Poses Drawing – 75 Picture Ideas

The three basic portrait poses

In portrait drawing, artists have traditionally posed their models (or themselves in self-portraits) in one of three views:

• Full face: The model faces the artist directly with both sides of the model’s face fully visible to the artist.

• Profile: The view you drew in the last exercises. The model faces toward the artist’s left or right and only one side (one half) of the model’s face is visible to the artist.

• Three-quarter view: The model makes a half-turn toward the artist’s left or right, making visible to the artist three-quarters of the model’s face—the profile (one half) plus one quarter of the remaining half-face.

Note that the full-face and profile views are relatively invariant, while the three-quarter view can vary from an almost profile to an almost full-face pose and still be called a “three-quarter view.”

John Singer Sargent Olimpio

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925.

Study for “Madame X.” Courtesy of

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Frances Ormond and Miss Emily Sargent, 1931

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925.

Study for “Madame X.” Courtesy of

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Frances Ormond and Miss Emily Sargent, 1931

Olimpio Fusco

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925. Olimpio Fusco, c. 1905-15? Courtesy of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-82. Jane Burden, Later Mrs. William Morris, as Queen Guinevere. Courtesy of The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

John Singer Sargent, 1856-1925. Olimpio Fusco, c. 1905-15? Courtesy of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-82. Jane Burden, Later Mrs. William Morris, as Queen Guinevere. Courtesy of The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

Olimpio Fusco
Fig. 10-6.

What Is Figure Drawing?

​In essence, figure drawing is capturing the human form. It’s observing and drawing the shapes, posture and anatomy of the human body.

To be blunt, you are sitting down and drawing people.

Sounds easy, right? Not so.

It is about refining your attention to detail and training your hand to draw what your brain sees.

You are looking at a figure, and capturing their gesture, the light, and shadows on the body. You are searching for the details that give an expression or convey an emotion.

You can spend hours on a single figure drawing, or you can do a series of quick sketches to capture an imprint of the person’s gesture.

A drawing can be highly detailed and anatomically correct (Figure Study), or a series of quick, loosely drawn images that capture an expression, and the flow of the body (Gesture Drawings).

What Is Life Drawing?

​Life drawing is when you draw from observation from a live model.

The model can either be clothed or not clothed. Many people prefer minimal clothing to study and draw the human anatomy.

The benefit of life drawing over a picture, is you don’t have the distortion of the camera impacting what you see.

In real life, a model is right there allowing you to develop the skillset to draw an object without relying on a still image.

A life drawing can be a complete work of art, or it can be a study of the human body.

If you have the opportunity, seek out your local life drawing class. Regularly drawing .

What Is Gesture Drawing?

​Gesture drawing is a type of figure drawing aimed at quickly capturing the gesture of the human body (Hence the name).

A gesture drawing is often quick sketches laying out the form, actions, and pose of a model. This can be done with a photo reference or with a live model.

The time spent on each pose can range from 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, to 20 minutes. The aim is to capture what you can in that time.

For shorter periods, it can often be a series of lines to capture the flow of the model. Typically, it involves and artists drawing a series of poses in a short amount of time.

Gesture drawing can often be used as a warm up before a longer life drawing session. It is unquestionably a skill to cultivate.

What I love about quick sketching, is you don’t even have to go to a studio or have an image in front of you. It’s something you can do anywhere.

Sitting at a café, waiting for your bus. You can use these opportunities to quick sketch actions and gestures people present to you at that moment.

Whenever there is a moment in time that enables to capture a person’s expression, it’s an awesome opportunity to practice your gesture drawing skills.

Get out of the house, get away from the screen and get out into reality.

It can be a pleasant exercise to do with friends. Go out have a cup of coffee and draw the people and world around you.

The primary purpose of figure drawing is to facilitate the study of the human form in motion. People should be able to look at it and articulate what the figure is trying to do.

Can you see whether the model is running, twisting, grab something up higher, or swinging a bat?

Gesture drawing not only helps capture a motion in time but also the expression of emotion. Does the pose you have drawn capture the emotion present?

This quick sketch of someone’s gesture is an excellent method of training your hand to capture what the brain already see. It is different to figure study which is done over a longer period.

What Is A Figure Study​?

​A figure study is a drawing or painting, of a human body, made usually over a longer period of time for the purpose of studying the human form.

This could be capturing the anatomy of the entire body or a part of the body.

It can be an exploration of how light reflects of particular muscle groups. Or it could be how the body looks when it is held in a particular form. What you choose to study is up to you.

Figure studies are often made in preparation for a more composed and completed work.

By preference, figure studies are usually done with a live model. However, you can also use images a reference. If you want a challenge you can go off your imagination and memory.

Reference models can be clothed; however, many artists prefer nude models so they can accurately capture the anatomy of the figure.

Nude is preferred as it allows the student to see the muscle groups. They aren’t hindered by clothing or fabric.