. It could be a person from any century, any country in the world, and yet I can relate to his or her humanity.

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Sadie J. Valeri uses a straight-line block-in method to begin her classical figure drawings. In Study of Torrey (charcoal and white chalk, 18×14), she’s left the lower portion in its simple contour drawing stage and built up values and modeled form in the upper portion of the drawing.

In “Human Figure Drawing,” a free download from The Artist’s Magazine, realist painter Sadie J. Valeri offers two lessons on how to draw a female figure: Using the classical, straight-line block-in method to create accurate angles and proportions for contour drawings of the human figure (part one), and a drawing lesson to teach you how to mass in values and model three-dimensional form to create convincing, light-enhanced nudes (part two). Plus, along with this free download, you’ll receive the free Artists Network newsletter with inspiration for drawing, painting with watercolor, oil, pastel, acrylic, and more!

“Finding correct proportions is the most important part of creating a convincing figure drawing,” says Valeri. “Humans have an infinite variety of proportions, but that variety falls within a very narrow range. It’s very easy to make your figure drawing look distorted or even alien if the proportions fall outside the range of human possibility.”

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Part One of Human Figure Drawing:

• Draw the “envelope” that guides the outer shaper of the model’s figure and pose
• Build a “web” that creates the basic shape for the figure
• Establish midpoints
• Create a “terminator” for your shadows
• Finish a contour drawing.

In Part Two You’ll Learn How to:

• Fill in shadow masses
• Mass in all the values
• Model the form with white
• Refine the shading

Sadie Valeri currently teaches workshops and classes at Sadie Valeri Atelier in San Francisco. Don’t miss out on this free lesson from a modern master, brought to you by The Artist’s Magazine.


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