How to Draw People Using the Block-In Method
Exercise I. Drawing People: Using a Simple Block-In Method
By Robert T. Barrett
Using an envelope block-in and gridding to measure and map the human form isn’t a new process. Though some examples of gridding may seem complicated or complex, this measuring process is, nonetheless, a useful tool in learning how to draw people.
I suggest using a simple form of gridding to plot points and angles when completing a traditional life drawing because it will help you establish the correct position and dimension of proportional relationships.
1.Create an “Envelope” Around the Figure of the Person You’re Drawing
A first step in gridding the subject is placing an “envelope” around the outside edges of the figure (below). It’s helpful to use only straight lines during this process because landmarks will occur at intersections where the angle of each line changes direction.
2. Plot the Inside Landmarks When Drawing People
After you establish the envelope and create the outside angles and proportions, look for inner landmarks (see below). These are often located at points where two angles intersect or at “hard places” where the skeleton is close to the surface.
3. How to Finish Drawing a Person
This model for my life drawing class, in Seated Male Figure (Nupastel on paper, 30×22), had great anatomical definition, which made the drawing techniques of mapping his figure easier.
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Exercise II. Techniques on How to Draw a Person: Using a Grid and Landmarks
By Robert T. Barrett
Materials list for life drawing
- Kneaded eraser
- Nupastel stick
- Paper towels
- Sanding block
- Sketch paper
After setting up an initial gesture drawing, use a grid to help establish relationships and proportions. This process in learning how to draw people includes using landmarks and either lines or angles. As you draw the human form, look for the strongest angles or lines on the outside of the model. Then try to duplicate those general angles as closely as possible with lines. Simultaneously, note the points where lines change direction in your life drawing.
It’s helpful to hold your charcoal or pastel up to the model to assess the exact angle of an outside surface, then transfer it directly to your drawing surface. Assess the length of the line as much as possible. Lines don’t actually exist in space but are a contrivance to help separate spaces and boundaries between objects and values.
1. Start Drawing People with the Angles and Big Shapes
As you begin drawing the human form, place large areas of value lightly on your paper (see below). Look for the big shapes and the overall silhouette of the figure. Pay particular attention to the angles of the shapes.
2. Define the Angles and Shapes of the Person You’re Drawing
After you’ve ghosted in the figure in Step 1, begin to define the specific angles and shapes in your life drawing (see below). At this point, look mainly at the outside contours and assess the relative distances between your points.
3. Focus on the Inner Landmarks of the People in Your Drawing
As you move from the outside angles and shapes to the inner ones in your drawing (below), carefully locate and place these landmarks relative to the outside ones. The form shadows on the inside of the figure are important to consider as you connect your inner landmarks to each other.
4. Strengthen and Adjust Your Drawing
Continue to strengthen and clarify your drawing (see below) as you define each shape and contour line. Look closely at the negative shapes or “windows” between the arms and the torso, for example, and make sure these are correct. As you work from larger units to smaller ones in your life drawing, add more detail.
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