Figurative artists, in order to be successful, must learn two basic skills. The first, taught by a number of academies all over the world, is visual training. Learning to draw is first and foremost learning how to see. In order to master this skill one must spend countless hours copying drawings by old masters and drawing the figure from life all under the critical eye of a qualified instructor. The second skill is the constructive approach to drawing. Here the student learns the basic forms and anatomy of the human figure with the aim to draw the figure from imagination. Below are some hints, leads and images to get you started mastering this skill.
Far and away the best instructor in the field of constructive figure drawing is Glenn Vilppu. Check out his website for copies of his wonderful videos: www.vilppustore.com. If you can, buy them all.
This web address contains a number of online articles by him: www.awn.com/category/columns/vilppu
Comic book artist David Finch recently released an excellent drawing dvd:
Books available on the web:
Andrew Loomis was an illustrator and suberb draughtsman in the golden age of illustration. He wrote several books on drawing which are very helpful, particularly "Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth" and "Drawing the Head and Hands".
They are available online here:
"How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" by Stan Lee
"Drawing The Head And Figure" by Jack Hamm
1. Beginning Form: Start by drawing this simple form of a sphere and cube covered by some material. Do not move forward until you become very good at drawing these.
2. Transitional Form and the Simple Mannequin: The beginning form acts as the rib cage and pelvis. Now add the columns of the legs and arms to make a simple mannequin.
John Buscema's mannequin:
One can also use a mannequin based upon the cube form:
3. Complex Mannequin: Now add simple anatomy. The shoulders and pectorals are grouped together. The external obliques, abs and underwear shape of the pelvis are the other forms.
In the image below notice simple proportions to help you with your mannequin:
Pit of neck to bottom of sternum equals sternum to tenth rib equals rib to pelvic points.
These are the basics, now you only need to draw, draw, draw.
UPDATE: The following images show how to combine superior knowledge of anatomy and the constructive method of drawing: