Monday, October 6, 2008

Drawing the Female Figure with Jefferson Machamer

Here are some illustrations from a book called Drawing the Female Figure by Jefferson Machamer. He is particularly skilled at drawing comic proportions of the human body for comics and cartoons.

With easy step by step instructions for drawing the female figure he shows how to draw a figure without over reliance on the knowledge of anatomy and give excellent advice on the absolute must of comic figure drawing. The head must be positioned above the foot that bears the weight, the figure ought to be 8 heads tall, the ratio above and below the hips should be 4 to 5, when walking the arms should swing opposite of the legs, observe perspective and make them pretty a pretty model is funnier than one that is not, don't say "I can't draw", say "I can" and you will.

Jefferson Machamer was born in either 1901 or 1899. He began selling cartoons when he was a teenager. He made his way to New York city and published in the New York Tribune before joining the staff of Judge.

On this page he advises using a reducing glass to make the model more compact and easier to see the proportions and foreshortening.

Get a Reducing Glass at

He knew how important the figure was to his work. In this book, Laugh and draw with Jefferson Machamer, he writes, "I am stressing the pretty girl model on this and the following pages, because I know joust how important the pretty girl is in comicas. Fact is, I have sold hundreds more comics spotting a pretty girl than not! - For some reason a pretty girl is funnier than a homely one!"
Here he describes his approach to the figure, "In comic art, not too much knowledge of figure construction is needed. Too diligent study of anatomy will carry you beyond comics into illustration or fine art, and we are concerned only with comics, and enough of figure-drawing fundamentals to compel us to stay within the bounds of simplicity."

He was married to Pauline Moore, an actress who made 25 B-movies in the 30s and 40s. Two pictures of her as Eve Cairo in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island.

Some links:

Comicylopedia - Article on Jefferson Machamer.

Another Blog post, Hairy Green Eyeball, with samples of Machamer's work.

The Care and Feeding of Executives: and the General Theory of How to be OneThe Care and Feeding of Executives: and the General Theory of How to be One, another book illustrated by Machamer.

Related ebook Better Figure Drawing.

The Cartoonist's Workshop at

Cartoon Cool: How to Draw New Retro-Style Characters at

Cartoon Humor
examples of Jefferson Machamer's work at the Hairy Green Eyeball

More images at Vintage Sleaze.

1 comment:

  1. Well Done! Jim Linderman Vintage Sleaze the Blog


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