Female Figure Drawing

As with any drawing, the contours of the female figure drawing will come out naturally if you just let your pencil follow your eye. The female figure below is outlined with carefully observed contour lines. 

The arrows in the drawing below, point out some important contour areas that lie within the figure’s outline...her hair, elbows, spine, and lower back.

This figure drawing was done while the model held her pose for three minutes. (Excuse the paper…it has yellowed with age. These drawings were done years ago in university classes, so I hope you can see them well enough to get benefit from them.)

How to approach drawing a contour line - female figure drawing

(In this case I was dealing with a live model, but your subject can be anything. The contour line approach will be the same.) The female figure drawing below was from a five-minute pose that I drew in University. The reason that you can see this one better is that it was done with Conté crayon. Conté Crayons don’t fade like pencils do over time.

  • Closely examine your model. Place your pencil on your drawing paper, but before you begin to draw, calmly imagine that the point of your pencil is actually touching the model, not the paper. This will come to you quickly after a few tries.

  • Then once you imagine your pencil point is on the model, let your eye slowly pull your pencil along the model's contours. It's important that you put yourself into a mental state in which you really feel your eye pulling the pencil.

  • Feel as if you are being guided more by a sense of touch than by sight. Do not look at the paper until you have finished a significantly large portion.

  • When you do look at your paper don't expect to see a great completed drawing, but more importantly, what you will see will be what I call "living lines". These lines are faithful recordings of what you observed through your pencil. So they can never be considered "wrong" lines.

    This was a five-minute pose. (All of these contour drawings are done from the same drawing model.) Notice how her foot comes forward, and notice the slightly detailed contour lines around the fingers, elbows, knees and toes.

    Naturally, my originals are much larger than what you see here. The point is, draw large when you are learning (18 x 24 inch newsprint works great)! This frees up your hand and allows you to get your whole body into it, resulting in more fluid drawings.

This pose was a bit more than three minutes. It is also a contour drawing (note that gesture and contour work hand in hand). You can feel her gesture. 

Contour lines will finally become a part of you and they will, in turn, become a part of all of your drawings.

More on Contour Line Drawing

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