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Within this blog post you will discover 10 free online resources to improve your figure drawing. Transform your figure drawing skills with these life drawing poses, online blogs, to courses. All of them completely free!
So, what led me to writing this I hear you ask?
I’ve always disregarded properly learning figure drawing. I love attending life drawing sessions once a month, and find it very useful. However, it’s always been one of my weaknesses. As a result, I set out a plan to improve this side of my work. I wouldn’t say I was the worst figure drawer, but it was certainly a category I could improve. Practicing my weaknesses is a mantra that I live by – and it seems to be paying dividends.
As I was on this quest to improve my figure drawing, I discovered some handy online resources which I’m sharing with you today. There’s nothing quite like drawing from life, but these resources will give you confidence to take into your next life drawing session. These resources are great to help you keep practising when you don’t have a real model in front of you.
As a side note; if you’re unfamiliar with this blog, I share illustration, art and freelancing tips to help you succeed. From helping you with colour, seeing how the great masters created dynamic compositions, to sharing my own illustration work, be sure to check out my previous blog posts!
Why Is Figure Drawing Important?
Now you understand my inspiration for this article, you may be questioning why you should practice figure drawing in the first place. It’s a good question to ask!
Whether you’re an illustrator, fine artist, or sculptor, the human figure probably shows up in your work. Even if you don’t think so (if you work only in landscapes or paint abstract for instance), understanding how to draw the human figure can exponentially improve your drawing skill.
Ask any professional artist and they will say drawing from life is essential to help you improve. However, you might have limited access to sessions and classes. If this is the case, then I highly recommend a substitute – drawing and studying from these resources below. Once you start building your own knowledge and skill, you can take this knowledge, skill, and confidence into your life drawing sessions.
There’s a lot that goes into a good drawing skill, with confidence playing its part in the equation. If you can develop confidence from your own self-learning, you can take this into life drawing sessions.
Especially if you attend life drawing classes, these sessions force you to focus on the model, and draw exactly what you see, not what you think you see. This is why life drawing is taught at Universities and Art School, it’s an important skill to have.
If you still don’t think the human figure comes up in your work, imagine if it did! Could you make your art even more powerful with figures included? Imagine if all those famous artists didn’t draw or paint figures, from Rembrandt, Rubens to Caravaggio – their art wouldn’t be the same.
On the other hand, if you think you draw figures a lot within your art, imagine how strong your art can become with a little hard work, the right resources and teachers around you.
Have Clear Goals
I would recommend knowing exactly what you want out of your figure drawing sessions. Having clear goals leads to satisfying results.
For example, do you want to study anatomy?, or do you want to practice gesture drawing?, or tonal relationships?
These questions lead to different results, so understanding what you want from the outset is a must. For instance, if you focus on drawing gesture for 30 minutes, you should focus on the figure’s movement, force and rhythm. In contrast, if you look at tonal relationships, you’ll get a completely different outcome.
I recommend having a think about what you want from your figure studies. Here’s some goals / sessions that you should consider:
- Gesture / movement
- Tonal values
- Blind contour drawing
- Body part studies
- Anatomy study
- Muscle study
And with these free figure drawing resources, you can take your figure drawing to the next level! So let’s get started with revealing the first free figure drawing resource.
The first figure drawing resource is Proko. A brilliant Youtuber who shares free, actionable, and consistent content to help you improve your art.
In particular, I love Proko’s gesture drawing videos. When I was new to gesture drawing, these videos helped me realise why gesture drawing is important and how it can help my art. He explains what gesture drawing is, how it can help you, and offers a step-by-step process to achieving successful gesture drawing.
Gesture drawing is a great skill when it comes to figure drawing. Instead of drawing every detail and focusing on every contour of the figure, gesture drawing makes you focus on movement. From 30 seconds to 3 minutes poses, gesture drawing makes you concentrate on the gesture of the pose. These aren’t rushed drawing without accuracy, but are quick, attentive observations. You can get a real sense of movement within these sketches, sometimes even more so than longer poses.
But why should you practice your gesture drawings? From a plant, teacup, to mountain, gesture is found in everything, and no more so than figure drawing. You don’t want your drawings to look static and motionless, which gesture drawings help combat. It’s an important skill as you can build a large body of work in a reasonable amount of time, forces you to encounter your mistakes and fix them, and helps instil a sense of movement into your work. I’ve found these videos really helpful in my pursuit of good gesture drawings.
In these videos Proko talks about ‘CSI’ (not the well-known television series); where you use only ‘C’, ‘S’ and ‘I’ strokes to form your gesture drawings. This forces you to focus on the gesture, not the contours of the figure.
Steve Huston’s ‘How to Draw the Head / Face / Portrait’
A top-quality video is Steve Huston’s ‘How to Draw the Head / Face / Portrait’ master class on New Masters Academy. I just had to include this video even though it isn’t directly related to figure drawing. Steve Huston is a wonderful drawer, painter and teacher of the human figure, and this free video is over 3 hours long! Admittedly, this is a good tactic by New Masters Academy, as it entices you to purchase a course from them, but it’s a free resource which you should take advantage of. Like I mentioned previously, New Master Academy has great videos from life drawing poses, educational videos and free courses like this one.
If you want to draw the head from any angle, I highly recommend you check this video out. It’s a great watch and you will learn from the very best – all for free! (You can thank me later!).
The Drawing Database by Marc Leone
I’ve only recently discovered ‘The Drawing Database’, but I’m so lucky I have! Marc’s Youtube channel has great quality content, with some videos lasting over 1:30hrs! Marc is a great teacher with remarkable drawing skills. It’s a very popular channel, and you can see why!
Covering everything from anatomy instructional videos, looking at master’s work, to introducing you to the figure and how he likes to work, this is a great channel that I highly recommend.
All of his videos are excellent, but I particularly like his figure videos on ‘THE FIGURE: Know Your Landmarks & Proportions-A Guide’, ‘THE FIGURE: Drawing the Torso a.k.a. THE LIMA BEAN FORM’ and his non-related figure video ‘THE BASICS: The Ellipse-its everywhere’.
After I hit publish on this article, I’m going to head straight off and watch one of Marc’s videos! Feast your eyes on the videos, learn, and thank me later (or better still, thank Marc for these excellent videos!).
Love Life Drawing
A fantastic Youtube channel that can help you improve is ‘Love Life Drawing’. I love this Youtube channel, that offers consistent content to help your figure drawing. Hosted by Kenzo and his mum Mayko (who appears more in the background and is a professional artist), this channel can help take your figure drawing to the next level. From gesture drawing advice, shading tips, to live streams, this channel has it all to help your figure drawing.
Usually posting weekly videos, they help beginners to experts improve their life drawing skills. Not only will this channel help your figure drawing, I believe it will improve your drawing in general. Why is this? Because if you can master life drawing, then drawing anything else will seem like a doddle!
I particularly like this video (Beginner GESTURE Drawing Part 1), this one (Beginner GESTURE Drawing), and this video too (How to Draw like Raphael). Away from life drawing, I particularly liked their video on perspective.
You can see I’m a big fan of this Youtube channel, and I’m sure you’ll love it too. Keep up the good work Kenzo! Check out their website here too.
New Master’s Academy
If you’re looking for great life drawing poses, then I highly recommend you check out New Master’s Academy’s videos. Especially useful when you don’t have a real-life model to draw from, this is a good secondary option to help your figure drawing. Of course, nothing beats drawing from life and is always recommended instead of drawing from an image or from a screen.
All of their free videos are on Youtube, and most of their life drawing poses are 30 minutes in duration. These start with 5-10 one-minute poses, followed by 5-10 two-minute poses, and then usually a couple of 10-minute poses to end. I usually use the 10-minute poses to complete a few gesture drawings, studying the head, hands and feet if I have time.
From a mixture of nude, non-nude, female, and male poses, I highly recommend these life drawing poses. New Master’s Academy has some other great videos which is worth checking out – from free critique sessions, demos to videos like this one.
Draw Paint Academy – Gesture Drawing
If you prefer learning from articles than videos, then this resource is for you! This article, written by Draw Paint Academy, Dan Scott, introduces you to gesture drawing (I know I mentioned gesture drawing in Proko’s resources – but this resource was too good to not include).
This blog post is the perfect beginner’s guide to gesture drawing. So, if you don’t know much about the subject, or think it’s not worth your time, do check it out. Here you will discover why gesture drawing is important, tips to help you succeed with gesture drawing, and examples of how the artistic masters used gesture drawing in their art. This article and Proko’s videos will leave you in great stead to help you with gesture drawing.
Do check out their valuable resources too at the end of the article!
Bridgeman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life
These 10 figure drawing resources compilation wouldn’t be complete without this well-known and trusted book by George B. Bridgeman, and his classic ‘Bridgeman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life’. Published by ‘Sterling Publishing Co. Inc’ in New York, published way back in 1952, is still an important book for artists learning to draw the figure and anatomy. It’s a great book which I highly recommend you check out.
With over 1,000 illustrations and 350+ pages, the book covers subjects from the figure, head, to the more difficult human parts of feet and hands.
I particularly like the head and figure sections in the book, as this drastically helped improve my understanding of the head. Sometimes, the language used to describe every muscle or bone confuses me (as I sometimes have no idea what Bridgeman is referring to), which is a downside. His drawings are rough and loose, as he apparently drew from a large stick to teach his pupils in a lecture space. It’s easy to simply ‘copy’ his style of drawings without really taking note of why he’s made such a mark. So as a result, it’s crucial that you tonally draw from the book, and not simply copying his ‘style’.
Overall, it’s a great book to reference and study, which I’ve used countless times.
Andrew Loomis – Drawing the Head and Hands
If you want to improve your head drawings, there is only one person for the job – and that’s Andrew Loomis. An author and artist who’s a main say for most figure artists.
I’ve been working my way through his ‘Drawing the Head and Hands‘, published in 1956 for a while now, and it’s a brilliant resource. Not only has it helped me construct the head properly, it’s a tried and tested structure that works every time. I highly recommend you check this out. You can see some of his head studies below, which shows the construction lines, the ball and the all-important middle line, which Loomis recommends.
Even though it’s quite old fashioned now, it’s still as important now as it was back when it was published. ‘Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth‘, published in 1943, by Andrew Loomis, is another resource that I highly recommended to help your figure drawings. Even though it’s a book which I’ve only briefly scanned through, Loomis helps explain how to construct the figure, with illustrations, anatomy explanations and helpful proportion graphics. I plan on devouring this book in the near future!
Figure Drawing Reference Website
Similar to the New Masters Academy resource that I mentioned above, this is a very handy website that I recommend bookmarking. This is a free figure reference website, with lots of different settings to suit you. From nude to nonnude, pose duration, to animal reference – it’s a great resource!
Most of the reference photos from are high-quality, however there are some not so good ones that I tend to skip (usually the dated black and white photographs).
As a side note – this website is not secure (no https certificate). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit and use the website, just don’t enter any login details into the website, as it’s venerable to attack.
Drawing From The Great Masters
If you want to learn how to draw the figure, I recommend copying the great masters. Master studies allows you to see how past (and present) artists handled this challenging subject. You can learn so much from these exercises! Imagine getting into the mind of Van Gogh, Rubens to Rembrandt? Master studies allows you to do just that.
One resource offering a free master copy drawing tutorial is by ‘Study Drawing’. Here Ben Rathbone (the author, website owner and artist), explains how to achieve an accurate master copy drawing. Fortunately he’s copying a figure drawing by Charles Bargue (very handy for this blog post!).
I particularly love his grid method within his tutorial, which I also recommend. Drawing from a grid is one way to create accurate drawings. You can follow the Bargue’s image that Ben draws from, or choose your own master drawing to copy.
Improve your own figure drawing with master copies; it will take your figure drawing and technique to the next level!
Figure Drawing Resources To Help You!
I hope these figure drawing resources have been helpful to you! It was a pleasure collating all of them; from Proko, New Masters Academy, to Andrew Loomis, these resources are here to help improve your figure drawing.
The human figure is one of the hardest things to draw, so it’s always worth getting as much help from the experts. I’m constantly trying to improve this side of my art, so I know how it feels if you’re particularly frustrated. If you want to improve your figure drawing, my simple tip is to keep at it. Focus on improving, studying, and practice, and with these resources above, you’ll go from strength to strength. Remember, every professional was once an amateur.
I’ll love to hear what you think of these resources! How you have improved your figure drawing? Are there any resources that you love that I haven’t mentioned? Or do you have any tips for our community? Please send me your comments below, it would be interesting hearing from you guys.
Thanks guy, and happy figure drawing!
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