Life Drawing – 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Drawing a Nude Model

Drawing a Nude Model
Beginners Guide, Drawing Methods, Drawing Techniques, Painting, Pencil Sketch

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Do – 1) Do Arrive Early

Drawing a Nude Model – Due to the popularity of life drawing classes (I can’t imagine what for?), even large-sized classrooms can quickly become packed out. No one cares for the slacker turning up late, clambering over everyone’s easels, elbowing people in the face.



Being a latecomer won’t make you famous. Also, it is embarrassing for everyone concerned when you start asking to borrow a knife to sharpen your pencils or masking tape to stick the paper to your board. So yes – make sure you get all that chit-chat and material pilfering over with before the model even disrobes.

Do – 2) Do Draw The Whole Model

Although this isn’t a problem for the serious artist, when I attended art college, it surprised the number of people who chose to either eliminate areas of the model’s naked body or concentrate too hard on one specific ‘region’.

Unless it is your raison d’être and master plan for world domination, it probably doesn’t serve your masterpiece well to do a tiny doodle or a huge close-up of the model’s breasts (or whatever your favorite part is). You will appear amateurish and slightly foolish. (Drawing a Nude Model )

Another good tip for impressing the tutor is to begin drawing your drawing from the inside out rather than just focussing on the body’s outline. Although Picasso got away with it in his fantastic nudes, the Van Gogh ‘crazy marks everywhere’ approach is more artistically engaging.

Do – 3) Do Draw Negative Spaces

A good way of convincing everyone that you aren’t simply there to act like a deviant and act up – and, more importantly, learn something about drawing – is to focus on drawing the spaces between the figure.

It doesn’t sound like much fun. However, it is often the case that a stunning drawing can be achieved by filling in the background as much as the figure itself, primarily if you draw a silhouette of the constitution — perhaps basking in the shadows as the daylight fades from the room.

Another reason to draw in this style is that a nude is far more alluring and atmospheric when details of the body are suggested instead of rendered in full, glorious detail. This sometimes also has the dual benefit of making your drawing easier to do. So why make it hard on yourself? Knock everyone’s socks off with this clever trick.

Do – 4) Do Remember Sketching A Nude Figure Is The Same As Any Other Drawing

Some people get carried away with the fact that they are drawing a naked human being. Keep it real. Artists have been focused on using the nude as a subject for centuries, and not all of them slept with their models. (Drawing a Nude Model )

It is unlikely to go down well if you form an unhealthy stalker-like fixation on the model. Also, if you join a class that runs for a whole semester, the actual model will likely be switched around, and you never know who will turn up.

It will become very suspicious if you suddenly vanish when the seventy-year-old, bearded man makes an appearance but starts hanging around for ages before the class when there are rumors of the twenty-five-year-old naked Swedish girl being ‘on’ this week.

Do – 5) Do Pay Attention to Foreshortening

If you look at any object from different angles, it has another eclipse. The nude human figure is no other. You are trying to create the illusion of depth which is no easy feat.

Foreshortening is quite like perspective and can either be used as an excuse to show off – for the well-practiced and talented – or an effortless way to display your shortcomings (and perhaps give you away as a voyeuristic intruder).

Just keep the faith and move around the room, taking advantage of the versatility you can obtain by drawing multiple poses. Before long, you will be as good as some pompous renaissance artist.

Don’t – 1) Don’t Dictate The Flow Of The Class

Some novice life drawers are surprised when the tutor suddenly goes hyperactive and starts ordering the class to carry out quick ‘familiarization exercises’ such as doing lightning-quick charcoal sketches and frustrating fifteen-minute poses in which the model is told to change posture when you are just getting started.

It is outrageous to vent your frustration in such a situation, and you may even risk being banned from the class for being a troublemaker.

Don’t – 2) Don’t Forget To Use The ‘Thumb and Pencil Method’ When Drawing The Face

Although you may feel somewhat self-conscious standing there with your arm outstretched, the thumb-and-pencil method is a sure way to make certain that everything balances up.

Become aware of seemingly irrelevant facts such as how many human heads fit into the nude human body and how you can line your pencil up with the top of the model’s head and slide your finger down until you get to the chin. (Drawing a Nude Model )

This is a basic unit of measurement which you can use to figure out the rest of the proportions in the body.

Don’t – 3) Don’t Be Afraid Of Drawing Yourself

When not in class, the enthusiastic can use whatever spare time to keep up the excellent work. All you need is a mirror to draw yourself. The bold can take their work into the class next week, or you can stuff your sketches in an old drawer. It doesn’t matter.

The point is that you are developing as a figurative artist. Many famous artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt have used their bodies – or at least their faces – in their paintings.

One good exercise is to look out some old photos and choose a few where you are in a situation that brings back positive memories. (Drawing a Nude Model )

Then, start blocking the background from the image into your drawing or painting and simultaneously use a mirror to draw yourself in the present moment. The positive associations from the photo will affirm everything optimistic about yourself and art in general.

Don’t – 4) Don’t Look Down On Online Virtual Figure Drawing Galleries

There are many portals on the internet where models – such as – pose using full-frontal nudity in the name of art. Some sites are composed of glamour models and artist’s models, but you can usually find a good array of figures, shapes, and forms.

Choose someone who arouses your interest, draws them repeatedly for several weeks, and then move on to another model. (Drawing a Nude Model )

Some 3D computer artists post their animated models online, which allow you to turn the model’s body around in three dimensions. This can be particularly helpful when learning foreshortening and how to draw accurate proportions.

Don’t – 5) Don’t Go Out With The Model

Although it may be acceptable to date the tutor if they are a part-time lecturer, it is a no-no to hit the model. Some classes meet in coffee shops and bars after the course, but it isn’t usual for the model to attend.

Conflicting signals can be sent by entirely liberated models who skirt around the class during rest breaks without putting their robe back on.

If confronted by the large breasted naked Swedish exchange student complimenting your drawing whilst smiling at you in the afternoon sunlight, try to see that as enough without also asking her to accompany you on a dinner date.

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