Which comes first-Head or Body?


When you draw a person…do you start with the head or the rest of the body? It seems that when I start with the head, the rest of the body is off and when I start with the body, the head looks off. Any tips? How does everyone else do it?


I typically start with the head but expect your first marks to be wrong. Also, one thing which I’m trying to drill into myself is to measure! And something which has improved my work recently is to get the shoulder and pelvic lines correct, then the torso should, ideally, fall into place :). You should aim to have the whole figure sketched before you work on any details.


PawnMarauder is right, always have the general forms before starting with the details, some might draw cylinders, some draw skeletons. Its just to get the proportions right before you start with the details. that way it’s a lot easier to correct any mistakes. (erasing and redrawing an egg is easier than erasing and redrawing a complete head with all features and hair) There are a lot of books on the subject, many people use Andrew Loomis’ books or George Bridgman’s I believe, just google it.
so if anything looks “off”, just erase and redraw until it looks “on”. (this happens obviously before you add details) With time you’ll have the proportions memorized and you will make fewer and fewer mistakes.


The head shape makes a good unit of measure using its width and length, but I typically prefer to mark the boundaries of the whole figure first after making measurements from the model. I rough in the whole body and refine that as I go. If you set the extremes first then you can more easily fill in what’s between them.


I agree with dbclemons. Beside, you can’t think one without the other. Head gives you the idea about body’s proportions and posture. So it;s better to start with the head and construct both as a whole. Hope this will help you. Cheers!


I disagree with all the replies so far. Lately I’ve beenw atching Vilppu DVDs and I totally agree with him that the BEST way to start a figure drawing its with the GESTURE. You can (optional) start with a egg-shaped form to suggest the head and then stard drawing curvy lines to show where the eye should follow and then start giving form to the figure. Here’s a couple of examples:

You can find more info on gesture and Vilppu here:



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