Practice Makes Progress – STAGE 6



SHappy-Peopleo far this year you’ve tackled; Blind Contour Drawing, Scribble Gesture Drawing, Construction Drawing, Tonal Contrast and Playing with Perspective.

It’s fabulous to see you taking part and all the progress you are making. Since tackling the challenge we’ve seen some positive results from our members. We hope you will continue with these challenges as a fun un-intimidating way of warming up your drawing hand and honing your observational skills. 

If you’ve missed any of the steps simply click the links on the right to catch up and remember…

Practice really does make progress!

See the challenge in action: Drawing the figure in proportion…

Moving On!

Step 6 – Drawing the figure in proportion


For this first step, all you will need is a dedicated sketch book or ideally several dotted around the house, in your bag, in the car, unless you’re disciplined enough to keep it with you at all times.

Stage six of this years challenge focuses on drawing the figure in proportion. When drawing a person, seated or standing it is important to understand the proportions of the figure in order to make them “look right”.

Anita Pounder, SAA in-house artist has some simple suggestions to help you achieve this. As with previous exercises, the more you practice the sooner they become second nature.

Draw a vertical line to represent the middle of the body and divide it into eight even ‘head’ sections. Next, draw an oval shape in the first section to represent the head.

There are many ways to represent the proportions of the figure but the easiest way is to create a box with the knowledge that the average figure is two heads wide at the shoulder, so use this ratio to draw a grid.

You can now start to plot out the key points on the figure, using little circles to represent the joints. The head takes up the first section, then the shoulders fall ¼ of a head below the chin line. The second section reaches to where the nipples are on the average male figure and the third section finishes at the navel. This is also where the elbows are situated. The fourth rests on the upper edge of the hips and the wrists and the fifth reaches to mid-thigh, with the finger tips resting half way down this section.
The knee is situated just above the bottom line of the sixth section and the seventh section contains the upper calf. The final section includes the feet and ankles.


Once the key features are plotted you can start to join the up. This will still be very representational but the proportions will be correct and you can see where the different parts of the body fit together.
For example, the elbow and the navel are in a line and the tips of the fingers will rest mid-thigh.

Try drawing a side and back view to familiarise yourself with the figure.

This is a fairly idealised representation of the figure but it is a good starting point as to where parts of the body fall in relation to the other parts.
Irrespective of the size of the person or their distance from you, the proportions are still the same.






Missed Step 4



Chandy Rodgers, editor of Paint magazine

Chandy has been enjoying practicing the exercises over the last few months.

“I have to admit that over the summer months I have not done as much drawing as I had hope to…with the nights drawing in I am really excited as I can feel my pencils calling louder than my garden. Thanks to Anita’s advice, I am now staring at everyone I see, wondering if their height really is eight times their head!”