Day 17 // How to Draw Arms

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Today we get to flex our drawing muscles as we learn about arms! You might be a little worn out after drawing hands yesterday, so give your own arms a good stretch. As you do, observe the different ways they move! Arms are pretty simple and actually quite fun to draw. Learn basic arm proportions, and what elements to pay attention to in your arm observations. Plus, I have a pretty cool method for making the arms look like arms and not bent tubes. Watch the tutorial to learn how to draw arms!

Minimal Depiction

Reference Photos

Here are some arm reference photos, but go out and find more of your own! Sites like Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash are great for free-to-use stock photography and I use them frequently for reference photos.

Basic Elements

2 Cylinders:
upper arm & forearm

Tapered Shape

3 Joints:
shoulder, elbow, & wrist

Curved Lines


full range of movement

bends in one direction

up, down, side to side

can twist independently

Arm Curves: Basic Shapes


Using the steps in this video, draw a crazy ball of arms. Do the shirt sleeve version, then add curves with almonds and drumsticks. Make a Tosro shape and draw and arm attached to a body. Use what you learned in the fingers and hands tutorials to add a hand!

When you’ve done that, go find some reference photos of arms in various positions, and use the structure we’ve developed to analyze those references, Don’t forget to go back and correct anything that looks off, it’s a really great way to learn. 


(click to enlarge)

Keep researching, observing and learning! I’ve made a Pinterest board full of additional resources to help you learn more about drawing arms.

This lesson is a part of a month-long series that will get you you familiar with the basics of drawing humans, and help you develop your own people-drawing style. To learn more, check out the People Skills Intro, or continue on to the next lesson below.