How Do You Foreshorten Figure Drawings?

To foreshorten figure drawings, find the planes of the figure, determine the relative distance between you and the subject for each plane, then use the rules of perspective to join the planes. The rules of perspective state that as objects move away from the viewer, they appear smaller and narrower. An example is a tree-lined street where the trees are drawn smaller and closer together as they recede into the distance.You need a pencil or pen, a sketch pad and a live-figure model.

  1. Find the planes of the figure

    If a man is standing with his arms at his sides, his figure is in one plane. If he raises his right hand straight out toward your face, he is in two planes. Note the different planes that your figure occupies.

  2. Determine the distance from you to each plane

    By eye, determine which plane is closest to you. For example, when a man’s hand is raised toward you, it is closer to you than the rest of his body.

  3. Join planes using the rules of perspective

    The man’s raised arm moves away from you, toward his body. Draw the man’s arm, keeping the rules of perspective in mind, making his hand, the part closest to you, the largest. Have the width of his arm decrease as it recedes to the other plane, joining his body at the shoulder. The man’s arm is now foreshortened and can convincingly appear as if it is reaching toward you. Practice this technique with other body parts and perspectives.