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There are several techniques for sketching the human body. One of them is "blocking in" and another is simplifying the body into common shapes like balls, blocks and cones. Here is how to use both techniques to render the human form. To block in a human body you make about six to twelve different lines on your paper to define the rough shape of the body. The results of blocking in will not look very good, but you can kind of view them as "the sketch before the sketch". Blocking in is helpful because you do not have to worry at all about the details, you only want to get the main shape of the body and become comfortable with that. Blocking is also good to do as a thumbnail sketch, so that you don't use up too much paper in the earliest stages of your drawing. You may have to do three or four blocked in thumbnail sketches before you feel confident enough to do a more formal sketch. With the blocking in technique you will have a crude outline of the shape of the body you want to draw. In other words, you will have a line drawing. In the other major technique for sketching a human body, using shapes, you'll end up with a drawing that has more form to it, and is also further along the way to having shadows and highlights. In the shapes method, you break the body down into simpler shapes. The head usually is an oval. The arms become cones that have circles where the joints would be. Typically the chest is a boxlike shape that tapers to the waist. The hip area is also another circle, or a horizontal oval shape. if you are using pencils, blocking in is the better technique, but if you are working with pastels or softer mediums such as charcoal, then using the shape method will accentuate the use of shadows for that medium. There is another less commonly used technique for sketching the human body. Call it the "five dots" method. This is an extremely simple way to render the human form with five dots and some attaching lines. It also makes an amusing game if one person makes the dots and then has the other person connect them to create a person in a given pose. In the five dots method, you make one dot for the head, one dot for each hand, and one dot for each foot. You create the spine of the person by drying a line down from that dot the creates the head and then you split the line into two lines at about where the waist would be, then continue the two lines down to the dots that make up the feet, thereby creating the lines that represent the person's legs. The person's arms are made by connecting the two dots that are the hands by drawing the line between them through the spine. This is an extremely easy way to render the human form. With practice, you'll be able to start sketching someone from any possible position, just by using five dots and a few lines.


Pamella Neely spends a lot of time drawing. There are dozens of tutorials on her website including how to draw people and how to draw faces.

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Human Body