The world of art is full of fascinating techniques and methods, and among them, you’ll find the Loomis mannequin. Created by the talented artist Andrew Loomis, this approach to drawing the human figure has proven incredibly helpful for artists of all levels.
In this article, I will explore the Loomis mannequin and how it can benefit your artistic journey.
Before we go any further, I just wanted to let you know that there are no actual Loomis branded physical mannequins that you can purchase.
The Loomis method or Loomis technique can be used with or without mannequins. Most people refer to the drawings inside the book “Figure Drawing for all it’s Worth” by Andrew Loomis as the Loomis mannequin.
Now imagine having a simple yet effective tool for drawing the human figure, one that enables you to easily understand and recreate complex poses.
That’s where the Loomis books and what some people refer to as the Loomis Mannequin come in. This technique consists of breaking down the human body into basic shapes, making it easier for you to visualize and draw the figure accurately from any angle.
With practice, you’ll soon be able to transform these basic shapes into detailed, dynamic drawings.
As you delve further into the Loomis mannequin, remember that mastering this approach requires patience and dedication.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away – like any art technique, practice is the key to success. Go grab your sketchbook and a comfortable seat, and get ready to unlock new creative possibilities with the Loomis Mannequin.
TLDR Summary – Loomis Mannequin
The Loomis mannequin provides a basic structure to help you draw the human figure. Developed by artist Andrew Loomis, this method breaks down complex anatomy into simple shapes. You start with a “heads tall” scale, which allows you to create proportionate figures.
Start by sketching the head as an oval shape. Then, using the “heads tall” scale, you can determine the ideal length of the figure. Continue with a line for the spine, followed by circles for the ribcage and pelvis. These simple components will form the foundation of your drawing.
Connecting the head to the ribcage, add a cylindrical neck.
For the arms, use tapered cylinders, and for the hands try sketching simplified shapes hinting at complex underlying structures. Follow a similar approach for the legs and feet.
In your initial sketch, focus on capturing the character’s overall posture and shape. With practice, your understanding of the human form will improve, and your mannequin will become a more reliable reference.
Here are key points to remember:
- Use the “heads tall” scale for proportions
- Simplify anatomy with basic shapes
- Adapt the mannequin to different poses and perspectives
- Practice often to refine your skills
Enjoy exploring the Loomis mannequin method, and remember that patience and repetition will lead to improvement and success in your figure drawings.
How To Draw The Loomis Mannequin
You can simply start by grabbing a copy of the Loomis book or watching some of the videos for free online. Below is an image I found from Howard Ortiz-Sherwood (Concept Artist) that shows the Loomis method nicely and simply. Be sure to check out his page as it’s quite fantastic if you need to see how well to draw the human form.
Draw the head first
Start by sketching an oval shape for the head. Notice how simple that is? Great job!
Now, we’ll divide the head into 8 equal parts. These segments will help keep the mannequin’s proportions accurate. They represent the ideal human body’s height-to-width ratio. Make sure to keep these divisions evenly spaced. They do not need to be perfectly spaced. They are just a guide.
Draw the torso next
Next, draw the torso. Create it with two connected oval shapes: one large oval for the ribcage and a smaller oval beneath it for the pelvis. Connect them with a curved line for the spine. Keep the width of the torso around 2 1/3 heads wide, maintaining the proportions you established earlier. Good work!
Draw the arms next
Let’s move on to the arms. Draw a line extending from the shoulders to the halfway point of the pelvis oval. Add oval shapes for the elbows and hands, then connect them with lines for the upper and lower arm segments. Make sure to follow the natural bend of the arms.
Draw the legs and feet
Now, we will draw the legs. Begin at the bottom of the pelvis oval and extend two lines downward, slightly angled outward, for the thighs.
Add oval shapes for the knees, then continue the lines to form the lower legs. Finish the legs with simple foot shapes. Don’t forget the slight angle of the leg and foot to create a sense of depth.
Great! You’re almost done. To complete the Loomis mannequin, refine any rough edges and use contour lines to emphasize the 3D forms.
Practice makes perfect, so keep drawing and experimenting with different poses to broaden your understanding of the human body and its proportions.
- Use 8 head divisions for proper proportions.
- Create connected ovals for the torso.
- Incorporate lines and ovals for limbs.
- Refine rough edges and emphasize 3D forms.
Keep practicing, and soon you’ll master the Loomis mannequin technique!
Understanding the Loomis Method
Proportions and Balance
When learning the Loomis Method, you’ll start by focusing on the proportions and balance in your drawings. This method helps you understand the human form with reference to basic shapes, making it easier for you to construct realistic figures. Keep these measurements in mind as you sketch:
- The human figure is roughly 7.5 heads tall. Loomis rounds it up to 8 to make it easier for beginners.
- The distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is about one head.
- The widest portion of the shoulders is often two heads wide.
By following these proportions, your drawings will have a more accurate representation of the human form.
Head and Face Construction
Now let’s dive into the head and face construction using the Loomis Method. Refer to our earlier drawing exercise, as this section will reinforce what we just completed:
Draw a circle: We began by drawing a circle for the head. Practice moving your elbow and shoulder instead of your fingers and wrist for smoother motions.
Divide the circle: Split the circle in half horizontally and vertically. The horizontal line represents the brow line, while the vertical line represents the center of the face.
Project the jawline: Determine the angle of the jaw by drawing diagonal lines from the sides of the circle downwards. Align the bottom of the jaw with the bottom of the circle.
Add the facial features: Use the following guidelines to place the facial features accurately:
- Eyes: Situated halfway down the head on the horizontal line.
- Nose: One-third down from the brow line.
- Mouth: Two-thirds down from the brow line.
- Ears: Between the brow line and the nose line, extending outward from the head circle.
Remember to practice often; the more you draw using the Loomis Method, the more natural and intuitive your figures will become. With dedication and patience, you’ll be creating realistic human forms in no time!
Re-constructing the Loomis Mannequin
Building the Head
Let’s do this again to reinforce the learning; begin by constructing the head of the Loomis mannequin. First, draw an oval shape that represents the cranium with a simple cross guideline. This will help you establish the horizontal eye line and vertical centerline.
Keep in mind that the proportions of the head are key, so make sure the whole head is roughly divided into thirds: the forehead, the face, and the chin and jaw.
Creating the Torso
Next, let’s focus on creating the torso. Start by drawing a simple oval to represent the ribcage, which should be slightly larger than the head. Sketch vertical and horizontal guidelines, dividing the ribcage in halves.
Connect the head to the ribcage with a short, curved line to represent the neck. For the shoulders, draw a straight line that extends from one side of the ribcage to the other, but keep in mind this width will differ between male and female figures.
Working with Arms and Legs
To construct the arms and legs, imagine them as simplified limbs divided into sections. For the arms, break them into two parts: the upper arm and the lower arm. Sketch cylinders representing each part, with the diameter decreasing towards the wrist.
As for the legs, divide them into three sections: the thigh, calf, and foot. Like the arms, imagine the legs as simplified cylinders decreasing in diameter towards the ankle. Remember to refer to your reference images for accurate proportions and placement.
Drawing the Hips
Lastly, let’s tackle drawing the hips. The hips play a vital role in connecting the upper and lower body. To create the Loomis mannequin’s hips, envision them as a simplified wedge or box shape.
The upper edge should align with the torso’s bottom while the lower edge should extend to where the legs start. Keep in mind, the size and angle of the hips may vary depending on the pose and gender of your figure.
Using the Loomis Mannequin for Figure Drawing
Drawing from Life
You can improve your figure drawing skills with the Loomis mannequin. First, observe your subject carefully. Notice the angles, proportions, and body language.
Sketch the basic shapes and lines representing the body parts. Apply the Loomis mannequin technique to break down the body into simple forms. Regular practice with life drawing will help enhance your understanding of human anatomy and proportion.
When sketching, remember to:
- Focus on the overall gesture and movement of the figure.
- Maintain the correct proportions of the head, torso, and limbs.
- Simplify complex body parts into basic forms for easier drawing.
Drawing from References
Utilizing references, such as photographs or anatomical illustrations, is key to honing your figure drawing skills.
The Loomis mannequin can help analyze and construct the figure from your chosen reference. Just like drawing from life, study the reference and break down the body into simple forms.
To draw from references, follow these steps:
- Observe the reference carefully for posture, lighting, and details.
- Sketch the basic shapes and lines to represent the body parts.
- Apply the Loomis mannequin technique for accurate proportions and form.
- Refine your drawing with details and shading based on the reference.
Applying the Loomis mannequin in both life drawing and reference drawing is a vital skill for any aspiring artist.
With practice, you’ll be able to create more accurate and dynamic figure drawings. Make it a habit to draw regularly, and your skills will continue to grow.
Loomis Mannequin in Practice and Education
Andrew Loomis’ mannequin serves as a vital tool for artists looking to understand and draw the human form. His method breaks down the figure into simple shapes, making it accessible for artists of all levels.
When practicing, remember to start with basic shapes. Try drawing circles and ellipses for the head, chest, and hips. This technique helps simplify the form and gives you a solid foundation.
Regarding education, many art schools and instructors across the world, incorporate Loomis’ mannequin into their figure drawing curriculums. Even if you consult artists on Reddit they will all say “did you try the Loomis method?”. Why? Because it works for beginners.
This approach enables students to develop their skills in capturing the human form.
An effective exercise to improve your understanding of the Loomis mannequin consists of:
- Drawing from a live model or photo reference
- Identifying the key shapes within the reference
- Constructing the mannequin from these shapes
- Refining the drawing by adding more details and anatomical structure
Remember to practice regularly. Building muscle memory and refining your understanding of the Loomis mannequin takes time.
By dedicating yourself to consistent practice, you will soon see improvements in your figure drawing abilities.
Critiques and Limitations of the Loomis Mannequin
Let’s dive into a few critiques and limitations you might face while using the Loomis mannequin for your drawings.
One of the limitations you might encounter with the Loomis mannequin is the need to read multiple books to fully understand the concept. This means you might have to study various books either in tandem or one at a time, then return to them as needed. On the other hand, other artists like George Bridgman provide recommendations that might be more accessible, especially for beginners.
When it comes to accuracy in representing the human form, some people suggest that the Loomis mannequin might not be the best choice for absolute beginners. Artists such as Vilppu offer better methods in their Drawing Manual, so if you’re new to figure drawing, it might be worth exploring these alternatives first.
While the Loomis mannequin does provide a helpful reference, it’s important to keep in mind it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. You’ll still need to practice and apply your own understanding of the human form and experiment with your own adaptions of this mannequin.
Now let’s look at a few of the critiques of the Loomis mannequin:
- Memorization: A key aspect of using the Loomis method effectively is memorizing general poses, which might be easier with other methods that don’t rely so heavily on memory.
- Adaptability: You’ll likely need to customize the Loomis mannequin for your unique situation, which could be difficult for some artists, especially beginners.
- Recommendations: As mentioned earlier, Vilppu’s methods might be a better fit for some artists, so it’s critical to explore different approaches to figure drawing.
Keep these critiques and limitations in mind when using the Loomis mannequin to ensure progress and satisfaction with your work. Remember, practice and determination will help improve your skills as you keep exploring different techniques and approaches.
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
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