The hour glass figure.
Body shapes. The Hourglass.

Drawing the hourglass figure


Our bodies vary so much that I am only going to give a few basic examples of how to portray them in a drawing. I will only be dealing with what I consider to be the four main female body shapes.

The Hourglass, The Pear, The Apple The Banana/rectangle/cylinder, all of which can be worked with and manipulated to produce your own finished figurative art portrayal of the female body.

The first body shape is the hourglass. This figure was most popular around the 1950s when the average women's waist measurements were estimated to be around 27 inches. Its name derived from, of course, the hourglass which was an instrument used for measuring time and was, and still is for a lot of men considered to be the most desirable and attractive shape for a woman.

Back in the late 1940's and early 1950's pinups such as Betty Brosmer, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell and Gina Lollobrigida were all said to have the perfect hourglass figure.

This meant that like the shape of the hourglass, their figures were noticeably narrower in the middle, meaning their waist measurement was a lot smaller than the hips and bust. These, in turn, had equal proportions to each other, thus creating the curvaceous hourglass silhouette, emphasising a curvier more desirable shape with broader hips and a larger more emphasised and shapely bust which can also be achieved using hourglass corsets and other carefully selected items of clothing.

Setting out the hourglass silhouette.

For the first step, I need to decide the proportions of my subject based on the information above.

  • The shoulders and the hips are the same width.
  • The waist is narrow creating the hourglass shape.
  • The bust is also the same width as the shoulders but appears more emphasized due to the narrowness of the waist.

The first thing to do is to sketch a basic stick person or wireframe figure, as explained in How to draw the female body for absolute beginners. using the information above.

The hourglass figure. How to draw-Female nudes. Manga

This will allow me to accurately judge my lines and ensure that both my hip and shoulder dimensions are almost symmetrical when I start to draw the basic outline of my hourglass figure, as shown in the example.

Hour_glass_dimentions_head_down To draw my basic outline I will start by drawing a basic oval shape for the head, then I will add the neck, curving my line down, as shown, to form the sides of the neck and continuing it out to the point marked for the shoulders and on slightly to form the very top of the arm where it joins the shoulder. You will notice that the shoulders are positioned at approximately 13rd of the way down in the 2 heads section.


Once I have done this on both sides of my figure I am ready to continue with the rest of the body.

Next from the point where the lower part of the arm meets the body i.e. the armpit.

This is the point where the bust line touches the outer vertical lines at both A and B, at the start of the 3 heads section, I will continue my body outline from this point making sure that I gently curve the lines in towards the waist just above the navel which is at the start of the 4 heads mark as shown, making sure that the curve looks natural and is not too acute. This will form the top half of my hourglass.

You will now be able to see your hourglass figure taking shape so the next step is to continue the line from the waist back out to the points marked for the outer lines at the hips, again within the 4 heads section as shown, and again using both the lines marked A and B as the widest point for the hips.
Hour_glass_dimentions_hips_down.Your hourglass figure is now really taking shape meaning that you now only need to begin to curve your line back in at the hips and continue it on down the thighs again making sure that your lines curve naturally down the leg to the knee, which is positioned just above the 7 heads mark, about 34 of the way down in the 6 heads section as shown. Make sure that you slightly exaggerate the knee as the lines around the knee will always be slightly more prominent because of the knee joint.

From the knee continue on down to the ankle at approximately the 8 heads mark and add the feet.

To form the inside of the legs you will need to start at the crotch area which is located on the centre line at the point just below the top of the 5 heads section as shown.

Curve your line in toward the knee to form the top of the leg, then, from the knee, curve it out slightly and down toward the foot at the 8 heads mark to form the ankle.


Now that you have your basic hourglass figure outline you are ready to add some features to start bringing her to life. If you are drawing Manga characters then you can also use the example above to set out your Manga characters body proportions.