As the title suggests there are many ways to paint the figure. However, over the years I have noticed a few major philosophies used in the beginning of a painting (no matter the subject). I would like to point out two of these differing approaches here.
1) Value and/or linear structure under painting.
2) Mass and color under painting.
1) Value and linear structure under painting: Notice how in these videos the artists start with a neutral to earth toned background. The figure is then mapped in with paint from general/dark structures and layered with a more light/specific details.
2) The next approach is to begin with mass and color instead of dark structures. The canvas is left with with these paintings (no color or gray ground). The darks are still applied, however they are in color and painted as general shapes or masses.
List of a few artists I have been looking at lately. Check them out please you won’t be disappointed.