How to Draw Female Bodies

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image

I am going to begin this tutorial by addressing one of the most common requests that I receive: how to draw women’s breasts (heh, I never thought I’d actually be making a tutorial about this…. ^_^). One of the most important things you should consider is to make your subject look natural; you can draw an attractive female without making her look like a “silicon implant ad,” as a friend of mine put it. ^_^

The main problems people seem to have with drawing breasts are the shape and the placement. A lot of artists (professionals as well as ametuers) make them look like balloons that have been taped onto the subject’s chest; this is hardly a natural look. If you look through figure drawing books, you’ll see that they are more like halves of a sphere or overturned teacups rather than balloons.

Now, note the position. Imagine a central guideline that runs down the center of your subject’s body, as shown at the left. The breasts are at 45 degree angles from that center line, and are about halfway down the chest (shown by the red diagonal guidelines). Be very careful not to draw them too close together or too far apart, or too high on the chest; these are commonly made mistakes. As you will see in examples below, this basic rule of the 45 degree placement will apply to pretty much whatever pose you are using.

 

 

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Here is another pose, showing the torso from a front view. Note how the breasts are still located at 45 degree angles from the center line of the body. Oh, also take note of the shading. After looking at various examples, I find that shading in this fashion (rather than just following the lower curves as you would shade a sphere) makes them look more natural.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Here is one last pose to go over the size and placement. It’s harder to see here, but the breasts are still at the 45 degree angle from the center line (which isn’t draw in this picture; sorry about that ^_^;). Notice that the leftmost breast is drawn as a half-sphere, not as a full sphere. If you want to exaggerate the size, that’s your choice, but I personally don’t think its necessary.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Now, lets move on to the neck and shoulders. When you draw the shoulders, notice that they are slope down smoothly, they aren’t flat. Try to take the musculature structure of the neck and shoulders into consideration, especially if you are going for a more realistic look. They should be shaped more like a clothes hanger, and not drawn flat an hard.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Here are some more examples of various shoulder positions. Notice that the shoulders are never drawn flat and dull.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
One more thing I wanted to cover regarding the torso is how to draw it if an arm is lifted. ^_^ I have personally found this difficult sometimes, so I figured it was a good thing to go over. If the arm is lifted, then the back of the torso will be exposed. Although a female’s torso isn’t as round and full as a males, it should still stick out in the back. Don’t make the upper torso too narrow. Notice also how the top of the right-most breast doesn’t just keep curving inwards in a circle; remember that it is not a full sphere, so it is attached to the muscles of the shoulder. 

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image

Next, let’s move on to the arms. The arms consist of three basic sections: the upper arm, the foream, and the hand. Each can be represented in prelimiary sketches by oval shapes. Now, I know some people don’t like using the shapes; you do not have to do it this way, this is just one possible way to go about sketching arms. Some books recommend using cylinders, but it’s better to use flat ovals because they more closely match the shape of the arm. It isn’t shown here, but if the arms are held loosely at the side, the hands should come down to the middle of the thigh. The elbows should be at about waist length.

 

 

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Once you have your basic shapes of the arms down, you can refine them and make them look more realistic. This is a little more difficult. ^_^ When drawing the arms, don’t make them straight and flat; arms have muscles, after all. ^_^ Never draw a straight arm as just a long cylinder (unless you are doing a super-deformed/chibi pic). ^_^ The arm starts at the shoulder. Notice how the shoulder bulges out slightly, then curves back down. The arm tapes slightly inwards until you reach the elbow.At the elbow, the arm widens again just after the elbow where the biceps are (as shown in the topmost picture here). The elbow itself can be a little daunting to draw. Remember that the arm doesn’t just start curving in the other direction; there is a joint, and it should be shown (as in the top and bottom left pic). There are more examples below.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
Here are some more poses for arms, this time showing how the parts of the arm overlap. It is sometimes easier to visualize the overlapping or foreshortening if you use basic oval shapes first, but again, you do not have to use them if you do not want to. Notice how in the topmost picture, the arm that is moving away from us tapers and grows smaller the further away from us it is.

Kanji de Manga Vol 3 cover image
These poses are a little more difficult to refine. It is very important that you pay close attention to the way each part of the arm is facing, and how the elbow is to be positioned. Try to imagine the arm as two different shapes stuck together: the cylindrical upper arm, and the forearm, which is sort of shaped like a bowling pin with a bump on the bottom. ^_^ That should help you in determining the position of the elbow.

 

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