Why do we draw and paint

People learn to draw & paint - Part 1

For everyone who wants to learn to draw or paint portraits, nudes or simply people, I have put together instructions here. In these instructions I will describe as clearly as possible how to draw and paint people and what to watch out for. I hope these tips and tricks for drawing and painting will be of help to you.

If you want to draw / paint people, it is especially important to know the basic proportions. The representation of the muscles, the clothes, the shadows etc. is more or less pure technique. The proportions are important - i.e. how long and wide the individual body parts are in relation to one another.

Certainly people differ in size and proportions. For example, some people have long legs and, in relation to this, a short body or vice versa. One is thin, the other thick or muscular, etc. That doesn't make it easy to lay down general rules for drawing or painting people. But I'll try anyway ;-). For the reason mentioned above, I am assuming a "standard" person in these instructions that we would like to draw.

As a rule of thumb when drawing / painting one can assume that a person is about 8 heads tall. The following drawing illustrates the proportions.

The following rules of thumb apply to human proportions, which must be observed when painting and drawing people:

Proportions in height

  • The whole body is 8 heads high (we are now counting from top to bottom)
  • The head therefore measures 1/8 of the body height
  • From head to nipples it is again head height
  • Up to the navel it is again a head height
  • The fourth head height (measured from above) is at the level of the crotch or pubic region
  • The fifth head ends in the middle of the thigh
  • The sixth head just below the knees
  • The seventh in the middle of the lower legs and
  • The eighth and last head on the soles of the feet
  • The thigh is the same length as the lower leg

We have already reached our total height of 8 heads. If you draw or paint a person you can simply take a measurement that corresponds to the height of your head and roughly sketch the total height of your figure.


Proportions - people learn to draw & paint

Proportions in width

With regard to the proportions in width, you have to differentiate between women and men when painting and drawing. The drawing below illustrates this. The rules of proportion are as follows:

  • The shoulder width corresponds to approx. 2 head lengths
  • The width of the waist corresponds to two thirds of the shoulder width
  • For men: The width of the pelvis corresponds to the width of the shoulder joints
  • For women: the width of the pelvis corresponds to the width of the shoulders; You can find more distinguishing features between men and women here

Proportions of the arms

I also have a few tips ready to help you learn to draw arms:
If you stretch your arm sideways at a 90 ° angle, you can divide it into 4 pieces from the central axis of the body:

  • Part 1 corresponds to the shoulder width
  • Part 2 goes to the elbow (= length of the biceps)
  • Part 3 corresponds to the length of the forearm
  • Part 4 is the hand

If the arm is put on, you can use the following parts of the body to draw your bearings:

  • The waist and elbows are at the same height
  • The wrist is roughly level with the pubic bone
  • The fingertips of the hand reach the middle of the thigh


Draw the proportions of the arms correctly

Differentiation proportions man & woman

The main distinguishing features of men and women when drawing and painting people are:

  • Women have female breasts
  • Men have wider shoulders than women
  • Women have a - relatively - wider pelvis
  • The ratio of shoulders to pelvis is different - see picture and description above under "Proportions in width"
  • Men are usually taller than women
  • Men are usually more muscular than women

Learning to draw people - man and woman

People learn to draw and paint

Those were the most important proportions of the human body. If you want to learn to paint or draw people, you should usually stick to these length specifications so that your figures look realistic.
In addition, there is of course a lot to do with correctly representing people. You can perfect your technique with knowledge of bone structure, muscles, the mobility of the human body, etc. You might also have a look at a few other instructions on this website:

Learn to draw hands
Learn to draw feet
Learn to draw the head and face

Here are some helpful links to other websites:
Description of body proportions Wikipedia
Tips for painting people and individual body parts on kulturserver-nds.de
People draw (in English) on polykarbon.com

But don't forget: the most important thing is still practice, practice, practice. And best of all on a living object. So, good luck with it ;-)!