Bolster your understanding of anatomy.
When you draw a figure, identify the foundational shapes of the muscles that lie underneath the skin and the bones that are underneath the muscles. This architecture is the basis for movement and gives life to drawings.
Human anatomy is remarkably complex. Capturing the intricacies of its shape is a challenge, one that many people spend a lifetime attempting to master. But if you understand its complexity through deep observation, you develop the tools to simplify and create visual shorthand. Learning to edit the form you’re drawing relies on a bedrock of understanding anatomy.
Movement, weight, balance, and tension.
One of the great benefits of figure drawing is that it pushes the illustrator to capture action, from the movement of the body to the balance between proportions to the tensions that the figure holds in different positions.
It’s all part of regular practice: “You’re working on how the figure rests, learning your basic proportions, and getting a feel for drawing the figure,” says cartoonist Megan Levens, “before you start to exaggerate it and take those forms into foreshortening (drawing objects with less depth to mimic the perspective and angle of human vision) or create a really intense action pose.”
Learn to see living things.
Ultimately, the figure drawing process is designed to help you learn to see living things in natural motion. Learn to convey movement through proportions and practice techniques like foreshortening. They are fantastic ways to create more dynamic drawings. You can also make multiple sketched takes on a single figure to hone your sketching abilities.