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when I try to characters, people always tell me it looks very stiff. I don't know what's causing the stiffness and don't know how to fix it. Advice is appreciated
Here is one example:
Glucosamine? Seriously, gesture and learning flexed and supine positions for the muscles and lots more practice to get the weight of things right. Sometimes its the pose itself that isn't natural. All these things add up to closer and keener observation by you.
Oh, I always thought it was the linework.
Best way to move beyond "stiffness" in your drawing is to work large and work from life. Practicing gesture of course is important and it can also help to try broad media such as conte or charcoal as opposed to point/line tools like pencils and pens.
You should also do a pretty thorough survey of artists to observe and understand a looser, more natural style as opposed to a tight, stiff style.
Your character's not doing anything!
(Well, she is sitting bolt-upright and looking at a whip held in her outstretched hand).
Kind of like: "I have me a whip. And, I'm gonna sit here and look at it."
Maybe if the mutant iguana thing were to be rearing up in an unruly fashion while she was arching her back and drawing the whip back to lash it, you'd have some drama!
Sometimes when I draw my characters I try to overcompensate and make them too loose and that usually ends up about right.
Remember that even in serious drawings it helps to draw a line of action as a setup for your gesture.
And then God said, "Let us make man in our likeness and our image. Let us make him ridiculously hard to draw so that poor artists everywhere will have to spend 10,000+ hours failing repeatedly before they can begin to capture the form and likeness onto a two-dimensional surface." And there was man. And it was good. And artists everywhere lost their minds.
Looks to me like you're too "outside" this character. Think about weight, feelings, thoughts, to breathe life into your drawing. When you know the character from the inside out, it's easy to come up with meaningful actions which delineate the character for the viewer, which is far better than the "strike a generic pose" thing I fear you've got going right now. I agree with Kamber Parrk. What is the deal with that whip? Is that how she rides around? Doesn't her arm get tired?
Do you know how it feels riding an animal? Incidentally, I love the design of her mount, very inventive, as are the details of the woman, her costume and weapons. Time to go deeper.
I'm a big fan of what I call the "Kubert slouch". Joe Kubert can have a figure just standing, doing nothing, and there is so much life. Steve Lieber, artist, friend, and Kubert School alumnus, once explained to me this comes across because of Kubert's focus on weight, that whatever a moving living creature is doing , it's reacting to gravity, and that reaction can carry an emotional range from defiance to despair. So we start with consideration of how your character will react to gravity.
I admit I don't know firsthand what sitting atop a living mount is like. To cite my buddy Lieber, whom I haven't really spoken to in about 10 years, I remember him being all excited about going to a horse farm outside town to gather ref for some post-apocalyptic "cowboy n' mutants" series he was starting for Dark Horse. But he wasn't just going there to sketch. He was looking forward to sitting on a horse to better understand horse riders. I just mention it as an example of what you can do, probably what's best.
But I decided I wanted to tackle your concept about 2 hours ago, at 4am, and there's no way a city boy like me is going to scare up a real horse that time of night, even if I wanted to.
So I visualize. And what I picture for your character is--surprise--a slouch. But not of weariness after long days in the saddle. I want easy confidence, arrogance even. Shes' above. whoever she's confronting is below. Apologies if you'd wanted drama and conflict, like shes's just rearing up to respond to a situation.
So with no exterior ref to hand I start noodling up poses speaking to arrogance and confidence reacting to gravity astride a.. whatever it is.
When inventing figs I resort to a gestural style like this(first attachment)
Joe Kubert and John Buscema are my gods.
With a notion of a slouch I start with the s-curve you see running through the figure, corresponding to the dotted lines of action in Manlybrian's post.
I''m scribbling a lot like in the Buscema example with Prismacolor pencil, starting with orange then refining with progressively darker pencils. Note the elliptical cross-sections through the torso which convey the body's dimensionality.
Okay, I changed the arm. I cannot make sense of that pose holding the whip, so now she's holding some weapon or other which is resting on her mount. I tired to come up with something meaningful with a whip based on what little I know about them, such as the fact a whip wielder will start with a wide arc around her body so as to avoid whipping herself-- and I'm not just showing off here, when drawing something so specific it's a good idea to mentally review what you know about the subject--but the pose as presented is just not whip-centric for me.
As an after-thought I scrawled a head tilted back to see what a view of the woman looking down her nose at the unseen other might be like.
So I have a start. next is to get ref to check my gesture and anatomy, and fortunately my lovely wife Verna can be persuaded to sit a mock-up beast and strike a similar pose. She's really ideal for this. In fact Lieber once advised me thus:"Sit her down and photo the hell out of her, she's a total cartoon babe!"
I hope this helps, sorry if it offends. Wiser heads who take exception to anything I've written, please do so!
"Three's so little room for error."--Elwell
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The attachment Cory provided of Thor, that top very loose, no detail, type of figure is what you want to draw a lot more of. Without all the other details, you can quickly focus on just making interesting poses. Without all the time and effort of drawing those details, you can quickly see if an arm is in a good position, and if not, there isn't much to erase, or it takes very little time to just draw a new figure.
Grab some dvds of your favorite movies, and pause them and draw some actual poses of figures in motion. In many ways, quality animation is even better to learn from, because it's exaggerated and easier to see, and good animators are masters of effective story telling.
Get this Pete
Study these drawings and others like them
more help here under "drawing"
All the best.
Last edited by Charlie D; February 16th, 2012 at 02:58 PM.
Learning to see
"...the ideas are what matter most" Doug Chiang
thank you guys, I'm going to start working on more gesture drawings and read more until then
Might also want to look into how the body naturally shifts it's weight.
Look up the term "Contrapposto".
Also, and this might seem like an odd suggestion, but take a Sculpture class. Or at least study Scultpures of old masters. Note which ones appear stiff and which ones show movement or look more natural.
You probably need more of all these:
- Life drawing.
- Quick life drawing.
- An understanding of how the body is put together and how weight is distributed and/or moved.
- An understanding of rhythm and movement through line, shape and color.
- An understanding of the narrative you're trying to tell through your picture.
- An understanding of weight versus lift; what muscles are tense and which are at rest, which to emphasize and which to leave to gravity.
Yay for drawing as a mental sport!
You have to be involved in your picture. You can't just plonk a sword in a character's hand and expect something to happen. Everything matters and everything must be examined, studied, and felt.