How To Become Figure Drawing Model (With Steps and FAQs)

Have you ever been curious about becoming a life drawing model? Do you like the idea of bearing all to complete strangers?

It might seem like a totally foreign concept to a lot of people, but life drawing modelling is only getting more popular as people feel increasingly open and free in themselves. A person can become a life drawing model for a number of different reasons; a job, boost of confidence or interest in art even. If you see the appeal of modelling in the nude to a room full of artists, we can help you figure out the first steps to your dream here.

Life Drawing (or figure drawing), by definition, is a practice where a collective group of artists capture the ‘human form’ when viewing a live model. This means no photos but working from a real-life subject which is usually placed in the centre of the room surrounded by a dozen to 50 artists at any given time. The idea is that the model is to be in their ‘purest form’, meaning naked. The practice can be done using no bounds which means any creative medium can be used whether it be using pencil, charcoal or paint to capture the scene.

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Being a life drawing model has certain elements to it that not a lot of people realise. Posing for life drawing classes needs a lot of practice and training before you’re able to become a regular. Our bodies need to build up the strength to hold strenuous poses for extended time periods, meaning you can’t just dive straight into the action without putting your body under pressure.

Here are six steps to take to pursue a career as a figure drawing model:
  1. Be 18 years old. …
  2. Study creative poses. …
  3. Practice your poses. …
  4. Apply or audition for work. …
  5. Promote yourself. …
  6. Build a reputation.

What it’s really like to be a life drawing model!

How to become a figure drawing model

Here are six steps to take to pursue a career as a figure drawing model:

1. Be 18 years old

Given the intimate nature of being a figure drawing model and often posing nude, most art departments, clubs or studios require a model to be at least 18 years of age for legal reasons.

2. Study creative poses

As a figure drawing model, its important to study poses and how they can influence, assist or challenge an artist. Consider positions that are interesting for the artist or viewer and how you can maintain posture while holding them. Classic positions include variations of these poses:

If you want to include props into your poses, like a rope, sheet, chair or ball, consider ones that will enhance the pose rather than distract from it. Also examine how different poses create a sense of motion an artist can capture. Positions where you are asymmetrical or show muscle tension give an artist more definition and detail to draw.

3. Practice your poses

Practice is important, particularly for those new to art modeling, and you can do it in front of a mirror to see the motion, position and view. Practicing helps you determine which positions are more comfortable, easier to hold for long periods of time and are visually appealing.

Be sure to practice holding these poses for at least 10 minutes to determine your level of stamina with each one. The more experienced you become, the stronger you will be at holding a pose steady. Also remember, you can use the same pose and rotate it around to give artists another angle and view to draw.

4. Apply or audition for work

To gain work as a figure drawing model, you can apply or audition. Several online job sites have opportunities posted or you can connect with modeling agencies, art studios, colleges and universities to inquire about events and reoccurring jobs.

Art instructors may ask you to show examples of your poses during an audition, or ask you to hold a position for a certain length of time to determine your strength and ability. Most auditions pay for your time, though some are unpaid.

5. Promote yourself

Consider organizing a website for your portfolio of work so artists, studios, art instructors or other employers can locate you and offer jobs. Include elements like:

6. Build a reputation

Establishing yourself as a reliable, personable, relaxed and dedicated figure drawing model can help you attract more opportunities and build a reputation as someone artists and instructors want to work with. Many jobs come from recommendations, so earning a professional reputation can help you secure more work.

What is a figure drawing model?

A figure drawing model is a person who poses as the subject for artists to sketch, paint or sculpt. They act as a live model, posing for observation. Figure drawing models often pose nude or partially nude to help emerging artists capture the human form, draw anatomy, mark proper lines and practice their artistic abilities, often in a classroom setting. Sessions can last up to three hours, in a studio or drawing class led by an instructor or fellow students.

As a figure drawing model, you pose for extended periods of time and provide a range of gestures to highlight different parts of the body and show muscles, angles and natural shapes. You maintain a focused and thoughtful demeanor throughout the drawing session, recognizing the importance and value your contribution has for the artist capturing your image.

Salary of a model

Here are some answers to common questions about becoming a figure drawing model and what the job entails:

Do you need a formal education or other qualifications to model?

No, there are no educational qualifications, extensive skills or years of experience needed to become a figure drawing model. People of all ages, races, ethnicities, sizes, shapes and backgrounds pose as art models. Often it is a side job rather than a full-time career.

Having a background in arts is helpful, and often individuals who work in other creative industries have a deeper understanding of body expression and artistic movement, like dancers, actors or fellow visual artists, for example.

How does a figure drawing session work?

Sessions can last one to three hours long and usually begin with a series of short poses, ranging from 30 seconds to a few minutes as a warmup for artists to sketch figures quickly. You can use this time to generate new poses or take guidance from the teacher or instructor.

The session moves into more lengthy poses from there, some lasting 20-30 minutes each. During this time, an artist captures as many details as possible, spending more time per drawing than during the warmup. Here is where your practice and experience matter, as you hold poses steady. In sessions without an instructor, you come up with variations of poses each time you change positions.

Do you have to be a certain size?

The field of figure drawing modeling encourages and welcomes all body sizes and shapes—diversity gives an artist more practice, variation and representation of everyday life. Since life drawing is about capturing the human figure, it is important to have a variety of shapes, sizes and features like curved bodies, lined faces, scars and tattoos.

The most important element of being a figure drawing model is having confidence, being comfortable posing nude or partially nude and understanding your body is the subject of artwork.

Are there protocols during figure drawing sessions?

Yes, many live model drawing sessions have specific rules and customs to protect a professional setting, including:

What if holding a pose is difficult?

Most seasoned figure drawing models gain strength and stamina for holding poses the more they do it, and maintaining a pose for at least 20 minutes is common. If a position is uncomfortable or difficult to hold, inform the instructor and ask for a break. Acknowledging the situation is more respectful than struggling to maintain a pose.

What skills do you need?

Figure drawing models who do well in the industry posses several relevant skills, including:


How can I become a model for drawing?

An art model must usually fulfill a few qualifications before they can begin posing for art students or professional artists, including:
  1. Complete a high school diploma or equivalent. …
  2. Audition. …
  3. Be able to hold poses for 20 seconds to 25 minutes at a time. …
  4. Build a portfolio of work. …
  5. Get letters of recommendation.

How much do artist models get paid?

Art Models are often employed by art classes, an informal group of artists, or privately by professional artists. The pay for art models varies, but they make an average of $48,335 annually and about $20 per hour.

How do you start a figure drawing?

Life modelling may sound like a daunting prospect, but it can be a fantastic way to make money. Yes, it can be nerve wracking and yes, the thought of being naked in front of a whole bunch of people can be terrifying, but for many people being a life model can be a pretty lucrative gig, or even a part time career!

Do life drawing models earn?

Life modelling may sound like a daunting prospect, but it can be a fantastic way to make money. Yes, it can be nerve wracking and yes, the thought of being naked in front of a whole bunch of people can be terrifying, but for many people being a life model can be a pretty lucrative gig, or even a part time career!

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