Master the Art of Drawing People with These 2 Simple Step-by-Step Methods

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Learn to Draw Realistic or Cartoon People

Drawing people is an essential artistic skill. No matter your drawing style, mastering basic techniques is vital. Whether you aspire to create realistic portraits or fun cartoons, simple tricks can help you get started. Our step-by-step guide will teach you the fundamentals of drawing people, and soon you’ll be creating masterpieces.

Basic Principles of Drawing People

When drawing a realistic person, start by dividing a sheet of paper into two equal 8-row columns, one for each body part. If drawing a cartoon character, use basic shapes like circles, squares, and rectangles to sketch each body part proportionally. Once you have your basic outline, add more detailed features such as a face, hair, clothes, and accessories.

Tip: Erase guide lines to make your drawing more realistic and give it some depth.

Proportion and Measurement Tips

Draw a vertical line and divide it into eight equal sections to determine the head length of your person. This will help you establish the right proportion for each body part. Adult figures are typically eight head lengths tall, but you can vary this ratio based on age. For example, toddlers are shorter, so use three head lengths, while ten-year-olds are taller, so draw six.


Tip: Use horizontal lines to divide the vertical line and keep the top horizontal line as your person's head and the bottom one as the feet.

Sketching the Outline

Start with rough outlines of the different body parts. Use the guide lines to keep the proportions accurate. Draw outlines for the head, arms, body, and legs. Don't worry too much about precision at this stage.

Tip: The head outline should fit within the top head length section. The outlines of the body and arms should fall in the second head length section, while the legs should occupy the remaining four sections.

With these tips in mind and some patience and practice, anyone can learn to draw people. Download our complete guide and unleash your artistic talent!

Step 1: Begin by sketching an oval and dividing it into four sections, which will form the head of your character. Remember that cartoon characters often have exaggerated proportions, so make the head larger than you would for a more realistic depiction. Divide the oval equally with a horizontal and vertical line.

Step 2: Connect and refine the outlines of the various body parts by tracing around the edges of the body, so they flow seamlessly into each other. Adjust the proportions of the body to achieve a more masculine or feminine look, as required.

Step 3: Add smaller details such as facial features and hands. Outlines for feet, hair, and knees also need to be sketched. To give a feminine appearance, add round curves while defining the muscles on the stomach, chest, and arms will give a masculine appearance.

Step 4: Draw clothing over the person's body as per the chosen style. Try various brands, cuts, and designs of shirts, pants, accessories, and shoes for versatility. Adding a dress or a skirt will give a feminine appearance. Sketch clothes following the natural fall and do not forget to erase overlapping lines.

Step 5: Remove unnecessary lines and lightly shade in the sketch for a three-dimensional look. Shade the skin tone and clothes, following the imaginary light point on one side of the person, so the opposite side becomes darker.

By following these steps, you will have a finished cartoon character.

To create a cartoon person, you must begin with an oval shape. Look to the horizontal and vertical lines within the oval to assist you in creating the face of your character.

Next, it's time to draw the torso and neck. For the neck, extend it from the bottom center portion of the oval. Draw a rectangle to depict the torso, with the placement of the neck in the center. Adjust the shape of the rectangle depending on whether you want to create a male or female character.

Now, it's time to sketch out the arms and legs. Using cylinders paired with circles in-between, outline the joints within the arms and legs of your cartoon person. Be mindful of their stance or posture to ensure that you position the arms and legs accordingly.

Focus on creating unique outlines for the hands and feet, knowing that details can always be fine-tuned later.

Finally, give your cartoon person a face and hairstyle. Position the eyes on the horizontal line and the nose and mouth on the vertical line of the oval. Consider exaggerating the size of the eyes to make them stand out compared to other facial features. Be creative with the hair, starting with a lower hairline and experimenting with various styles.


In order to design attire for your cartoon creation, start by drawing garments on the body. The choice of clothing is entirely yours, so feel free to experiment with various options like a short or long-sleeved top, shorts, pants, skirts, dresses, or anything that fits your vision. Make sure to include shoes and any accessories that you'd like your character to be wearing. [12]

Once you've finished drawing the clothes, erase anything inside the outlines of the clothing as those parts of your character's body would be obscured.


Smooth out your drawing by erasing any surplus lines and then trace the outlines that you drew earlier. Next, erase all of the lines within the outline of your drawing, including the vertical and horizontal lines on the face. [13]

Claire WentzelClaire WentzelClaire WentzelClaire Wentzel

Once you've removed all the background lines from your artwork, your drawing is complete!




Add A New Inquiry Question

What are some tips for improving drawing skills, particularly when it comes to capturing facial features?

Claire Wentzel A Creative Consultant and Award-Winning Artist

Claire Wentzel is an award-winning artist and creative consultant who runs her own business, Red Rose Studios, in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is also a member of the Clark County Public Art Committee. Her expertise lies in mixed media participatory artworks, brand messaging, and cultivating organizational culture. Wentzel earned her BA in Fine Art with Distinction from the University of Colorado-Boulder and completed a residency at the International School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture. Her chalk murals have been featured in EdHat and I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival advertising. Observe your subject well and use the blind contour drawing technique to improve your art, especially when drawing facial features. This exercise involves looking at your subject and drawing without looking at your paper or lifting your pencil. This practice trains your eye to guide your hand, making it an essential skill that's particularly useful in portrait drawing.

Community Answer

How to Hone Your Figure Drawing Skills

Claire Wentzel

Are you struggling with drawing humans in different poses and finding it difficult to get the proportions right? Award-winning artist and strategic creative consultant, Claire Wentzel, offers invaluable advice on how to elevate your figure drawing skills.

Wentzel’s Red Rose Studios in Las Vegas, Nevada is renowned for her expertise in mixed media participatory art, building organizational culture, and brand messaging. Having earned her BA in Fine Art with distinction from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and completed a painting residency at the International School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture, Wentzel is adept at the craft of drawing the human figure.

But, as Wentzel cautions, it can be challenging. However, the best way to improve is through practice - specifically, doing warm-up poses that last between 30 seconds and a minute. By quickly capturing the essential details, one can train their mind to avoid getting bogged down in the minutiae. The key is repetition and allowing yourself to break free of perfectionism.

If you find yourself having to erase too much, especially when sketching, Wentzel recommends caution. Erasing is necessary, but too much can compromise the integrity of the overall drawing.

Tiburcio Zweigle

For more invaluable tips and expert guidance on developing and improving your figure drawing skills, consult Wentzel’s extensive expertise.

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