Fashion Skills 1.2: I can draw better, but I still have problems with proportions!

For the second article in this series, I’ll address the most common problem fashion students have with drawing in general (and it is more common than the problem faced on Fashion Skills 1!): they can draw somewhat, but human proportions just elude them.

As I said in my previous post, human proportions equal to 7.5 times the size of the human head. The first thing you should do before starting to draw is to divide the paper you’re using into 7 segments of equal height and a last segment half the height of the other 7 segments. That accounts for the 7.5 heads. This will simplify your experience, making it less ominous. Now, number each line from 1 to 7.5. Remember when I recommended you practiced drawing from life? Well, if you followed suit, you should have now enough experience with life drawing in order to understand how body parts relate to one another. Let’s practice your newly-acquired skills and knowledge!

Line 1: Draw an oval, which is to become the human head, and have the thinnest part of the oval touch Iine 1. This is where the chin should be.

Line 2: Draw the neck and the upper part of the ribcage. The shoulders should begin at the middle of the second square and the axis of the breasts (where the nipples are) should touch Line 2.

Line 3: Draw the lower ribcage and the waist, the thinnest part of the body, should be in the lower half of the third square. The navel should touch Line 3 and so should the beginning of the hips. Align the elbow to where you placed to waist (they’re usually a bit higher than the level of the waist but since you’re beginning to draw, you’ll find it easier aligning them horizontally).

Line 4: The fourth square should contain the hip bones and the upper part of the femur. The groin should almost touch Line 4, but not quite! Make sure that it doesn’t touch it, though, or the torso will be too long. Also, towards the middle of the fourth square should be the widest part of the body: the hip joint.

Line 5: The fifth square contains the remainder of the femur bones, or the thighs.

Line 6: Place the knees at the middle of the sixth square (note: the middle of the square, not Line 6!). The second half of the sixth square should have the beginning for the tibia (shinbone) and fibula (calfbone). Remember that the fibula is slightly angled to the outside of the lower leg, giving it its wider appearence.

Line 7: Place the ankles in Line 7 and finish the tibia and fibula bones on the line. Make sure that the bones and the ankle connect perfectly (or you’ll have some bizarre drawing).

Line 7.5: Place your toes on the line and draw the feet coming from the ankle.

This is a rather simple rendition of the correct alignment of human proportions. Of course, if you want to make a 9-head fashion figure, your proportions will change. For the time being, stick to the 7.5 human proportion canon and learn it.

Now, if you find drawing the outline of the human figure too intimidating, you can always break down the figure into geometrical shapes and later refine your drawing to match it to a human body outline. For example, it’s easier to draw the head if you think of it as an egg that you add cheekbones and hair to. The limbs can be reproduced by simple lines and the joints by small circles. The feet can be done with an inverted triangle shape, to which you add circular toes. Later, fix the toes to a more irregular shape to make them more realistic. The hip is usually heart-shaped, so this can help you reproduce its form. After you’ve done your geometric figure and it’s perfectly proportioned, then you can work on the outline and on making it more human-looking.

Practicing is key: the more you draw, the better your drawings will be.

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