Over the past few decades, art has transformed at such a breakneck pace that it can be hard to keep up. Digital tablets, 3D rendering, and even artificial intelligence have defined the new era.
Yet one thing that hasn’t changed is the mannequin. As a portrait artist of over twenty-five years, the number one tip I tell new artists is to pick a quality mannequin and keep practicing with it.
Whether you’re a student or a professional artist, disciplined knowledge of human proportion is a must. After all, you’ve got to know the rules before you can break them, right?
Best Drawing Mannequins:
1. Alvin Wooden Human Mannequin
Yes, it was cheap. Yes, it’s a bit shapeless. But in a pinch, the classically designed Alvin mannequin works just as well as any high-end product. Constructed with polished hardwood and fully articulated joints, the Alvin has been a staple in art classrooms for decades.
It may just be nostalgia, but for all its lack of fluff, the Alvin still pops in my mind as one of the best art mannequins out there. As long as you’re careful with the joints, it could last you well over a decade — I still have my original one from middle school.
The one unavoidable flaw with the Alvin is that it has some trouble standing on its own. Depending on the weighting of the pose, this 12” mannequin could feature a frustrating wobble.
- Stands 12” tall for the most convenient proportion measurements
- Fully articulated joints allow for a wide range of natural motion
- Cost-effective option
- May lack stability depending on the pose
- Wood may splinter over time
2. Color-LiLiJ Drawing Figures: Man & Woman Set
Available in one matte gray shade, the Color-LiliJ mannequin set features two fully modeled female and male figures for extremely easy proportioning.
Meant for more advanced artists who are just foraying into more specific features, this inexpensive set will serve you well with articulated joint movement and an easy balance system.
Customers appreciate that the Color-LiLiJ allows them to study human musculature. Using a single light source, you can study the way that shadow actually hits the human body to your heart’s content.
That said, some complain the set is a little fragile. It’s not too uncommon for limbs to pop off if you’re not careful. Even so, it’s hard to beat the price of this flesh-modeled two-figure set.
- Features detailed musculature, articulated joints, and facial features for advanced artists
- Comes with both a man and woman figure for studying human proportion
- A great option for studying shadow and light values
- Some complain the figures are somewhat fragile
3. Bandai Male Body Figurine
If you truly want to create dynamic drawings, the possible drawing figurine Bandai has got you covered. By replicating the look and feel of anime design, the extremely flexible Bandai male figurine makes it easy to recreate complex poses.
All in all, the figure features over thirty independently articulated joints for the highest degree of specificity possible. The entire set also comes with seventeen interchangeable hands, mini books, a PC, a tablet, a gun, a sword, and a display base.
Customers appreciate the huge variety of poses they’re able to replicate, with others being thrown off by the body shape of the mannequin. If you’re looking to study musculature, a different choice may serve you well.
- Comes with many different hands shapes and accessories
- Mimics the style of Japanese anime for more fluid styles
- A huge degree of pose specificity provided through over thirty joints
- Doesn’t feature detailed musculature
4. HSOMiD Wooden MannequinView at Amazon
Constructed from hardwood, the long-lasting HSOMiD model is based on the classic art mannequin design. Similar to the Alvin model, the HSOMiD lacks features so that you can focus purely on proportion.
This posable drawing figure is suitable for a wide range of artists, yet it is of most value to animators or sketch artists prototyping initial ideas. Many prefer the HSOMiD over similar models because it is built with a sturdier, more balanced base.
- Great for sketching out well-proportioned rough drafts
- Flexible joints are strong enough to withstand repeated shifts
- Joints don’t bend completely for very tight positions
5. Fashionclubs 7″ Wooden Sectioned Hand Mannequin
Mannequins aren’t just for the full body, folks. Hand mannequins – or should I say, handequins – provide a convenient way for new artists to master one of the most frustrating aspects of the human figure.
Standing at just seven inches tall, the posable hand is proportioned well with fully flexible fingers that mimic natural human movement. The left and right hands are both constructed from long-lasting, durable hardwood for longevity.
Though these hands are convenient and durable, they are somewhat top-heavy. Weighted hand poses may cause the model to topple unless you set it against something.
- Fingers are proportioned for both female and male hand shapes
- Available in sizes from three inches to twelve inches tall
- Joints are fully articulated with hardwood-based ball bearings for durability
- Top heavy hands make it difficult to capture reclined poses
- Lacks flesh modeling
6. US Art Supply Mannequin
Available in sizes ranging from twelve to sixteen inches, the basic US art supply mannequin is sure to be convenient for virtually any artist.
No matter your skill or experience, this mannequin for sketching provides a great reference for rapid modeling. The figure comes on an adjustable stand with a heavy base, meaning that you can make your positions as weighty as possible without any instability.
Moreover, this particular mannequin is modeled off of the male body, with broader shoulders and thinner hips compared to the standard unisex model.
Customers warn that this model is at first very stiff, yet that it starts to loosen up after regular use.
- Comes in a wide range of sizes depending on your need
- Features more specific proportioning for capturing the male body
- The base is heavy-duty enough that the model remains stable
- Some complain that the leg joints are stiff
7. Yookat Wood Art Mannequin Hand
The Yookat art mannequin hand features sectioned, flexible fingers appropriate for drawing natural human hand poses. You can select between either a female or male hand, giving you to the opportunity to study anatomy differences even more precisely.
No matter what you choose, each hand is made of high-quality, splinter-free wood with extra hardware for any breakages. Each joint is connected accurately and finely sanded for easy motion.
Unlike other hand mannequins, the Yookat doesn’t suffer from too many balance issues. Satisfied buyers state that the slightly weighted base keeps the hand upright for even unbalanced poses.
- Comes with extra springs and screws for easy fixes
- Wood is finely smoothed for a safe, splinter-free finish
- Weighted wrist base keeps hand stable for most poses
- Thumb has a somewhat limited range of motion
8. 3dTotal Female Anatomy Figure
Standing just 10.5 inches tall, the 3dTotal reference mannequin lacks flexibility what it makes up for in anatomical specificity. With a half-skin, half-sinew design, this rigorously molded mannequin is meant for professional artists to develop keener insight into the female form.
I particularly recommend this figure to digital artists interested in 3D rendering. The statue is cast in gray resin with variations in surface texture that makes musculature, angle, and tissue differences easy to see.
Buyers should keep in mind that this female figure is somewhat on the smaller side, which can make it difficult to see all the fine details. Despite this drawback, most customers state that the mannequin is durable and worth the price.
- Provides both skin and muscle detailing
- Cast in gray resin that captures shadow and light well
- Slight changes in surface texture indicate directional flow of musculature
- Small size can make it difficult to examine the detail
9. OBEST Female Flexible Body Figure
Made from a super soft and flexible material, the Obest human drawing mannequin can be shifted in virtually any position while preserving accurate musculature.
The completely seamless body isn’t impeded by any obvious breaks for joints or bends. Aside from the interchangeable hands and feet, all of the moveable parts are self-contained within the spongy mannequin body.
The figure is so realistic that many use it for photography, cosplay, and exhibition. It’s especially recommended for both traditional and digital artists looking to develop a better sense of the female body.
- The hyperrealistic form is appropriate for photography in addition to drawing
- Stainless steel armature interior resists any breakages
- Hands and feet attachments are disjointed from the body
10. Armature Nine Ranger Mannequin
Interested in something a bit more bare-bones? The Armature ranger figure is a fantastic option for quick prototyping and nailing gestural artwork.
This handmade, fully 3D-printed product comes fully assembled on arrival. The wood composite material is connected using only ABS connectors, which are known for being very durable.
Like other 3D printed and molded pieces, this Armature is known for standing the test of time. The figure should hold up well to constant posing and use. Moreover, the magnetized neodymium base will help keep your armature upright no matter how unbalanced the pose is.
- The sturdy magnetized base keeps the figure upright for any pose
- Bare bones style makes the figure excellent for gestural pieces and prototyping
- Comes with twelve month generous warranty
- Some complain the peanut joint in the center of the torso gets loose after use
Tips on Choosing the Best Drawing Mannequins
Choosing the right mannequin is no trivial choice. Depending on the type of art you do and your experience level, the right mannequin for you may be different than any other artist’s proper pick.
Mannequins differ widely in quality, purpose, and durability. While new artists may be able to get away with formless and cheaply articulated mannequins, more experienced buyers may be a disservice by a cheap model.
Here, I’ll outline some of the most important facets to consider when opting for a possible figure.
Most traditional mannequins are made from smooth, splinter-free wood with joints secured by metal screws and springs. While these models are very durable, they often suffer from a limited range of motion.
As 3D printing has popularized, mannequins with fully internal joints or at least extremely precise joint articulation have become a reality. Mannequins made from resins or sturdy ABS plastics can capture an exceptional level of detail.
Articulated mannequins have moveable joints that allow you to position them in different poses. For most artists, the more articulated joints – the better. If your mannequin doesn’t move, half the benefit of even having one is lost.
In general, you should at least opt for a mannequin that features articulated joint movement around the hips, arms, knees, feet, and head. Many mannequins have over thirty articulated joints so you have the greatest degree of specificity over the model.
The Verdict: What’s the Best Drawing Mannequins?
Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with the Bandai Male Body Mannequin. Though it replicates the feel of anime, this Bandai body features accurately molded musculature and precise movement at the joints.
With over thirty articulated joints and seventeen interchangeable hands, it’s possible to achieve even the most precise poses.