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10 Tips for Drawing People for Beginners

10 Tips for Drawing People for Beginners

drawing peopleFor artists who are just beginning, drawing people can seem like a big step. This is why it is so important that you take it. Though it is not guaranteed to be easy, learning how to draw people for beginners is a crucial step. Practicing these tips will help you learn how to get better at drawing people.

Even if you choose not to stick with it, you will be glad that you took the time. This is an excellent way to refine your craft overall. You can build valuable skills that will help you in the long run.

Many people are intimidated by the idea of drawing people. However, it is not as impossible as you might think. Just like with any kind of drawing, you will need to practice and the right tools for drawing.

This can help you to become a better artist and is a fun thing to experiment with. There are many different ways to learn how to start drawing people, so remember to make it your own.

You’ll find that as you progress in your artistic growth that learning to draw people will be fun. 

In addition to these tips, go to my Recommendations page where you will get exclusive tools that will help you create art no matter where you are and/or services that will help you grow your art business.

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How to Draw People for Beginners

Some easy things that beginners can do to draw people are starting with basic poses, not worrying about drawing hands or feet at the start of their drawing journey, sketching out body poses before you begin drawing, and the other mentioned tips below. 

1. Give Yourself A Temporary Pass on Hands and Feet

The biggest issue that artists tend to face is drawing hands and feet. Even for seasoned artists, this can be a serious point of contention. For artists that are trying to learn how to draw people for beginners, it can feel impossible. More importantly, it can be incredibly frustrating.

If you look online, plenty of artists dodge drawing these extremities entirely. It is for this reason that we believe you should give yourself a total pass on drawing these kinds of features.

Since this is something that trips up seasoned artists, it can be exceptionally defeating for beginners. This does not mean that you have to avoid drawing them entirely. However, it does mean that you need to not hold yourself accountable for how they turn out for a while.

Focus on learning how to draw all of the other attributes, and circle back to perfecting this later. Refining this specific skill is something that doesn’t need to be done on day one. It can also make you frustrated and impact the way that you see your drawing abilities.

2. Consider Your Art Style When Learning How to Start Drawing People

No two people have the same art style. For beginners, there is generally a period of drawing like other people. In fact, this is a really effective way to learn. Mirroring the art styles or other artists is great for helping you practice drawing what you see before you.

This can be helpful in unearthing your own style and can give you plenty of practice. However, art style can have a significant impact on how you draw.

People who prefer to draw portraits, their people will likely have very specific traits. It is likely that they will have more definition and more real-world focus. However, for a person who is drawing anime, it is likely that the people will look completely different.

While both are correct in their own right, comparing them isn’t necessarily fair. When you begin to draw people, think about what kind of people you want to draw as a start. This will help you to stay true to the brand and manage your techniques over time.

Knowing the style you want to draw in will help inform you on how to sketch a person. 

You also want to think about the style you want to draw in when you are learning how to draw dogs, how to draw cars, and other things.

drawing people real and anime style

(Left) A more realistically rendered style (Right) Anime style drawn by the super talented and my fellow illustrator @jennifer.greive

3. How to Get Better at Drawing People by Leveraging the World Around You

It is commonly stated that a great way to learn how to draw people is to mirror them from real life. This can be achieved by sitting down in a location and people watching. Now, you won’t necessarily want to stare at people too much and creep them out.

However, you can observe the way that humans look naturally. Watching people in the real world is a great way to understand posture shifts and facial expressions. Observation is a great way to conceptualize what you want to recreate.

This tip for drawing people is incredibly effective if you use it consistently in different locations. Different places attract different kinds of people. Different people hold themselves, dress, and look differently.

Since this is the case, sketching different kinds of people can help you refine your skill overall. It is a great way to stay inspired and practice different natural poses. There will never be a more natural environment for you to learn from.

4. Practice Using Portraits

For artists who want to learn some great tips about drawing people for beginners, portraits are a great place to start. You can build on your skills by using a portrait for reference and trying to recreate it. This tip for drawing people is particularly effective when you use different portraits or different people.

This will help you to learn more about body posture and gives you a reference that you can stare at for hours. You can use this to practice the details you might not capture observing outside.

Another benefit of using portraits for reference is the image itself. A portrait is perfectly framed and filled to be aesthetically appealing. This will help you learn how to create a better overall picture. While you can certainly draw people floating in a vacuum, backgrounds are more realistic. These images can help you conceptualize a bigger picture.

Here are some amazing tips for drawing portraits like an expert. 

5. How to Make a Face Look Realistic

Face proportions can make an image of a person realistic or unrealistic when you draw them. A key to knowing how to start drawing people successfully is getting these proportions done correctly. Making sure that a person’s eyes are not in their forehead can help you end with the image that you want. Learning the relationship between key facial features can lead to more realistic drawings.

drawing people placing the eyes

Sketch showing how to place the eyes correctly on the head. Know where the brow line, eye line, and centerline fall on the head to accurately place the eyes.

Tips on How to Draw Eyes

  1. Draw an oval shape on the centerline (see image above for reference)
  2. Make sure the left eye and right eye are an eye’s width apart
  3. Draw the pupils so that it’s clear what the character is looking at
  4. The top part of the eyelid casts a shadow on the eye, so remember to add some shadow there
  5. Add eyelashes
  6. Add a tiny bit of shadow under the eyebrow
  7. Put in a little shadow at the eyelid

From an artistic perspective, learning to manipulate these is also a valuable tool. Artists tend to make their eyes wider and more vulnerable. They can also highlight key features to make a point. This is especially effective when you are drawing in a more original or cartoon-like capacity. It lets you spotlight what you want to on your characters with purpose.

6. Start with Basic Poses

Before you can learn to run, you must first learn how to walk. Drawing people well means learning to recreate body poses. However, there are some that are simply easier than others. One of the tips for drawing people many artists overlook is to start with basic poses before you jump into anything too crazy.

Learning to start with basic poses doesn’t only help you with drawing people, but if you wanted to learn how to draw dogs or draw cars, it is a fantastic start. 

It is easier to draw someone standing than it is to draw them in a complex action pose. Consider these basic poses as a starting point for your process.

drawing people basic poses

By getting a strong grasp of basic poses like the standing position and sitting position, you’ll be able to draw more variations of poses easier.

Learning the way people hold their bodies naturally will help you to understand them in more complex settings. If you know the way a person’s hair falls in a certain way, you have a better idea of what motion can do to it. This is true with other body poses, so start small and build your way. This will help you solidify the basics, which will strengthen your skills over time.

7. Sketch Out Body Poses Before You Begin Drawing

A great way to perfect your learning of how to draw people for beginners is to practice with their body poses alone. Before you put your character into an obscure position, sketch out what their body pose is. This doesn’t have to be what you carry into a final draft. However, it will help you work out some of the more technical details before you move forward with the drawing.

Roughly sketching body poses is a great way to familiarize yourself with drawing people. It is helpful to learn the basic shapes and positions a person might be composted of. This will act as a basis for your process when you begin more complex drawings. Knowing how your person will be formed will help you to visualize where the details fall.

drawing people how to pose figure

Start with stick figures to ger down the pose you want. Next add form and shape to the figure. Then refine. You’ll do a lot of erasing in this process and that’s okay!

It’s important to sketch out the body pose, or gesture drawing, before diving into all the details. This really helps to capture the mood, energy, or overall feeling of the pose. 

How to Draw Gestures Step by Step

 

8. A Tip for Drawing People Most Forget is to Consider What to Highlight

The power of a portrait is the way that it draws your eyes. We all know what an unflattering picture looks like. It is taken from the wrong angle and usually off-center. Knowing in advance where you want to draw your viewer’s eye, will help you sculpt the drawing itself. When you set out to draw someone, think about what you want to highlight about them.

You can highlight any feature so long as you do it well. Consider the area that you want to highlight as a focal point for the drawing. It is your job to frame it and help the eyes land naturally. You can do this to make someone’s necklace stand out as well as their vibrant eyes.

Learn how to do this with a drawing, and then you can build on it later with coloring. Color is a great way to lead an audience to the right spot.

9. Analyze Where Shadows Naturally Fall

A point of particular interest when drawing people is the use of shadows. For most images, shadows will define the image as much as the details will. Using shadows effectively is a tip for drawing people that can change the tone of a drawing and make it look more realistic.

Unless someone holds a flashlight in your face at the perfect angle, you will have shadows. To make more realistic drawings of people, you must understand how lighting impacts the source and work from there.

Shadows are a great tool for bringing realism to any drawing. It shows your audience that you know how the person would look in reality. This is a great way to help your subject interact with the world around them.

It can also help you to add more depth to an image by implying there is more than the traditional surface. This is a great way to practice valuable drawing skills. Shadows are always going to be a relevant part of anything that you decide to create.

drawing people adding life with shadows

(Left) Figure with no shadows (Right) Shadows added. Notice how much life and impact you get by adding shadows to your figure.

How to Add Shadows to a Drawing

 

10. Learn to Draw People by Understanding the Correct Body Proportions

A problem that beginning artists can sometimes run into is a matter of drawing body proportions. Though there are artistic ways to make your subject disproportionate to their world, it must be done right. In most cases, you don’t want a person to look bigger than a bus.

Learning how to draw the average body proportions to make a realistic picture is an invaluable skill. Practicing this can help you bring more realism and better proportions to your art.

To practice proportions, work on drawing people in relation to their backgrounds. Observe the world around you and see how much bigger things are within a frame of reference. Photos are great for this and can help you learn where to place your character so that they make sense.

Your proportions can also be manipulated to make a point, which is a fun exercise to practice. Consider showing how small or big a character is by tweaking the world around them.

Figure Drawing Proportions Worksheets

Below you’ll find some worksheets from Andrew Loomis’ figure drawing book. These guides will show male body proportions, female body proportions, a figure at different ages, and different types of male figures. Knowing these proportions is a fundamental step when you learn to draw people.

male body proportionsfemale body proportions

figure drawing proportions of different figure types

If you enjoyed these worksheets, you can download the entire figure drawing book here

Conclusion

Drawing people for beginners can seem like a scary thing to do, but you are absolutely up to the challenge. With any kind of new art technique, there will be a period of learning and total failure. Your job as an artist is to never get discouraged. Keep practicing and use these tips for drawing people.

Whether you’re drawing people from imagination or trying to know how to draw someone you know, incorporating these tips with practice will help you become more confident in drawing. 

Even though your first few attempts might be complete disasters, over time you will learn. Don’t be afraid to mess up and continue experimenting until you find what is right for you. There is no right way to create art, so don’t force yourself to do it someone else’s way.

You are more capable than you might think, so don’t shy away from the hard stuff. You can skip hands and feet for now, but come back to them later. Practicing the various techniques involved with drawing people is a great way to become a better artist.

Over time, these skills will help you to refine your craft and may lead you to your art style. Try any of these tips for drawing people to see if it helps you, and it doesn’t try something else. There are always more ways for you to learn and grow.

Also, if you want exclusive tools that will help you create art no matter where you are and/or services that will help you grow your art business, go to my Recommendations page.

What is the toughest thing for you to draw?

 

Drawing People FAQ

Where do you start when drawing a person?

You want to start by sketching the basic outline of poses. This also helps with warming up your drawing ability. It’s the equivalent of doing stretches before a workout.

How do you draw a face for beginners?

Think of the face as an oval. From there you divide that oval into the proper proportions. Check out this article to learn the proper proportions to draw a face.

How do you get better at drawing people?

It’s all about practice, BUT practicing in a smart way. Divide your practice sessions into 2 phases: Observation and Drawing. Observe a person. Pay attention to all the details then draw. Keep repeating these two steps. In time you will commit this to memory.

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