Anatomy TRACK: Lesson 6, Lighting on a Torso


Do a sustained drawing of a torso that focuses on lighting as a means of emphasizing the volume and form.

Use any drawing style you want, this video uses smudging to create soft shadows, whereas this video uses cross-hatching to build the shadows.

Drawing a Torso
Drawing a Torso

Keep on eye on what the centerline is doing; it’s easy to think that a torso won’t be very dynamic because you aren’t drawing limbs. A lot can happen in the centerline!

Anatomy for Artists
Artistic Anatomy Lecture: Centerline

Exaggerate the centerline more than you think you should. Often if you aim for an accurate depiction of the figure, you’ll end up with an understated version.


Artworks by Toaster, AnastasiaNeilPat, Steen


Lighting is the key to showing palpable form! Our lighting section has videos that explain shadows, highlights, natural light vs. artificial light, and more.

Lighting for Artists: Shadows

Learning how to distinguish between a cast shadow and a form shadow, how to spot reflected light on the human form is super useful and will help you break down what you are observing.

Related Anatomy Lectures

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Reference Photos

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Art Media

Use any traditional or digital art media. For traditional media, try to avoid media that don’t allow for a range of widths in your marks, like a mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen.

Drawing media like Conté à Paris Crayons are helpful because you can draw with the tip for thin lines and the side for broader strokes of tone.

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Supply Lists

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

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We do not recommend working in your sketchbook, as drawing too small will make it too hard to emphasize tone in your drawing. Paper that is about 12″ x 16″ up to 18″ x 24″ is ideal.

We want to share your progress!

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Drawing a Female Back Torso in Pencil

See a drawing demo which explains the anatomy of the back while also showing pencil drawing techniques to achieve a convincing sense of realistic form.

Anatomical landmarks shown include the scapula, pelvis, centerline, the PSIS (Posterior Superior Iliac Spine) and more. Demo led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

How to Draw a Male Torso: Cross-Hatching in Pastel Pencils

This video shows how to draw a male torso with cross-hatching techniques in pastel pencils. The demo shows how to layer cross-hatching and the diverse range of ways you can use cross-hatching to creative believable forms.

Specifics of the anatomical landmarks on the front male torso are explained, including the centerline, pit of the neck, the clavicles, the sternum, and muscles including the pectoralis major, the external oblique, and more. Demo led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.


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