Figure drawing will always help you improve as an artist. Whether you’re practicing quick gestures or more detailed figures, time in the figure room is an artist’s best friend.
But not everyone can make it to figure classes in person. Online classes aren’t a full replacement for drawing from life, but they’re definitely better than nothing. And you can find some really amazing figure classes online if you know where to look.
I’ve listed my top picks for the absolute best figure drawing courses you can take from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a computer, some Internet, and a willingness to draw a lot of naked people.
Pencil Kings Figure Bootcamp
Let’s start with a biggie and my personal favorite: The Pencil Kings Figure Drawing Bootcamp.
This is a premium video series that gives you a library of lessons spanning one month long.
The videos are all pre-recorded and they help you move from the absolute basics of gesture through core fundamentals like drawing form, shadows, and figures with accurate perspective.
Granted this course is not going to make you an expert in one month. It’s mostly a primer to figure drawing that’ll take a novice and help them radically improve their skills.
One big goal of this course is to help you draw realistic figures from imagination. You’ll learn how to pose figures, change perspective, and craft human anatomy that’s at least good enough for quick sketches.
I’ve recommended the Pencil Kings video library many times before. But that runs on a monthly subscription so that doesn’t work for everyone.
This Figure Bootcamp series comes with a one-time fee, lifetime access to all videos, and a teaching style that’s meant to help you learn fast.
When you’re just starting to draw the worst part is the beginning. This is when you suck at drawing and it’s not super fun to sit down and suck for hours on end.
This course will help you push through that newbie phase lightning fast. That way you can start enjoying figure drawing and feel like you’re actually making progress with your practice time.
The Proko Figure Drawing Fundamentals course is by far the best starting point for any aspiring artist, even outside of figure/life drawing.
Seriously it doesn’t matter what you want to make: oil paintings, webcomics, even highly stylized vis dev art for Hollywood movies.
All of those paths require a foundation in drawing. Figure drawing is an exercise you’ll need to practice for your whole artistic career so it’s a great place to start.
I personally feel that Proko’s exercises just make sense. They’re clear, easy to follow, and you can repeat these video tutorials for years to come. You can browse through the free Proko YouTube channel too, but I really recommend the premium course.
It has much lengthier videos with bonus lessons showing you how to master complex gestures from start-to-finish. These include 30 second gestures and longer poses. You’ll learn how to draw form, anatomy, composition… really all the fundamentals. That’s what makes this so great for beginners!
Take a look at our full review of this course if you want some video previews and more details on the course specifics.
Really when it comes to online figure drawing I cannot think of many teachers who do it better than Stan Prokopenko.
Oh and one more thing: if you want to practice these lessons with high-def figure poses you can grab those from Proko as well.
Out of the many Proko courses I actually think these premium photos are the real treasure. You get hundreds of different poses in high definition(mostly 3000x2000px) all using professional models.
If you nab the Proko figure course I also recommend grabbing a pack of model poses too. They’ll keep you busy for years and you’ll be surprised how much you can apply the Proko lessons onto those photos.
Final note: Proko also has a sweet anatomy course that works well as a follow-up to the figure course. If you’re gonna be mostly practicing figure drawing online then it’s wise to study up on anatomy too.
Legendary artist Mike Mattesi is the creator of the “Force” drawing books like this one. He’s a fantastic writer and teacher, also a great artist, and he’s basically a master of drawing figures from humans to animals.
He recently launched an online video series under the brand DrawingFORCE. It works on a subscription model where you pay monthly to gain access to the ever-growing library of videos.
They all cover similar topics from the “Force” books making these video super valuable and relevant to figure drawing. I specifically recommend the basics course touching upon the fundamentals of force as it relates to figure drawing(especially for animators).
But like I mentioned, one subscription gets you access to all his videos so you can start with any course you like. Mike adds new videos every week so there’s always more to watch. And you can pay a little extra for monthly critiques on your work.
You read that right. Mike himself will critique your work every month in a one-on-one video if you keep a premium subscription.
It goes without saying that critiques on your work can radically improve your skills. This is one big reason why I recommend Mike’s DrawingFORCE website.
He offers two plan types: All Access and Premium. They both have monthly and yearly options but the features are mostly the same. Here’s a quick breakdown of the major differences:
All Access(basic) is $20/mo for all videos
Premium is $40/mo for all videos + a personal monthly critique video
You can save money by going yearly but it’s a lot more upfront. If you’ll only be testing his figure drawing courses then a monthly sub is better.
Each course has its own “Certificate of Understanding” which Mike issues once you’ve clearly mastered the material in a video series. These don’t help much in the job market(well, maybe) but they do offer one amazing feature.
If you can get all certificates for the DrawingFORCE courses you’ll get free access for life! It might take a while to get there but that seems like a crazy deal.
Have a look at the DrawingFORCE.com homepage and skim through his course details. You can also dig into related courses like his anatomy class to see if other courses may help you more than the general figure basics.
Either way I definitely recommend the premium sub for $40/mo if you’re gonna join at all. Just because critiques from a professional artist are hard to come by and for that price it’s really an amazing deal.
I’ve recommended CGMA many times in the past, and for good reason. Their instructors truly know how to teach and they’re one of the most trusted names in online art education.
They’ve got a fantastic beginner course titled Analytical Figure Drawing which anyone can join. The requirements are pretty simple: just get a means to draw(digital or traditional) along with some foundational knowledge in drawing(read: not a complete newbie).
It’s a time-sensitive course so you get new lessons on a weekly basis just like a real classroom. Except you get everything online so you can work in your PJs.
The goal of this course is to help you accurately describe figures with pronounced attention on form, perspective, anatomy, and pretty much every other fundamental skill. This is not easy and it’ll require a good amount of attention&emdash;I’d say minimum 15-20 hours/week.
But with this classroom-style course you also get personal critiques from the instructor along with Q&A sessions with other classmates. This means you’ll get a weekly Q&A session video plus individual critique videos from the instructor.
CGMA does online schooling right. There’s a reason so many people trust their courses. Yes they’re difficult and yes they require a lot of practice time, but they will help you improve.
The courses in Schoolism vary wildly across many different subjects. But there’s one thing all Schoolism videos are known for: quality.
In the Gesture Drawing course taught by Alex Woo you’ll learn all about gestures, how they apply to modern animation/concept art, and how you can use your gesture practice to improve your life drawing in the figure room.
Alex breaks his course into 8 lectures spanning a total of 3 months with new content each week. You’ll study pretty much everything about gesture drawing over these lessons.
Examples include mastering silhouettes, creating strong shapes in figures, and how to pull emotions from a pose to look beyond simple anatomy.
The little green iguana(chameleon?) is a logo that all artists should recognize. Schoolism stands for top quality instruction which you’ll see in every video from Alex’s figure series.
Just note that Schoolism’s pricing works on a monthly subscription where you pay monthly for access to one course. This is different from DrawingFORCE where a monthly account grants you access to the entire library.
I personally think it’s worth the Schoolism price, but only for certain courses. This being one.
They also have yearly subscriptions and a pricey critiqued live class offering personal video chats with Alex himself. The critique sessions are awesome if you can afford them & if you can find an opening(classes fill up fast!)
Take a peek at the main course page to get more details on the course materials and the pricing. If you’ve never used Schoolism before then you’ll be fine with just a monthly subscription as a test run.
Earlier in this post I lauded the Proko figure course. And really it’s incredible.
But before Stan ever created the Proko videos he studied at The Watts Atelier in Encinitas, CA. The teachings from Watts heavily influenced Stan’s style in his videos. Although he certainly adds his own personality too and creates videos that stand in a league of their own.
Watts is a physical school but they also have online courses which are very different from Proko’s videos. With the Watts videos you pay monthly for access to a full course like their drawing series.
I find the Watts teaching style to be a little dry compared to Proko. But that may be just what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately these courses are not sold separately. So you basically have to do the monthly signup for access to any of them.
But there’s a lot of videos to choose from including weekly critiques on your work and even personal remote mentoring with Watts instructors. Take a look at the course list page to see what’s available and to get a feel for general pricing.
Personally I think absolute beginners will benefit the most from Pencil King’s Bootcamp along with the Proko figure series. Both courses only charge one-time fees and you get them for life. Plus they’re very accessible to novices and semi-skilled artists alike.
Now if you want a bigger challenge along with professional critiques from instructors then the other classes I listed are probably better. The cheapest route for critiques is Mike Mattesi’s DrawingFORCE offering monthly critiques with every premium subscription.
Really you can’t go wrong with any of these online figure classes.
Just try to find one that interests you the most and give it a shot. You can always try something else down the road and there’s plenty here to keep you busy practicing figure drawing anywhere, anytime.