The female nude has been represented by artists and sculptors since ancient times. The curvaceous nature of a woman's body has inspired great artists such as Velazquez, Rubens and Picasso, and the female nude remains one of the most popular subjects for an artist to attempt to draw or paint. It's best to draw a nude lady from life, but, as this isn't always practical, you may need to use a tasteful photograph instead.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Nude model or image of a nude lady
Make an accurate sketch of the model seated on a chair. This sketch is important because, if an artist is working from life, time will be limited. If you make an accurate sketch, you will make fewer errors during the drawing stage. Begin the sketch from the model's head and work from her neck down to her back and buttocks. From there, sketch the model's front leg, from her thigh downwards. Move up to sketch the belly, breasts, shoulder and neck and, finally, back to the head. Sketch the chair she is sitting in. Because the model is the main focus of the drawing, you don't need to draw the chair in detail.
Start the drawing from the head, and then add the model's hair. Use shading carefully to give the hair a shiny appearance. For drawing the model's body, use the lines and curves from the sketch and work round in the same sequence. Make the drawing more detailed by drawing the visible shoulder and the nearest arm from the elbow upwards. This region will act as a central point and will help you keep the proportions of the body accurate. The lines of the nearest arm down to the elbow and the curve of the upper back should correspond and slant in the same direction.
Portray the model's lower back so that it gradually curves outwards to form the model's buttock. From here, curve round to the thigh, and then draw the outwards and then inward curve of the calf down to the outward curve of the ankle and the five toes, which should be placed on the ground.
Draw the curve of the inside of the foot and draw a straight line upwards to the knee. Draw the forearm of the nearest arm, with the model's fingers placed on her knee. Draw the second arm, which should be mostly hidden behind the nearer arm. Draw the second leg, the back leg, which should be partly obscured from the knee upwards by the front leg. The back leg should also be placed on the floor.
Go back to the knee of the model's front leg and draw an outwards curve up to where the nearer arm is visible. Draw the subtle curves of the belly up to the breasts. Draw the nearest breast first of all. The swell of the second breast should begin at a slightly lower point than the first, and the first breast should be partially obscured. Draw the curve from the top of the breast upwards to connect with the shoulder.
Begin to draw the facial features in detail. Start from the mouth and nose, and check that they are aligned correctly. Then draw the eyes and eyebrows. Add the ears last of all. Check that the eyes, eyebrows and ears are all aligned correctly with each other, and with the nose and mouth. All the facial details do need to be accurate, but do not need to be depicted in minute detail, such as in a portrait.
Finish off the drawing by using light and shade to give the model's body and face more life. The correct use of shading will give the skin a glistening quality.
Tips and warnings
- Because of a woman's curves, the drawing should have a flowing quality about it. If it doesn't appear to be the case while you are drawing, take a step back and refocus.
- In concentrating on the shape of the model's body, an artist may neglect drawing smaller parts of the body accurately, such as fingers and toes. To an expert eye, errors such as these will appear to be prominent.
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