Have you ever wanted to know how to draw a soldier giving a salute? In this short tutorial, we will see how to draw an army man saluting.
Below is a reference photo that will come in handy. It definitely came in handy for me. Even though I myself am an army veteran, it has been roughly 15 years since I last wore a set of fatigues, also known at the time as BDU’s (or Battle Dress Uniforms). I have since learned that there have been a lot of changes! As of 2004, they are called ACU’s (or Army Combat Uniforms) and look very different from what I used to wear.
Draw the Basic Outline
Draw the basic shapes for the head and torso. As you can tell from the photo, this is not a direct frontal view but rather a quarter-turn view. Account for this as you sketch the head shape by planning for the side of the face on one side and the back of the head on the other.
Sketch the shape for the saluting arm. A salute is formed with the upper arm parallel to the ground and the fingers of the hand extended and meeting the eyebrow.
Draw the Face and Saluting Hand
Sketch the basic guidelines for the face. Again, since the face is turned, your guideline going down the center of the face should reflect the direction the soldier is facing.
Since the soldier’s chin is slightly up, notice the upward curvature of the eye guideline as the head is tilted back. As you draw the eyes looking slightly up, don’t forget the highlights, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
Next, draw the nose. Use the reference photo and guidelines to sketch the nose at the same angle as the turned head.
Repeat this process as you draw the mouth.
Finish the face by drawing the ears, jawline, and neck. The collar of the jacket will be drawn just below the neck later.
At this point, you can erase the guidelines that helped you draw the face. Then begin adding details to make the hand. Draw the fingers extended straight but put slight bends in the knuckle areas to make them appear more natural. Make a few visible lifelines on the palm underside and a few wrinkles along the side of the hand for a touch of realism.
Draw the Uniform
Draw the hat. Look at the reference photo to see how to properly shape the hat. Draw stitching along the seams to make it appear sewn together like real fabric.
Next, draw the collar along the bottom of the neck…
…and draw the jacket. Continue to use the reference photo to stay true to the design of the uniform. This includes noticing where parts of the jacket are fastened and how the pockets are angled. Don’t forget to make a few well-placed folds that are always found in clothing.
Repeat this process as you draw the sleeve. Look specifically for folds, seams, and pockets and draw them as carefully as you can.
How to Make a Camouflage Pattern
Now it is time to begin adding a camouflage pattern to the uniform. Here is a pattern I created on the hat. The current army combat uniform has a digital-looking pixel pattern and three basic colors: foliage green, urban gray, and desert sand. The goal for this drawing is not to replicate this complicated pattern perfectly. Instead, we can sketch some very basic shapes and use a combination of hatching and crosshatching to make a simplified camouflage pattern that resembles the real thing. Here’s how…
Let’s start by making camo for the sleeve. Make some basic abstract shapes for the foliage green. Try drawing many short, straight edges and corners as you form the shapes. This will help create a pixel appearance.
Use a crosshatch pattern to fill in these shapes. This crosshatch pattern can enhance the pixel appearance and represent the darkest of the colors: foliage green.
Repeat by drawing similar shapes to represent the urban gray, only use a hatch pattern rather than a crosshatch to fill the shapes. Don’t worry about any shading pattern for the sand color.
Now move on to the rest of the uniform. Here we have more foliage green crosshatch patterns on the jacket torso.
Add approximately an equal number of urban gray hatch patterns to complete the uniform and the drawing.
So that is how to complete a drawing of an army man who is saluting. The process for drawing the camouflage pattern is not meant to be perfect, but it is at least easier than trying to spend hours or days replicating the real thing, and it has a close enough resemblance.
Remember the value in having a reference photograph when you draw a person in a uniform such as this. If you want to honor the appearance of your subject as closely as possible, a reference photo can mean the difference between an accurate, recognizable soldier and a poor imitation.