In this guide, find the best drawing mannequin for your art practice. Additionally, find some recommendations of other anatomical models, such as hands and skulls, so you can master drawing gestures, poses and anatomy.
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US Art Supply Wood Artist Manikin
These mannequins are perfectly posable. They are made from seasoned hardwood and come mounted on a stand for ease of use. The set contains and male and a female figure, each measuring 12” tall.
The figures have joints so you can move them into any pose that you need for your drawings. The range of movements of the figures match most poses that a human can make. Create poses sitting down, standing, jumping and more. They make a perfect, durable figure to work from, to form a base for sketching different movements and poses.
Bandai S.H.Figuarts Figurine Body Kun (male)
This is a highly realistic figure from Bandai. This is a brand that creates mannequins for artists who need to create more complex artworks with dynamic poses. This mannequin is great for comic book artists, character designers and digital artists. Bandai produce a male and female figure, that appear more human than the simpler wooden models. This model is a great option for artists who want to draw anatomy accurately from a human figurine reference.
The figures come with a display base, so you can create a range of sitting poses. It also comes with 17 interchangeable hands and props, such as a cell phone and a sword. The figure is 7 inches tall, so a little smaller than the US Art Supply wooden model. However, it’s better able to fit on a smaller desk space.
If you’re looking to spend a little more money on a more anatomically accurate and well articulated mannequin, this is one of the best drawing figures you can get.
Anatomical Model Mannequin
For artists who need an accurate and well proportioned anatomical model for their drawings, this is a great and affordable option. The models are around a foot tall and were modelled on live athletes. These models show the skin on one side of the body and an écorché on the other side. The écorché shows the underlying muscles beneath the skin, so that artists can study the structures that create the movement. Learning anatomy is essential when learning to draw portraits accurately. The representation of the muscle and tendon groups are complex, but due to the fact that the model is made with one colour, it does not detract from the figure itself.
Another way to use these models is for reference of lighting on a subject. For example, arrange your lighting set up and watch how the figures cast shadows.
Bear in mind that this figure isn’t posable, the main purpose for its use is for reference on the locations of muscles, tendons and bones in the human body. Overall, this is a great anatomical model for artists who want to study and improve their skills in portrait drawing.
A hand mannequin is a useful tool for artists who want to study and improve their drawing techniques in hand and finger movements. This particular one from the brand Tapbull is 10 inches tall and you can choose between the left or right hand, or both. Move the mannequin into countless poses and gestures, just like a real hand. It has movable knuckles and joints, so it can mimic the subtle movements of fingers and thumbs.
The mannequin is made from durable hardwood for durability. It also makes for a great sculpture to put at your art station.
For wildlife artists and especially horse portrait artists, this horse mannequin is a must have. It’s made by the brand US Art Supply and artists can choose between a small, medium and large size. It’s made from hardwood that has been polished to give it an aesthetically pleasing finish and the tail is made from genuine horse hairs. The neck is well articulated, it can bend up down and side to side, mimicking the motion of a real horse. The legs are also jointed, allowing for a wide range of movement.
Overall, this horse mannequin is well crafted and would make an excellent reference tool for artists looking to create realistic horse drawings or paintings. Combined with other mannequins, it can also be used to study equestrian poses.
3D Mannequin Software
Aside from getting a physical mannequin to create your reference poses, you can also use software.
The app Magic Poser is available for both Android and iOS devices. It has a range of male and female figures, with adjustable joints to pose them however you want. It’s simple to use, simple drag the joints to change the poses of the model. The app has adjustable lighting, perspective and angles and it even has articulated hand posing.
The app also includes props and backgrounds that can be placed in your scene. There is a free version, Magic Poser Lite which can be used on the web, this should be suitable to use as a basic reference tool. However, the full version has more features and options for poses, figures and backgrounds so it may be worth investing in that.
Why are drawing mannequins useful?
Drawing mannequins simulate the range of movement of a human, so you can position the figure to practice drawing a multitude of different poses and variations of these poses. Mannequins are a great tool for providing a reference of a base pose to work from.
The advantage of using a mannequin instead of trawling the internet to find reference photos of people in the right poses, is that you can see this pose from different angles. If you’re working on a portrait piece where you are painting or drawing a specific pose, it can be really hard to find references where the model has exactly the right gesture, body positioning and angle. This can lead you to filling in the gaps, which can lead to error. This is where the mannequin comes in use, you could find a reference online to find a model with a similar pose, but position the mannequin so you can draw the proportions and angle of the anatomy accurately. With an anatomical model, you’ll have a lot more creative freedom to draw interesting portraits, that appear to have a sense of movement to them.
Gesture drawing with a mannequin
Another useful application of a mannequin is to use it for practice when gesture drawing. Gesture drawing is a fantastic drawing exercise that helps with capturing movement and expression in your drawings. It’s an important skill for artists to have, as it translates well into drawing portraits or figures in motion. The mannequin acts as a live model, allowing you to capture quick gestures. Grab a sketchbook and start drawing a range of poses. Try to draw poses that you struggle most with, so that you can improve areas of weakness in your drawing abilities. Gesture drawings should be quick, think about capturing the movement of the figure, rather than spending any time on details. We have a tutorial on how to complete a gesture drawing step by step. So if you’re looking to level up your drawing practice, give it a read.
Mannequins are excellent tools for artists looking to improve their skills in figure drawing and portrait illustration. Whether it’s a physical mannequin or virtual software, having a tool that allows you to study human anatomy and figure out difficult poses, can have a big impact on your drawing abilities.
To further your understanding of how to depict the human figure, why not read a book on anatomy? The next step would be to understand how the bone structure, muscle groups, tendons and surface of the skin appears in different dynamic poses. If you’re interested in learning more about drawing, check out our complete list of drawing tutorials.