How Does One Draw More "Lively" Characters?

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How Does One Draw More "Lively" Characters?

Postby Officer 1BDI » Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:35 am

In my various experiments with fanart and drawing in general, I've come to realize something: among my many issues and faults, my biggest problem (for the moment) seems to be with drawing "stiff" figures.  My characters never seem as relaxed or emotive with their body language as I want them to, and I was wondering if there was a trick to making a figure more "lively," or if it's just something I have to play around with until I get the hang of it.

For example, here's a picture I was originally going to enter for the contest (I've since decided I'm going to draw something else altogether if I have the time).  Please ignore the fact that Fry's off-model, that I can't draw hands for beans, and all the other nuiances that are probably lurking in this picture.  :P 

Image
(...That's a pillow under her nightgown.  There was a story to go along with this picture, but... yeah.  There's a reason I'm not entering this.)

I feel like I'm not fully getting across the emotion I'm trying to portray here, and that much of that is because of the body language (or lack thereof).  Or maybe I'm just seeing things; perhaps this picture isn't the best example of what I'm trying to describe, but I had the sketch handy, and I thought an example would help.

Regardless, the stiffness of my drawings is something I've been struggling with for years now, and I'd like to try and conquer it sooner than later.  Any thoughts?  :-\
"I was God once."
"Yes, I saw. You were doing well until everyone died."
Bender and God, "Godfellas"
Morpheus306

Re: How Does One Draw More "Lively" Characters?

Postby Morpheus306 » Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:54 am

Judging from this one sketch I would have to agree that you're stuff is very stiff.  There are numerous other problems as well such as staging, composition, etc.  But I'll address the question at hand.  The most important part to drawing any character is to observe what real people do and how they use thier bodies to act out certains emotions.  Watching movies, etc. is a good start.  Watching the Simpsons is a good reference point because it's all about real life acting.  You wouldn't think it but homer moves more like a real human than you think.  Another important factor, in animation especially, is that no character should be standing straight up and down. No one in real life does it either, even army kids don't stand completely up and down, their backs are slightly arched. 
The one thing that will really bring your drawings to life is the 'line of action' or the imaginary line that dictates how the body will move.  You can also think of it as the back bone of a character.  This line should always be used in setting up a pose, as you can see in the pic I posted, I get a wide range of emotions with no faces using only their bodies.  When all else fails, get up and see how your body bends and shapes when trying to act out emotions.  Think to yourself, "how would I be if I just hit a dog with my bike?" or, 'What are different ways I can clap?" 
I think the one thing I see the most with people learning to draw is they jump into the details too quickly.  They want to get the facial expression and details of the face before establishing the body.  I suggest doing what I have done and fill up some pages of thumbnail sketches portraying as many expressions as possible.  The body language should always come first, the face just backs it up. 
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Re: How Does One Draw More "Lively" Characters?

Postby Officer 1BDI » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:19 am

I think the one thing I see the most with people learning to draw is they jump into the details too quickly.  They want to get the facial expression and details of the face before establishing the body.


That makes a lot of sense, and I know I fall into that mindset more than occasionally.  I become so focused on perfecting the character's face (to the best of my ability) that I usually gloss over everything below the neck.  That's something I'll have to avoid in the future.

I'm taking all of your other points into account, and I really, really appreciate the visual reference.  Thank you.  :)
"I was God once."
"Yes, I saw. You were doing well until everyone died."
Bender and God, "Godfellas"

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