Every artist who wants to master their skill NEEDS to practice figure drawing.
Even if your desired art career won’t be focused on drawing realistic figures, it is still an absolutely essential skill you can’t just brush off!
When I first went to an art university in 2015 I didn’t know what to expect, I just wanted to draw pretty pictures so I can put all of them up on Instagram and get a lot of likes!
But the truth is, once you get more and more into the art world you might not even want to share your pieces!
You will learn that art is a powerful communication tool, and you will create many wonderful pieces that speak to many people. But first, you will have to build a foundation for your skill, and continue improving it every day by PRACTICING.
And some of your figure drawings will look amazing and ready to share, but others… Well, let’s just say that 10-second and 1-minute drawings are not always the best for social media!
And yet, you still need to practice! A lot!
My first ever class in university was, guess what? Figure Drawing class! And I had one every semester for all four years! Because professional artists understand that you NEED this skill, even if you end up working as an environmental designer, or a cartoonist or a colorist, or in any other profession that doesn’t focus on the realism of a figure.
And so I went to these classes not always with a lot of inspiration (mostly because I simply had to). And I practiced. And sometimes my art sucked! But that’s just the part of the process…
Now, as I don’t have these classes anymore, and I realize the importance of improving my figure drawing skills, I started looking for LIVE figure drawing sessions I could attend.
I got pretty upset when I realized that the price to attend sessions a couple of times a week adds up like crazy! And at this point, it is a bit out of my budget…
Here is where the Internet comes in! As not just a place where I can check out what my childhood friends are up to, but an awesome learning platform where I could practice creating figure/gesture drawings FOR FREE!
Pretty awesome, huh?
And so because I think Figure Drawing is SO important for any aspiring artist, I created this list, which you can bookmark and always refer to in times of need: “Best 9 Free Pose Reference Sites To Practice Figure Drawing Online“.
You can use it to practice Figure Drawing, Gesture Drawing or simply use as a reference for your own character’s pose.
But just before we get started on the list, I wanted to let you know about some other relatable articles I have created in the past that relate to this topic:
- “14 Best Figure Drawing Books for Beginners” a collection of the best books on the market that will help you get started with Figure Drawing;
- “Gesture Drawing Tips And Things To Avoid” a short overview of what gesture drawing is, and the DO’s and DONT’s of it;
- “20 Best Tips For Figure Drawing” a printable 23-pages PDF you can use as a reference when practicing + 4 other additional freebies.
* Below the list, you will be able to find some Figure Drawing courses that I recommend (in case you decide to take your skills to the next level) as well as a freebie from me! 🙂
And now, onto the list:
Best 9 Free Pose Reference Sites
To Practice Figure Drawing Online
I wanted to start with Proko first because I honestly think this is a great resource for reference photos and beyond!
This site offers a Free Model Sample Pack available for you to download on their website when you scroll to the bottom.
As well as FREE LESSONS among which the titles include:
- Human Figure Proportions – Average Figures – Dr. Paul Richer
- How to Draw Balanced Poses
- Drawing Measuring Techniques
- How to Shade a Drawing
- and many more you can check out under their free “lessons” section.
This way, you get the lessons and the pose references at the same time! And after watching their videos you can go ahead and start implementing them right away 🙂
And if you like their sample pack, but feel like it’s not enough and you want more of them – they offer poses for artists that you can purchase as well. They are surprisingly cheap and come in a set of 300-400 HD images like the ones below (there are different models in each package):
- Proko also offers premium resources for someone ready to take their art to the next level – and if you are ready to take the action, I suggest checking out their package deals that come with a discount.
pose reference 1088/86
ConceptArtEmpire: 1,847 words, 6 resources,
2. Line Of Action
Line Of Action is a free online website with a variety of pose references photography. They mainly focus on Figure Drawing, Animal Drawing, Hands & Feet Drawing and Faces & Expression Drawing.
Which is simply awesome if you decide to practice more than just figure drawing!
Also, their figure drawing tools are made to resemble a live session – you get to pick:
- Nude or Clothed models?
- Female, Male or Both?
- All the same length session or class mode?
- And the time interval (how long will one photo play for before automatically going to the next.)
That’s pretty similar to a real life drawing session. When you apply, the curator of the event will let you know the model’s gender if they will be nude and how long is the overall session.
Also, the timer resembles the timer models usually have – once it beeps your figure changes a position and you can do NOTHING about it!
Just need to turn to a new blank page and start on a different pose because the timer will beep again soon!
I think it’s the best idea to work with the time intervals because essentially figure drawing is all about the gesture and learning to communicate a pose quickly!
And once you practiced that enough, you can go ahead and get the free sample pack from Proko I talked about above, and then work on it for a long period of time to really hone in into details, shading and forms!
Before we go to the next source, I just wanted to briefly touch on the “Class Mode“.
Once you select the class mode the “time interval” option will change to a “How long is the class?” option, and you can then pick from 30 minutes to 6-hour long class.
Once you hover over one of the time options, it will give you an overview of what to expect during the class session.
For example, I usually like to do 2-hour long sessions – and that gives me:
- 6 poses (photo references) that are 30 seconds each so I can warm up my hand and get into the mode of working.
- 3 poses each 1 minute long – amazing practice for gesture drawing!
- 2 poses 5 minutes long;
- 1 pose 20 minutes – where I get to double check all the proportions, and make some basic shadings;
- Then a 14-minute break to go grab a snack or sip on some coffee 🙂
- And the final pose is 50 minutes long which is enough to bring a drawing to a semi-finish and get into adding some details and shading.
* Side Note: When doing the last pose, try to start it off as if you were doing a 30-second pose: Get that gesture! Don’t overthink and have fun 😉
This tool (and the two below) have the options to pause and go to the next image. Which is really awesome in case you don’t like the photograph shown to you, or you love it so much that will want to spend more time working on it!
3. Quick Poses
QuickPoses is a website similar to the one above, but it definitely has more options you can choose from.
Here is what their landing page looks like:
Now, let me walk you through some of the options they have.
- they always have 20 images in one session;
- you can select from 10 different options of topics for your drawing: Athletes of God, Chiaroscuro, Erotica Archives, Female Silhouette, Femme Fatales, Hanging Around, Lying Distortion, One for the ladies, Please be seated and Warriors.
- these are awesome you have an idea in mind of something specific you want to practice. For me – I’m not the best at perspectives, so then I will select the “Lying Distortion” in order to really practice more and improve that skill.
- time interval in seconds.
- and you can choose an option to show images upside down (also a great way to practice drawing!)
- Select type (pose, face, hands, feet, animals, landscapes, urban), gender, clothing and time interval.
- Choose how many images per one session you want to draw (20/30/40) and if you want them upside down.
In the Library, you can select an image to draw from without any time limit.
Note: All images are copyrighted and are only allowed to be used for practice or inspiration. Do not use these images in your work unless it is so heavily modified that it is not recognizable anymore.
Get Your QP Certificate – you can register on the site and it will track how much time you spend figure drawing. Once you reach a specigic threshold they will issue a QP (Quick Poses) certificate for your time and efforts 🙂
It’s a nie little incentive for you to keep practicing drawing every day!
The certificate has a couple of stages: Beginner (10 hours), Improver (30 hours), Intermidiate (70 hours), Advanced (200 hours), Expert (500 hours) and Master (1000 hours).
- You can share your work;
- Learn from some tutorials;
- Get their desktop App;
- Participate in competitions;
This website also has the ability to pause during your session, however, unlike Line Of Action and Sketch Daily the image disappears from the screen!
So you can’t really “cheat” and spend more time on the drawing! Which I find to be an awesome restriction to have.
4. Sketch Daily
Sketch Daily is a very similar website to the two above.
It also lets you chose between three main topic – Full Body, Body Parts and Animals.
Since we are focusing on Figure Drawing, the options we have here are:
- Gender: Both, Female, Male.
- Clothing: Both, Clothed, Nude.
- Pose: Both, Action, Stationary.
- View: All, Front, Side, Back.
- Time: 30seconds, 1/2/5/10 minutes.
So as we can see – there are way fewer options available.
And for my preferences, there are only 202 images that match.
On the other side, if you pick all options as “Both”, then there are (at the moment of writing this article) 1954 images available!
And now then it’s a pretty awesome library to work from! 🙂
“Time” option works like “time interval” in Line Of Action. So you pretty much decide for how long one image will be on the screen before it moves to the next.
As I mentioned previously, you can always pause an image and spend longer periods of time working on it (not like I’m telling you that you should).
And here is what the tool looks like when you choose all the options and click Start:
CroquisCafe is a YouTube Channel – an art model drawing resource in a tradition of a life drawing class.
- I love that their stuff has a timer on the left that gives you a visual representation on how much time you have to complete a drawing + it makes a sound each time a pose starts and finishes.
- All of their session are 20+ minutes long with a variety of pose intervals (depending on the video).
- At the time of writing this article there are over 300 video sessions for you to choose from.
And overall, videos are a great way to work, because it takes the “figure drawing pose references online” to a next level!
Note: Their videos have nudity in them, and therefore they and I insist that the audience is 18+ !
6. New Master Academy
New Masters Academy is also a YouTube channel.
Comparing to the previous one they have way less video sessions with pose references (at the time of writing only 15). However, these ones are featuring clothed models, and so there are no age restrictions.
They are called ” Non-nude series”, and here is one example of such video below:
Also (at the time of writing) 35 video pose references with nude models as well – they are called “Practice Life Drawing”.
- All the sessions are 35+ minutes long.
- Have a nice timer on the side that shows you how much time you have before the model changes their pose.
CharacterDesigns is a growing collection of high-quality free images available for artists to use.
All the images on here are under Creative Commons License, CharacterDesign has a description of on About Page:
– Usage in commercial work IS allowed: you can use it for reference (directly painting the image is fine), for your photo manipulations, for textures and anything else you want to sell. You just need to link back to my site and mention that it was my work that you used.
– You CANNOT simply take the image as it is and sell it as it is. I do NOT have the rights to the likeness of the model. I have the rights to just the image itself as it is on my site.
– Redistributing the images in their original form WITHOUT profit is perfectly fine. I’d love it if you used it in a classroom setting or as demo examples or just to spread the word. Save it to your computer for personal use! Again, all I ask is a link back to the site if you are posting it elsewhere on the internet.
– Obviously, do not take credit for my work, but I haven’t had any problems with that so far. You guys have been really great.
They have many categories to choose from for your next inspired drawing or to practice figure drawing:
- Nude Drawing Reference Guide;
- Non-Nudes and Costumes;
- People and Events;
- Drawing-Painting Reference;
All of these have many sub-categories as well! I won’t list them all here, but you should definitely go and explore. I’m sure you will find many inspiring ones 🙂
The downside of this site is that there is no timer, as it is not an app but a gallery of photographs.
But what you get out of it – is a gallery of so many different events, people, costumes and even locations that you can practice from or use as an inspiration for your next piece.
It’s definitely one of my go-to guides.
8. SenshiStock Sketch
SenshiStock Sketch is a web-based app, that is similar to the ones we covered in the beginning.
Images provided in there primarily come from the SenshiStock DeviantArt Page and are donated by the community.
Options to play around with: Pause/Play, Going to the next/previous image and Timer (you can set the time delay between 15 seconds and 30 minutes).
You can also view the pose on DeviantArt and ultimately download it, as the license for these images are mostly CC (you can read more about the license here) or by clicking on the license icon to the right of each image inside the app.
SenshiStock is Creative Commons. Its license is Attribution 3.0 Unported License (CC BY 3.0). This means you can share, modify and make commercial use of the work as long as you attribute the work with a credit back to SenshiStock. If the stock is used solely for pose reference then the requirement for attribution is appreciated but not required. – From SenshiStock ‘User License‘
Another awesome feature is that this app has their images categorized under “Tags” and you can configure which kind of images you want to see.
For example, in addition to the tags you see in the image on the right, you can also choose from:
Pretty awesome right?
You can also select a few tags you like and it will show you just the matching images 🙂
And even though it’s a place many either simply love or hate, I though it was worth a mention.
So Pinterest, as many of you probably know and use is an awesome platform for saving future ideas, inspiration and searching for answers!
But it could also work as a tool to practice figure drawing 🙂
To use it, simply search for “figure drawing pose references” and a variety of images will pop up!
Or you can also follow some Pinterest boards that focus on figure drawing pose references so you don’t have to go and collect them all yourself.
One of such boards is “Figure Drawing Pose References” curated by me, where once every two days I add a new photo for you to practice from 🙂
The only warning I will give you is this: please DO NOT redraw the image and sell it without permission from the model. Pinterest collects all sorts of images from different sites, and even though some of them will have these images under CC license, you can’t just assume.
So, do your due diligence and always check for the source of the image and the license that it is under.
To do that simply click on the image and you will be taken to a website it was originally pinned from.
Hopefuly, after going through the list you found a couple of tools you will enjoy using!
And in order to kick-start your improvment I have a little freebie for you 🙂
FREE GIFT FOR YOU! 20 Best Figure Drawing Tips PDF!
It’s a 23-page PDF that you can print out, or just read on your device!
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to:
✓ Think like a true artist who has a lot of practice with figure drawings
Figure Drawing Courses To Become A Pro
After you have decided on the tools you will use, and grabbed my freebie – you might want to jump-start your art career by gaining the skills needed to become a pro!
And, you can do it in two ways :
- Learn yourself through A LOT of practicing on your own mistakes;
- Learn from someone else’s mistakes and save yourself a lot of time and frustration!
And hey, I’m all about self-education. But that doesn’t mean you can’t self-educate yourself with high-quality online courses!
Here are my top favorite online figure drawing courses:
The website full of free tutorials and a pose references pack we talkid about in #1 ?
Well, they have this super awesome course geared towards just what you are looking for – Figure Drawing.
This premium video course includes extended versions of free videos, many examples of each lesson and critique videos. Videos are uncensored.
An example of work from one of Proko’s student BEFORE and AFTER the courseTotal Runtime: 15 hours and 30 minutes
The course covers a couple of important topics you will learn :
- Gesture – the action, flow and posture a figure takes;
- Landmarks – a place where a bone is at a surface. Helps you find forms and measure proportions;
- Robo Bean – creating a representation of a body using box shapes;
- Shading – the course discusses in depth the highlight, half-tones, core shadows etc. to make your drawing appear 3D;
- The Bean – a tool you will learn to help you with foreshortening and twisting of the body;
- Mannequinization – a tool that will help you draw from
imagination with volume and believable perspective;
- Proportions & Measuring – Learn how to use Dr. Paul Richer’s scientific system of measuring an average person and apply it to your own work.
- Practice & Patience – Develop a drawing schedule and stay motivated.
It also features:
- Extended Lessons
- Demos & Examples
- Assignments & Answers
- Critique Videos
Either you decide to figure all of it out on your own, or get serious and take a course – I wish you the best of luck on your path, and can’t wait to see your awesome drawings! 🙂
All the best,
-Your Art Bud 😉
Blog Posts to check out next → ”14 Best Figure Drawing Books for Beginners”