The leg is an important part of the bodies of mammals, birds, and most reptiles. The four bones and numerous muscles of the human leg afford a wide range of motion. The knee, hip, and ankle joints are not just hinges, swinging back and forth. They allow for twisting, circular, and side to side motions that give us the ability to run, swim, ride a bicycle, and perform other complicated tasks.
In many cultures throughout history, the leg has been used to describe a person’s strength, health, or youthfulness. Today, most western cultures consider the tan legs of women to be a symbol of youthful beauty.
Legs also feature prominently in art when people are the subject matter. For example, ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics feature people in a variety of occupations, with their legs positioned so as to be sitting, standing, running, or working. The Creation of Adam (1511), one of Michelangelo’s frescoes within the Sistine Chapel, is a more modern example. Today, female characters in Japanese anime and manga art are often depicted with long, seductive legs.
Get a leg up on the competition and hone your drawing skills with this easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial.
All you will need is a pencil, a sheet of paper, and a good eraser. In each step, you will be guided by an illustration as well as explanatory text. When finished, color your drawing using crayons, colored pencils, markers, or paints. Now, as they say in theater, “Break a leg!”
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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing Legs
1. Begin by drawing a trapezoid, a rectangular shape with slanted sides. This shape will form the clothing of the person you are drawing.
2. Draw two long, straight, vertical lines extending from the trapezoid. One line should be slightly longer than the other. These will serve as guide lines for drawing your legs.
3. Draw a small circle at the tip of each line, and another at the midpoint of each line. These circles will serve as guides for drawing the knees and ankles.
4. Begin fleshing out the leg. Draw a long, curved line from the tip of the trapezoid, to the knee circle, and to the ankle circle. This outlines the front of the leg. Then, draw another long, curved line from the middle of the trapezoid, to the knee, to the ankle, outlining the back of the leg. Note how this line dips inward more steeply at the knee than did the previous line.
5. Repeat this process on the other leg, drawing curved lines from the trapezoid to the knee to the ankle. Notice that this leg is shaped differently than the first – this is because this leg is being viewed from the front, while the other is turned to the side.
6. Draw guide lines for the feet. For the forward-facing leg, draw an equilateral triangle – a triangle in which all sides are of the same length. For the other foot, draw a scalene triangle, which has no two sides that are the same. The longest side should be at the bottom of the foot.
7. Using your guide lines, detail the feet. Use curved lines to outline a more accurate shape.
8. Erase the guide lines from the legs and feet. You now have a clean outline of your legs.
9. Detail the legs and feet. For the forward-facing leg, draw two curved lines to indicate the knee cap. Draw toes using connected, “U” shaped lines, and enclose a rounded rectangle at the tip of each toe to indicate the toe nail. On the other leg, draw a short, curved line to detail the knee, and two curved lines to indicate the ankle bone. Use a “U” shaped line to draw the big toe, and don’t forget the toenail. Draw an “S” shaped line to contour the bottom of the foot, erasing guide lines as necessary.
10. Color your legs. Why stop there? Check out our other tutorials and learn to draw the whole person!
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