How to Draw People Using the Block-In Method

You can learn how to draw people using the envelope block-in method and gridding to measure and map the human form in your life drawing. Drawing people will be less daunting and your proportions of the human body will be more accurate if you use and practice the techniques in these two step-by-step demonstrations.

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In this free excerpt from The Artist’s Magazine, Robert T. Barrett reviews two drawing lessons: How to Draw a Person: Using a Simple Block-In (exercise one) and Techniques on How to Draw a Person: Using a Grid and Landmarks (exercise two).

When you enter your email address, you’ll also receive an entire chapter on how to draw people from Barrett’s instructional book, Life Drawing: How to Portray the Figure with Accuracy and Expression.

“Learning the processes associated with traditional drawing not only helps the artist see the external world more efficiently and translate it more personally but also acts as a catalyst to stimulate the release of imagination into the realms of creativity,” says Barrett. “Structural knowledge and emotional content are not mutually exclusive. Learning to draw well takes effort but it is effort well expended and the process can be both engaging and a lot of fun as well.”

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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.

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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.

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How to Draw People