Figure Drawing

Prentice Hall
Nathan Goldstein  
Total pages
February 2010
Related Titles


Appropriate for all beginning and intermediate courses in Art, Basic Drawing, Figure Drawing, or Life Drawing.


Providing a concise but comprehensive survey of all matters pertaining to drawing the human figure, this well-illustrated and accurate guide demonstrates the interplay of structure, anatomy, design, and expression in sound figure drawing.  This text shows how the integration of these four factors is essential in drawing the figure in a compelling and lucid manner.


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NEW- Works by contemporary artists 

Allows students to see works by contemporary artists that illustrate important points in the text.


Glossary-Provides an efficient way of learning or remembering terms from the text.

Enables students to more easily understand certain terms.


The interactive nature of four factors-Stresses the interplay between Structure, Anatomy, Design, and Expression.

Assists students in drawing the figure better.


A generous number of old and contemporary master drawings.

Provides students with a wide variety of styles and techniques of drawing. Enables instructors to show their classes important examples of various approaches to drawing the figure.


An analysis of the surface structure of forms.

Provides students with an in-depth discussion of this topic, one that other texts treat lightly or even ignore.


A variety of “Suggested Exercises” included at the end of each chapter.

Gives students practice that reinforces important concepts.

New to this Edition

NEW- Works by contemporary artists 

Allows students to see works by contemporary artists that illustrate important information in the text.


Deleted Chapter 8, which featured photographs of figures.

The best photographs have been distributed throughout the book, where they more effectively illustrate points in the text.


Revised text- Provides improved clarity and flow.

Contains useful clarifications for the book's themes.

Table of Contents

1 The Evolution of Intent
Major Factors and Concepts in Figure Drawing     1
Some Common Denominators     1
The Emergence of Interpretive Figure Drawing     9
2 The Structural Factor
The Figure As a Structure     35
Some General Observations     35
A Planar Approach to Human Form     42
The Interjoining of Planes and Masses     45
Structure and Value     49
Structural Supports and Suspensions in the Figure     52
Structural Aspects of Foreshortening     55
Seeing Shape, Direction, and Edge     60
Structural Aspects of the Draped Figure and Its Environment     65
Suggested Exercises     75
3 The Anatomical Factor
Part One: The Skeleton     79
Some General Observations     79
Bones of the Skull     80
Bones of the Spinal Column     83
Bones of the Rib Cage     85
Bones of the Shoulder Girdle     86
Bones of the Pelvis     89
Bones of the Arm     91
Bones of the Leg     98
Skeletal Proportions     101
The Skeleton in Figure Drawing     105
Suggested Exercises     113
4 The Anatomical Factor
Part Two: The Muscles     121
Some General Observations     121
Muscles of the Head     122
Surface Forms of the Head     124
Muscles of the Neck     129
Muscles of the Torso     132
Muscles of the Arm     141
Muscles of the Leg     151
Skin and Fat     169
Further Observations on Surface Forms     169
Suggested Exercises     190
5 The Design Factor
The Relational Content of Figure Drawing     195
Some General Observations     195
The Visual Elements     201
Line    201
Value    207
Shape    211
Volume     218
Texture    222
The Elements in Action     228
Direction    229
Rhythm    231
Handling or Character    231
Location and Proximity    232
Subdivision    232
Visual Weight    232
Tension    233
Figurative Influences    234
Examples of Relational Activities in Figure Drawing     235
Anatomy as an Agent of Design     242
The Figure and the Environment     243
Suggested Exercises     252
6 The Expressive Factor
The Emotive Content of Figure Drawing     257
Some General Observations     257
The Expression Inherent in the Elements     262
Distortion     268
The Expressive Role of the Medium     270
Examples of Expression in Figure Drawing     273
Suggested Exercises     284
7 The Factors Interacting
Some Examples     287
Differing Formulas     287
The Pathologies of Figure Drawing     310
Perceptual Defects    310
Organizational Defects    313
Expressive Defects    314
The Role of Media in Expression     315

In Conclusion 317
Glossary    353
Bibliography    355
Index  357




Nathan Goldstein has been an exhibiting artist since 1950. His artwork is in numerous private and public collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Arkansas Art Centre, The National Academy of Design, The Boston Public Library Collection and The Danforth Museum.


Mr. Goldstein was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1927 and began his study of art in 1941 when he attended evening and Saturday classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1945 he enlisted in the U.S. navy and was honorably discharged in 1947. Upon returning to civilian life, Mr. Goldstein continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago on the G.I. Bill and received his MFA in painting and drawing in 1953. He briefly served as art director of the Federal Civil Defense Administration Headquarters but soon moved on to pursue a career as a painter and illustrator.


In 1956 Mr. Goldstein moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he began teaching at the New England School of Art. Subsequently he taught at Northeastern University and Boston University. From 1971 to the present, he has been a professor of painting and drawing at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. He was chairman of the Foundation Program of Study from 1971 until 1999. Mr. Goldstein has lectured and presented workshops at universities, colleges, and art schools in 38 states from Hawaii to Rhode Island.


Nathan is a prolific author and has written seven books on painting, drawing, and design. His much acclaimed texts, “The Art of Responsive Drawing,” and “Figure Drawing: The Structural Anatomy and Expressive Design of Human Form” are both in their sixth edition.


Mr. Goldstein was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 1996 and appears in Marquis Who's Who in American Art, and Who's Who in the East.