Anatomy TRACK: Lesson 5, Foreshortened Figures


Draw 6 hours of 5-20 min. gesture drawings of poses that show foreshortening. Emphasize bony landmarks, especially the joints in the arms and legs.

Drawing Foreshortened Legs

Foreshortening can be extremely dramatic, or it can be very subtle, sometimes it’s barely there! Aim to bring out the foreshortening anywhere you can.


Search for overlaps in the figure, where do you notice a muscle or bone that is in front of another? Think about the figure as if you were a sculptor, concentrating on where the forms of a figure are in space in relation to each other.

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Try to distinguish between bone and muscle when you look at the figure, identify as many as you can while you draw.

Anatomy Book

It’s helpful while you are drawing to have an anatomy book and/or your anatomy notes out so you can reference them. We recommend Dr. Paul Richer’s Artistic Anatomy.

Anatomy Resources

Anatomy Lectures

Reference Images: Foreshortened Figures

Foreshortening: Simone Biles
Reference photos of Simone Biles


art media

Use any traditional or digital art medium.


Visit these pages for specific supply lists: colored pencilconté crayongraphitesoft pasteloil pastel, pencilcharcoal. Explore a comprehensive list of all drawing supplies in Part 1 of our Drawing Curriculum.

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Recommended traditional art media

Caran d’Ache Neocolor I CrayonGeneral’s Woodless graphite pencilsConté à Paris CrayonsVine Charcoal 

Recommended software

ProcreateKritaAdobe PhotoshopClip Studio PaintPaint Tool SAIAdobe Fresco, MediBang Paint, Gimp

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Foreshortening Tips for Figure Drawing

Get essential tips on how to draw a foreshortened human figure. Learn to identify key points on the figure that will make foreshortening clear and concrete.

Foreshortening is when an object appears to be shorter than it actually physically is, creating a point of view that is dramatic and challenging to portray in drawing. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Drawing Foreshortened Legs

This video demos how you can draw convincing foreshortening in your figure drawings, focusing on legs.

Techniques for how to draw foreshortening are explained as well as what anatomical landmarks to look for, using Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq 22, and also Procreate with an iPad.

Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Show us what you make!

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