Being a good animator or artist starts with perfecting one’s drawing of human anatomy. The trick is to utilize the perfect reference for your work. Often this entails attending a life drawing class and spending months and months learning anatomy and practicing drawing from a live model.
However, this is often impractical or costly. Artists have always used a substitute for live human models called ‘mannequins’. These ingenious figurines are articulated to be poseable in a variety of different directions.
Your ability to create can be greatly assisted by using the best poseable artist mannequin. An ideal mannequin is poseable and able to be clipped into a supporting stand so that extreme action poses can be sketched from any angle OR a mannequin that is ultra realistic in anatomy and musculature.
My number one recommendation is the Bandai Body Kun male or female mannequin, however there are several others that may suits your needs as well.
If You Are Short on Time, Here Is My Short List of the 3 Best Poseable Artist Mannequins:
- Bandai – Figurine S.H.Figuarts – Body Kun (male) DX Set Grey Color Version <<Best Quality For Professional Use
- Phicen 1/6 Scale Super Flexible Male Seamless Light Skin Body PL2016-M33 <<Most Life-Like
- Abbony Duo Body kun -male or female <<Best Budget Mannequin for Budget Price
17 of the Best Poseable Artist Mannequins Reviews
Traditionally, artists used wooden mannequins to draw realistic anatomical human figures. However, since these figures didn’t have fingers and many other important physical features, modern manufacturers started designing high quality mannequins at very reasonable prices.
Today’s artist mannequins are capable of exhibiting quite lifelike emotions and actions!
We have researched and compiled 17 of the best poseable artist mannequin products for you to choose from. Also, if you’re having a hard time choosing just one, you can also refer to our buyer’s guide to better understand how to distinguish the best poseable artist mannequins from the rest in quality, uses, price-point and in versatility.
1. Bandai – Figurine S.H.Figuarts – Body Kun (male) DX Set Grey Color Version <<Best for professional use
The same figure as the Bandai black version below, this one has more accessories and interchangeable hands for superior versatility. The Bandai brand is renowned for quality artist poseable figurines. The figures are small, around 5.5 inches, yet they are very well made. Of course, the price reflects the superior quality.
The small size is a surprisingly great idea though, because they are perfect for posing and taking photos with your phone! You can upload them into your computer for quick tracing of the body as a big time saver for digital artists. The huge set of interchangeable hands and accessories make this set stellar for action poses.
- Very highly rated by owners
- Very good quality of construction
- Available in male and female
- 17 interchangeable hands!
- Pose holding base
- Lots of accessories
- 30 articulated joints
Our rating: 99%
This solid matte black version of the Bandai model comes in female and also grey color. The figure is approximately 5.5 inches tall, small enough for portability and using your phone for reference pictures taking. The joints are firm enough to hold their poses well.
- Very highly rated by owners
- Very good quality of construction
- Four interchangeable hands
- Each figure bears the official Bluefin Distribution Logo
- 30 points of articulation
Our Rating: 98%
3. Phicen 1/6 Scale Super Flexible Male Muscular Seamless Light Skin Body PL2016-M33 -Most Realistic
This mannequin by Phicen does NOT include the head sculpt, but the male body is muscular and has a realistic skin texture. Even though the hand is not as flexible as wooden hand mannequins, you will find that every other part of this muscular figure can be bent according to your requirements. Seamless silicone body with a metal skeleton. Highly rated by professional artists for quality of construction and versatility. Coming in at 12 inches tall, this mannequin can use exchangeable heads as long as they are 1/6 scale.
- Fairly realistic
- Approx 12 -13 inches tall
- Compatible for other 1:6 action figures
- This product also comes with accurate depictions of genitals
- Comes with interchangeable shorts and clothing accessories
- 3 pairs of interchangeable hands
- Heads sold separately
Our Rating: 97%
Similar to the PL 2016-M33, this model by the same company is more muscular and darker skin toned.
- Highly rated by owners
- Approx 12-13 inches tall
- Nicely articulated
- Body-builder type musculature
- Seamless skin tones
- Head sold separately (make sure you get the one to match the same skintone!)
Our rating: 97%
Coming in at a high price point, the Toa brand mannequin is very articulated and poseable. The modern look is not intended for muscular anatomical accuracy, rather for sci-fi and animated action reference as it alludes to body armor or android human hybrid features. Taller than most action poseable mannequins.
- Good for combat poses
- 12-13 inches tall
- Very good articulation
- Stiff joints for secure pose holding
- One extra set of hands included
- Only comes with standard open hands or closed fist
- Feet turn in and out
- Shoulders slouch forward and backward
- Faceplate is removable to reveal robot features
Our Rating: 96%
6. Abbony Duo Male or Female Action Figure <<Best Budget Action Figure
This poseable mannequin is made of PVC and is 6 inches tall. The set includes one figure, a holding stand, accessories (a gun, a laptop etc.) and a set of interchangeable hands. Ideal for animation and comic art, these figures are versatile and easy on the budget. The female figure has disproportionate breasts and head. The male figure is more accurate. While not extraordinarily durable, the variety of human-like poses is amazing. We have this set in our own home studio and much prefer this over the wooden awkward traditional mannequins. An added bonus is how fun it is to pose and leave out as a studio decoration!
- Good articulation
- Great scale size for phone photo reference taking
- rubbery feel plastic
- Some exaggerated anatomy
- Best for comic action sketching and anime
- Comes with pose holding armature base for mid-air posing
- Available as a set of male and female plus the base
- Great price
- Small enough to place in a shadow box for reference lighting
Our rating: 95%
Quite like the Body Kun (Male), this model of a young woman is part of a set of two male and female mannequins. This particular model, on its own, can be made to form a wide range of poses thanks to its strategically placed joints. Also, the body of the female mannequin has structured lines to depict muscle tones and even traces of undergarments if they are required for your art projects. Very well made, this brand carries the official Bluefin Distribution Logo.
- Can form more poses than traditional wooden models
- Grey color
- 30 articulated joints
- 17 interchangeable hands
- Best for anime female anatomy exaggerated depictions
- Is part of a set of two males and female models
- Additional muscle and undergarment lines on the figure can be helpful for artists
A more shapely version of the Tamashii Nations’ Bandai Woman, this model is proportioned more along the lines of a young teen or child (with big breasts??!) So, yeah, more intended for poses for manga, comic book or cartoon character sketches. Additionally, the PVC materials allow artists a lot more flexibility and durability as opposed to their wooden counterparts. Priced for budget, this product will be more fragile than its Tamashii competitor.
- PVC makes the model more flexible
- Approx 5.5 inches
- Budget price
- Sold with additional parts, including hands, gadgets and weapons
This really small female figure has fairly adequate articulations for basic action poses. Manufactured by the highly reputable Figma company, this figure is well respected by professional action illustration artists. Not intended for maximum durability, this compact mannequin will outperform a clumsy wooden mannequin any day. For the price point, I am disappointed that there are not more articulations or interchangeable hands or accessories.
- Flesh colored
- Articulated Figma plastic stand included for mid-air poses
- Good ratings by owners
- Two sets of interchangeable hands included
- No exaggerated anatomy or scale
- Hard plastic body
- Approx 5 inches tall
Our rating: 93%
How could we leave out the traditional wooden mannequins so many artists used to master their expertise! This particular product is also from a very well known art supplies company. However, we were more impressed by the fact that each wooden limb was bent via joints to form a wide variety of poses.
Of course, this model will only be suitable for beginners since they are more used to ignoring muscles and simple sketches.
- Extremely affordable
- Available in many different sizes
- Highly rated by owners
- Joints help artists bend the torso, elbows, wrists, thighs, knees, shoulders and head
These action figures by Lilij are small, at five inches and fairly fragile built of lesser quality materials than our above recommendations. However, if you only need them for occasional use, and budget is your number one priority, this might be a good set for you.
- Mixed reviews by purchasers
- Small delicate figures, tend to be fragile
- Neutral grey color
- No exaggerated anatomy or scale
- Three sets of hands, two sets of feet
Our rating: 87%
Even though the HSOMiD 12” Wooden Manikin has pretty much the same features as the previous product, it is currently one of the top selling mannequins on Amazon. It also features lifelike joint placements in a wooden figurine, without muscular elements. Also, the wooden base of this unit can also allow artists to make mid-air poses without any difficulty.
- Top selling product on Amazon
- Wooden base helps create mid-air poses easily
Our Rating: 86%
Next up, we have yet another traditional-looking wooden mannequin that can be used for sketching and drawing. However, the main difference between this model and the previous one is that this one has a wooden base so artists can also pose models to be mid-air or running/jogging. Personally, I find wooden mannequins to be really limited in usefulness. They are difficult to pose, do not articulate well enough to be versatile and their joints are nowhere near as flexible as human capabilities. Still, they are a time-honored tool and budget-friendly….and yes, I own a couple of them!
Based on the testimonials of this product, previous users have found it very helpful in making cartoons, comic book characters or while drawing anime.
- Very affordable
- Good for drawing humanoid characters in a family group setting
- Removable support frames
- Budget price
Our Rating: 85%
Choose between a set of two male or female figurines or even have one of each for the same price. The budget price of these figures doesn’t mean that they are any less poseable. Budget priced wood mannequins may experience loose joints that connect to the torso as they experience high use.
- Each model stands 12 inches tall
- Flexible joints are perfect for children or beginners
- Made from very durable hardwood
As a piano player and artist I can tell you that any jointed wood mannequin will be woefully limited in its versatility. I find them to be frustrating, however, for the budget price point, it will have some usefulness. This version by Alikeke is one of the best in the genre.
- Budget friendly
- Will stand up by itself
- Durable hardwood
Our rating: 84%
Made from a new compound called thermoplastic elastomer, the surface finish on these mannequins are uber realistic and fairly low odor. Designed to be a model for footwear and jewelry, these feet are not articulated for much variation in poses.
- 9 inch foot length
- Somewhat greasy feel
- Two feet pair in each package
Our rating: 83%
A spookily realist female hand with a silica gel ‘skin’ finish is flexible and poseable and created to model jewelry. It is available with or without manicured nails. Rather than articulated joints, the poses are held by internal armature wire, so good knowledge of how hand anatomy works is necessary for realistic posing.
- Very soft and squishy
- Will not stand up by itself
- Strong chemical odor when new
- Not articulated joints, so you’ll have to bend it carefully with proper anatomical knowledge of how the joints should work
- Approximately 12 inches in length
Our rating: 82%
Buying Debates: Buying the Best Poseable Artist Mannequin
Types of Poseable Mannequins
Realistic mannequins are among the most popular choices for modern artists simply because of their lifelike appearance and features. Some of these models are manufactured with flesh tones and musculature. They are somewhat limited in poseability and are designed for drawing muscles more than action poses. Because of their extreme detail, they are larger in size and are heavy. Some are made of a silica gel ‘skin’ and are not intended to stand on their own without a display prop.
Larger realistic mannequins are increasingly becoming popular because of their realistic body sizes. These models are not only very picturesque but are also sold in different weight categories that range from skinny to athletic and also include overweight versions.
Maximum articulation Style
These models are engineered to have their joint flexibility as close to human as possible. Because of the rigidity of their plastic components, some poses are impossible to attain. For example, drawing the thigh legs up to the chest would be impossible because the ‘skin’ of the plastic leg does not length the way a living person’s leg would when stretched to the chest. However, the articulation of 30 or more joints in a mannequin is amazing and super useful.
These mannequins are very lightweight and delicate. The higher the price, the better crafted they will be. The price differences reflect quality in construction and in materials used. And there sure is a huge difference in price!
There are styles intended for manga and cartoon exaggeration of human proportions and features and styles that represent more realistic human proportions.
Partial mannequins include models that are missing legs, arms or even a head. This style of mannequin is great for people who only have trouble sketching specific parts of the body. For this reason, they might opt to buy a standalone torso, foot or just a head. Not only do these types of mannequins save space but they are also sold at a cheaper price than complete models or realistic mannequins.
You’ll find quite a variety of materials used to construct modern artists mannequins today. The materials generally make a big difference in the durability of the model and also how realistic they are to real humans.
Traditionally, wooden mannequins with wood or metal joints were all that were available. Personally, I’ve found wooden mannequins to be more of a nostalgic benefit than a true use. Their range of motions are quite limited and I’ve noticed that where the joints connect to the torso, eventually the socket becomes loosened and the legs or arms won’t stay connected to the torso. That being said, however, wood is very durable and these mannequins last forever, unless your dog thinks they are a chew toy, or your kid decides to draw a face on the model because they look so incomplete.
I’m going to just include all varieties of plastic here, as I’m not a plastic expert. Some plastics are much more durable than others. The higher-priced mannequins will be constructed with much stronger and less brittle plastic than their budget-priced competitors and feel quite fragile in your hands. However, if you intend to use your mannequins infrequently, or you are just starting out in manga or comic creation, the budget-priced mannequins may suffice for a long time.
The higher-priced mannequins in this category are lightweight yet durable and come with up to 17 different pairs of hands which will hold a variety of objects or poses.
Typically less than 10 inches, they often are as small as 5 inches. They are designed for action poses and come with plastic stands to hold the figure mid-air. If you are drawing comics or action illustrations, these small models will be invaluable!
Their small size is also ideal for taking reference photos with your phone! For the versatility and size usefulness for today’s digital world, this alone is a huge selling point in my book.
If your budget allows, consider purchasing them in multiples so you can stage multi-figure battle scenes and actions with controlled lighting and viewing angles.
Some lifelike mannequins are made of a wire base with a silica base ‘skin’ finish. These mannequins are astonishingly real looking and are great for studying musculature and skin tones under a variety of lighting conditions. These models vary from hard to super soft but they are all fairly large and often need special propping up because they may not be able to stand on their own.
Many owners complain of the sometimes strong chemical odor.
Additional Supplies and Tutorials
Since some action figures and mannequins do not have strategically placed bases, artists can also choose to buy ‘stages’ that help create different poses. For instance, this clear stage from Tamashii Nations has strategically placed clips to hold joints in place and therefore help artists make a larger variety of poses. Ideally, this stage should be used with small humanoid mannequins and not partial figurines.
- Very affordable
- Can help artists create a larger variety of poses
- Compatible with most humanoid small models
Drawing manga and animation is a specialized skillset and this book is a great book to take your art into the next level of professionalism. With clear step by step stages of drawing, you’ll expand your understanding and wow your viewers.
An art school classic approach to realistic drawing of the human body in motion, this book will be a reference book for the rest of your life. Full of accuracy and 3D modeling with light and shadow, this is a highly rated instruction book.
Tutorial for drawing anatomy
Artists who attend art schools or courses collectively pay so they can hire a model for their projects. However, solo artists have to improvise and sometimes are stuck drawing a sketch by referring to a photo. The ultimate would be to have a flexible model at your disposal at any given time.
The best poseable artist mannequins are, therefore, a godsend for artists who can’t afford to enroll into art colleges or courses, or have the extra funds to hire a model. These drawing figures resemble human anatomical models and can be contoured to make different poses. Given the usefulness of modern cell phones to take reference photos and the ability to import digitally your figure into the digital world, my best recommendation is to spring for the Bandai Body Kun male or female mannequin.
We hope you found exactly what you came looking for and found our buyer’s guide very helpful!
What’s the Difference Between a Mannequin and a Manikin?
The main difference between the two is that a manikin is used to describe a life-sized anatomical model for educational purposes. Mannequins, on the other hand, are statues or dolls that are either used by clothing and apparel stores to display their products or by artists to sketch lifelike artworks.
How Can I Draw Sketches Using Poseable Artist Mannequins?
Different artists use different methods of going about their sketches. However, the most common method has the artist trace the essence of the model’s pose first and then fill out the broader details later. On the other hand, if you think your drawings are slightly out of proportion, a great place to start would be the backbone and hips and continually learning from your mistakes.
What Limitations Should I Look for in Poseable Models?
One of the most common limitations of poseable mannequin models is forearm and wrist movement. Some of the best poseable artist mannequins allow artists to twist the forearm in order to set the orientation of the wrist or hand. Another limitation is head tilt and pivot on the base of the skull join. Wooden mannequins will be very limited in versatility. Plastic models with at least 30 joints of articulation will give the most realistic poses. Silica based mannequins will look the most human and be of best use for low action poses.