Drawing the human figure copyright Giulio Porta. All rights reserved.   

This project involves creating a caricature drawings of a celebrity, depicted in its entirety.

        complete figure

To get started you can trace a photograph, a scan from a newspaper or magazine, or even a hand drawn picture. Keep in mind that these drawings are not intended to compete with photography. The finished products should look hand drawn, in other words these drawing should have a style and personality related to drawing not to photography.

One way to achieve that that goal is to give your drawing an "unfinished" and "sketchy" quality.

Fill pixel mode


Drawing with straight lines

I want you to use straight lines in drawing your subject matter.

Using straight lines is the fastest and most direct approach to drawing, and it's easy to do in this environment, you don't need straight edges or rulers.

That means: no pen tool, no shape tools, no brushes. Even though this may sound to you a bit restrictive, in particular if you are used to do things differently, but there is a lot to be learned from this approach:

  1. Drawing with straight lines will teach you how to simplify.
  2. Straight lines address the issue of proportions directly.
  3. A straight line is the most direct path between two points.
  4. Drawing with straight lines will add an unique look or "personality" to your drawing.


Drawing your subject matter.

Activate the Line tool.

go to the tool options right below the top main menu and MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE FILL PIXEL MODE.

With the Line Tool, (the keyboard shortcut is N) draw straight continuous, and segmented lines around and inside the figure to block  out shapes  with outlines.

The idea is to "fence in", (with lines), areas of different colors.

These areas can be filled later with the Bucket Tool.


To increase your image's resolution go to the top menu to Image > Image size and under Resolution type 300 pixels/inch, you'll see that your image Width and Height will change, in my case here it has gone from 185 x 198 to 771 X 804 pixel.

The image now has grown in size as more pixels have been added proportionally vertically and horizontally.

The image now may not fit on your screen, if so, zoom out.

Now you can draw on it with the line tool and your line will not look so pixilated.

creating a new layer


Do not draw directly on the photo, create a new layer, and paint on that.






Click on the Create new layer icon to create a new empty layer.



Change the Opacity of the layer you are painting on to around 50% so you can see the photo underneath.







Once the areas that are going to be colored are fenced it, you can use the Bucket Tool, (keyboard shortcut is K) to fill them.

 If the color spills into other areas, that means you have a gap in between lines, that gap must be closed, or you need to lower the Tolerance of the Bucket tool to 10 or 20, you can find that in the Navigation panel in v 5, or on the top of the screen, below the main menu in v 6.


To address the issue of proportions, draw outlines around the face hair, neck, shoulder, and the shoulder straps of the dress.

Fill these areas with flat colors.


By doing so you'll be able to concentrate on the issue of overall proportion, and see from the very beginning if you are on the right track.


It would be a good idea if the various components of the image, such as face, hair, neck and shoulders, dress straps, were painted each on a separate layer.

There are several reason why using layers has its advantages, here are a few:

  • layers can be animated in Image Ready
  • you can blur part of an image
  • you can create rollovers using layers
Get sketchy

If you don't have a photo of a complete figure you may have to draw the rest yourself.

This may not be a good idea if you don't have much experience in drawing the human figure.

At any rate here is how's done:

  1. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the figure. This will help you with the placement and angles of the figure's legs and giving balance to the figure.
  2. Draw an horizontal line where the figure's ankles will be.
  3. Draw an horizontal line where the hips will be, that line should be half way between the top of the head and the ankles.
  4. This half point should prevent you from drawing figures with short legs.
       Draw the legs first.

The legs are more difficult to draw then the torso, therefore draw them fist.

There are two legs positions worth considering:

  • the weight on one leg
  • the weight on two legs

Use whatever set of photos you wish as long as they will give you good anatomical information. Use my drawings here to your left, they were meant to be used for that purpose.

When using a photo draw on to top of it the same kind of lines that you'll be drawing with the Line tool in Photoshop.

Be bold and simple, forget about curves and brushes, do not "spray" your drawing with colors, don't use the pen tool, or the pencil tool.

Keep the style consistent.

Aim for proportions and a good stand, don't worry too much about erasing extra lines, go right on top of them with a white line and erase them that way. Don't try to keep your drawing too clean, you are not drafting here.

Use the bucket tool to fill areas with colors

Draw the dress or torso

Fill those areas with the bucket.

Don't be concerned about the initial roughness of your figure.

How much roughness, how much refinement.

Those are style issues, you have to find a balance between the two. Normally a drawing of this kind or any drawing for that matter may start out looking rough, by that I don't mean incorrect, by rough I mean crude and oversimplified in the way lines are drawn, but correct structurally and in its proportions.

Endless refinement

Endless refinement is just an ideal, eventually you may loose interest in refining your figure, for a number of reasons such as the lack of understanding concerning what and how to refine, or simply because you have achieved your goal and the figure starts looking "good enough".

It's very important that refinement will not lead you toward a photorealistic quest, there is photography for that. This image should look like a sketch, a drawing, a hand made production.