Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to Make a Simple Drawing of Crossed Legs

Have you ever wondered how to draw crossed legs? Well in this short tutorial, we will look at an easy way to create a simple freehand drawing of crossed legs that anyone can do!

For this tutorial, we will draw the legs of a woman in heels sitting on an office chair with her legs crossed. Her right leg will be crossed over her left one.

All you will need is a sheet of drawing paper, a pencil, and an eraser. I prefer using a mechanical pencil and a kneaded eraser, but really any pencil and eraser will do.

The artist who contributed the drawings for this tutorial used her finger to blend. While I would recommend using a tortillion or blending stump rather than your finger (to prevent oils from ruining the drawing), art is all about freedom and expression and there is no law against it, so blend with your finger too if you want!

When you have these basic supplies, you are ready to begin!

Establish a Basic Outline

Begin by sketching some very basic shapes to establish placement of the legs. Draw lines to place the thighs and calves. Imagine these lines as the “bones” of the legs, going straight down each leg. Sketch some loose circles to represent the knees. Sketch a rough outline of the feet.


Next, begin to outline the shape of both legs. Use the lines from the previous step as a framework, with the thighs and calves extending from the circles serving as the knees. Make the calves gently taper toward the ankles and feet.


Carefully erase the guidelines from the first step until you are only left with the outline of the legs. At this point, you can also draw some simple shapes to represent the chair that the woman is sitting in.

Add Details to the Line Drawing

Now let’s add a little more detail to this line drawing. We can begin by better defining the chair. Do this by extending the seat of the chair and turning the circular base into more of a disc. Let’s also add details to the skirt and outline the shape of the heels.


When you plan to shade a drawing like this, a good rule of thumb is to outline where some of the major shadows will be right on the line drawing. In this case, we’ll draw an outline on the base of the chair where the seat casts its shadow. In addition, indicate some shadows where the legs meet the skirt, on the seat under the legs, on the knee, and around the ankles.

Make a Base Layer of Shading and Highlights

Take your pencil and use light, broad strokes going in the same direction to fill in the entire area. This will serve as a base layer of shading for the drawing. You can still make some areas darker than others, such as the shadows that were designated in the last step. You can also add a darker shade to items that are meant to have a darker value, such as the skirt and the heels.


Use a tortillion, blending stump, or other preferred blending tool of choice to blend the tones from the previous step. Go back over a second time and add more shadow with your pencil wherever needed. These might be areas that lost some of the contrast in value they had with the lighter areas.


Look for areas that need to have highlights. Pull these areas out with an eraser so they are brighter than some of the brightest midtones adjacent to them. Such areas could include the knee and the shinbone below it and parts of the skirt.

Final Shading and Finishing Touches

Now you can go back over the drawing and decide what needs to be darker. You can add an additional layer of tones over spots that should have darker shadows. You can also better outline and define the legs, chair, and other parts of the drawing if you wish.


Continue the process of blending, adding more tones, and blending again until you achieve a level of detail in your shading that you desire. Finally, add your last set of highlights to complete the picture.

That is how to draw crossed legs in a simple, freehand way. One of the benefits of drawing crossed legs as opposed to drawing a face is you are not working to capture a perfect likeness when drawing legs.

If there are other aspects of your crossed legs drawing that you are not pleased with, such as proportions or shading outcomes, you can always make tweaks along the way or try again. Those aspects will surely improve with time and practice.

Note: I would like to thank artist Audrey Rosse for contributing her drawings and tips for this tutorial!

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