What to Expect at a Figure Drawing Class

When I was about 11 my dad was in art school. I remember being fascinated by all of his school projects, but especially like, the whole concept of life drawing class.

Like… you just… sat and drew a naked person? In class? Whaaaaaaaat? Weird concept, especially for a 6th grader.

And if you’ve never been a life drawing class, it may be a weird concept for you too—regardless of age. Don’t worry, I don’t judge.

I was really scared about my first class and I was (technically) an adult. It just sounded so awkward to be staring at someone’s nekkid bod. I mean, I’ve gotten uncomfortable at the amount of eye contact involved in just drawing someone’s portrait… how was I gonna draw their dangly bits?

But thankfully, figure drawing sessions aren’t actually that intimate. You have some distance between you an the model and you’re not the only person drawing them. And even if your first experience is a bit awkward, you get used to it the more you go.

Anyway here are some tips on what to bring, what to expect and some etiquette.

Supplies

There are the basic supplies you need to bring, but some people also bring colored pencils or paint. After you go to a few classes and get more comfortable you can experiment.

  • Sketchbook – sketch paper or newsprint
  • A few pencils (in case one breaks during a 2 minute pose!)
  • Erasers
  • Pencil Sharpener

Tips

  • Bring cash – usually the class is $5-$10
  • Dress in layers – there’s usually a space heater to keep the model warm
  • Arrive early to grab a good spot and set up your easel
  • Don’t arrive late – some classes lock the door at the start time

Class Structure

Most life drawing classes aren’t instructed, so there’s no “teacher. The person who runs the class, takes the money and keeps track of the time. Every class is a little different, but this is the general way most figure drawing sessions are structured.

  • 1-2 minute poses – for gesture sketching
  • 3-5 minute poses – a little more detail, but still warm up
  • 10 minute poses – add more detail and shading, but still very rough
  • 5-10 minute break
  • 15-20 pose – a longer pose to get in as much detail as possible

Etiquette

  • Usually there’s no (or very little) talking in class
  • Ask before you play music on your headphones
  • Don’t take your phone out or take pictures
  • Don’t complain about the model moving or talk about their body

How to Find a Class

If you’re looking for Figure Drawing Sessions in your area you can try Meetup, Facebook Events or just Google “[my town] figure drawing.” You can also check with local art galleries and colleges to see if they run a class or can point you in a direction.

Online Figure Drawing

Generally speaking, drawing from life is always going to be more helpful than drawing from a 2D image or video, but if you can’t get to a life drawing class, there are some good resources online.

Senshi Stock is an amazing resource for anyone trying to learn how to draw more interesting poses. The also have a tool on their website that lets you set how long you want to practice a pose so you can get the REAL life drawing experience of panicking over how little time you have to draw a pose!

Croquis Cafe is another great resource for practicing life drawing at home. They have tons of videos of models posing so you can practice drawing a person who’s moving juuuuust a tiny bit.

Do you have an awkward life drawing experience you want to share? Please tell me!!

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