How to Work With Models For Figure Painting

By Marion Boddy-Evans

Here’s How:

  1. Be clear about your expectations. Do you want a nude pose or the model to dress up? Will it be a series of short poses or a long pose?
  2. Don’t always work from the same angle, move around the model considering different viewpoints and angles of light.
  3. Poses for quick, gesture drawings can be dramatic or awkward because they don’t need to be held for long. But even a five-minute pose needs to be easier than a two-minute one.
  4. For a long pose, unless you’ve something specific in mind, ask the model to suggest what they think will be comfortable.
  5. Use chalk or masking tape to mark key points around the model, such as feet, elbows, and hips, before they take a break. This will make it easier to re-establish the pose.
  6. Be aware of the model’s physical needs. Have a heater to hand if it’s cold, or a fan if it’s hot. Ask them if there are any drafts. Have clean, comfortable cushions and drapes for them to sit on.
  7. Put a notice on the studio door to ensure privacy and warn off unsuspecting visitors.
  8. Modelling is both physically challenging and boring, especially long poses. Be sure to let your model know that you appreciate what they do.


  1. Rather than clock watching or running the risk that you’re so involved in your work you forget to give the model a break, set a kitchen timer.
  2. How often you break a long pose will depend on your model, but most will want a break every 20 or 39 minutes.





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