Toolkit How To Draw Feet Properly


Leonardo da Vinci’s Very Own Foot Studies and Drawings | How To Draw Feet Step by Step | Foot Drawing References You Can Use For Practice

It’s also quite important to know how to draw feet properly. The foot doesn’t always come up in paintings or drawings that it’s often overlooked or put aside for another day in the journey of learning to draw the various parts of the human body. But imagine drawing everything perfectly and then ending up ruining the composition because of a weirdly drawn foot or feet. You’re probably thinking, most of the time it’s going to be shod in different kinds of footwear anyway. And you’re right, but think about the paintings where you see the beautifully painted and drawn feet. The delicate arches and curves are just wonderfully and masterfully depicted. And you can do that too! Just like any part of the human body, it can be simplified and deconstructed into simpler parts that fit together and form the seemingly complicated anatomical part.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Looking for something in particular? Jump ahead using the links below:

Foot Drawing and Studies by Leonardo da Vinci
How To Draw Feet Step by Step
Drawing The Foot From Side View – Inner & Outer
Full Front View Foot
Drawing The Foot From The Back – Flat and Lifted Foot
Practice Drawings – Various Views and Angles of the Foot
Foot Drawing References You Can Use For Practice

Let’s tackle drawing the foot from four different angles to help start you off. I’ll cover drawing the following views: from the side, the front, the back, and from the bottom. This will just teach you the basics of the structure of the feet. But I’m sure you’ve already observed that we all have feet that slightly differ from each other. Some people have flat feet, some have higher arches. And the length of the toes is so varied that you need to observe and adjust for each foot or feet you draw from life.

I tend to use my own body as it’s the most convenient and eternally available model for me to use. Here I am drawing my two feet on my B5 Artist’s Sketchbook. I love this sketchbook as it opens and lays flat easily and is quite lightweight. In fact, I have the B6 Artist’s Sketchbook, the smaller version in my bag all the time.

And once you’ve gotten the hang of drawing feet, you can start painting them next. Here’s my quick sketch of the feet from the back. I used just the Burnt Sienna color from the Allegro Palette of ZenART Supplies for a simple one color wash.

Feet sketched on the B5 Artist’s Sketchbook, then painted using Burnt Sienna from the Allegro Palette shown in the photo above. This palette is perfect for those who love to paint portraits, bright floral subjects, and dramatic sunrise and sunset skies. I used the #5 Round watercolor brush from the Turner Collection, also from ZenART Supplies.

Foot Drawing and Studies by Leonardo da Vinci

Let me just quickly share here images of Leonardo da Vinci’s foot drawings for some inspiration. I don’t draw feet in this much detail – ecorche – but these are just too informative and beautiful not to share. 

The image below shows the skeletal composition of our feet, da Vinci studied and drew them in great detail.

That was just the start of things. He also studied how the muscles and tendons are formed. This method of drawing the muscles of the body without the skin is called écorché. It’s a French word that literally means “flayed”. 

But don’t worry, we won’t be studying this method for learning how to draw the feet. Thankfully there are simpler ways to go about it which I will show you just shortly.

How To Draw Feet Step by Step

As mentioned earlier, we’ll be drawing feet from different angles. And we’ll start with the least complicated ones. First, the view from the side – both sides – from the outside and from the inside of the foot. This is how I was taught and learned back in school. I’ve always found this method to be simple enough and has worked for me through the years.

Drawing The Foot From Side View – Inner & Outer

Start out by drawing the first circle – the bigger one – for the ankle. Then the smaller one below it and slightly outward for the heel. Now add a wedge-shaped section in the height and general shape of the foot. You can choose to add the toes section at the tip now or leave it for later. Now that you have the rough shape of the foot that you broke down into simpler forms, you can easily make adjustments to the shapes before going into detail.

Using the final basic shapes that you’re happy with, add the curvatures and necessary details to turn this simplified wedge into a foot. Attach the wedge to the leg, add the gentle curves of the foot all around, and of course the toes! Foot shapes and sizes, as well as the toes vary from person to person. Some people are flat-footed and their arches are less pronounced or are hardly there. So draw according to what you see on your reference or model. 

Do the same process for the outer side view of the foot. But this time around the toes will be more visible. So pay careful attention to how the toes gently go from big to small starting from the big toe. The big toe is the only toe that points slightly upward – it’s also the only one with just one joint. All the other toes have two joints in them and point downward. Some people have second toes with the same length as the big toe, some have them longer than the big toe, and some have the big toe as the longest one. Just carefully observe each foot/feet you draw to discern which one it is.

Below I’ve added blue lines to show how that section of the foot curves from the top, to the sides, then down to the sole.

Full Front View Foot

The full on front view of a foot when drawn with just the most basic of lines will look odd since it’s fore-shortened. The actual length of the foot is not visible from this angle after all. So if it looks like a hoof, don’t despair, once you add shading and other extra lines it’ll start looking like a person’s foot. 

Below I just drew the circle for the ankle and no longer drew the one for the heel as it’s not visible at this angle. The wedge is tall and narrow at the base unlike the view from the side. I added a slanted line cutting across the circle for the ankles to show how the bump from the inner part of the foot is higher than the one on the outer side. That’s because they come from two different bones. The inside bump is from the tibia, and the outside bump is from the fibula.

I also added green lines to show how the foot is formed in that area. From this angle the toes gradually taper as it moves from the big toe to the pinky.

Get the basic shapes down first to help guide you and then slowly add the curves and other details of the foot.

Drawing The Foot From The Back – Flat and Lifted Foot

The full on back view of a foot that’s flat on the ground is another one that’s very fore-shortened. In the examples below, I added rendering to show how the right shadows will shape the form and turn it into a foot. 

For the foot flat on the ground: You only need to draw the circle for the ankle, for the heel, the narrow wedge, and the diagonal line running across the ankle. You have to add the Achilles tendon that connects to the heel bone when you start drawing the curves and filling in the details of the foot. Sometimes the big toe and the pinky can be seen slightly, again this depends on the angle and the type of foot.

For the lifted foot: You draw the heel circle overlapping the ankle circle, from this angle they overlap each other. By how much, depends on the height and curve of the lifted foot. Then add the wedge shape, the biggest part visible will be the flat bottom side since we are viewing the bottom and back of the foot now. And the inclined part is slightly visible on the side since the lifted foot is slightly turned outwards when mid-stride. Again you can opt to add the toes section now or later. The bottom of the foot is not flat, the front part near the toes are like two oval shapes, the arch is curved inwards, and the heel is a soft spherical hump. All these details can be shown through lines and shading.

If you want to learn more about the basics of sketching, drop by our Sketching Techniques For Beginners blog post. It covers the basic tools you need for both graphite and pen and ink sketching, step by step guidance on various sketching techniques, and a lot of useful exercises and tips to help you improve your sketching skills.

Practice Drawings – Various Views and Angles of the Foot

Learning how to draw feet may seem too detailed or tedious, but if you practice drawing them every day or as often as you can, it becomes a kind of a muscle memory. Practice really makes progress, there’s no better way to fully learn how to do it. So make use of your sketchbook and draw them as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be refined drawings, quick sketches in various angles and views is more than enough to keep your progress going and improving. 

Below you’ll see the foot sketches and studies that I did on my B5 Artist’s Sketchbook from ZenART Supplies. You can do several sketches on one page, or do a more detailed study of each angle or view and just draw one or two per page.

Also shown above (on the far right) is the B6 Artist’s Sketchbook from ZenART Supplies, it’s exactly the same as the B5 in all aspects except for the size difference. They both come with two cover design choices – a plain grey and a spotty grey one. The paper is ivory white and acid free with a thickness of 120 gsm. And best of all the cover is made of engineered leather making it very sturdy, yet still supple, lightweight, and water-repellent! 

Here’s a closer look at the foot drawings. Keep practicing so you can train your eye to see the subtle curves and nuances that make up a foot. 

Foot Drawing References You Can Use For Practice

It’s definitely much easier to practice if you have a reference or a model that you can study and base your drawings on. Here are three different ways that I myself use when I practice drawing the foot, or any other part of the human body for that matter.

Using photos of other people’s foot or feet

You can ask someone to pose for you or in my case ask them to pose for you so you can take photos of their poses and the parts you want to study and draw or paint.

Below I made sure to get snapshots of the foot poses that I wanted to make studies and drawings of specifically for this article. I’ve drawn over the photos the step by step simplification of the foot so you can even better visualize it.

Using Your Own Foot or Feet

Or you can simply start with your own feet first if you can’t find someone to pose for you at the moment. This also gives you a different set of challenges as the angles will be quite different as well, there’s only so much contortion and twisting that a normal body can do after all. Below are photos that I took of my own foot (top) and feet (bottom).

Using Feet Seen In Paintings by the Masters

And finally you can take inspiration from the masters and study the feet from their paintings or even sculptural works.

Here’s a cropped section of Italian painter Masaccio’s “Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden,” just focused on their feet to study them. 

And here’s Michelangelo’s “Libyan Sibyl”, one of the many beautiful fresco paintings he did on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This is another fantastic reference as the feet and toes are in very natural and dynamic forms. 

I hope that I was able to guide you on how to draw feet step by step by breaking them down into simpler and more basic shapes and forms. Take your time and just tackle it one foot at a time. Study how a foot changes depending on the angle and the slight differences across various people. If you keep practicing, it will get easier in no time. Knowing how a foot bends and twists will also help even when you draw feet that have footwear on.

We also have other drawing how-tos specifically on how to draw the face if you’re looking for something similar, just click on the links below to visit them:

How To Draw A Basic Portrait

How To Draw ¾ View Face – Step by Step

Both faces – basic portrait and ¾ view face – were drawn on our B5 Artist’s Sketchbook.
We’d love to hear back from you!

Which view of the foot did you find the easiest to draw? How about the most challenging one? What future content would you like to see from us? Let me know in the comments below! Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint! 

For our next one, we have something Christmas themed in store for you. Watch out for Watercolor Christmas Cards coming soon. Until then, have fun and keep practicing how to draw feet!


Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She’s a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.