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Using Manikins in Drawing Practice

Manikin Drawing

Three Manikins

The truth about drawing is: The more you practice your drawing skills the more you will improve. Yes, practice does make perfect! If you want to play the guitar or basketball or run in a marathon you have to practice your skills in order to get better.

Not all of us are born with this incredible talent of being able to draw well. I know I wasn’t. I did not really learn how to draw well until I was in my late 20’s. At the age of 25 or 26 I took lessons from a teacher that inspired me to practice and keep trying even when I failed.

As I kept on practicing drawing and painting I began to see a noticeable change in my work. I was getting better. It was exciting. Another skill also improved, it was the skill of observation, of perception. The practice helped me to really see things, shapes, angles, curves, values, etc.

In the classroom it helps to mix things up a bit and keep things interesting. So I purchased some manikins for the classroom for drawing practice. These manikins are made of wood and can be placed in different positions. In all my career as an art teacher and artist I have never drawn a manikin. I was excited to get the chance to draw along with my students. I placed a male and female manikin at each table and we spent the class period drawing various poses. I really could not see any difference in the male or female other than the fact that the male manikin is bigger than the female.

Mr. Manikin

Mr. Manikin

You can do this activity using the photographs of manikins I am placing in this post or you could buy a manikin from an art supply. I bought mine at Dick Blick Art Materials. When you finish this assignment you will end up with a page of manikins, some overlapping others.

This is the activity:

1. With a pencil, draw one manikin on the left or right side of a 12 by 18 inch paper. Make the manikin take up the length of the page. If an arm or leg goes off the page that is okay. Use your pencil to shade in the values. Shade the shadows darker. (You can put a light on your manikin to get more shadows if you want to.) Try to have at least three values in your manikin drawing.

2. Place the manikin in another position. Now using a marker, draw the second manikin a little lower on the page to the right or left of the first one, depending on where you placed your first drawing. Use hatching or crosshatching to shade your manikin. Really take time in placing the contours of your manikin on the page. The purpose of using a marker is to get you used to not erasing.

Another View

Another View

3. Using a colored pencil draw your manikin in another position. Your page is getting filled so you will have to make this manikin go behind the other two. Draw the manikin a little smaller to give the feeling of depth. I drew my third manikin a little to the upper righthand side of my paper. Use your colored pencil to shade the different values you see.

4. Now if you want to keep going with this you can add another manikin. The page will be really getting full now so you will have to determine the best place for the manikin from your own drawing. You can change it up by using a crayon, oil pastel, or even by changing the technique. You could try to draw using stippling. That is you would draw using dots instead of lines. Stippling is time consuming but will give you a very interesing drawing if you really stick with it.

Back of Manikin

Back of Manikin

After you finish this manikin drawing study you will be surprised to know that you will probably always be able to draw a manikin from memory. Doing several drawings of the same thing places the image in your mind. Take some time to practive drawing from memory to see how you do.

Side View

Side View

I hope you find this activity helpful. Let me know how your drawing skills are coming. Remember, it takes practice. Even with all my experience, if I stop drawing for any period of time, I do get rusty. I have to practice some to get my drawing skills back.

Have a great week!

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