The biggest thing that most beginner artists struggle with is… drawing human anatomy!
I understand that, it used to be the same for me.
There’s just too much to learn, different perspectives, and poses. It’s not easy, but there are many different anatomy drawing exercises out there!
You just have to find the one that fits you.
Even if it’s important to learn anatomy properly if you want to create your own characters, you don’t need to make it dull.
For that reason, I’ll leave in this article 5 fun anatomy drawing exercises so you can improve quickly.
Table Of Contents
Draw Random Shapes And Turn Them Into Body Parts
Everything is made out of shapes, so start with that!
Draw round shapes, ovals, and squares. Maybe even more abstract shapes. Random blobs, squiggly lines, etc.
Fill a page just with those shapes. When you’re done it’s time to turn those shapes into body parts!
Go over each shape and mold it according to the body part you think resembles it the most.
It can be eyes, hands, torsos, a face, maybe even a full body.
Slowly add details until you have something more concrete.
If you want even more abstract shapes, a good exercise is to make random blobs out of watery paint.
Just mix some paint with water and, using a brush, let it fall into the paper. Once dry, you can start hunting those blobs for different body parts.
Maybe this weird blob reminds you of a foot, and that other one is a face in profile.
You can also do this digitally by picking a brush that imitates any kind of paint and just drawing random blobs on your canvas.
This is a good exercise both to work on your anatomy drawing but also on your imagination and creativity, so give it a try!
Practice Drawing The Gesture First!
Gesture drawing is the perfect exercise to understand better how the body works.
It’s good to learn how to draw each part of the body, but it’s also very important to understand how the body moves as a whole.
And there’s no better way to do that, than with a gesture!
But what exactly is Gesture Drawing? Simply put it’s a quick drawing of the human body. Basically, you want to capture the whole pose with as few strokes as possible.
This might seem quite easy to pull off, but this is where you will learn the most.
To pull off the pose, you need to understand what are the most important aspects of it.
- Where is the weight of the pose?
- What parts of the body better simulate that pose and movement?
These drawings are very quick, so you focus on what’s important, which is why I always recommend starting with the line of action.
This is an imaginary line, that convokes the whole pose. Think of a line going down the model’s spine and draw it!
Part of the work is done, now all you have to do is give shape to the body.
This anatomy drawing exercise really helped me understand anatomy better and how everything connects with each other.
For that reason, I’m always recommending Gesture Drawing in my courses! Overall, my students start being more confident with their drawings because of it!
I also have a Complete Guide to Gesture Drawing, so check that tutorial out if you’re interested in giving gestures a try.
Draw The First Google Result
It’s always a good idea to use references when drawing. This goes both when learning something specific and when you already know your subject.
Our memories can trick us, and very often, we forget a detail or two!
However, sometimes we spend too much time searching for the right reference.
This time, let’s try something different: choose a part of the body you want to draw. Now, look it up on Google.
Without looking too much at the images you’re suggested, just pick the first and start drawing!
When learning anatomy, you’ll have to draw the body in different poses and perspectives, so don’t think too much about it and draw the first thing you see.
It can be a really good exercise to make you leave your comfort zone and better understand the human body.
-> (for more Anatomy Drawing Tips, click here!)
When you’re done with the first image, go for the next!
Depending on the body part you chose, chances are it will take a while until you run out of references to draw from.
Instead of Google, you can also go on Pinterest if you prefer.
Take the opportunity and save those images onto a board, so you can find them again in the future!
P.S.: Try to keep these as somewhat quick sketches and keep on iterating from one reference to another.
Randomly Pause A Dance Video
Dance videos are perfect for capturing interesting poses!
Not only that, but you get to draw the human body in less common positions.
This way, you get to draw anatomy in new ways, so this is a perfect exercise if you want to go to the next level with your anatomy drawings!
Search for a dancing video on Youtube. It can be something you like or just type something like “dance routine” into the search bar.
Now play one of the videos, click somewhere randomly along the video length, and then pause it!
All you have to do now is to draw the exact pose the dancer is doing.
Personally, I really enjoy watching dancing videos, since the dancers can perform such beautiful moves. Not only that, but certain poses have great silhouettes that I think are very fun to draw!
I highly recommend this anatomy drawing exercise if you want to draw really dynamic poses.
Copy From A Master At Drawing Anatomy
Beyond studying real life, it’s also good to study from your peers.
It can be from modern artists you follow on social media and older artists who paved the way for art to get where it is now!
This is good exercise, so you can see how other artists perceive the body and how they go about drawing it.
You can learn a lot with it, since we all have different processes and you never know what you can implement into your own process.
So, search for a painting or study and copy it!
This is the kind of anatomy drawing exercise you do in art school. More than once, I would be asked to choose a piece I liked and then try replicating it.
Sometimes I had the choice, others I was given something random. Sometimes I had to use a specific method and technique to reproduce the painting and for others, I was free to do it as I pleased.
It is bad to copy art from others and then claim it as your own. However, it should be done for learning purposes!
So don’t forget, if you want to share those studies, be sure to clarify that they’re studies and share the reference you’re using.
Credit the artist, whether they’re from our times or from ye old times.
Personally, I think books like Leonardo: The Complete Drawings, George B. Bridgman’s Constructive Anatomy, and the Morpho books are great sources to study anatomy from and learn how to draw muscles, legs, hips and more!
You can find a list of my recommended Anatomy Drawing Books here.
These can be great to practice drawing anatomy and learn good structure through photos and examples.
Why Practice Anatomy Drawing?
Even if you want a very simple and cartoony style, it’s important first to understand how the body works.
How the limbs connect with each other, their proportions, and sizes.
Only when all that is understood and internalized can you break it down into simpler shapes!
Practicing anatomy will also help your body memorize the shapes and strokes you need when drawing the human body.
Once you study and practice it enough, drawing what’s in your head and imagination will be much easier.
I know we all want to jump into drawing our own characters, but first, we need to study and practice our anatomy fundamentals.
Now, of course, this practice doesn’t need to be super deep or boring, so I think the drawing exercises mentioned in this article are perfect for learning while having fun!
So, are you ready for some anatomy drawing practice?
Here are the best Sitting Reference Poses to draw!
Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!
Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!