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Drawing Lesson 36, Part 1 – How to Draw a Woman

Discover How to Draw a Woman from Life

Video Lesson Description

In this video lesson, you will discover How to Draw a Woman on example of making a realistic life drawing of female model in red pencil.

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How to Draw a Woman – Preliminary Sketch

We begin the “How to Draw a Woman” video lesson with a preliminary sketch in brown sepia. Nude model is sitting in front of the easel and is lit by several points of light. The main source of light comes from the top-left corner, lighting her left shoulder, as well as, the left side of her body. When doing a life drawing, it is always good to do several five to ten minute sketches before starting the longer artwork.


How to Draw a Woman
When it comes to the subject of How to Draw a Woman, in the Drawing Academy video lessons on the topics of human proportions and human anatomy, I explain in detail, what proportions you need to know and how anatomy shapes the body.

This information is incredibly helpful when it comes to making life drawings.

If you haven’t seen those video lessons yet, I would suggest watching them first and then coming back to this video. To make believable, realistic life drawings, fine artists must draw not only what they see, but also what they know.

How to Draw a Woman – Life Drawing in Red Pencil


How to Draw a Woman - Drawing Academy Video Lesson
For this “How to draw a woman” video lesson I will use the Luminance 6901 Swiss by Caran d’Ache brand of color pencils. Crimson Aubergine 599 also gives a nice rich, dark red color that is very suitable for this task. You may also test and choose other red or brown color pencils for your life drawing.

For this life drawing artwork, a heavy duty drawing paper is used. This paper was tinted in a light, yellowish-red color with watercolor paints. You can buy ready-made colored drawing papers or boards, but the color range is limited. With custom toned papers you can achieve any color you want.

The model’s pose resembles the Michelangelo Buonarroti drawing for the Sistine Chapel in Vatican, Rome. This drawing was done as a sketch for the Libyan Sybil. It is now in the collection of the New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I have done the copy of Michelangelo’s drawing in my sketchpad in red pencil and now want to repeat the same pose in my life drawing.

How to Draw a Woman – Life Drawing Shades Rendering

I render this life drawing artwork in red pencil by doing very light strokes. Every stroke is done in a separate downward movement. At the end of every line – I lift the pencil, move it to the starting point and repeat the next stroke in the same manner.

Some amateur artists choice of a rendering technique is to scribble with their pencil without lifting it from the paper; while such an approach may be acceptable in charcoal drawing, in graphite and red chalk drawing it gives poor results. Scribbling in even tone makes for a dull, uninteresting texture and looks unprofessional.

On the other hand, a skilfully done drawing should display the artist’s hand, which means pencil strokes must be visible. The hatching texture will contribute to the illusion of the three-dimensional shapes of the model’s body. The direction of lines in hatching will reinforce the volumes and dimensions. Such an approach helps drawings come alive and become more interesting. It leaves something to the imagination of the viewer, which makes the art evocative.

The knowledge of the main human body proportions and human anatomy becomes irreplaceable when it comes to life drawing. Great life drawings must communicate to the viewer the artist’s knowledge, emotions and feelings. That is why just copying nature is not enough to be considered a good piece of a life drawing art.

How to Draw a Woman – Life Drawing Methods

Various drawing schools have different life drawing teaching methods when it comes to the question of “How to Draw a Woman“. For example, differences come in how to check angled lines using a pencil as a measuring tool. While holding the pencil in your straight arm, aligning it with the model and drawing contours is a universal rule, there is a big difference in what sequence it should be done. College teachers tell students to begin with visually aligning the pencil to the model, measuring an angle or proportion and only afterwards, moving to the paper and drawing the same angles and proportions on the artwork. That is very bad advice, indeed. The method is correct; however, the sequence is not designed to help students perfect their art skills. Here is the correct order: first, you need to observe the model and draw a line or proportion on the paper to the best of your ability; then double-check the measurements and angles on the model.

When considering how to draw a woman, keep in mind that valuing angles or measurements by eye, you will develop some necessary drawing skills; by checking measurements on the model, you will correct and improve your skills. If you want to become a skilled fine artist, you must learn how to rely on your inner judgement for measurements and proportions.

Apart from tilted lines, it is also important to see how the figure is aligned to the vertical line. Some art teachers, in quite famous art colleges, advise using a weight on string to measure this vertical line. If you are already used to this tool, you need to practice being self-sufficient without it. If you are a beginner, do not waste your time on learning how to use the weight on a string. Use your eyes to measure vertical directions.

Did you know that the human eye recognizes vertical lines so well that it can detect a deviation in just one degree? This will be precise enough for your drawing purposes. Do not limit your art skills by using tools; instead develop your own abilities. Tools can be taken away; your talent and skills will stay with you for a lifetime.

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