Male Art Model Poses

Inspirations for Figure and Life Drawing Poses

Jeff Mellem teaches beginning artists how to draw the human figure, from stick figures to anatomically accurate ones in his book, How to Draw People. Here, he shares clear, easy-to-follow lessons on male art model poses that you can use to get comfortable with the proportions and arrangements of the male figure in different positions.

Jeff Mellem male art model poses
Jeff Mellem

Four Levels to Figure Drawing

Knowing how to draw the figure is a great skill for any artist to have. If you are interested in working in one of the narrative arts, such as films, comics, video games or illustration, being able to draw and invent figures is essential. Even if you’re more interested in expressing abstract ideas through fine art, having the skill to draw a figure in any pose opens up a whole world of expressiveness.

The First Level of figure drawing is getting a sense of proportion and range of motion is vital to inventing figures and poses, and the armature is the perfect tool for that task along with the gesture drawing, which captures body movements in the drawing.

An armature looks like a stick figure with shoulders and hips. It’s very simple to draw and an easy way to start learning both proportion and how to design poses. Essentially, the armature is a very simplified skeleton.

Male art model poses 4 levels of drawing

The Second Level is when you start to incorporate the sphere and cube to add volume to the armature. You start to create simplified, dimensional skeletons in your drawings.

Level Three is when you start to build out the figure using basic volumes, fleshing out the simplified skeleton by joining and combining boxes, spheres and cylinders. This simplified figure will begin to look more human despite lacking any muscular anatomy.

The Fourth Level of figure drawing is when you can comfortable reflect the body’s shapes and rhythms in your drawing. The shapes of the body are mostly influenced by the largest muscles so learning the shapes of these large muscles is the first step to creating figures that are anatomically correct. You have to learn how to draw them when the muscle is stretched, flexed or relaxed. The best way to do so is to use a variety of male art model poses to capture the body in many ways.

Male Art Model Poses — Photo to Armature

Male art model poses: Istock.com/Arsenik
Istock.com/Arsenik

Gather several photos of people in motion. Search the Internet for images of athletes from nearly any sport or performers such as dancers, actors or acrobats.

You can also find great dynamic action in movie stills, comic books and concept art for video games. Whatever piques your interest is what you should use.

Print out at least ten images and first trace each figure as an armature and then draw them free hand. Pay close attention to the size of the head compared to the body and the lengths of the limbs. Try to render the proportions as accurately as possible.

Level Up with Contortions and Simple Volumes

Find a photo of someone who is posed in an extreme way — someone posed with a strong twist or bend in the torso and arms and legs in motion. Parts of the body will likely be foreshortened.

Istock.com/4x6
Istock.com/4×6

Lightly draw the pose as either an armature or as a gesture drawing. Do not trace the image; figure it out for yourself through careful observation.

male art model poses 5
Jeff Mellem

Re-create the whole pose as a simplified skeleton by drawing on top of your armature or gesture drawing.

Male art model poses
Istock.com/NickP37

Look at your picture carefully alongside your drawing to see how the body is positioned while you use your armature as a foundation for your drawing.

Pay particular attention to getting the forms to sit in space accurately. If a leg is kicking toward you, make sure the cylinders are clearly pointing toward you as well. If you see that something in your armature drawing isn’t accurate, correct it as you build up your new drawing.

Draw Different Body Types

Start with a gesture drawing for a pose and build up the three-dimensional shapes for a figure. You can develop your figure however you like. It can be muscular, skinny, short or overweight.

Jeff Mellem
Jeff Mellem

Create a new gesture for drawing the same pose, but this time, build your figure with a different body type. You’ll use different shapes and proportions to develop this new figure than you did for the first one.

This exercise will help you practice building shapes and forms that fit your model rather than just repeating the same shapes on every figure you draw.

Jeff Mellem sketches
Jeff Mellem

Create a new drawing with unrealistic proportions. See how far you can distort the body. For example, you can create a character with tiny hips, a huge chest, very short legs, long arms and a tiny head. This will help you really stretch your skills in morphing anatomical shapes to fit what you imagine instead of what you’ve ever seen before.

More from the Instructor

Jeff Mellem on male art model posesJeff Mellem is a professional artist and graphic designer. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California State University, Fullerton, and studied at the American Animation Institute in North Hollywood, California.

His previous book, Sketching People: Life Drawing Basics, was released by North Light Books in 2009, and he was one of the artists featured in Sketchbook Confidential: Secrets From the Private Sketches of Over 40 Master Artists. For more on his work, visit his website.

Article includes excerpts from Jeff Mellem’s book, How to Draw People.

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