Discover the Enduring Appeal of Sketching

Attitude by Patricia Hannaway, 2006, pastel sketch drawing, 21 x 12.

Human figure sketching, especially learning how to sketch from a model, is one of the most rewarding ways of practicing art because it can enhance your abilities in ways that are both practical and inspirational. It’s practical in that creating figure sketch drawings develops skills that will serve you again and again as an artist—contour, shading, line, and the relationship of parts to a whole. It’s inspirational in that the landscape of the human body contains almost every form, texture, shape, and curve that an artist could possibly want to recreate, and there is an endless array of ways to do so.

Sketch drawing figures is not just about drawing anatomy, though that knowledge certainly helps me recognize why the body looks the way it does and the reasons for its movements. But drawing figures is often about finding an emphatic action or gesture that animates and energizes the rendering. For artist and animator Patricia Hannaway, that means finding and accentuating the action line of a figure. “My thought process as I’m drawing is, The model is sort of doing this and kind of doing that,” she says. “I become engaged with what the model is doing and mentally take the pose myself, feeling the movement in my own body. This is transferred to the page via an energized line; the drawing proceeds outward from an inward feeling.”

Using a model as the stepping off point, Hannaway creates sketch drawings that emphasize pivotal moments of action where the figure is about to move or is in the act of doing so. Perfecting your ability to render the human form means practicing doing the same thing. As you get stronger in identifying the angles of motion in a figure, your skill in sketching that motion will likely increase as well, making for more productive and dynamic sketching sessions.

Creative Sketching Workshop is one of our top resources to help solidify your drawing skills. With every exercise you get insights on urban sketching, figure drawing, and so much more. You’ll see how rendering well and seeing dynamically are two essentials every artist needs to have in order to capture the essence of his or her subject, so enjoy!


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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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