The purpose of this article is to list 10 different approaches to drawing children. The first six approaches will consider the age. The last four are more stylistic approaches.
Consider the Age of the Children
First consider the age and development of the child before you begin. Refer to one of the age groups that I list below for how to draw children. There are instructions for different age groups.
Notice the proportions of an infant. The majority of the body is the head and the rest of the body is almost the same size. There is little to no difference between boys and girls.
Drawing infants or babies is quite simple. You can break it down in a couple of steps.
Head: To create the head, just create one circle for the face and then another circle for the head.
Body: The body should be about an equal size with the head. Figure out how many heads you need for the body.
Details: Draw softly for details like eyebrows, hair, and face features. Draw shapes for the cheeks, eyes, and the outline of the head.
There is only a slight difference between infants and toddlers. The largest difference is how big the child is. Depending on the age of the toddler, he or she will still have infant proportions. The overall body shape of a boy and a girl is still very similar.
Note that toddlers should have a longer body than an infant. So you add a half or a full head, depending on age.
3. Early Childhood / Kindergarteners
There are significant changes at this age. It is possible for children at this age to be approximately one-half the size of an adult. The general body shape is still similar to that of a toddler, but you will start to see a difference.
Boys: It’s the same idea as drawing a toddler, but taller and older.
Girls: The body shape starts to change. You also begin to notice a difference between girls and boys. Be sure to draw as carefully as possible, or your child will look older than she is.
4. Elementary School Years
Girls partially start developing early. Notice also other important changes as children get older.
Boys: Between 3rd grade – 5th grade, boys will catch up with girls and start surpassing them in height. They will also have overall larger bodies.
Girls: Girls will go through a change of body shape again, typically 2 or 3 years before boys.
5. Middle School / Preteen
Proportions are about the same as elementary school kids, but girls are a lot more mature and will start looking like teenagers. There is a wide range so you may need to refer to a different body shape/age group, depending on the child.
Boys: At this age, boys should be about the same size as girls or bigger. However, for the most part, the overall body shape is still the same.
Girls: At this age girls will change quite dramatically as they start blossoming into young ladies.
6. Teenager/ Young Adult
There are key differences for both boys and girls from looking like a teenager to looking like an adult. Both boys and girl still have a young looking appearance in the face. You can do this by creating a slight exaggeration of the eyes, drawing a smoother face, and using softer details, like along the neckline. As you work with a subject who is older, details like the neck are more defined.
Consider the Style in Which You Want to Draw the Children
7. Free Style Drawing or Sketching
When you don’t know how old someone is, look at a reference and draw what you see. Don’t get married to proportions, because certain things give people characteristics and drawing a person “how they are supposed to look” will give a good sketch of a child but maybe not the person you are drawing.
Understanding that each person’s physical appearance is different will help you draw someone’s “character” or personality instead of just a person. Children tend to have certain mannerisms (for example, drawing a child pose like sitting crisscross or playing).
Consider drawing personality traits like being silly, funny, or at play. This will create a more cartoonlike or childlike image. Create slight exaggerations of the body to transform your child into a cartoon which will capture a childlike image.
Head: The head is largely disproportionate compared to the body for a good amount of your life.
Eyes: A slight exaggeration of how big the eyes are will both give the child a more childish look and also a cartoonlike appearance.
Body: Draw the child’s body like an adult’s body but a lot smaller. Just think “make everything smaller.” Also, knowing the key differences at certain ages will help capture the correct age group.
9. Children with Family or Environment
One of the best ways to draw a child is to draw the child next to someone else. Keep in mind: the smaller the child, the younger they will appear.
Consider clothing, face expressions, being uninventive, or any childlike mannerism you can think of. Drawing a character of that person or capturing that person’s personality will help not only make your drawing like that person, but will create a sense of realism.