So, You Want To Draw Guys? Here Is How To Draw A Man

Drawing humans can be difficult for many. We’re complex creatures, and we can easily tell when something is not right. One of the hardest issues for many is figuring out how to draw a particular gender. There are many great artists out there who can draw a beautiful woman but who cannot quite seem to capture the male figure. If you want to learn how to draw a man, you can follow the tips listed here. Drawing a male figure requires learning how to think about the way men are built — and it requires realizing that there are many more differences between men and women than you might realize.

General Guidelines

It is always a good idea to go back to the basics when you are choosing something to draw. Figuring out how to effectively draw the male figure is no different from figuring out how to draw the female figure — or even how to draw a tree, for that matter. You start with the basic information that you need, take a look at the proportions, and then move on to the details. You can always take your art down to its component parts when something goes wrong to figure out your next move.

When you draw a male figure, you need to think about your basic unit of size as the head. You can draw a tiny head or a large head if you like, but everything else is going to be in proportion to that basic unit. One standard rule of thumb is that the male drawing is about eight heads tall. If you can maintain something close to those proportions, you have a great chance of getting the basic human part of the figure down.

Width should not give you quite as much trouble as height, but you do still need to think about proportions. When you consider your proportions, it can help to divide the body up like so:

– The head
– The neck
– The torso
– The arms and hands
– The legs and feet

More than Stubble: The Male Face

When I start with a male face, I start with an oval but often plan to overlay more angular features rather than curves. The male face is a more angular beast. Unlike a woman’s soft curves, a good male face will usually seem to have a bit of a squared jaw to it. Every part of the male face is going to benefit from having a bit more of an angle to it — the eyes, the nose, even the cheekbones often avoid soft curves. Try to think of the male face as the female face with its curves removed. It might be a terribly basic way to think about the drawing, but it does help.

Another good way to deal with issues drawing a male is to go big. When I draw a female face, I always try to be restrained — smaller eyes, more delicate noses, wispy eyebrows. When I draw a man, though, I don’t mind letting a bit of the animal out. Going with something as simple as a pair of dark, bushy eyebrows gives a face a very male appearance. After all, more than half of all men have eyebrows that require a little bit of extra control. When you go big, you can also think about adding bigger ears, more pronounced nostrils and a more apparent jaw line. All of these features that look out of place on a female face help to give a male face its definition.

Presenting Power: The Male Body

Not to be stereotypical, but I do think that the real key to drawing a male body is in the muscles. Women only have about sixty percent of the muscle mass of men, and this means that drawing the male figure is going to mean applying a lot more power. The hard part about this is not making things look ridiculous. Bulky muscles are for comic books from the 1990’s, not for every subject you draw. Instead, your focus should be on creating figures that are a little more angular than they are round. Curves are a non-starter for men, so leave them out whenever you can.

This brings us back to proportions again. We want to make sure that our man has a proportional torso, legs, and arms. Our torso, stretching from chin to groin, is going to be about three heads long and about as wide. Our legs are going to be about 4 heads long, with our arms about 3/4 that length. If you keep these proportions, you can draw a man that is about the right size.

Male Patterns: Drawing Hair and Facial Hair

Back when I was a much younger artist, I will admit that the biggest difference between my male and female figures was the hair. As an adult though, I know that simply giving a male figure short hair is not going to be enough to make it look realistic. As such, I need to remember what a man’s hair looks like — and as with many of the examples above, angles are going to play a key role again.

A man’s hairline starts farther back than a female hairline — you will be giving the face the appearance of a longer forehead, again helping to highlight a gender difference. When you draw a man’s hair, you should be seeking (in most cases) to eliminate the waves and curls that help to define female hair. Short hair might be a crutch for some artists, but it is a crutch that is well worth using. Shading in a crew or buzz cut is a good way to create a “male” shorthand for a figure.

As an aside, try not to be lazy with facial hair. Yes, it is a primary male signifier. It is not, however, something that has to be done on every male figure. If you are going to go with stubble, something that will appear on the face of any male character above puberty from time to time, be subtle — you are mostly shading. You are only drawing individual hairs if you are aiming for an incredibly close up and detailed rendering. If you draw a moustache or beard, though, be aware that you are dealing with something that requires as much attention to volume and depth as the hair on the head.

Drawing of Ahmed Shah Massoud
© Elena Duvernay |

Modifications, Changes, and Your Style

Now, all of the information above is certainly able to be modified. I enjoy following these very standard guidelines because they provide a great visual shorthand, but you always need to experiment. The best way for you to draw a male subject with which you are comfortable is to keep practicing. You might find that you want to change the proportions a bit or that you feel like a less angular style works — and that’s fine. But mastering these basics will help you to learn how to experiment in the future.

Drawing a male figure is not too hard once you get the hang of it. I know that it can be frustrating to feel locked out of drawing half the population, but the tips above will help. Take some time to apply these tips to your next drawing session and see what they do. Add a bit of angularity, play up the features and add some muscle — doing so will give you the groundwork for drawing a great male figure.

One comment

  1. Was totally stuck until I read this, now back up and running.

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