Figure drawing is one of the most difficult things there is – for new artists and even for established pros – and is undoubtedly one of the most important skills you can learn.
So let’s look at one of the most affordable ways to practice figure drawing – drawing figures, also known as artist mannequins.
Top 4 Drawing Figures for Artists Compared
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If you are in a hurry, below is a quick answer. If you have a bit more time, just scroll down to explore.
Body-Kun & Body-Chan action figure model set with accessories
Male and female set
Mannequins with joints for figure drawing
Male and female set
Manikin with base and flexible body
Perfect for drawing the human figure
Two figures set
Manikin hand model for drawing, sketching, and painting
Wooden sectioned opposable (left and right) hands with joints
Table of Contents
- Overview: The Best Artist Mannequins and Drawing Figures for Artists in 2023
- My Pick: Body Kun Male and Female Action Artist Mannequins with Accessories
- Also Great: Male and Female Drawing Mannequins with Stands
- Classic Pick: 12″ Wood Male and Female Drawing Mannequins Set
- Budget Pick: 12″ Hard Wood Articulated Drawing Mannequin with Stand
- For Drawing Hands: 7″ Wooden Articulated Human Hand Models
- Learn How to Draw the Human Body
- Best Drawing Books for Learning How to Draw the Human Body
- FAQs – Drawing Figures for Artists
Overview: Best Artist Mannequins and Drawing Figures for Artists in 2023
My Pick: Male and Female Action Artist Mannequins with Accessories
Many artists’ guides recommend extremely expensive action figure-type artist mannequins from fancy and cultishly popular toy or art brands. Those high end drawing models are often too robotic or cartoonish to be at all helpful in learning how to draw the basic human figure.
At the same time, that general type of artist mannequin – the Body Kun (male) and Body Chan (female) models – have potential, as they can be very realistic and very posable, with great features, lines, and proportions, and the best (not the most expensive!) are extremely evocative of a real human body.
My first choice for a higher quality Body Kun and Body Chan set (so you can have both genders) is the Abbony-Duo Male and Female Body Kun/Body Chan Artist Mannequins, which keep and hold poses well and offer a real feeling of the human form, line, and movement in any pose.
Made of high-quality PVC, which provides a nice realistic surface, these Abbony-Duo artist mannequins come with extra feet and hands (in different positions – the hands are not articulated), as well as a range of accessories for posing, such as a cellphone, a laptop, a sword, and a gun.
A perfect way to practice as much as you want with accurate models in various realistic poses, the Abbony-Duo Male and Female Body Kun/Body Chan Artist Mannequins are one of my top recommendations for the best posable artist mannequins today.
Also Great: Male and Female Drawing Mannequins with Stands
The BYIA Body Kun and Body Chan (male and female) articulated drawing figure set offers nearly as good a look and feel as the Abbony-Duo couple mentioned above and is a great value at a little more than half the price.
With realistic lines, features, musculature, and strong and stable articulation in all joints, the BYIA artist mannequins seem almost uncannily human and can help you understand what the human form looks like in any setting or pose or under any lighting conditions.
These mannequins are made of high-quality material and come with extra feet, hands (in different positions – the hands are not articulated), and a stand for each figure.
The BYIA Male and Female Body Kun Artist Mannequins with Stands are of great value and a valuable tool for learning and practicing.
Classic Pick: Wood Male and Female Drawing Mannequins Set
A more old-school approach to artist mannequins, the US Art Supply wood drawing mannequin is not designed to resemble a human being in features or overall look but is a fairly featureless basic figure.
This male and female pair of drawing models are meant to be no-frills. Accurate representation of the proportions of a human body and head, with proper ratios between joints and body sections and correctly sized features, and they are designed to assume any pose and hold that position with complete stability so that an artist can see what those proportions and relative sizes and ratios look like in various situations.
Basic wooden mannequins like the US Art Supply drawing figures are preferred by many artists who don’t want realistic figures, skin, muscles, or other features to distract them or influence their own vision or work.
With hardwood bodies, tension-adjustable joints, and included stands, the US Art Supply 12” Wood Male and Female Artist Drawing Mannequins Set is a high-quality product for a very low price and is highly recommended for learning to draw the human form.
Budget Pick: Hard Wood Articulated Drawing Mannequin with Stand
Classic mannequin with joints and base for figure drawing
If you are on a tight budget or just don’t want to spend much money, you can still get a great basic wood drawing model with the HSOMID artist mannequin – in this case, a single unisex figure.
Another more traditional featureless wood mannequin, like the US Art Supplies couple above, the HSOMID drawing figure offers the same high accuracy in proportions and overall balance, strong and flexible articulated joints for a wide range of poses , and excellent material quality with its hardwood construction.
It is, in fact, the most popular and highly rated artist mannequin. A great basic tool, the HSOMiD 12” Hard Wood Articulated Artists Mannequin with Stand is an easy recommendation for the best budget artist drawing figure.
For Drawing Hands: Wooden Articulated Human Hand Models
It is often said that there is nothing harder to draw than a human hand. This Fashionclubs wooden hands set is an incredibly popular drawing mannikin, so many artists seem to feel the same way.
A high-quality product made from attractive hard wood, the Fashionclubs hands set comes with both left and right hands. They are fully articulated, so you can put the hands in any position or pose for modeling or drawing practice.
The best wooden hand models I have found, the Fashionclubs 7″ Wooden Articulated Human Hand Models Left and Right, are a simple, essential tool and an easy recommendation.
Learn How to Draw the Human Body
11-inch anatomical reference for artists by 3D Total Publishing
10.5-inch anatomical reference for artists by 3D Total Publishing
Accompanying anatomy book for the 3D Total Male and Female Drawing figures
Accompanying anatomy book for the 3D Total Male and Female Drawing figures
While not articulated drawing mannequins for drawing practice or modeling, the next two items are still human models and can give different – and extremely important – insights into figure drawing and different things to practice.
Learning anatomy, musculature and mechanics can be as important as line, flow, proportion, and perspective, and the following two models are the best ways I know to learn and practice.
Even if you are getting one of the great drawing mannequins I’ve included in my artist’s guide of best drawing figures for artists, I would still strongly consider getting one or both of these.
The combination will give a complete and detailed view of the human body, from the inside and the outside, that you will fully understand exactly what you are drawing – and can practice it all to your heart’s content.
Best Drawing Books for Learning How to Draw the Human Body
My final recommendation to people who want to learn how to draw beautiful, realistic, and living human forms is to get some instructions. You may have a couple of new friends with your drawing mannequins, but without proper instructions, you are still going it alone.
So I would like to mention my two favorite books on drawing the human form here. Each is a real classic and a beloved and extremely effective text. The two together – like getting both a drawing mannequin and an anatomical reference mannequin – is an unbeatable combination!
By Michael Hampton
By Andrew Loomis
By Andrew Loomis
By Stephen Rogers Peck
By Andrew Loomis
How Can You Get Better at Drawing the Human Form?
If you are a commercial artist who can draw realistic, natural, and energetic human figures, it will give you a huge advantage in the market. And even if you are not a working professional artist, the ability to draw people well is crucial. Very little ruins an otherwise beautiful and effective piece of art than poorly or awkwardly drawn people.
So, of course, many, many artists wonder how they can improve their figure drawing skills.
One standard way to learn how to draw realistic and lifelike human figures has been, for a long, long time, the life model class, with nude or variously clad models standing in the center of a room, trying not to shiver or blush, as people who at least looked like artists stood in a circle and dabbed intently at canvases or sketchpads.
But life model classes, while still available, have fallen out of favor recently and are not as popular or available as they used to be. They are also quite expensive, and you may not live in an area where they are available.
So what’s an artist to do?
Simple, get a good quality artist mannequin, also known as a drawing figure, body kun (male) or body chan (female), and pose, practice, and repeat as necessary.
Does a Drawing Mannequin Help with Figure Drawing?
A good artist’s mannequin can make all the difference in your ability to draw human bodies that look realistic and alive – whether they are cartoon or animation figures, fine portraits, simple sketches or caricatures, or elements in other compositions. I often think, ”if you want your figures to stop looking so wooden, you should get a wooden figure.” I don’t say it out loud much, but I do think it, and the imaginary people in my head laugh and laugh…
When you find the right artist drawing figures you will be amazed at the insight it gives you into drawing the human form and how much you can improve in this difficult art.
The best artist mannequin will help with:
- Human Form
- Different Angles – especially the more difficult off-angles like three-quarters
- Movement and Energy
Not to mention the general ability to draw realistic, graceful, and alive figures.
What are the Advantages of Using a Drawing Mannequin?
There are many different advantages to using a drawing figure for practice or in actually producing artwork – especially when compared to life model classes or trying to practice from pictures or computer images:
- Price – Even the best mannequin can be less expensive than a single life model class
- Poseability – You can bend, stretch and twist your drawing figure any way you want to represent virtually any pose or position
- Lighting and Shadow – You are in control and can easily change the lighting as you wish to represent different moods, times, or effects
- Gender – With two artist figures, you can easily choose between male and female and even study them side by side to get a better understanding of the differences in shape, line, and proportion
- Practice – You can spend hours and hours practicing drawing human figures with a mannequin
- Three-Dimensionality (3D) – A computer or paper image will never give you a feeling for the body in space or let you easily and realistically observe the figure from different angles
- Ethics – Some find the idea of using life models, especially nude human bodies, concerning on various levels
Is a Good Drawing Mannequin Expensive?
Even the best drawing figures you can purchase aren’t that expensive, especially considering how much you can gain by practicing with one.
But, as with so many other things, price is not a reliable indicator of quality, and here we must be careful.
If you could compare the two physically, you would see that the better mannequins are more realistic in proportion, line, and surface, more accurately and naturally posable, and overall better representations of what a human body looks like. They somehow look more “alive.”
Many less expensive artist mannequins, or even the poorer quality mannequins at any price, look slightly off. And practicing with something that’s just a little bit off will quite possibly lead to art that’s just a little bit off.
My guide for the best artist drawing figures includes the best art mannequins and the best inexpensive artist mannequins, all of which are noticeably better than others at the same price.
How Can I Find the Best Drawing Figure?
This all comes down to your own priorities and your own budget.
If you are a commercial or fine artist who needs to improve your ability to draw people, a serious comic book artist or animator, or if you regularly include people in your art, you might want to get the best mannequins you can.
The same might apply if you are a student or just starting out, want to learn in the best possible way, and can afford it.
At the same time, even the least expensive drawing figures I’ve included in this article of best artist mannequins are excellent representations of the shape, flow, and feeling of a human form.
Any of my recommendations would be a great choice!
FAQs – Drawing Figures for Artists
Yes, if you have a great art mannequin, you can practice drawing human figures as much as you need. And in combination with a good book on human anatomy, along with the practice, it will make you improve in no time.
The best drawing mannequin comes with movable joints and exchangeable hands and accessories. Depending on the level of details you want, you can choose either the classic hard wood manikins or body-kun & body-chan manikins
Drawing mannequins are also called drawing figures, drawing manikins, or articulated mannequins.
You can find good figure drawing references in my guide on pose reference websites, apps, and books.
People get very discouraged when trying to draw the human form, and the frustration that comes from this is probably why we have so many landscape artists.
But it isn’t that difficult – even the notorious specialized art of drawing hands – if you practice, practice, practice.
If you have a great-quality artist drawing figures, you can practice as much as you want or need. Having an anatomical model and a good book to guide you is also a great idea, and I think the combination, along with more and more practice, will show any artist that drawing a beautiful and lifelike human form is not difficult as everybody says – go figure!
And it should be said again that mastering the human form is an extremely important skill, which will improve your art more than almost any other element I can think of and put you in very high demand as a commercial artist, illustrator, or animator.
I hope my guide helped you to select your new drawing figure, and you will have a lot of fun learning to draw the human form!
Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for more articles and reviews, online courses, and so much more!
More articles on pose references, figure drawing, and human anatomy:
- Best Pose Reference Websites, Apps, and Books
- Anatomy for Artists: Resources
- 41+ Best Drawing Books for Kids, Beginners, and Intermediate Artists
Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »
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