Do you love figure drawing as much as I do? I’m certainly most passionate about drawing the figure. But when I first started my drawings looked flat. My figure drawings had hard edged outlines.

Back in the day when I first started out as an illustrator I certainly wasn’t getting a lot of work. My agents introduced me to one of their established illustrators. He was so busy they suggested that I help him out while they were trying to get me work.

I agreed and I’m glad I did. He turned me onto the whole whole convex line thing. He actually did it through painting. Specifically portraits. It was like the floodgates of form driven art had opened up for me. That old saying is pretty true, you don’t know what you don’t know. All of my drawings had that awful hard edged flat outline. I also outlined items in my paintings too.

Now through years of life drawing I almost take for granted the whole convex line thing. If you study the work of the old masters you’ll see what I mean. The line they use on the edge of the body roles into the figure creating three dimensional form. Just like I demonstrated in the video critique.


I highly recommend that you complete a copy of the old master drawing up above. You can download a copy of the original here. Then compare the copy to your own work. You will immediately notice the difference. Especially in the contour line.

Raphael is certainly a master at merging his line and tone.

Knowing where to put these form lines in and around the figure can be a bit confusing. Especially if you haven’t taken the time to study anatomy. I see this big time with my students. They are freshman, so most of them haven’t had the chance yet to study anatomy. When they draw a clothed figure I see that they use form driven convex line, but drawing the figure, no way. It just doesn’t click for them.

I suggest to my students to study one bone a week. Where you see bone close to the surface of the skin, that’s where the convex lines are. Mostly at the joints of the body. The knee, ankle, elbow etc.

So be conscious of your line. Study anatomy and use form driven convex line to create three dimension within your drawings.

Thanks for reading.

Looking to learn more about line? We have a whole mini course on how to utilize line over at Drawing Tutorials Online.