How to Draw People

Latest Update: Just removing a broken link.

Even people who can draw other things fine often think they can’t draw people, for a number for reasons…

  • We draw in symbols – we think we know what an eye and a nose look like, so we tend to draw what we know rather than what we see – the person who you’re drawing probably doesn’t have a nose that looks like the nose you draw.
  • We’re often more worried about getting it wrong – if you’re drawing a tree, you don’t have to worry about the tree being offended at your drawing.
  • People are curved and folded – and these things actually are quite tricky to draw.

Books

In Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Betty Edwards uses a self portrait before and after teaching to show people how much they’ve improved, but she insists that most of the secret is just teaching people to see and draw what they see.

Tips

Drawing Eyes

Many thanks to Buns-N-Moses from the creativity thread at the All Things Considered Slash! forum for these great tips. Visit the forum to see his portraits of Slash, Matt Sorum, Axl Rose and Scott Weiland.

  • The lower edge of the eye always begins before the point where the upper edge ends. The edges never meet at a single point; instead the upper edge protrudes further than the lower one.
  • There are always definite lines above and below the eye (observe).
  • The inner-most part of the eye, the pupil, is the almost infinitely dark, and is surrounded by the less dark iris.
  • There is always a little bright point in any eye, unless the person is dead. This gives life to the persons face.
  • The edge closer to the nose is slightly rounded, as the tear ducts are there, and is always to be shaded slightly dark to give the eye its complete shape.
  • Try observing your own eye and you’ll automatically find out for yourself – it’s the smallest things that matter.

Tutorials

  • The Animation Learner’s Site – general tutorials, but some good specific coverage of the human figure. Doesn’t cover faces, but for that you can look to Learn to Draw…
  • Learn to Draw has an excellent tutorial on drawing faces. Only part of it is free, but the free part contains plenty of really good information, and guides you through the basics step-by-step.
  • Polykarbon offers tutorials in Manga/Comic Art style drawing, but has a good page of basic instruction for drawing people.

34 thoughts on “How to Draw People

  1. wow..i need help…I cant seem to draw eyes or hands right..mouthes either…when i draw eyes its always ones right and i cant draw the 2nd the same…with the hands its just always been a problem…mouthes its just that..they just dont look right.

  2. Drawing hands, eyes and mouths can be difficult. But check out the tutorials in the main article – there are some good tricks to pick up there.

    [image:2458 size=small]
    Sam Randall
    Ain’t Life Grand?

  3. I started painting a couple of weeks ago, though I have had ideas about what I would like to ( be able to ) paint for years. I finaly decided to throw something on a sheet of canvas and see how it turned out. I was much encouraged my my first effort.

    I am looking at/for resources to help me learn to paint the things I immagine. For example: I can look at a picture from the hubble telescope and see immages in the clouds of stellar dust… but what techniques can I use to convey the immagined immage, while not overly disrupting the actual immage–so both remain recognisable?

    I am also having trouble with a forrest scene. I want to convey the sense of deep stillness/spirituality… It is not working yet at all. I have a LOT to learn. Even the basics of the forrest scene itself are pretty lame.

    The 3rd piece is a beach scene. I have already been given a few tips on how to improve it. It is the first one I did, actually, though it is one of the more recent ideas.

    There are so many books and things out there, I hardly know where to start… and I don’t want to spend a lot either. I already have plenty sunk into art supplies. I know I need lessons, but I am unsure of what I should look for in a class.

    Any advice?

  4. this did not help at all it was just a waste of time. i was hoping for diograms because i have an art project and need help. im only 12 but i swear this was the worst site ive ever been to.

  5. I can’t draw AT ALL!!! Please help. I have a thing coming up and I want my people to be good. Honestly, my drawing of people look like mutated parrots!

  6. hey im melissa n im 12 too but gosh y u gotta b so harsh dis site helped me u dont got 2 hate lol

  7. Good points. It’s also very useful to know that people (as anu animal) are not that much curved, but they are bent. Twisted if you want. If you look at the muscle studies of any animal you will see that the shapes fold and bend into each other – a dynamic system is always tending to a spiral, not to a cylinder or a ball. Any standing person would form a spiral (with the axis of the imaginary spiral beginning at the leg which supports the body) and so forth – if you start with the “bent” thought the “folded” and “curved” parts will come by itself.

  8. I have no idea how 2 draw hands!I can draw the rest of the body, okay but the hands look like bowling balls!

  9. Okay i can get the likeness of the person down but i like to draw cartoons and when i try to make my drawings of people “lifelike” they always tend to look like caricatures. Any tips on how to stop making it look so cartoony

  10. i cant draw feet or shoes rite or hands or ears mouths or noses lol… rest is usually fine… ermmm bobbyjack jr… the mutated parot thing sounds kinda funny i mite just draw that lol

  11. i dont know how to draw the eyes and noes in infront size and also the shoes how to draw it without to look like a triangle shape and i also would like to know how to draw a woman without to make her face not the same in your mind i also would like you to teach me how to paint with oil paint thank u soo much

  12. hi this is me againe i started drawing a couple of days but trying to make the woman in my mind look the same but i think its soo hard can u help me doing this thx …

  13. I would really like some help drawing shoes on my people. I can draw the people just not the shoes. THANKS

  14. Hi, I would really like how to draw the lips on people, I just cant seem to get those right!, also I want to know how big to draw the head! thanks!

  15. I love to draw but i cant get the body size right what i want. my friend from school is really good at drawing this stuff

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