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You won't often be asked to include legs and feet in a portrait of an adult, but if you decide to
make portrait painting a career, one day you will most certainly be asked to paint a full-length
The thigh - the form from hip to knee - is all one bone, the femur. The femur is the longest and strongest bone in the body. The femur is attached by a necklike form to the pelvis in a ball and socket formation. This allows the leg to move freely forward, backward, sideways, and up and down. 
As the thigh descends to the knee, it centers itself under the central weight of the torso. The knee is in a direct line with the hip joint. 
The leg in profile presents an elongated "S" curve. The kneecap (the patella) is held in place by extremely strong ligaments attached to the fibula below the shinbone. The leg resembles two cylinders of equal length, one from the upper thigh to the kneecap, and one from the kneecap to the inner ankle bone. 
When a figure is seated with the legs bent at hip and knee, drawing the thighs is much easier by
seeing them as cylinders in perspective and proceeding as suggested in these drawings. 
The foot is a wedge shape that flattens out at the toes. When a subject is standing, the outside of the foot, from the little toe to the heel, is usually flat on the ground. The main arch of the foot is on the inside, normally raised from the ground. This gives spring to the foot as it steps. 
Notice that the big toe is often separated from the other four toes, rather like the thumb is
separated from the other fingers. 
When drawing the foot, try blocking it in with straight lines for strength and support. And block in the toes as small cylindrical forms. Learning to draw the toenails properly will help put the foot in perspective. This is important since all views from the front present the foot in perspective. 
Though you may seldom be called upon to include legs in an adult's portrait, if you paint children you will have many opportunities to depict their little legs. 
The construction of a child's leg and foot is the same as the adult's, but there is less definition of muscle and the forms are more rounded. 
An infant's foot is round, not flat, on the sole, as he has not worn shoes or walked enough to
flatten the soles. The feet are fatter than those of an adult and the toes can be very tiny. Again, the small toenails help to establish the angle of the foot. 
Many times you will prefer to paint a small child barefoot, even in fairly dressy clothing. The bare feet take away the over-formal look and remind us that the child is more free and natural than adults. 
To get the proportions right, it makes sense to draw the large forms first, and then begin constructing the masses by means of light and shade and defining the larger planes. As you continue to work, the portrait will gradually get more and more refined, until eventually you arrive at the likeness and individuality of your subject. I know an experienced portrait painter who can begin with one eye and build the whole head and body around it, but don't make it this difficult for yourself yet. As a student, always draw the figure as a whole before you put in the details of the head, hand, foot, or face. 
Using the head length as a unit of measurement, the adult human figure is 7 to 8 heads high. The
idealized figure is 8 heads high, lending a feeling of dignity and elegance. (NEVER make the head
larger than it appears; this makes the figure look clumsy.) A good size for the average figure is 7
1/2 heads.
In the illustrations above, the male and female figures are 7 1/2 to 8 heads high. From the top of
the head to the hipline measures 4 heads, and from this line to the heel measures 3 1/2 heads.
Study the diagram to see which parts of the figure can definitely be located by the head unit of
measurement. Of course, the first head-length is the head; the second is the distance from the chin
to the nipples; the third to just above the navel but below the waist; the fourth head-length takes
us to the hipline. From this line it is 1 1/2 heads to the knees. The center of the figure is about at
the fourth head line, or just above that line.
In the male adult, the shoulders are approximately 2 head-lengths wide; this is the widest part of
the male body. In the female body, the hips are often as wide as the shoulders.
When the arm hangs at the side, the elbow touches the rim of the hip bone, the iliac crest, and the
inside of the wrist is on a level with the halfway point of the figure. The fingers reach a little below
the center of the thigh.
In children the head is larger in proportion to the body. The central figure in the diagram above,
the one year old, has a head one-quarter the length of its body. The central point, indicated by the
dotted line, is at the waist; above the navel may be easier to determine, as an infant this age
normally has no waist.
The four-year-old ( second from left ) has a head-length approximately 20 percent of the body
length, which therefore, is 5 heads high. The central point is 2 1/2 head lengths from the top of the
The eight-year-old child (fourth figure from the left) is about 6 heads high, and the halfway point
is moving down nearly to the adult halfway point, the hipline. (The three children are in
proportion to each other but not to the adult figures in the drawing. In actuality, their heads are
smaller than adult heads, but drawing them in these sizes makes the proportions easier to see and
to remember.)
You can look at theses diagrams and study your own body, but there's no substitute for drawing
from a live model. If you can't find a life drawing class, perhaps you can get members of your
family or a classmate or friend to pose resting, reading, or even watching television! Portrait
painting is really only an offshoot of life drawing - a sort of life drawing with personality
Some students are interested in anatomy, the study of the skeleton and the muscles. Others don't
have the slightest desire to know what goes on under the skin. But as a portrait artist, you need to
know something about anatomy.. If you want to study it in more detail, I have studied anatomy
for 10 years and offer a comprehensive course. But you don't need to master it in this great a
depth. Just have a general grasp of the details.
Practice drawing people of both sexes, all ages, seated, standing, in a variety of positions. Most
artists continue to draw from the figure throughout their lifetimes. To draw the figure well - to
re-create its mass and its movement - is a highly desirable skill. And there isn't an artist alive who
ever feels he draws the figure as well as he should.
We have learned to block in the figure with jointed cylinders for arms and legs, a thoracic egg and
a pelvic block for the torso, a mitten for the hand, and a wedge for the foot. However, there's more
to it than that. We must also consider shoulder and hip construction lines from the very beginning
of our sketch, for these lines tell us instantly how the figure is standing and how the body weight is
The following construction lines are particularly helpful: the shoulder line passes from one shoulder to the other through the neck and is paired with a second line under the rib cage which ALWAYS parallels it. The line at the hip is paired with a second line through the tops of the iliac crests of the pelvis; these two also ALWAYS parallel each other. (see lines A and AA, B and BB) 
Only when the body is seen standing perfectly erect with the weight distributed equally on both feet, are all the shoulder and hip construction lines parallel to each other. 
When the weight is shifted to one foot, say the left, as shown in this female figure, both the shoulder line and the hipline bend toward each other. The right nonbearing leg appears to be longer than the left supporting leg. The nonbearing leg can be bent, or extended to front, back, or side - it doesn't matter, for it isn't being used to hold the body upright, but just to balance its weight. Just watching for this shoulder - hip relationship will help your figure drawing look more natural. 
Looking in a mirror, try it yourself. Stand with your weight on your right leg and raise your right shoulder. Uncomfortable!! As you lower your right shoulder and raise the left, your body stands
When a subject stands with the weight on one foot, the inside of the ankle supporting the weight is
in a direct line straight down from the pit of the neck. This holds true whether the body is viewed
from the front, back, or side. This very important line is called the PLUMB LINE.
If the figure is half-seated on the edge of a low desk, left shoulder lowered, left hip raised, the
plumb line doesn't apply because the body weight rests on the pelvis, not the feet.