Its actually best to study anatomy. Its a way to under stand the body differently, but in a scientific and accurate way. Really notice how the feet and arms actuall bend forward a bit while standing.
In a way, from those anatomical studies, you can come up with your own shapes and stuff. Sometimes a good shape is a comparison from real life such as the toes are like cars, the head and skull are eggs, the rib cage is an egg, the neck is a coat hanger, etc. The slope of the toe is a wind shield, the nail is the hood, and the fat on the sides are like fender. The car analogy is something that figure modeling taught me.
Its the same way with hands, only they are longer and not stubby.
Sometimes some drawing techniques are to draw boxes. It helps alot so you see all the perspective of the body as like some structural building and see that its a 3D form.
Or you can start with the contraposto lines which every one is talking about the lines for the torso, chest or neck.
Its also important to be loose, or do alot of gesture drawings, or basically getting the directions of the pose. Try posemaniacs, pixellovely, and quickpose, and do the timer. Its to get the basic form, not to be a complete picture.
I liked the car analogy and you are right, I'm currently taking those into suggestion with my next drawing. And I do use posemaniacs already but I'll give those other sites a try as well. Thank you for the advice/tips. ^^
Not only should you work with gesture drawings/draw anatomy from observation, you should also consider expression. Watch movies and study the way that people communicate to each other by the way they're standing or the way they're sitting.
Pull up Posemaniacs and use their 30-second drawing tool. Set it to something like 60 seconds and just draw gestures over and over again. You'll begin building a small library of poses and images in your head, and you'll be learning by doing - the best way! Watch some movies and take some screenshots of dynamic body language. Examine how people slump over when they're tired or bored, or how fluid their body is when they run. Considering body language helps "wake up" your drawings of people and keeps them from looking dull or lifeless. **Practice gestures first and get comfortable with those before you look up body language; little easier that way.
Gesture drawings become important in more complicated poses. In this instance, you may have to start out with an arm, a leg, or the spine before the head. Boxes and circles have a limitation in that they cannot lay out the directions of the limbs, spinal contours, and the distribution of weight as well as lines and curves.
The hands and the feet are perhaps the most complicated to learn how to draw.
Yeah I know. I tried starting a drawing with the shoulder line but it felt to odd. I'm just too used to starting out with the head shape first. :/ And oh man, do I know how hard hands are to draw. They've plagued me forever...
Even when drawing a more complicated pose, I think the head (the length of the head, to be more specific) is still useful as a 'measuring stick' to set relative proportions. Other 'measuring sticks' include the length of the upper arm, which roughly corresponds to the length between the shoulder and the waist. If foreshortening is involved, then this needs to be compensated for.
Spending a few semester in figure drawing classes is the most straightforward means of learning how to draw people using near-realistic proportions. Books (left-brain activity) on figure drawing do not make much sense until you have had first-hand experience (right-brain activity) in some figure drawing.