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How to Show Movement in a Drawing

Learn how to show movement in a drawing from professional artist Kevin Kobasic in this illustration and drawing tips video from Howcast.


So now we're going to talk about how to show movement in drawings. Particularly for drawing comic book characters. Comic books really thrive on a sense of movement and a sense of dynamics. You're drawing static lines on a two dimensional plane. The two things that don't exist that you want to give the illusion of is roundness, three-dimensionality, and motion. Two things that do not exist on your paper, but you want to make it look like they exist.

So let's imagine we're drawing a character throwing a punch. Obviously that's never going to fly. That doesn't look like a punch at all. It just looks like a guy standing there. So you have to really be thinking about, not only what the arm is doing, you have to be thinking about what the entire body is doing. You really have to sort of imagine you're the character and really imagine how the whole body gets into that action.

The first thing I think of is just to really get a sense of the motion rather than trying to draw a finished character. I really imagine that the character is leaning into it. Throwing his weight on his forward foot.

I imagine his other arm is going to go back. Sort of like that.

You need to learn the structure of the body, but the more you draw that stuff comes second nature to you and you can just focus on the action. You can see what I really started with is just some very simple kind of flowing lines. A lot of times when I'm drawing a figure, I really think of the central flow of the action rather than thinking of the character as a collection of torso and arms and legs and head. I really think of each action as just a single line even. When I really started thinking about this pose, I really thought of a single line from this fist, straight through the arm, through the body, and down to the back foot. And that's really what's helping me create this pose.

Now I'm just throwing in the muscles where I know they are. That's a whole other can of worms.

Even the parts of the body that don't really change shape like the skull and the shape of the head itself, I'm still going to emphasize those lines that will sort of help me sell the feeling of that motion. Even though what the background is doing isn't part of the actual motion, it still should all just feel like it's part of the same flow.

You always want to be thinking about where the character's weight is. What foot are they putting their weight on? There's kind of a sense of muscular tension because that leg is doing the job of holding the whole figure up.

So if you look at these two side by side you can really see the obvious differences. Not only is this character's body much more activated, but every part of the body is really helping to sell that idea that he's moving forward relentlessly and the character's in motion. Even though it's a still frame, it still feels like a piece of animation. You get a sense of movement. You get a sense of action from it.

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