Start Your Figure Drawing From An Abstract Shape

Start Your Figure Drawing From An Abstract Shape

I recently added a twenty-eight lesson figure drawing course in the member area of Drawing Tutorials Online. I wanted to share with you some of the lessons over here at my blog. This first lesson in particular is very important.

Too many artists give themselves artificial rules. These rules can sometimes take the fun out of drawing, especially figure drawing. One of these rules is that you must start your figure drawing from the top of the head. I disagree completely.

Do I sometimes start my figure drawing at the top of the head, the short answer is yes. When do I do this, mainly when I am deliberately trying to draw the figure from head to toe. This is something you want to do especially when working on short duration gesture drawings.

Working from head to toe using the Opposite C technique enables you to see proportions in a quick way. However when I want to work on a long duration drawing I like to switch things up.

Starting your drawing from an abstract shape is a great way to begin. I have been drawing this way for years both from life and from photos. The idea here is that drawing an abstract shape is a whole lot easier then drawing an actual body part.

For instance in this particular figure drawing I start in essense with the abstract shape between the model’s legs. Some artists like to call this a negative shape or negative space. Either way it’s abstract.

Starting with an abstract shape is a great way to start because it allows you to start building up confidence. It allows you to see proportions in a different way.

I highly suggest that you give this technique a try. Practice drawing a bunch of abstract shapes. Try copying each shape exactly, this great practice and will help you with your accuracy.



If you are looking to learn some new drawing techniques to help improve your figure drawing definitely consider a membership to Drawing Tutorials Online. I’m particularly proud of this new twenty-eight lesson course.

All of the lessons are really short, most under ten minutes. Each lesson focuses on a different technique. The course focuses on line, proportions, shading, structure as well as form.

Not to mention you can get your figure drawings critiqued on a weekly basis in our gallery. If the technique taught in the lesson above speaks to you please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.


Spiraling Out From Negative Space

Spiraling Out From Negative Space

For those of you who have been around the drawing block before “Negative Space” is kind of like an old familiar friend. I think it was either fifth or ninth grade that I was introduced to this technique. Betty Edwards has certainly created a whole cottage industry around this technique. All the power to her.

I have used this technique forever. I remember getting my pre-college portfolio together and negative space helped me with my still life drawings. Negative space or shape also helped me back in my college days when I was clueless on how to draw the figure.

This technique of spiraling out from a simple negative space is golden. It’s simple and it works.

I usually like to start with the negative space between the models arm and torso. If the model has their hand on their hip this shape will most likely come in the form of a triangle. I then measure across the torso to the other side of the models torso drawing in two angles. I then draw a little in the middle, usually the spine.

So in essence it’s sort of like you are spiraling out from the center of the first simple negative space you see.

The other beautiful thing about this drawing technique is that it tricks your brain. Anyone can draw a funky looking negative shape, however drawing a complicated figure, that’s hard. A lot of artists always start with the head first. That’s a great place to start. However starting with an abstract negative shape gives you options. Especially if you are drawing an unconventional foreshortened pose.

So the next time you are in life drawing class or even drawing from a photo try spiraling out from a simple abstract shape. It’s super fun and easy.

Learn How Draw A Likeness Of The Figure Every Time