Figure drawing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to become better at drawing the human form. All you have to do is get your favorite sketchpad or drawing program, find a picture, set a timer for a few seconds, and quickly sketch a model! And then find another picture. And another. And another.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of “drawing sessions'' just looking for references. It takes me out of the figure-drawing zone and it's just a waste of time. That’s why I’ve put together this list of free reference sources!
The website Line of Action has references for places, bodies, animals, and human faces and expressions. You can also select how long you want your screen to stay on each image, how long you want your drawing session to be, and if you want warm-ups first. Line of Action has the largest variety of reference images of any source on this list and the most filters if you are trying to find images of a specific age range or gender. You can even get references for buildings!
Disclaimer, though; this website has some nude models. Since clothes obscure the human form, a lot of artists prefer to learn anatomy based on nude figures. If this makes you uncomfortable, Line of Action does allow you to filter for only clothed reference options.
Adorkastock (formerly Senshistock) has to be one of my favorite art reference websites out there! They have a vast number of poses, models of different body types, and their website app is free. They also have a number of themed packs, most of which cost less than 20 dollars. The models for Adorkastock all wear underwear or skin-tight leotards, so you can get a good grasp of anatomy without being embarrassed about practicing your art in public. If you use Adorka’s poses for one of your drawings or paintings, make sure to give her a shout-out! She’d love to see what you do with her hard work.
Finally, the New Masters Academy Youtube channel has a series of Non-Nude drawing references. Each video has a set of images, often several with the same model. Each set will give you two minutes for every image, though of course you can speed up or slow down the video as needed. These videos are about thirty minutes long, so you can get a full drawing session in without any clicking around for pictures! They also have other series on their channel, including a principles of drawing series which covers subjects from anatomy to the basics of animation.
Finding the right references for a drawing can take a lot of time. Most great artists use multiple pictures to plan out even one sketch. But, the more you practice sketching from reference, the less you will have to lean on references. You will start to internalize the basics of human anatomy, even from angles that you find tough to draw.
What do you think? How do you like these reference websites? Do you feel like these have helped you improve? And, of course, please send us your sketches! We’d love to see how you improve.