9 Best Gesture Drawing Examples From Master Artists!

When trying to improve at drawing (and specifically, gesture drawing), having good inspiration and gesture drawing examples is fundamental!

It’s by watching how a professional works that we can improve much quicker. Not only so you can study them or even copy them (for learning purposes) but also so you can get inspired to improve!

So here are the best gesture drawing examples I could find. 

But first, let’s go over through what exactly is gesture drawing.

What Is Gesture Drawing?

Gesture drawing is a fast drawing of a pose, action, and form of a figure or model. You’re drawing gesture when you capture the movement and action of a figure in fast and quick strokes.

Gesture drawing is generally used as a warm-up before diving into complete figure drawing or life drawing lessons. This is very helpful since it loosens up your wrists and gets you used to drawing longer strokes. 

Not only is it beneficial for improving at drawing much faster, but it also prevents wrist and hand pain!

So if you’re looking for a good drawing exercise where you lay strong foundations of drawing figures, gesture drawing is a great choice for you!

This is a skill on itself, and I constantly highly recommend learning gesture drawing for beginner artists.

And no, figure drawing is not the same as gesture drawing! You can read the differences between figure drawing and gesture drawing here! 

So with that out of the way, let’s go over some great Gesture Drawing Examples!

Gesture Drawing Examples

It’s time to get inspired and learn with these gesture drawing examples.

I’ve researched both old masters and new ones to have a nice mix of art styles and techniques. With that said, do take a look at each and see which one captivates you the most!

I would even recommend you to choose at least one of them and try to mimic their style. It really helps a lot when you try to see art by another artist’s eyes and get into their brain process.

Enjoy these gesture drawing examples!

Domenico Gargiulo

Charioteer by Domenico Gargiulo, Gesture drawing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection
Charioteer by Domenico Gargiulo, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

In this very expressive gesture drawing example by Domenico Gargiulo, you can see that the artist focused on the entire movement of the pose, and not the details.

You can still understand quite easily what every body part is, though, especially the torso, arms, and head.

This is a good reminder that you can focus a lot on the movement of the action, and your gesture drawings can still be very readable!

Alex Woo

Alex Woo is a master of Gesture Drawing, this artist can capture the essence of each pose and each action very clearly.

This gesture drawing example is great to see since you can clearly notice the drawing on the right isn’t an exact copy of the photo on the left. Which is an excellent reminder that you’re not trying to copy a photo. 

You’re trying to capture the pose and action.

You can see the entire video of his process of gesture drawing below.

Michelangelo

Michelangelo gesture drawing studies
Michelangelo Studies taken from ashmolean.org

Michelangelo is undeniably one of the greatest artists in the history of art. And these gesture drawing examples really show that!

More specifically, the studies of the bottom of the image. Look at how Michelangelo captures the different poses with so few lines. 

These gesture drawings look fantastic and are well worth taking the time to study! 

Glenn Vilppu

Drawing Demo by Glenn Vilppu, Proko Youtube Video Screenshot
Glenn Vilppu Gesture Drawing from Proko’s Youtube Video

Glenn Vilppu is a master draftsman, painter, and instructor that has written the Vilppu Drawing Manual.

In the drawing demo you can see how Glenn works on gesture, and how he quickly identifies the main lines of the pose. 

This is an exciting process to watch since you can see how the artist’s hand moves throughout the gesture drawing! Not only that, but Glenn Vilppu also describes his process and how he’s thinking about the overall pose and action.

You can see the entire video of Glenn Vilppu’s Drawing Demo below.

Rembrandt

Rembrandt van Rijn, Four Studies of Male Heads, Gesture Drawing Example
(image from mfah.org)

The Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (just Rembrandt is fine) was very innovative. And by the way Rembrandt did his gesture drawings, you could tell he was a master of his craft.

One very interesting takeaway from these gesture drawing examples from Rembrandt is the different ways that he did the studies. Not only are they in different poses and angles, but they also have different line weight and detail.

It’s fantastic to see how Rembrandt used gesture and shapes to make the figure very easily recognizable.

Cartoons of Death of Ananias and St. Paul, after Raphael, ca. 1820

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, Gesture Drawing Studies
(unknown artist, attribution: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

A good gesture drawing doesn’t have to be done by a master artist. This “Cartoons of Death of Ananias and St.Paul” created in 1820 by an unknown artist, is a phenomenal work capable of inspiring any artist.

The entire figures in this piece of art were created with few strokes, the rest of the strokes were for details (the clothing especially).

In this gesture drawing example, everything is done with pretty much the same line weight, contrasting the work of Rembrandt, for example.

A very inspiring gesture drawing example for any new artist.

Steve Huston

Steve Huston Screenshot of Timed Model Drawing Session by New Masters Academy on Youtube
From “Timed Model Drawing Session by New Masters Academy on Youtube

The flow of the gesture drawings by Steve Huston is something to admire and get inspired by.

You can clearly see how Steve Huston goes through the motions and quite quickly captures the movement of each pose. Such a simple process gives so much life to each drawing and study!

This artist is an excellent reference for any artist looking to improve both figure and gesture drawing, so be sure to check out his work!

You can see the entire video of Steve Huston’s Timed Model Drawing Session below.

Alphonso Dunn

The 7 Ls of Gesture Drawing by Alphonso Dunn, screenshot of gesture drawing examples
The 7 Ls of Gesture Drawing by Alphonso Dunn

Alphonso Dunn goes through a very methodical way of working with gesture drawing, with a big focus on the line of action and the looseness of the action!

You can see by the image above that these are fantastic gesture drawing examples from different figures.

Alphonso Dunn also mentions the 7 Ls of Gesture Drawing, with them being:

  • Loosely (capture the flow)
  • Light (control the pressure)
  • Lines of Action (put force in the action/movement)
  • Lines of Rhythm (relation between line flow and the sketch)
  • Long (avoid “hairy lines”, be economical, focusing on the overall movement)
  • Large (big shapes are the priority)
  • Lively (capture the mood of the movement)

All of these are great topics to cover and an excellent way to go over gesture drawing. You can find similar tips in my complete gesture drawing guide here. 

With that said, Alphonso Dunn’s video is also a fantastic resource! So if you’re interested in watching the video, check it out below.

Richard Smitheman

Gesture Studies #1 by Richard Smitheman, screenshot of a gesture drawing example video on youtube
Gesture Studies #1 by Richard Smitheman

Richard Smitheman is a figurative artist and instructor that has worked in the film industry for over twenty-five years.

One very interesting aspect of Richard Smitheman’s gesture drawing studies is that he first goes through a rougher sketch and then details it a bit later.

You can see in the gesture drawing example above that there were a few thicker and very loose strokes drawn first. And then, the artist goes through the figure once again, giving a finer and darker outline where it needs it. 

This makes the whole gesture study have an extra depth and look much more interesting.

Find the entire video of Richard Smitheman’s Gesture Studies below.

Bonus: Patricia Caldeira

Use Body Language on your drawings to tell a story. Exaggerate the poses! a gesture drawing example by patricia caldeira
Quick gesture drawing with few lines by Patricia Caldeira

While I don’t consider myself a “master artist”, I’ve been doing gesture drawings for many years. Not only that, but I’ve also taught many artists how to do them successfully! 

So I’ve included an example of my own gesture drawing studies. You can see how I go through the reference picture and only catch the general pose of the figure.

Again, we’re not trying to copy the reference photo! With Gesture Drawing we’re trying to capture the movement and action of the pose.

This is a very important distinction you should remember when doing your gesture drawing studies.

Keep the lines loose and simple, don’t overcomplicate things!

So let’s go over quickly how you can draw on your own gestures.

How To Draw Gestures

Now that you’ve seen all these amazing gesture drawing examples, it’s time to draw your own gestures!

This is the best and fastest way to learn as an artist. You can’t just keep getting inspiration and checking out artwork from other artists. You need to have some good practice.

So here’s a very quick way to go about drawing Gestures:

  1. Get a good reference pose. There are many websites for this and I have written a whole article of some of the best pose reference websites here.
  2. Start with the line of action. This is the main line that evokes the pose’s whole movement. So give extra importance to find the right line of action!
  3. Draw the main shapes. You need to draw what you see, so focus on the main shapes of the body. Simplify each body part, draw big squares for the torso and rectangles for the arms if you’d like!
  4. Keep your lines loose. This is more of a tip than a step on how to draw gestures, but you really should keep your lines as loose as possible. Long and loose is the way to give confidence to your lines and your overall pose.

Sound pretty simple right?

It can be a bit tough to go over all the steps and draw gesture correctly, though. So I’ve written an entire ultimate guide on how you can do Gesture Drawing Step By Step (with tips) here!

-> more posts by Patricia

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!