What really stands in the way of people becoming true artists, is Ashta Chitra Vidya, also known as the knowledge of Human Figure Drawing. Most dread drawing human figures due to its complexity. But it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Consistent practice and grit can make anyone master the art of drawing human figure.

Learning how to draw human anatomy is important as it can give you the confidence needed to create illustrations. The practice of Ashta Chitra Vidya improves the technique of gazing, observing and interpreting. It trains both, the eye and the mind. Observing the complexity of human anatomy helps in seeing motion, movement, understand balance, beauty and proportions. It is a skill that can be learnt only through sincere and diligent practice and is a must to know if you want to pursue a career in Art 
But, before we understand how to draw human figures, let us understand why its purpose

Ever wondered how your favorite artist renders beautiful illustrations? Or what is the process of creating an illustration? Majority of the artists use a defined process with minor tweaks if needed. We are listing them down here for your reference:

1. Ideation/ Moodboard creation
2. Thumbnail sketch
3. Final sketch / doodle
4. Inking
5. Coloring
Let’s try to understand a couple of these in detail

Thumbnail Sketch
Say you are given with a story or concept that you have to illustrate. Your mind floods with ideas and you pen them down on a paper. The first step to communicate idea visually is a Thumbnail sketch. As the name suggests these are small reference sketches made to support the script. To put it simply, it is a rough composition that gives an idea about layout,
composition and positioning of the entire scene. 
A Thumbnail sketch provides scope to improve and enhance your illustrations in the first stage. They are rough drawings that are quick and would typically involve drawing outline or stick figures. At this stage you have the flexibility to work and experiment with multiple compositions
Final Sketch 
Once, the thumbnail is finalised, the objects, scene and figures are refined to give them proper form, volume and shape. The final selected illustration (also referred to as Final sketch) is then taken forward to the stage of Inking.
The process of Ashta Chitra Vidya
So we now know the process used to create an illustration. But an illustration isn’t complete without having human figures in them. For this an artist needs to be acquainted with Ashta Chitra Vidya. Therefore, Let us look at the steps that are involved in learning it.
We categorise the process of drawing human figures into 4 steps which are inter dependable and the correctness of each determines the quality
Step 1: Gazing (time spent in observing the references)
Step 2: Stick Figure
Step 3: Volumetric
Step 4: Rapid sketching
Stick Figure
As the name suggests Stick figure is a minimal sketch that is made using simple lines, curves and dots. It can also be seen as the skeleton in human figure drawing. The important thing to capture through stick figure is the posture and movement of the body.
This is the step where you start adding volume or start building the muscles on top of your stick figure. This step is important as the entire human figure starts coming together here. It helps you see Form with the parts being broken down at several joints that exist in our anatomy. Volumetric is made using simple geometric shapes which starts giving the 3D feel to the figure. The movement and posture can be understood much more in detail at this stage.
Rapid sketching
This is the final step where clothes, hands, face, hair and all other features are added to complete the human figure. The understanding of external details such as folds of the clothes, flow of the hair, etc is required at this stage. This is where the process of gazing becomes very important as the observation and attention to detail comes in handy.
You may have come across a number of art styles either Indian Folk Art such as Madhubani, Pattachitra, Warli or International art styles such as Kawaii, Art Deco, Chibi, etc. The anatomy of Human Figures in all of these styles differ but they are all based on the knowledge of Ashta Chitra Vidya.

To create characters or work with any art form, the practice of Ashta Chitra Vidya forms the foundation. By tweaking certain features in exaggeration yet in proportion, you can create beautiful characters or work with any art form without any challenges.

Bengal Pattachitra Illustration with Ashta Chitra Vidya Process
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