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Human body Archives - Draw Like A Pro


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Life model drawing in Brussels

The first Life model drawing training session by Piet Herzeel took place in july and august 2011 in Brussels. He decided to begin with a female model, easier to start with. Some models are more adapted to sketching than others. The model we had last summer was very interesting in the sense that she is perfectly adapted to the different levels and experiences of all the students. In order to satisfy everybody, the model took many short poses in order to create the effect that we really want: forgetting the tool and concentrating on the model and the rhythms of the poses. Short poses also allow you to try out various techniques, charcoal, pastel, ink, pencil and so on… A preparatory work is always done in order to discover a few techniques needed for taking measures and displaying the subject on the sheet. The poses taken the previous day are repeated daily for about 30 to 45 minutes in order to allow the students who want to finish up a drawing to do so during the whole length of the session. The students who want to do differently can always circle around the model during that time in order to catch one view or another concentrating on some anatomy detail or aiming for sketching from several angles. If you continue on with an oil painting session, you can always use one of your best sketches as a draft for a painting. If you decide to do so, you can actually adapt your approach during the life model session. You will still have to work on a still life in order to follow the oil painting session though. Life model drawing is a necessary step in learning how to understand how the human body looks and how it moves. I hope to see you in Brussels one day with Piet. We’ve had the best of time so far and we look forward to keeping up the good work and enjoy learning what only very few can have access to…

The Canons

As a child, I’m sure you were already drawing people as you saw them with your own eyes and your simple understanding of details and proportions. Today, I’m sure that you draw people a lot better but you probably still wish to make them more realistic. How can you make your drawings of people look real?

If you want to learn how to draw the human body, you will need to respect the “Canons of the Human Body” as we call the model used for reference in order to draw a body with correct proportions.

The first to be known whose proportions are listed in a chart goes back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. To establish a canon, one needed to decide what was “beautiful” in a body and gather those rules in one single model. Of course, the concept of beauty is quite subjective and discussions are still vivid.

In the Signus drawing course, Piet Herzeel explains very clearly what a canon is and how useful it is in the art of drawing. He introduces different models to us and then shows us how they evolved in time and how to use them.
Piet Herzeel defines what should be a good canon for the drawer.
In the special workshop about the human body, thanks to the step by step explanations, you will be able to draw a person with realistic proportions.
This first approach gives amazing results. In the “drawings to do“ chapter  you can have fun building different bodies using the special charts.

Short, tall, fat and skinny people… You can give the right proportions to all your characters thanks to Piet Herzeel’s explanations developed in the specific module about the human canons.


The study of drapery is happily one that can be carried on at almost any place, time, and season, and perhaps it is because of this very ease of access that it is so often neglected and many an otherwise satisfactory picture will be marred by the poor drawing of drapery and clothing. When the weather is unsuitable for sketching, when there is no person available as a model, time may well be spent on a little practice in drawing drapery. Take any piece of material, a handkerchief for lack of anything better. Pin it up on the wall or to a curtain—anywhere so long as it falls in natural folds—and make a sketch of it. Notice the tendency to trian­gular forms, the way in which the folds radiate from the pin, and the foreshortening of the curves which form the bottom edge of the handkerchief. Having satisfied yourself with that sketch, take the handkerchief down and throw it over some object such as a book standing on edge or an inverted flower vase, and make another sketch. Notice the arrangement of the folds; they will end abruptly at the top if falling from a sharp edge, and will

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fade away gradually from a rounded shape. Something of the underlying object should be obvious from your drawing of the handkerchief in the same way that clothes should suggest the limbs and body they cover. Then make a sketch of it, knotted, or tied around something. As you tie the knot (which makes the best study if not tied too tightly), notice which fold passes behind and where it reappears, and be on the lookout for this continuity when you come to draw it. Fig. 117 to 123 show outline studies of drapery. Fig. 117 shows it loosely looped around the figure in natural folds. Long, sweeping lines predominate. In Fig.118 it is more bunched, and the long lines are disturbed and irregular. In Fig. 119 the fluted line of the edge of the material is noticeable. Fig. 120 shows the abrupt change of line where the drapery trails on the floor. In Fig. 123 the triangular form of the folds is again plain, and also the fluted edge. Fig. 122 emphasizes the under­lying human form even though the drapery is voluminous.Fig. 121 shows the flowing lines and repetition of form in material blown by the wind. The usual tendency in drawing drapery is to shun straight lines and make the folds too rounded. The angularity in Figs. 120 and 123 should be noted. Figs. 124 and 129 show how the lines of material, in one case loosely and in the other more closely draped, follow and suggest the form they cover. Fig. 126, a sketch of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, shows the charm of simply interpreted drapery; Fig. 125, the elaborate arrange­ment of a bygone fashion. Fig. 127 is given to show that the ragged, careless effect of old clothes may be accentuated by ragged and somewhat carefree lines. Fig. 128 gives folds of a thick, rich material. The broad folds show the thick, com­parative stiffness of the drapery and the reflected light in the shadows suggests the sheen of brocade. Thick material will not fall into narrow folds unless artificially arranged, and will tend to straight lines and angles. Thin material falls in narrower, less clearly defined folds with more flowing lines and rounder corners. drapery loosely looped around the figure in natural foldsdrapery118drapery119drapery120drapery121drapery122drapery123drapery124drapery125drapery126drapery127drapery128drapery129

Drawing people


The human body

Arm, leg, torso, head, hand, every part of the human body respects proportions. The bones making up the body follow rules of movement and limitations in the directions and angles.

The Canon of Proportions (The standards)

How to understand and create a canon (Standard) and obtain realistic results.

Respecting and using the correct proportions to draw realistic characters. The proportions of the human figure will vary due to the age, sex and type of person. Tall, short, large, thin, young, old…

Drawing the body Proportions of the body

You will be able to learn and draw a Standard quickly and easily, with time you’ll be able to place the body in the position that is suitable for your drawing, perhaps a person who is sitting down, running or holding an object. Learn where to place the lines defining the waist, shoulders, brest, knees, elbows and eyes, but also the limits in movement.

Drawing a hand

The hand is one of the most characteristic features of man; by means of it he is able to perform the most delicate manipulations. It may also be made use of as a means of expression. The actor’s art is one of the most striking examples of this the finger to the lips to indicate silence, the hands held up to express horror, are only instances of the more common modes of expression by this means. This may be carried further, as in pantomime, and men who could not otherwise converse are enabled to interchange ideas by means of this gesture language.

The artist will frequently have recourse to this mode of suggestion, as it enables him to assist in giving expression and action to the figures he represents.

But in other ways the hand reflects to some extent the character and mode of life of its owner. Apart altogether from the refinement associated with the female, very great variations in the form of the hand are met with in different individuals, modifications in many instances due to the uses to which the hand has been put.

To represent the hand of a blacksmith as delicate and refined would be absurd from a pictorial standpoint, though it is curious to note that the hands and fingers of those employed in the most delicate manipulations are often clumsy and uncouth looking. As a rule, however, we associate delicacy of hand with refinement and with mental rather than manual labour, whilst a muscular hand is regarded as an attribute of strength and of a powerful physique.

A man’s hands are often as characteristic as his face, and in portraiture the artist frequently avails himself of this feature. With women, however, this is less marked, as here we expect to see elegance and beauty rather than character, a circumstance which has often led nainters in the past to supply the hands from other and better models.

This article is an extract of the Signus online drawing course