Tutorial Drawing the Figure Part 3b Animemanga Style the Arms and Legs

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This is part 3b of my "Drawing the Figure" series (Anime/Manga Style) A guide on how to draw the arms and legs


Just like the figure drawing tutorials, the techniques described here were originally discussed in Burne Hearth’s book of "Dynamic Figure Drawing" which I simplified to make figure drawing easier for those want to start learning to draw human figure.


The wire frame is your best friend when it comes to drawing the arms. It's joints start at the end of each collarbone, we can use as our starting point go drawing a line from the center where the collarbone meets the bottom of the neck up to the top edges of the torso's main "shape"

Figure 1.

  • > Take note that the length of the upper arm should not be longer than the distance between the top joint and the waist area where the elbow is located.
  • The lower arm's length starts from the elbow and ends at the groin area
  • Use these lengths as your rulers and guides to determine the proper length of your arm

Figure 2.

you can draw the main body shapes for the arms {cylinders) to help you visualize the desired thickness of the arms, this also helps when drawing foreshortened body forms, (see previous figure drawing tutorials to have an idea on "foreshortening")

Always take note of the upper and the lower arm's length.


1. start with the wire frame

Figure 3.

2. Add the arm's basic shapes (cylinders)

Figure 4.

3. Finalize the arm's shapes by fleshing it out, taking note of the muscle’s shapes along the arms,

Figure 5. (Front View)

Figure 6. (Back View)

(Note: in drawing the female arms, reduce the muscular shape to achieve a more slender and feminine look.


> Burne Hogarth uses a method of drawing "rods' to help us visualize the alternating positions of the arm muscles.

> Note that if the main shoulder muscle points to a vertical direction, the biceps" orientation points horizontally, followed by both forearm muscles pointing vertically from top to bottom.

> Even if the arm twists, this alternating orientation does not change since the wrist does most of the rotation involved, rotating the arm muscles only slightly from side to side, try rotating your arm and you'll see.

Figure 7.


> since we are practically done learning to draw the entire human figure, here's the whole body projection for both male and female figures, but for now, let's concentrate on the leg details of both male and female forms, taking note of the differences between opposite genders.

Figure 8.

> Muscular details are reduced in the female form, especially on the legs-

Figure 9.


> The entire length of the leg is divided into the upper leg (the distance from the topmost joint of the leg to the knee joint), and the lower leg (from the knee to the ankle),

> Ideally, the upper and lower leg is of the same length, to make it easier for us to visualize how the leg bends, you can use an artists compass (shown below) to simulate the so called "leg triangle",

Figure 10.

> Use the compass as a guide, using the center joint to serve as the knee, and one of the two ends as the top leg joint while the other end as the ankle joint.

> Rotate the compass to view it in different angles, even if one compass leg may look shorter that the other (foreshortened view), we know that both compass legs are still the same length. (You can use this to practice drawing foreshortened leg positions)

> Use the compass to help you visualize different gent leg positions for your figure drawing,

Figure 11.

> I've drawn two archer figures below using the wire frame and body shapes to help me visualize the positions for the torso. Arms, and legs.

> Using the leg triangle as a guide, I can easily create any bent position of the legs- use the compass to help you establish the basic wire frame, and soon you'll be able to visualize numerous leg positions with ease

> Now time for you to practice!

1 comment

Dexter Buenaluz
Posted on Feb 4, 2010