What's So Hard About Sitting in a Chair?

How to Draw People Sitting Down

Plenty–especially if you are trying to figure out how to draw a person in that chair. Drawing people standing up is waaaaaay more straightforward than puzzling out how to proportion and position a figure sitting down. But to draw people this way opens up a lot of compositional possibilities for an artist.

Catherine by Robin Frey, mixed media on paper, 9 x 14.
Catherine by Robin Frey, mixed media on paper, 9 x 14.

I always think of the legs first. There are so many possibilities–arranging the legs so they are crossed, one leg can be tucked underneath the model, drawn up to his or her chest, or positioned at different levels with the use of a footstool or bench.

There seem to be fewer possibilities when considering how to draw people from the waist up. Arranging the model with their arms stretched out rarely makes sense for such a stationary position–the two halves of the body almost seem to defy each other. But you can have the model's arms hanging loosely at their sides; drawn to one side of the body or the other for the creation of a nice diagonal shape; or have the model curl his or her torso over their knees and tuck in their arms, which can make for an interesting composition, especially in profile with the curvature of the spine accentuated. 

Figure drawing by Henry Yan.
Figure drawing by Henry Yan.

Posture also comes into play in a major way when you are learning to draw people sitting down. The model can sit poker straight with shoulders back or the pose can be more relaxed with the figure's spine slightly curved, shoulders setting downward, and pelvis slightly up-thrust to accommodate the slouch.

I'm excited to see all of the various permutations of the figure–and more–when I look through all of the works in Drawing Realistic Clothing and People with Lee Hammond. This top instructor and draftsman explores the figure in thought-provoking ways and show us figure drawings that run the gamut in form, technique, and style. 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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