It is not easy to draw a human in different poses, even though we see people on a daily basis. That’s why many artists use poseable mannequins for drawing their illustrations.
A few words about how can we improve the anatomy in our illustrations
It may be funny, but sometimes I used to pose in front of the mirror, wearing just my underwear, to see if the character I drew had correct anatomy and proportions.
Mirrors are great, I still look at them when I draw faces. But… I ‘m not able to make every pose I want (an epic kick in the air would be cool) and I see my pose from only one point of view- my head. I can’t see how I look from different angles. And posing in front of the mirror, just in my underwear, is not something I want my parents to see.
So, one of the solutions may be to hire a model. But most artists can’t afford that. At the art workshops, the participants have to pay extra for the model that talks, moves, etc. You can also take pictures of people, but how many pictures we can take?
Of course, photo resources are a great help. And drawing figures that resemble real people, can greatly improve the learning of how to draw people in different poses. But what if you can’t find this certain pose that you need for your illustration?
And another problem is finding a photo resource with the perfect pose… but the light is off, and we need the correct light for our illustration.
A quick summary
That’s why I got interested in poseable mannequin for drawing. It might be the right thing that will solve this problem. Here’s a quick summary of what advantages have these poseable figures in comparison to photo resources, “live” models, and posing in front of a mirror:
you can pose the mannequin exactly how you want
we are able to see the pose from different angles to understand better the anatomy (that’s not possible in case of photos)
we can use a lamp to create the lighting, to help us make the perfect illustration 😉
figures don’t get tired of posing, and you don’t have a limited time for the drawing.
no risk, that a family member will find you, posing half-naked in front of the mirror, and ask if there’s something wrong with us…
I did a little research to find the best models – check out the list of most recommended manikins that will help you at creating your illustrations!
A professional mannequin for drawing, painting, placed on a wooden base. It’s probably the most popular/known type of the poseable mannequins for drawing.
You can set them in different ways and help yourself in drawing people in different poses. Such mannequins are especially useful for drawing anime, comics, cartoons, etc. It’s generally a good art accessory that will help you to study the human body and the basic shapes, and of course, capture all the correct scale and shadows for your drawings.
There are differences between male and female mannequin. It’s recommended to beginners, rather than experienced artists. Still, it’s a nice gift for those who just started their journey with drawing!
Here are manikins for drawing, which are capable of achieving every pose humanly possible!
I was really excited when I found out about this manikins. Not only because of how cool they look but because of the possibility to purchase a replacement if it happens to broke – which, in my personal case, is highly possible (I still remember how I broke my Wacom’s pen…). That’s a huge advantage in comparison to other mannequins.
On Armature Nine Manikins you can purchase various type of poseable figures: posable baby doll, female and male figures, bird, crane, eagle, camel, dog, and even fictional characters, as “dragon maker” and “Digitigrade”!
On the left you can see a photo Digitigrade manikin. I haven’t seen such model before, and I personally think it’s a great art help for all artists drawing furries.
Important info: you have to buy the head separately
PL2016-M33 made by Phicen is a poesable mannequin, widely used in character design, modeling, photography, painting, anatomy, or simply figure collection.
This hyper-realistic mannequin has exchangeable body parts. It comes together with 3 pairs of interchangeable hands and shorts. Unfortunately, you have to purchase the head separately. However, it’s possible to use a Ken doll head mold on this body. The hands are not flexible, but the hand poses are fairly useful as is. One of the biggest advantages is, of course, the realism – the joints are not visible, and the silicon skin is very lifelike.
What’s interesting, you can purchase genitals for this mannequin. Currently, the genitals are added to the set (they weren’t added previously)
One of the reviewers warned to not dress the mannequin without thoroughly washing the clothing first. She put the shorts on without knowing this and it accidentally dyed the mannequin’s surface.
This poseable mannequin comes with an instruction. Unfortunately, there’s no stand to support or to prevent the mannequin from falling over.
The model received many positive comments about the skin texture and its flexibility. It’s recommended by the reviewers for drawing inspiration and for the ability to create your own custom figures using the body.
A professional model of the left and right hand used to learn the drawing of a human hand. Made of wood, it has movable parts.
Such Wooden posable human hand is an amazing reference tool for professionals and students who are practicing sketching and drawing.
The wooden hand is made from durable hard wood to ensure durability and longevity.
This hand mannequin is recommended mostly to the beginners – the fingers don’t spread or rotate, which can make it difficult to achieve other hand poses. The hands are fine if you’re looking for very basic finger-poses, therefore they are a great gift for young artists.
Body-kun is one of the most popular poseable mannequins for comic artists. Figure measures roughly 7-inches tall.
The Body-kun figure is made of plastic and has joints (over 30 articulated joints) on all parts of the body allowing for almost any position of the body – thanks to that, you can easily create a base pose to even the most dynamic of drawings!
The set includes everything you need to create a masterpiece: 17 interchangeable hands, mini book, PC, tablet, model gun, sword, pen, smartphone, cell phone, and special display base.
When you position it, it won’t move. It’s sturdy and has a tiny bit of weight to it, so you feel it won’t break as soon as you pick it up.
The hands are really great sculpted for their scale and pops on and off the wrist easily.
The figure comes with is a 7×7 piece of card stock paper with grid lines printed on it, which could be used to set the figure on, or set it behind the figure to help with perspective line drawing.
If you are an artist like myself interested in doing comics or any other drawings which require a lot of figure drawing, these figures are definitely worth the investment.
The parts are easy to manipulate into whatever pose you can think of. Some joints aren’t as pliable as they might be in real life, so it falls a little short in that category. Unfortunately, the thighs aren’t able to bend upwards more than 90 degrees, making many sitting and crouched poses impossible.
The mannequin comes with a sword and gun accessories.
While she still has some flexibility restrictions she does give a better range of motion than your standard doll or action figure.
The stand allows for storage of her small parts in the base and there are 2 additional replacement pieces, one for the stand and the other for holding her additional hands.
Many reviewers say that the model is a bit too small in comparison to the male model, but that’s not a huge deal because her smallness will make it easy for transport. It’s said that the male mannequin is better made. Her joints are stiff and moving her arms seem to be an issue as the shoulders do not move as well as BodyKun’s. Overall, she gets the job done with just a bit more effort.
Tamashii Nations 63159 Bandai Tamashii Stage Act 4 for Humanoid Clear
Stand set is ideal for use with s.H.Figuarts, D-Arts and other humanoid action figure lines. Stand set includes stand bases x 3, Triple jointed support arms x 3, non-articulated (straight) support arms x 3, two types of clips x 3 each, joints x 4.
This stand is frequently bought together with Body-kun and Body-chan mannequins for drawing.
This wooden horse figure is a great model for drawing or painting. Its body parts are fully adjustable to almost any position. Many positions from trot, canter, gallop, jumping, bucking, standing, neck and head tilts, pawing the ground. Excellent for drawing and fun to pose and set on the mantel. If you love horses, you need one of these!
This set contains 1 x Action Figure Model, 1 x User Manual and 1 Set x Accessories
The DX action figure set includes accessories kit that you need to create a masterpiece: Model sword, shield, cup, different gestures, and special display base. The action figure model measures roughly 5.9 inches tall.
Figmas body can be disassembled, including the head, legs, feet, and various joints of the body, so that you can change the posture better.
The mannequins are from the same developer as described above.
The DX action figure set include accessories kit that you need to create a masterpiece: Model gun, sword, cellphone, laptop, different gestures and special display base. The action figure model measures roughly 5.9 inches tall.
This little chibi mannequin is perfect for drawing artworks for all manga artists. The action figure model measures roughly About 13-15cm. It comes with a stand and accessories: Model sword, shield, and a cup.
Chibi (ちび or チビ) is a Japanese slang word describing something short (a thing, an animal or a person). It comes from the verb 禿びる (chibiru), which means ‘to wear out and become shorter’ (the tip of something). Typically these characters are small and chubby, with stubby limbs and oversized heads to make them resemble children. This style of artwork, also known as super deformed (shorthanded as SD), has since found its way into anime and manga fandom through its usage in manga works.
Female Anatomy Figure: 10.5-inch Anatomical Reference for Artists
Half-skin, half-ecorche with great detailing for muscle structure.
The figure is not poseable. But the reason this model is on this list, it’s because of the visible muscles, which makes this model great for learning to understand how the human body is built, and therefore improve your drawing skills.
Whether you’re a traditional or digital artist, work in 2D or 3D, or simply like to fill your desk with nice things, the female anatomical figure will be an invaluable addition to your world. The statue is cast in gray resin to make the variation in the surfaces and directional flow of the muscles easy to see and understand. One half of the model shows full skin, while the other is a clear and detailed dissection revealing muscle structure. Sculpted by Dan Crossland for 3dtotal, the female figure is produced to the same standards as the original male statue, and also to scale. We calculated that our female would be around 5% shorter than the male in the real world, making her 265mm tall, minus the base (our male is 297mm, minus the base). Cast in the same neutral grey resin, together the models will make fantastic desktop companions!
On our anatomy drawing lessons, not only we drew nude models in different poses – we also had our own skeleton to practice drawing 🙂 But what’s the point of learning to draw a skull? Shouldn’t spending more time drawing faces be more effective in learning how to draw faces?
In my case, practicing drawing skulls helped me to understand how the head is built, and therefore improved my skills at drawing portraits. It also helped me to draw realistic faces just from imagination. That’s why I wanted to include in this list a skull model.
This skull model is made of PVC plastic, and has 92*99*71 mm / 3.6*3.9*2.8 inch.
Poseable Figures for Animation
There are artists who not only draw, but also create 2d and 3d animations. If you are one on them, I found some cool figures that might actually help you much more than the ones mentioned in the list above.
You see, I’ve never been into creating animations, my main passion is the illustration, so while doing research on the previous list and looking at the products I’ve been thinking which one of these figures will help to draw the anatomy correctly?
I realized that animators might look at them differently, and the main advantage might actually be how easy it is to pose the figurine, rather than how anatomically correct it is, or if it has any visible muscles and natural-looking skin.
I hope you will find this list helpful, and if you know any figure that deserves to be mentioned, please let me know in the comments 🙂
Stickybones – Poseable Human figures for Animators
I’ve found them by accident not so long ago, therefore I’m updating this article and adding these mannequins at the end (the listing is random) Edit: I’ve decided to create a new list, with mannequins dedicated to animators
I’m surprised that I didn’t come across Stickybones earlier.
The figures have a nice clean design, the anatomy is a more stylized (comparing to some other figures -Stickybones has bigger feet and hands) but overall acceptable, some artists might actually prefer it stylized (please keep in mind that I’m writing this from the illustrator’s perspective, not animator’s)
The team had prepared video tutorials for animators, where you can watch tips on how to use these figures, and what you should watch out for. They also prepared many gifs and videos showing how flexible and easy to pose their models are – and honestly, I’m really amazed by what you can do with them!
I’ve watched tutorials and have to admit how easy and fast the posing is. In the beginning, the figurine will be a bit stiff, but you have to move the joins a few times after assembling it, so when you will make your first animation, the whole posing will be smoother.
The mannequins are made of Custom Polymers, and are 8.5″L x 1″W x 1″H.
If you ask me if there are any cons, I have to say I was a bit disappointed that there’s only one mannequin model (you can choose between “spark blue” or “dark storm” colors). It would be cool to have the possibility to choose between male and female body types.
Here you can see one of Stickybones animations, it made a huge impression on me. There are also many videos created by fans (someone recreated a whole acrobatic performance with this figurine).
List of 3d mannequins for drawing apps
While searching for the best poseable mannequins for drawing, I asked artists on a digital painting facebook group what mannequins they use. Many replied with a photo of the classic wooden mannequin, others mentioned the body kun and body chan, but a quite few artists shared me a link to apps with a digital mannequin for drawing.
So, here they are! A list of apps with virtual mannequins for drawing.
Available on: Google Play | App Store
EasyPoser is a human body pose app for people who draw or is learning to draw. You can create your own poses, or use one of hundreds of ready-made poses to make things easier.
The app is free, but there are In-app purchases.
Magic Poser is an app that allows you to pose multiple figures. Super easy and intuitive posing of the human by tapping on control points and dragging. Realistic and adjustable studio lighting, with models casting shadows on every other object. Besides a large collection of preset poses, you can share and import scenes that you or others created from our PoseCloud online community. No need to start from scratch, you can easily import an airplane, a car, or a whole concert scene directly into the app and start building on top of it.
Daz Studio is a software which I personally use. This software includes a digital mannequin which you can pose and use as a reference for drawing. Users can not only model objects in 3D, but also create advanced animations and digital illustrations. Using the DAZ Studio program, we can create any elements in three dimensions, avatars for computer games and other graphic objects.
Below you can see my artworks and the Daz poses (on the left) as examples.
Doll Atelier is a crowdsourced repository for models and illustration materials conveniently categorized by type.
Doll Atelier is even easier to use, when combined with the next-generation model software: Design Doll. Poses and models may be used freely for non-commercial or commercial purposes.
Looking for other pose resources?
If you haven’t found a mannequin that meets your needs, check out this list of Best Pose Resources for Drawing. This is a list of various photo galleries with high-quality photos – mostly poses, made especially for illustrators.
Do you know any other mannequins for drawing that should be listed in this article? Let me know!