Figuary is a 28 day life drawing challenge. There are 28 short and simple tutorials which go together with a short 15 minute practice session from Croquis Cafe. The lessons are in a sequence, so it’s a good idea to do it in order – you can find them all below or in this YouTube playlist. The practice sessions are no longer on YouTube, they can be found here on Vimeo instead.

We originally posted the Figuary content during February 2019, and asked people during that month that were participating to post their drawings to Instagram with the hashtag #figuary. It really took off with more than 10,000 posts. So every 7th video is a review of some of the drawings posted with some feedback for people.

We did a survey of participants on our YouTube channel, and the majority said they had improved even during the 28 days.

I hope you enjoy it, good luck!

Day 1: Intro and Mindset

Hi and welcome to Figuary! Every day we are going to post a video and an article with guidance about figure drawing and Croquis Cafe will post a practice session – life models posing for you to draw. We’re hoping you’ll watch our video/read the article everyday and then do some practise at Croquis Cafe. […]

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Day 2: Angles & the Story of the Pose

I love the analogy of drawing to story-telling. Lets think of drawing a figure like making a movie about a true story.  It needs a coherent plot. That’s the structure of your drawing – the proportions and the volumes. These are the things that help you understand what’s happening.  The story needs emotional threads that […]

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Day 3: Angles! The 3 torso lines

On day 2 we talked about the story of the pose, today we’ll get more specific. Often the core of the story can be found in how the shoulders and the ribcage mass relate to the pelvis. However you draw, it’s going to be useful to ensure you get the angles of the shoulder line, […]

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Day 4: The squashy, folding, stretching middle

We talked about the story of the pose and how it’s really useful to observe the curve of the torso centre line or spine and the angle of the shoulders against the angle of the pelvis. To continue that idea let’s look at the sides – the outlines on each side of the torso. So […]

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Day 5: Torso / spine line – distance to each side

We’ve talked about looking for just the top 0.1% of the information in the pose and filtering out the rest, looking for the important curves and angles that define the torso. Now we’ll take a look at what people often tend to reduce and lose that dynamic look of the pose. When looking at the […]

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Day 6: Wilder stories

So we looked at some fairly standard stories in these poses – the curve of the torso centre line, the fold in the torso and that sort of thing. These are fantastic places to start and almost always yield something interesting. But the story is whatever you see. It doesn’t have to the be those […]

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Day 8: Unusual angles and tricky poses

So we are going to be looking at values, or the light and dark in the pose and shading, this week. But before that, I wanted to address something we didn’t cover last week. A lot of what we looked at worked great when you could see the torso clearly, especially upright poses. What about […]

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Day 9: The corners that explain the form

In the first week, we focused on the story of the pose, the top 0.1% of information in the pose that we wanted to capture. This week we are going to find the top 0.1% of information in the light and dark. In Croquis Cafe sessions, we are mostly doing quick drawings, so there may […]

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Day 10: Learning to simplify values

 We looked at how important the big, simple shapes of the shadow and light are to the drawing, but you may be struggling to see the simplified tonal shapes on the figures and faces you’re drawing. Don’t worry, it’s a skill you develop with practice. The first thing is to realise how much you […]

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Day 11: Edges and levels of shading

We are going to look at ways to tackle shading depending on how much time you have. As always, these are not rules but just ideas and suggestions that you can take or leave. If you don’t have much time – 1 minute – just draw the edges of the simplest shadow shapes. It’s not […]

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Day 12: Hatching, smudging and other shading methods

So we have looked at seeing and drawing the shadow shapes, and today we’re going to talk about different ways to fill them with tone – ways to shade. The approach we often suggest is hatching like this, but we’ve noticed a lot of people like to use smudging.  Smudging is excellent and powerful, especially […]

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Day 13: How to move past the details

When you’re looking at the figure, you can see so many details and so much complexity. One of the most common struggles beginner artists have is getting caught up in details and complexity that isn’t worth their attention.  Look at the shade on this figure. Overall, it’s darker on this side than on the other […]

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Day 15: Draw bigger with whole arm

You may have heard that it’s good to start drawing less with just wrist and fingers and move with your whole arm. There is nothing inherently wrong with drawing this way, but being able to use your whole arm opens up a lot more range of motion and different types of lines, including bigger, smoother […]

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Day 16: Getting used to the overhand grip and when to use it

You might not remember what it was like to learn to write as a kid, but it was probably really awkward and strange. You had to think about each movement consciously. But now writing using this grip, called the tripod grip, feels completely natural – you don’t even need to think about it. We are […]

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Day 17: Shorthands in detail areas

We talked yesterday about using the overhand grip and not using the tripod grip much in short poses because it drags you into too much detail. Sometimes you may have enough time to add a feature or two without detail and still keeping that grip.  We sometimes use little shorthand marks that just give some […]

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Day 18: Observe and commit

The Croquis Cafe poses are quick, which is great. Quick poses help you focus on just what is important. But when time is short, it’s our instinct to rush. To jam as many lines in as we can, to cram in information because there is more information than we have time to put down on […]

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Day 19: Building layers

Here’s how drawings, especially drawings of 5 minutes or more, would often go for me. I would put down some lines, trying to keep things light to start with, but struggling to. But the lines would seem wrong, so I’d go over them again quickly to try to correct them. I didn’t want those wrong lines […]

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Day 20: You could probably ride a unicycle

Improving any skill starts out frustrating because, by definition, you don’t have that skill yet so you start off trying to do something you can’t do yet. So if at this point, you’re struggling or getting frustrated, that’s normal. And drawing with a different grip, with different joints in the arm and trying to make […]

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Day 22: 1 minute poses. What you should achieve in 60 seconds

We’ve had some questions about how to tackle those 1 minute poses. It’s easy to say just go for it with the main gestural lines. But that’s a little vague and there’s just so little time to think, especially when you’re trying to implement various things from our tutorials.  If you’re not yet a seasoned […]

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Day 23: 1 minute poses – the 12 line challenge

Ok so we know the aims of the drawings. But when the 60 seconds start, what lines should you actually draw? You may have heard you should just focus on the gesture. But I remember finding that sort of advice confusing – how do you do that in practice, especially when you’re still just figuring […]

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Day 24: Importance of warming up mind and arm

I often skip warming up and just want to get straight into the life drawing session. But when I do warmup, I always think the session goes better. It’s like healthy eating – it makes everything better, but for some reason, I’m always tempted to not do it.  A lot of analysis is going on […]

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Day 25: Negative Space

Our brains get in the way when we’re drawing figures, because they think they know how figures should be drawn and they often don’t. But they don’t have these annoying ideas about negative space, so we can see negative space fresh without interference from pre-conceptions. So that’s great, but how do you use negative space […]

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Day 26: Alignment

We really like to use alignment when drawing figures. By alignment, I mean seeing what lines up vertically or horizontally with other points, like in this pose.   You might be doing this without realising a lot during a drawing. Doing it consciously can help you build the skill so that you do it sub-consciously […]

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Day 27: Figuary review & summary!

We are close to the end of Figuary 2019. I really hope you have enjoyed it. I have absolutely loved it. Today I wanted to look back over the things we covered. So in week 1 here’s what we did. Week 1 – the Story of the Pose Each figure and each pose presents your […]

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