Anatomy, Drawing

How to Draw Children: The Basics

May 31, 2014

By Alina Bradford


Drawing of child by Andrew Loomis.

Drawing of child by Andrew Loomis.

Children can be very difficult to draw. They have very distinct features that are separate from what you would find in babies and adults. Plus, there is the need to make them seem youthful and full of life. This can add up to a lot of confusion. Not to worry! Here are some simple principals to use when drawing children that can make your drawing and sketches look much more realistic. 


Drawing The Head 

Children’s heads have no set of standard proportions, like adult’s do. This is because children grow incredibly fast, so any set rule wouldn’t really be of use. 

Proportions of a boy's head by Andrew Loomis.

Proportions of a boys head by Andrew Loomis.

The best way to start drawing a child’s head is to take your own set of proportion measurements. You’ve probably seen artists do this before. Simply hold your pencil out at arm’s length and measure where certain points on the head lie on the pencil with your thumb. Then, record these points on paper. 

For example, start by drawing the rough shape of the child’s head. Then take these measurements, in this order, and record

Proportions of a girl's head by Andrew Loomis.

Proportions of a girl’s head by Andrew Loomis.

them on the head: 

  • The distance from the top of the head to the eyes 
  • The distance between the eyes 
  • The distance between the eyes and the nose 
  • The width of the nose 
  • The distance between the nose and the mouth 
  • The width of the mouth 
  • The distance between the mouth and the chin 
  • The width of the chin 

This may seem like a lot of measuring, but it will help you come up with the most realistic version of your subject. 

Also, make sure that you draw the child without any aging marks that would be used for adults. Type of aging marks can include wrinkles or lines around the mouth and eyes, skin with much texture, or heavily over-drawn eyes. 

Girl drawing by Alina Bradford.

Girl drawing by Alina Bradford.

Drawing a Child’s Body 

Children’s bodies are much different than adult’s, but there are three basic principles that can be used to draw a child’s body. 

First, draw your children without any angles. Children have softer bodies, so they should be drawn with curves and rounded edges. 

Second, children’s proportions are much smaller, as well. A child only stands two to four heads tall, depending on age. Older children can stand up to seven heads tall, so make sure to measure the proportions before you begin to draw. 

Third, stiff poses usually aren’t very childlike. Try to draw a child at play or doing and activity to get the best results. This can be difficult because kids move so much. To make your job simpler, you can take photographs of the child as reference. Make sure to have the parent’s permission, though. 
Use all of these tips and your drawings of children will become much more lifelike and realistic.


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