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Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and as artists, it’s essential to learn how to draw women who reflect this. Gone are the days of hourglass figures and impossibly thin female characters; nowadays, it’s all about acknowledging the beautiful variety of women’s bodies and understanding how to portray them in your art.
Here, we’ll show you how to draw the female face and body, with all the features, emotions, and gestures that make women in the real world unique.
How to Draw Women
While there aren’t set rules for how to draw women, there are some useful tips and tricks for anatomy drawing, as well as some specific features that differentiate women’s bodies from men’s.
From Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies to the famous golden ratio, artists have been exploring human anatomy for centuries in their quest to create expressive and profound art. This has involved developing certain rules and measurements which help place body parts in relation to one another.
In the case of the face, dividing it into three horizontal sections can help you place the eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, and ears. However, how you draw each of these features will determine whether your character looks more feminine or masculine.
When drawing a female character, you can make the eyes bigger and rounder with longer lashes; the nose tip rounder and the nose bridge shorter and narrower; the eyebrows less thick and more stylized towards the outer edges; the lips fuller —particularly the upper lip—and the chin softer and rounder than you would a man’s. The neck is also usually thinner.
Generally speaking, you’ll use curvier and softer lines when drawing women, though you can also use strong lines to convey an older or stronger female character or a range of expressions.
All drawing starts with basic shapes, which you use to build the outline of your piece. Lines, circles, and cylinders are your best friends when setting up your figure drawings; if you start your draft by using these shapes to pencil in the different body parts, you will be way on your way to creating realistic and lively humans in your final work.
Male and female bodies are built with essentially the same structure underneath, but there are some key elements that differentiate them and that can be useful when learning how to draw women. Here are a few of them:
A woman’s torso can be expressed with two trapezoid shapes facing each other (wide ends for hips and shoulders, narrow ends for waist), whereas a man’s torso is one big trapezoid that goes from the hips (narrow) to the shoulders (wide).
In a woman’s body, the upper back is generally narrower and the shoulders less defined. Use small circles to build the shape of the shoulders and serve as a starting point for the arms.
Breasts can have a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but to draw them realistically, think of them as teardrops or water balloons instead of circles. You can outline just the bottom outer part of the breast and the nipples, or use light and shade to build volume.
Generally speaking, the belly button should be placed just below the narrowest part of the waist.
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There’s no better way to improve your drawing skills than to look at the world around you and use it as a reference for your art. Drawing women is no different, and the more you use real women as your models, the more inspired, realistic, and expressive your drawings will be.
You can go to a cafe, a museum, or your local library to hunt for subjects to draw, or you can also start a reference library with pictures collected from the internet. When creating a reference folder, gather images in high resolution so you can zoom in closely on them (you can use the search tools on Google to narrow your search to large images only). Also try to find different angles and outfits, so you can get a sense of the features and general characteristics of the person you are drawing.
To take your research one step further, look for women who inspire you and learn more about their life, their story, and their values. This will give you a well-rounded perspective of the person you are using as reference—making it easier to inject emotion and personality into your character drawing.
Remember there is no right or wrong way to draw women, but it is helpful to study lots of different types of bodies to get familiar with a range of realistic shapes—strong, feminine, and everything in between. Practice, experiment with different styles, and create art that celebrates everything women are.
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