The Human Form – Action Lines, Balance, Rhythm

Posted on 2012/02/08 at 00:32 by daarken 20 Comments

Painting the human form is one of the most challenging aspects of illustration. Before going into the basic proportions and how to render the form, Daarken talks about some important things to remember when drawing the figure. Action lines, balance, and rhythm are all elements that are important for creating interesting and believable figures.

20 Comments on "The Human Form – Action Lines, Balance, Rhythm"

  1. Jonathan · 2012/02/08 at 01:07 · Reply

    Thanks for the tut, man.
    I was actually stuck on this subject all of the past week.

  2. peza · 2012/02/08 at 03:37 · Reply

    That was just what i needed to learn. thnxs :)

  3. jorge oliveira · 2012/02/08 at 06:02 · Reply

    nice tutorial, thanks

  4. Johnny · 2012/02/08 at 09:10 · Reply

    Can I ask where you got that page where it discusses the line of action? Does it come from some book?

    • daarken
      daarken · 2012/02/08 at 15:19 · Reply

      I think it is from an animation book. I am not sure which one though. I just Googled action lines and found that.

    • xrg · 2012/02/09 at 07:38 · Reply

      It looks like it’s from Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair.

      • Aurore · 2012/02/18 at 11:15 · Reply

        Yes it is ! =) A very good book.

  5. NabuCoo · 2012/02/08 at 10:34 · Reply

    Great tutorial, thanks! You covered the topic which I’ve just been looking for all over the internet.

  6. Judy · 2012/02/08 at 12:32 · Reply

    wow I really need tutorial like this. I am taking anatomical drawing and these kind of tutorials help a lot. Thanks so much ;D

  7. David · 2012/02/08 at 18:16 · Reply

    Great tutorial man! I’m actually learning about this topic this week in my Figure Drawing class at the AAU and you helped put it in a very easy to follow way. I’ll be keeping all this in mind now for my gestures.

    • daarken
      daarken · 2012/02/18 at 13:25 · Reply

      Great! Be sure to go to the weekly figure drawing workshops! I improved the most from going to those workshops.

  8. Lulie · 2012/02/09 at 04:31 · Reply

    @Johnny: That’s from Advanced Animation by Preston Blair.

    It’s a nice book. Force by Michael D. Mattesi has some similar stuff but for more realistic drawing.

  9. corax · 2012/02/09 at 07:17 · Reply

    Thaks for the tutorial.
    This site: has a lot of reference images of figures: female, male, poses, dressed and naked.
    For me when it comes to dynamic bodies(and lines) a huge insparation is the work of Frank Frazetta. His figures look like real humans. I try to study his work, and I think is the next best thing to pictures of models or observing real people in motion.

  10. todd kowalski · 2012/02/09 at 09:48 · Reply

    Thanks a lot Daarken!!

  11. Trace007 · 2012/02/09 at 11:07 · Reply

    Great tutorial! I’ve never seen that guideline drawn from the pit of the neck. Does that only help with figures standing up or can it be used anytime?

    • daarken
      daarken · 2012/02/09 at 14:32 · Reply

      Well, any figure will need to have a center of gravity in order to keep from falling over, but of course it can be different if someone is jumping through the air or flying or something like that. It will probably be different too for people that are making a harsh turn, like speed skating, but I think they have other factors keeping them up like centripetal force.

      • Trace007 · 2012/02/09 at 18:30 · Reply

        Oh yeah, of course. I mean that if a character is leaning forward, do you think that the line would still be drawn from the neck, or perhaps the waist or something.

        • daarken
          daarken · 2012/02/09 at 21:01 · Reply

          Oh yeah, it changes so it won’t always be from the pit of the neck, but for standing poses that is a pretty good area to use.

  12. Dustin Burdick · 2012/02/09 at 16:17 · Reply

    Wow! This is really useful info. I wish I had been taught this before. This will help my art a lot!

  13. Sam · 2012/02/17 at 05:48 · Reply

    Amazing – thanks, mate.

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