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Modeling the Human Body in Adobe Illustrator

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Read Time: 8 min

In this tutorial we will use Adobe Illustrator to create the ideal proportions of a female figure. Factors such as race, sex and personality do not allow us to apply strict rules concerning proportions. By learning the skills in this tutorial you will be well on your way to drawing any shape and size of body. Let's get started!

Step 1

Launch Adobe Illustrator and create a new document 600 by 600 pixels in size. The height of a head is considered to be the unit of measurement for the human body. Human height on average equals 8 heads. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an ellipse in the shape of human head. The height of the ellipse is 90 pixels, the width is 68 pixels. The technique of creation of a human head is covered in detail in my tutorial Modeling the Human Face in Illustrator. Name the layer with the created ellipse 'Diagram'.

Step 2

Create a new layer called 'Guides' below the 'Diagram' layer. Now create a vertical guide line passing through the center of the ellipse. To create the guides go to View> Show Rulers and drag the vertical ruler to the right. Then create a horizontal guide passing through the upper point of the ellipse. Create another 7 head sized horizontal guides (90 pixels). Select the horizontal guide, and go to Object> Transform> Move. Apply the settings shown on the picture below and press Copy. Paste your copy 7 times using Command + D.

The guides are the basic lines and determine the height of the person and the location of key elements. Numbers on the picture denote the lines: 1 - chin, 2 – nipples, 3 - navel, 4 – crotch, 5 – fingertips, 6 - bottom of the knees, 7 - middle of the shin, 8 - floor.

Step 3

Define the length of the arms and shoulder line. The length of the arm is 3 integers and 3/4 or 15/4 of head height. Thus the length of the arm is 90 pixels * 15/ 4 = 337.5 pixels. Select guide 5 and go to Object> Transform> Move, apply the settings shown on the picture below and press Copy. So this is how we got the guide of the shoulders, mark it with the letter A. Lock the layer Guides and move on to the layer Diagram.

Step 4

Create the line of the shoulders at the A guide. The length of the line will correspond to the width of the shoulders and for women it approximately equals to 1.5 of the head height (90 * 1.5 = 135 pixels), the center of the line should lie on the vertical guide. Draw a line of hips on the guide 4, the length of this line equals to the width of the shoulders. The girl will lean on the right leg, so bend the lines to each other from the right side of the figure.

Step 5

Create two triangles that overlap each other with the apexes on the guides A and 4. Triangles intersect at points B and C, show the location of the waist and its width. The main advantage of building the human figure using two triangles is that it helps to understand the proportions between four extreme points of the torso. When viewed from the front, as well as from the back, the apex of each triangle is at the same point - at the neck and at the crotch.

Step 6

Create two small circles on guide 2, which will show the location of the nipples, the distance between the nipples is equal to the head height (90 pixels).

Step 7

Create axial lines of the legs. Let's start with the hips. The hips are located at a certain angle to each other and reach to the horizontal 6. The knee of the right straight leg should be over the horizontal 6, the bent knee of the left leg should be placed below this horizontal. The knees are marked as ellipses. Now create the axial line of the shin. The shin of the left leg is shorter than one of the right leg, as the leg is bent and it is farther from the viewer.

Step 8

Draw the contours of the legs with straight lines. The hip narrows towards the knee, then the shin broadens down the knee in the shape of gastrocnemius muscle and then narrows again towards the foot.

Step 9

Now schematically draw the arms. Green line indicates the axis of the shoulder, the red line is the axis of the forearm. We assumed that the elbow is slightly higher the guide 3 (above the navel) in fact this is the way it is, you can check this out on your own figure. Hand is slightly higher the middle line (guide 4).

The girl will keep her hands on the sides, turn the green line clockwise relating to the point D, using the Rotate Tool (R). The hand in this position will be taken back a little bit, so the distance of DF will shorten to DG. Move the upper point of the forearm to the point G and turn it relating to this point. Using the same technique build the axial lines of the left hand.

Step 10

Draw the contours of the hands with straight lines. The arm narrows towards the elbow and from elbow towards the wrist.

Step 11

Draw the contour of the neck with straight lines, the blue arrows show the line bounding the trapezius muscle.

Step 12

Thus, the diagram is ready, lock the layer. Create a new layer called 'Body' over the 'Diagram' layer. In this layer we will create the body of a girl, guided by the points and lines of the diagram, as the visual aid I chose the red color as the color of the stroke, work using the Pen Tool (P).

Step 13

It will be convenient for our work if we create the body, arms, and legs as separate objects.

Step 14

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create breasts and position them in place.

Step 15

Now create hands. Using the Pen Tool (P) create the shape of a hand. Create Art Brush for the fingers. Using the Pen Tool (P) create the shape shown on the picture below; now drag this shape to the Brushes palette. Using the Pen Tool (P) draw the axis lines of the fingers and apply the created brush. Select the fingers and go to Object> Expand Appearance, then select the fingers and wrist, and press Add from pathfinder box. Using the same technique, create another hand.

Step 16

Now create the feet. Using the Pen Tool (P) create the shape of a foot and join this shape with a shin, using the Pathfinder box. Create another foot the same way.

Step 17

Fill all the shapes with the colour of your choice, I've used light brown (C3, M36, Y63 and K0) and outline with a black stroke in order to see the contours of the body, the stroke will be deleted later.

Step 18

Work out the details starting with the head. Take the template from the tutorial Modeling the Human Face in Illustrator and place it in the right place. Create the face, using the tips of this tutorial.

Step 19

Let us take a quick break from the body and create a background. Create a layer and name it 'BG', position it below all the layers. Now take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle in the size of the document. Fill the rectangle with a linear gradient containing three colors: white, sky-blue, and blue.

Step 20

Feel less tired? Let's get back to work. Suppose that the light source is to the left of the girl, therefore, the lights will be on the left and the shadows – on the right. Let us review the techniques of creating shadows. Create the shape of shadow with the pen (color shade (C10, M50, Y73 and K0). Copy the shape of shadow and paste it in back, deform as shown on the picture below, the fill color of this shape is the same as the color of the skin (see step 18). Select both shapes and apply the Blend (Object> Blend> Make ), set the Smooth Color in the dialog box.

Now copy the shape of the body and paste it in front, move up the copy in the layers palette so that it seems higher than Blend. Select the upper body shape and the blend and go to Object> Clipping Mask> Make. If you do not like the result, you can always edit original shapes included in the Blend using the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 21

Thus, we have created all the shadows and lights on the body of the girl. There are a few stages of creating shadows and lights on the pictures below. Notice that I use the color (C0, M27, Y50 and K0) as the color of the light areas. You can use a linear or radial gradient on some easy sections. Red arrows on the picture below show the location of lights, and the blue ones show the location of shadows.


I hope that through simple and understandable methods offered in this tutorial, you will realize that it is quite possible to draw a nice human figure. Work hard and if you learn to draw people, you can draw almost anything. But remember, the secret to success is perseverance.

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