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Section 1. Proportions of the Adult human body


Click to download this grid to try your own.

Vitruvius Man
  • “For the human body is so designed by nature that the face, from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height;

  • the open hand from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same;

  •  the head from the chin to the crown is an eighth, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth;

  • from the middle of the breast to the summit of the crown is a fourth.

  • The length of the foot is one sixth of the height of the body;

  • of the forearm, one fourth;

  • and the breadth of the breast is also one fourth.

  • Then again, in the human body the central point is naturally the navel. For if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centred at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom.

  • And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it. For if we measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are perfectly square..”


from Ten Books on Architecture, Vitruvius

Section 2. Body Lines


Have a go!

Print out this set of photos, put a piece of tracing paper over the top and draw "stick men".  Don't over-think it!  Just draw quick lines to represent the body, arms, legs and an oval for the head.

Take the tracing paper off and have a look at what you've done - they really DO look like the body but without any detail.

Our eyes can recognise an "authentic" body and say what its doing with very little detail.  Sometimes when we draw figures, we put in more information than we need.

In this section, Lets have a go at doing QUICK and MINIMAL figure drawing.

For copyright reasons, I can't show you examples of professional drawings using minimal lines, so I've had to include some of my efforts below.  

Have a go!

Using another piece of tracing paper and any photos you like, try and draw curved, sweeping lines to indicate the line the body parts are making. 

  • Are you going to draw down the edge of the arms or legs, or straight down the centre?

  • Which bits are you going to leave out?

  • Are you going to overlap lines?

  • What is the smallest number of lines you can use and STILL recognise what the body is doing?  

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