How to draw arms

In this tutorial, you will learn to draw arms in a few easy to follow steps. Understanding how to properly draw the arms and the legs can dramatically improve your fashion sketches and give you a big advantage in the presentation of your designs. This is a simplified tutorial on arms because you do not need to know how to draw anatomical arms for fashion sketches. I hope you’ll enjoy and have fun!

Time, Tools and Difficulty:

Time to complete the tutorial: 4min
Tools you’ll need: drawing paper, a pencil, and an eraser
Difficulty level: 5/10

How to draw arms in 6 simple steps:

Step 1: Draw the guidelines

Begin with a drawing of the female torso. Check out the “How to draw female torso” tutorial if you have issues drawing it.
Mark the shoulders with circles. Add a center to each circle and pull horizontal guidelines. One where the waistline is and one at pelvis level. These are needed to determine where to place the elbow and the wrist.

The guidelines will help you find the exact length of the arms even when they are not in a relaxed position. The arm and the forearm are always more or less the same length.

Step 2: Begin drawing the arms

Once you have marks to guide you, it’s time to add straight lines to indicate the direction of the arms. Start from the center point of the shoulders.You can play and change those lines however you want, as long as you keep the proportions.

Notice that when the arms are relaxed the forearm goes slightly away from the body.If you draw them perfectly aligned the arms of your model will look stiff.

Step 3: Draw the elbow and the wrist

Having the size of the shoulder circle in mind, draw a smaller one for the elbow and another, even smaller, for the wrist. Be careful with the sizes- the arm should taper gradually. Use the guidelines you’ve already set to place the circles correctly.
Draw an ellipse below the wrist circle to indicate the hand.

Step 4: Draw the arms

Connect via straight lines the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist circles.
Notice the arrow? It shows where the arm should begin from so it doesn’t look separated from the torso in a weird way.

Step 5: More realistic arms

If you leave the arm drawn like this it won’t look believable. Separate the forearm in 3 equal parts. In the section closest to the elbow add some volume (more to the inner side and less to the outer). Blend gradually with the second section and leave the 3rd section the way it is.
You can also hint at the knuckles of the outer side of the wrist.

Step 6: Adding the details

You already have the arms of your model. Now just add tiny dashes to indicate where the arm is contracting and draw the hands. Nothing more is needed!

It’s time to experiment with the directions now that you know the basics of how to draw arms. Make your own variations for your fashion sketches.

Learning how to draw fashion figures is an essential skill for the fashion illustrator. If you want to find out the secrets how to do it better, faster and easier, check my online course ‘Fashion Figures 101‘!

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