How to Draw People

How to Draw People

10 min read
Greek head sculptures

Everybody wants to draw somebody. But why's it so hard to draw people?

You've probably also heard people say, "I can't draw realistic hands," or "I can't draw noses," and our favorite, "I can't even draw a stick figure."

We're here to change that because we know that anyone can draw.

Over the past year or two, our resident artists and other talented illustrators have been creating fantastic, easy-to-follow drawing tutorials to help anybody learn how to draw somebody – faces, hands, postures and poses, fictional characters, and even portraits of real people.

Our artists share their methods for drawing the human anatomy, creating original characters, and celebrating important events.

We've put them all together in this comprehensive guide for you to learn how to turn sketch marks into excellent vector illustrations.

All you need to do to learn how to draw the human figure is to have your pencil and pad (paper and digital!) ready and create an environment where you feel relaxed and focused.

Let's go!

Figure Drawing

Figure drawing is about studying the human form, its various shapes and sizes, and the diversity of poses and expressions. The human body is not only beautiful and fascinating, but it's also great at communicating emotions.

Drawing people takes practice. The more you apply yourself and draw; the more accurate your portraits and caricatures will become.

Besides understanding human anatomy, it's also important to draw as much on-screen as you do off-screen – vary your drawings from digital tracing with your Apple Pencil and iPad to pencil sketches and ink on paper.

Why? Because you practice different skills when you use a variety of media. Drawing on an iPad relies on other fine motor skills than sketching on paper.

But drawing is always enjoyable and rewarding, no matter which medium you work with!

Check out the step-by-step guides we've created for you to learn how to do figure drawing:

1. How to Draw Eyes

How to draw eyes on Vectornator

Follow this tutorial to learn how to space eyes apart, draw an eye shape, and all the components that make an eye drawing look believable.

You'll also learn about the creative application of color to a portrait drawing.

How to Draw Eyes
They say “eyes are the window to the soul,” but what does that actually mean? The saying comes from the idea that looking into a person’s eyes is the key to understanding their hidden feelings and thoughts.

2. How to Draw a Nose

There are as many individual nose shapes as there are people, which is why it's so difficult to get it right!

This tutorial shows you how to build up a nose drawing from simple shapes and apply shading to the nose areas accurately.

3. How to Draw Hair

The most distinguishing characteristic of a cartoon body is usually their hairstyle and hair color. But drawing stunning hairstyles is not as easy as you imagine!

In this tutorial, we show you how to create a bunch of cool hairstyles for flat characters using simple shapes.

How to Draw Hair | Vectornator Academy
Learn how to draw different kind of hair for your character with Vectornator!

4. How to Draw Hands

People tend to be incredibly expressive with their hands, and this body part often features in ancient basic anatomy studies.

Suppose you're tired of hiding characters' hands in drawings or frustrated because they always come out looking like burger patties with sausages for fingers. In that case, this simple step-by-step tutorial will help you draw realistic hands in no time.

In this video, Maddy explains the anatomy of hands and how you can easily draw hands in any position.

How to Draw Hands | Vectornator Academy
Learn how to draw hands with Vectornator on your iPad.

5. How to Draw Facial Expressions

This tutorial shows you how to create different facial expressions by tweaking a few basic elements of your character's face.

There aren't any rules as to how to do this! If you want your character to be very angry, why not change their eye color to red? Knowing how to alter facial features will help you show more emotions for cartoon characters.

Check out the video for more tips on expressing emotions in your character drawings.

6. How to Draw Poses

Body language speaks louder than words.

In this video, you'll discover the art of creating dynamic character poses. It begins with quick sketches of stick figures and then builds to realistic muscles and movements.

You'll also learn how the lower and upper body work together in the human anatomy to bring balance. Understanding this concept helps determine the kinds of motion your characters can make.

This is also a popular animation exercise because animators usually create a frame or skeleton for their characters first to predict how their bodies will move in different actions.

By following these simple tips and regular practice, you'll be able to draw believable human characters in many complex poses.

How to Draw Poses | Vectornator Academy
Learn some tips and tricks of how to draw your character in various poses

7. How to Design a Character

Now that you've checked out a few essential figure drawing lessons, you can deep-dive into how to design your own characters.

These step-by-step instructions take you through the basics of creating a character with a story and personality, and how to carry this through to their body details.

Many businesses design their own mascot with a backstory that ties into the company's vision and mission, so this lesson will also help you create one for your own workplace.

How to Design a Character | Vectornator Academy
Learn how to design a unique character with Vectornator app.

Character Drawing

Once you've started honing your figure drawing skills and learned how to design a relatable character, you'll see that it becomes much more manageable.

Whether you want to learn how to use Vectornator's features for creating beautiful digital portraits, make your own vector marketing materials, or unleash character illustrations from your imagination, we've covered all the bases in the step-by-step drawing tutorials below.

8. How to Design a Vector Portrait

Suppose you're not interested in complex anatomy diagrams and drawing realistic people but want to create unique caricatures and portraits. In that case, this fun tutorial shows you how to build a portrait in step-by-step illustrations.

Using simple shapes and then adjusting them with the Node tool in Vectornator allows you to make any shapes you need. Follow these steps to see how to design a vector portrait without tracing from a reference image.

How to Design a Vector Portrait | Vectornator Academy
Learn how to create a beautiful vector portrait using Vectornator.

9. Character Drawing to Support Social Issues

The human body is a powerful sociopolitical space that can be used in illustration and design to communicate social issues effectively.

Different body shapes, femininity vs. masculinity (or gender-neutrality), and skin color are all highly significant identifiers that trigger different reactions in people.

Below you can access three tutorials that show you how to draw body figures to support causes such as Black Lives Matter, women empowerment, and queer identity.

The tutorial above celebrates Black History month and gives step-by-step instructions on using a portrait sketch as the centerpiece and how to use negative space best.

This cartoon-style tutorial uses feminine body types to communicate women's diversity, strength, and friendship.

This advanced tutorial shows you how to create an illustration of a real-life character, in this case, the drag queen Sasha Velour, using reference photos.

10. Female Silhouette for a Fine Art Print

Create a fine art print of a female silhouette

We made a tutorial on how to create artwork for fine art prints.

This simple illustration shows a female figure from behind with a few details added to create a mesmerizing and calm image.

This tutorial is a great, non-stressful exercise in doing simple body drawings that you will be proud to hang in your home.

How to Design a Fine Art Print | Vectornator Academy
If you do digital art, fine art prints are a beautiful way to bring your illustrations to life!

11. How to Draw a Geisha

A geisha is one of Japan's most recognizable cultural figures.

This brilliant video tutorial shows you how to create a graceful geisha in a flowing kimono.

How to Draw a Geisha | Vectornator Academy
Let’s learn how to draw a Japanese Geisha using Vector.

12. How to Draw a Flat Design Character

Flat design is very popular for marketing materials and corporate branding because of its simplicity and clever use of color to convey a clear message. This is one of our popular beginner tutorials.

One of the mistakes beginners make is that their character designs are too detailed and complex. This makes it harder for potential customers to "read" the image (find the message) and more difficult for you to reproduce the same character in multiple poses.

We explain flat character design and show you how to create a flat character of your own.

How to Draw Flat Characters | Vectornator Academy
Learn how to draw a simple vector character, nice and easy.

13. How to Design Character Clothing

Accessories help to tell a character's story.

This step-by-step guide focuses on how to dress your characters and create detailed accessories such as shoes, jewelry, belts, and beanies.

This is also a super fun tutorial if you enjoy fashion design!

14. How to Draw Your Own Avatars

Want to make custom avatars for your team?

This cartoon-style tutorial shows how easy it is to create a bunch of human characters using the same cartoon body base.

Follow this video for a light-hearted illustration exercise that the average person can easily do.

15. How to Draw a Couple in Love

We love love! So, we put together a tutorial on drawing two characters that interact with each other in a romantic scene.

We've looked at creating different poses and emotions for cartoon characters, and you can put what you've learned into practice with this exercise.

16. How to Draw a Mermaid

Adding something a little more whimsical into the mix, these two tutorials show you how to combine human anatomy with a fishtail to create mermaid illustrations.

“MerMay” Tutorial
In this tutorial, you will get to know the works of Marta Krstic. From Belgrade Serbia, Marta quickly became of the most active members of the Vectornator community. Her artwork is not only amazing but also very inspirational.

MerMay is a fun, light-hearted drawing challenge that prompts creatives to make a mermaid artwork daily for the month of May.

We followed the prompt, and this video shows you how to create your own MerMay illustration.

This tutorial is slightly different and provides the steps for creating a cut-out style illustration with a mermaid silhouette.

17. Portrait of Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars

This advanced tutorial starts with some quick sketches and moves on to a detailed portrait of Obi-Wan Kenobi, including the Jedi insignia for the background.

You'll love this video if you're a Star Wars fan and want to create a poster for your home office. But it's also an excellent exercise to learn how to draw any person's portrait accurately in a digital format.

18. How to Draw a Futuristic Character

This video is not a step-by-step drawing tutorial per se, but shows a time-lapse of how this vibrant, futuristic scene with a character was created.

We decided to include this video here since you can see all the tools used to create this future-focused character using Vectornator on iPad.

Wrap Up

We've learned a lot about body proportions in the advanced anatomy tutorials listed above, and we hope you will, too!

From lessons in human anatomy to poses and facial expressions to supporting sociocultural causes, knowing how to draw people in all their shapes will help you to communicate important messages.

Once you've completed these tutorials, or if you have any ideas for more tutorials on drawing people, please share them with us on social media and in the Vectornator Community.

Don't forget to download Vectornator to get started with your awesome character drawings!

Download Vectornator to Get Started

Take your designs to the next level.

Greek head sculptures
Greek head sculptures

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