One of the most frequent questions I receive are from those who are having trouble drawing the body. Well, worry no more because I’m going to cover the basics right here in this article!
The first thing you have to learn when drawing the whole body is to use guidelines. As when you are drawing guidelines to draw the face, you use guidelines to draw bodies so it is drawn proportionally and anatomically correct.
As this image above illustrates, you can draw guidelines in many different ways from lines, to bubbles, and to full shapes like cylinders and circles. You can draw as little or as much detail as you want according to your preferences just as long as you are aware of the proportions of the body.
Here’s some proportion guidelines that you should take to heart when drawing the body:
1) the elbows tend to align right at the waist of a person (the waist, for the record is where your belly button is situated and is generally the slimmest part)
2) the wrist aligns right around where your hips and leg meet
3) the hand falls right at the top of your thigh
4) the top and bottom half of the leg (i.e. the parts above and below the knee) should be about the same length
5) the shoulder width should be about half the size of the head on each side.
There are of course exceptions to these rules like malformed individuals, mini-people, exaggerated characters that have animal-like builds (ex/gorilla), monsters and aliens. Other than that, your characters should pretty much look like this in the guideline form:
The second thing you have to learn is that the body is comprised of multiple shapes all attached and working together like Lego building blocks. Shapes vary from cylinders, circles, ovals, triangles, and other odd shapes. It is best to think about these shapes in 3D (i.e. cylinders, cubes, etc) as it will help you visualize the body in different points of view more easily.
Last but not least, in regards to the arms and legs, there is one thing that you must remember when drawing a regular person: Wide to thin.
What do I mean by this? Well, the arms and legs have this shape that tends to be wide then taper off as it reaches the next joint. For example, if you take your arm, it starts off wide at the shoulder and then will become thinner as it gets to the elbow. Then it will start off wide again and taper at the wrist. The same for your thigh. Wide to thin to the knee and again, it is wide to thin down to the ankles. Check out the drawing below to clarify what I just described:
As always, there are exceptions to the rule but this is a very general detail that you should take measures to remember when drawing the average human body.
All in all, keep these three points in mind whenever you’re drawing a body until it becomes subconscious and you do it automatically. If you ever run into a tight spot though, come back to these basics and you should be able to fix your mistakes.