মুখ্য Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

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a great find and read. the author really addresses finding and explaining the energy and rhythm of a models pose.

easy to read and understand. his approach of handling the model and the relationship between model and artist is refreshing and also an eye opener...for myself at least.

also there is a website where he has video explaining more in depth the chapters in the book. check it out.[...]
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Dynamic Life Drawing for

Michael D. Mattesi
Visit www.enterartacad.com to view
Entertainment Art Academy
with its classes and products
on the cutting edge of education
for entertainment.
Visit www.drawingforce.com to view
online tutorials about Force.







Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier

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Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier
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Copyright © 2006, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mattesi, Michael D.
Force : the key to capturing life through drawing / Michael D. Mattesi. — 2nd ed.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-240-80845-1 (pbk. : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 0-240-80845-2 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Figure drawing — Technique. 2. Force and energy — Miscellanea. I. Title
NC765.M377 2006
741.018 — dc22
200601876; 7
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 13: 978-0-240-80845-1
ISBN 10: 0-240-80845-2
For information on all Focal Press publications
visit our website at www.books.elsevier.com
06 07 08 09 10 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America

I dedicate this book to my two wonderful children, Makenna and Marin.
“Nothing makes me happier than sharing this life with you.”

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This book will enlighten you on how to see and explore the power of force through drawing. You will
draw with thought and opinions that will strengthen your originality and decisiveness. This will also
develop your awareness of the stories our bodies communicate, through the actions we perform.
The theory of force allows you to see in more abstract terms. Because of this, you can apply it to an
unlimited amount of applications. It can be used for drawing, painting, sculpting, animation,
architecture, graphic design, and all other disciplines of art. It can create a new awareness in your
day-to-day life. How are forces operating when you stand, walk, or drive? This book is here for you
to understand how to communicate force through drawing, and that is very exciting!
“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”
Paul Klee

Students who open themselves up to learning are the ones that move ahead quickly. Take what you
understand and agree with and use it to further yourself. Some students will actually argue their
habits or limitations.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”
Richard Bach

These students move nowhere in their minds for sometimes a month, a semester, or even a whole
year. Don’t waste your time with bad habits! Seek to understand! If you keep doing what you know
now, you will keep getting the same results.
Before starting on the journey ahead, I want to give you some of my key concepts.

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Key Concepts
In my last few years of educating, I have had the epiphany of focusing on humanity in drawing.
I have taught and lectured in many schools around the world and the one element I see missing
is humanity. Almost all art instruction with a figure model is used to learn how to draw instead of
experiencing the richness of humanity. Once you have a bigger purpose to drawing than learning
how to draw, you will learn faster. You will be more eager to understand, force, perspective,
anatomy, and everything else that goes into becoming a great draftsman!
Where does all of this start? It starts with you and your humanity. Become hyper sensitive and
present, live in the moment. When you drive, feel the speed of the car, the weight of your body in the
seat, inertia and the tension in the steering wheel. What happens to your body’s weight when you go
into a curve at fifty miles an hour? Don’t talk on the phone, eat or listen to the radio while driving.
Drive your car. When you eat or drink, feel the food in your mouth, taste it, experience your body
swallowing the food and the sensations that occur while it travels down your throat into your
When drawing the model, stay present and in utter awe! When he or she takes the stand, it is as if
they are a god or goddess presented to us. They represent you and the rest of humanity. Become
amazed and stay open to this fantastic occurrence. Your experience with the model is your drawing.
Therefore, the more rich, incredible, and dramatic your experience, the more rich, incredible, and
dramatic your drawing. You are the vehicle to this journey so if you are closed and fearful, so is your
work. Use the idea of having the richest and most stimulating experience drawing the model’s
humanity while using your very own as the purpose to drawing. All of the technique throughout the
rest of this book is to serve that higher purpose.
What is there to be in awe of? Look at the amount of effort the model gives you. A living,
breathing person is in front of you. Notice their lungs fill with oxygen and how they present you
with stress, tension and torque. Look at their muscles and bones perform these great moments. This
particular person chooses particular poses. Be sensitive to that. Are the poses poetic, athletic,
romantic, relaxed, masculine or feminine? What stories does your humanity find in their poses?
You must be sensitive to drama! There is the drama of the pose, the drama of force, the drama of
structure, the drama of depth, the drama of shape, and the drama of texture. As you can see,
there is plenty of drama and therefore plenty to be in awe of. All of the above is what I refer to as


Key Concepts


This illustration shows that the increase of opinion based on knowledge brings us closer to the truth
and further from dishonesty. You need to gain knowledge to comprehend what to have an opinion
about and to obtain the capacity to actualize the opinions you possess upon the page. In this way,
your opinion will bring you closer to the model’s reality. Every line should have an opinion.
Two ways of clarifying your opinions are through exaggeration and analogy. Making analogies helps
you form opinions. “His leg is like a column of strength; the forces are like a roller coaster.” I will
constantly use analogies throughout this book to make myself clearer to you. If you have something
to say, learn how to express it as best you can. Students tell me they are afraid to exaggerate
because it is not real. You have a much greater opportunity to capture reality through what you
conceive as an exaggeration of ideas than you do working on a dead representation of life via
copying. Copying leads to lying.
Push whatever it is the model gives you. Go after its essence. If a pose is about torque, then draw
and experience torque. If it is about relaxation, then make it clearly about relaxation. State clearly
what you have to say. I love loud drawings, not whispers.
“The work of art is the exaggeration of the idea.”
Andre’ Gide

Key Concepts

Glen Keane is one of today’s leading artists when it comes to exaggerating the clarity of a moment.
He is extraordinary at giving drawings heart. If something is powerful, you feel its power; if sad, you
feel its sadness. His drawings are always loud and opinionated. If you don’t know who he is, go see
his performances of the main characters in films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast,
Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and recently Treasure Planet, to name a few.

Lightheartedly, one of my first comments to my students is that they are all a bunch of liars. Initially
students draw what they think they see and not reality. Not to confuse this with opinion, they create
things in their minds that do not exist in the model or the pose the model is taking. Assuming is like
guessing. Use this book to help you gain a new awareness of reality. If I create a “force full” drawing,
it is because I am aware of the model’s forces. You must learn to see by stripping yourself of
assumption. I tell students constantly that all of the answers are right in front of them. Open yourself
up to the splendor of the life in front of you. There is no reason to lie.

You must be passionate and driven to learn and to be great. Love it, hate it, have an emotional
experience. Always push yourself to new levels and enjoy the trip. No one strives for mediocrity. Give
the drawing everything you’ve got in the limited amount of time you have with the model. This is the
fundamental force behind a student’s progression. How can you or an instructor critique your work if
it is not your full effort? The critique is then based on only a percent of your ability. You have to
believe that you can obtain the goals you are after. In terms of myself, everything I have achieved has
been because I knew clearly what I wanted, I intensely wanted it, and some part of me knew I could
get it.

You are probably wondering how fear would have anything to do with drawing, but it has everything
to do with it. Fear kills passion. Fear is the most detrimental attribute a student could have. The
greatest fear is the fear of failing which in this case is creating a “bad” drawing. Remember, if you
are drawing in order to capture the humanity of the model, you will become unconcerned about
your drawing. Be aware of your experience and just stay present with the model. There is no failing,
only results. Be courageous and push yourself to new heights. Besides, what is going to happen if
you make a “bad” decision? You will learn from it. The more results you make, the faster you will
reach your destination. It is not as if we are skydiving. You will always land safely, no matter how
great the risks you take. Consider yourself the ultimate stunt person.
Pay attention to your internal dialogue. It will reveal your fears.
“Were the diver to think on the jaws of the shark he would never lay hands on the precious pearl.”
Sa’di Gulistan



Key Concepts


The shape of a pyramid gives us an icon of hierarchy or an order of importance. In the beginning,
draw and think with the most important or core idea first; details come last. The pyramid is the
human body and the story its posture implies. The top of this pyramid shows the number one. This
portrays your first representation of the model. This will be the main idea, or force, of what the model
is doing. For instance, standing straight, bending over, seated, etc. Think from large to small. You
always want to go after the main idea first. The bottom of the pyramid would be fingernails or
something equally insignificant. Many films and books suffer from the lack of this theory. They
contain tons of details or special effects, but no heart to the story. What is it about? Don’t get caught
up in the small things until you first know the main idea.
Animation is also a hierarchical process. Here the entire pyramid symbolizes the character’s actions
instead of one drawing’s forces. The animator’s drawings are represented by the pyramid’s peak. He
draws the key moments of a character’s actions. The team of inbetweeners, the rest of the pyramid
that works with him, then further develops these motions. Their drawings go in between the key
drawings the animator created.
If someone other than myself has accomplished a drawing, I will refer to that artist. Their full names
are Mike Roth, MaryEllen Mahar, Keith Wilson, Barrett Benica, and Mike Dougherty. Thank you for
all of your help. Every one of you has done a great job! I also want to thank the hard working
models that help my students and I recognize the beauty of humanity.

Key Concepts

I have students in my classes draw on 18”X24” smooth newsprint. Students draw with black china
marker or Caran D’Ache. I don’t want drawing class to be about fancy mediums. Everyone uses the
same supplies. These supplies have been chosen over years of instructing. Newsprint is cheap and
the smooth paper with wax is a slick and smooth sensation.


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Chapter 1: Seeing Life – The book will begin with learning force and how it creates rhythm
and balance in the body. The roller coaster of force will be our bridge into mass.


The awareness of force
The main idea in the figure
Directional force: a beginning, middle, and end
Applied force
The road of rhythm
The roller coaster of rhythm
Force pointers


Chapter 2: Forceful Form – This will talk about form and how to explain it through force.
This chapter will touch upon perspective one, two, three, and four points and different
spatial concepts.


Perspective: the drama of angles
One, two, and three points
Four-point perspective
Surface lines
Sculpting force
Spatial concepts
Overlap and tangents
Size and foreshortening
Forceful form exercises


Chapter 3: Forceful Shape – Shape is what will evolve from the combination of force
and form and will be the topic of this chapter. Here we will see how entire shapes move with
force and rhythm.


Forceful shape
The do’s and dont’s of forceful shape
Anatomy as shape
Reaction, the leap of faith
Forceful shape pointers




Chapter 4: Clothing – This chapter will start with the texture of line. Then I will talk about the
clothed figure. We will see force’s affect on clothing. Also we will learn about how to use
clothing to assist us in understanding the pose.
The texture of line revealed
The function and form of fabric
Fun with shapes
Forceful texture pointers


Chapter 5: On Location, Reportage – This chapter is about drawing on location. We go out
into the world and “people watch.” Let’s enjoy the wide variety of characters and real
situations that occur every day around us.
Tell stories with life
Inner thoughts, outer reaction
Staging, single person
Multiple moments
Reportage pointers


Chapter 6: Animals – This chapter is about drawing animals. We start with comparing their
anatomies to ours in order to liberate ourselves from anatomical problems. This will aid us in
understanding their stories. We talk about the different types of animal anatomy that exist and
finding character within our observations.
Comparative anatomy
Going to the zoo
Simplistic seals
Animal pointers
Recommended Reading




Chapter 1
Seeing Life

So, what is it that creates life? Force! Force, or energy with purpose, is what we want to recognize in
the world around us. I am going to lead you on a force full journey that will change the way you
perceive the world you live in. This new perception will clear your mind of the fog of assumption. You
will live in a new truth. This in turn will make you appreciate life to a new degree.
Drawing is the profound vehicle for our journey. Through it you will also learn about yourself. Always
remember what you put down on the page is a direct reflection of your thoughts and feelings.
There is so much to appreciate and enjoy, so let’s get started.
Drawing the body’s forces is the least talked about subject in figure drawing classes today, and is yet
the most important. The majority of books and instructors teach about copying what you see and not
understanding it. I was extremely fortunate to have Jim McMullan as an instructor and close friend at
the School of Visual Arts. He taught me to be aware of life in the figure.
The human figure is always full of force – no matter how still it may seem. We are built to move and
therefore even when a model is standing straight, there are forces to comprehend and address. We
are always under the influence of gravity, which is an all-encompassing force to recognize. When
drawing, we need to think about the beauty of why and how the model works, not worry what angle
to hold a pencil at in order to shade appropriately.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.”
Henry Ford

You want to draw what you know and empathize with. Draw with the mind’s eye, not only your vision.
If you find you are having a hard time figuring out what is happening in a pose, then assume the
pose yourself. This will definitely help your awareness of force. We are all people. If a model takes a
pose that radiates joy and you copy that pose physically yourself (all the way down to the facial
expression), you will begin to feel what the model is feeling and know physically what the model is
doing. When you see someone who is sad, how is it that you know that person feels that way? As a


Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

fellow human being, you know that you take on the same physiology when you feel sad. You
experience empathy through humanity.
Never forget that mind and body are one!
The main idea in the figure
Let’s discuss the pyramid of ideas that represent the model’s pose. Remember we want to deal with
the top of the pyramid, the largest idea, first. You will be creating some general statements about the
figure. They will be the first step on your road to understanding force. With experience you will
become more specific.
An exercise I do in class is to have the model pose for five minutes. For the first minute, I have the
students write what their goals are going to be in drawing the model. I have them list the goals in a
hierarchal manner. Then, for the last four minutes, they draw the model and achieve the goals they
have written.
Directional force: a beginning, middle, and end
Using the comparison of a writer to an artist, to express our ideas we must understand our drawn
language via its own vocabulary. The more vast our vocabulary, the clearer, more intelligent, and
expressive our thoughts. There are no great writers without the knowledge to write.
Our language throughout this book is drawing and our understanding of line is our control of that
language. The strength of line is immeasurable. To harness its power, though, one must understand
how to see force. Draw the verbs of the figure. This is where we want to direct our concentration.
Draw what the body is doing, not just the body. While having an internal dialog, think “the stretching
arm or thrusting hip,” not “the arm is here and it’s this thick and look at the shadow on it.” Verbs
come first and then the noun it is affecting. I will have students bring in a thesaurus to increase their
vocabulary and thus their experience of the model.
As important as line is, remember that the drawings are not about line. They are about ideas. The
line is your idea. Don’t do a drawing for the sake of beautiful lines. Create a drawing that expresses
your experience.
Here is the type of line that most describes force in the body.

Seeing Life

One line per energy or idea

1. Here is our curved line with force and direction. The one line addresses one idea. The line starts
somewhere, does something, and goes somewhere. This is achieved with a confident stroking of
the paper with the pencil. The arrow example shows you the direction of the energy or its path.
This is directional force.
2. This is our first student habit. It is sketchy and created by backward and forward motion. No
direction. The line, or more importantly, its idea, does not start somewhere, have a purpose, and
go somewhere. There is no clear idea.
3. This is the infamous hairy line. Uncertainty takes us from one place to another through thousands
of minuscule thoughts instead of drawing one line per idea. Doing this never gives you the
opportunity to move onto bigger issues or feel force and direction in your hand and mind.
Forewarning: Don’t think that I am talking about being uptight with the line. You don’t have to get it
right the first time. Let your hand sweep over the paper’s surface in the directions the model is
moving until you have absorbed the pose’s idea. Then start making your marks by slowly applying



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

pressure to the paper with the pencil while you are still in motion. Notice how you can control the
line’s value. This discipline of mark making is of tremendous value because when you draw, your
head will already be thinking about where energy is coming from, what it is doing, and where it is
going. Feel liberated and excited, and be courageous.

Skating the page
An excellent way to get the physical sensation of force is to close your eyes and skate the page with
your drawing utensil. Imagine your speed across the smooth, hard, and cold ice. Feel the blades
carve deep as you dig into a curve. Your mark on the page should get heavier as this happens.
Notice how fluidly you move. There are no clumsy, pinched moments.

Seeing Life

Draw small, think big
A great tactic for understanding hierarchy is to draw small. That will help you think about the big
picture. This helps you see the body as one story. It is your time to think and it also helps liberate you
from feeling committed to your drawing. It’s great to draw and redraw that main idea. Draw small
and think big. The down side to this is that you stay distanced from the model emotionally. The
ultimate scenario is to fill the page with the model’s full figure.

Here are some small one-minute drawings that show the story of each pose.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here are half-minute drawings. The body’s entire pose is the key to understanding it.

Seeing Life

So this pose reminded me of a monkey and that was my bigger thought as I attempted getting the
full figure’s idea on the page. See the simple curves of force in the back and arms.

This two minute shows the big picture. With more time, more information was added. Here we have
much more structure.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

If you are having a hard time finding a directional force curve, try drawing two curves that are
opposite each other, one convex and one concave, to see which resembles the figure’s main force
the most. One of the curves will fit into the puzzle in front of you and the other will be opposing the
model’s movement. They are generic now, but this will give you an introduction to force. These
drawings are usually done in thirty seconds to five minutes. The first force you should look for is the
one that tells us the idea behind the connection between the ribcage and the pelvis. Here are some
fast drawings to show you my initial reaction to the model’s movements.

See the power of the directional curves. I do a great deal of drawing through the model to
understand where forces begin and end. Above the main drawing are simplifications of the pose
using curves of force.
1 and 2 are examples of picking a curve for the direction of the upper body.

Seeing Life

See how drawing 2 works because the model is obviously moving towards his right knee. Draw 3 is
the same as 2.
4 was to show an awareness of tangents, a topic I will cover in more detail later. This is a close-up of
the model’s jaw and center of the chest. These two moments would have been flattened if the two
ideas were drawn with one line.

This drawing by Barrett captures the vigor of the pose. The cumulative energy of the back sweeps up
into the musculature of the upper body and disperses to the arms and head. It’s like shooting
fireworks, as the thumbnail shows.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The model has a pull from his hands up through his back and down into his feet. The focal point of
force here, or the apex of the directional curve, is the lower back. If the model were to let go, this is
the direction he would fall in.

Seeing Life

I am so happy I went through many attempts to understand this pose. Look at these drawings in the
order they are numbered.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

In drawing 1. we have the beginning of force in the left side of the model’s upper back. I was
dissatisfied with the mediocrity of this drawing. The model was so much more alive and aggressive
than my weak depiction of him. Also, the motivation for the push in the back begins at the right
In drawing 2. the directional force is more aggressive. Its curve is stronger. There is more thrust into
the left side of the back and here we witness more reaction of this force in the remainder of the
back’s musculature.
Finally, in my third venture, the main idea has extended much further. Now we see that the pose is
about the inward thrust of the lower ribcage against the upward energy in the right arm. This
combination of forces is what creates the strain in the upper back and pushes the left shoulder out.
This page is a great example of:
1. Investigating a pose to gain understanding.
2. Searching for how far a force travels and its true motivation.
3. Not settling for the first attempt. Keep working at a drawing until it feels like the model’s effort. It
is easy to obtain mediocrity and challenging to stare into the visage of splendor.

“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
Thomas Edison

Applied force
Besides the line giving us a linear direction or path of force, it also tells us how much force is being
applied upon it. This is extremely important because the force applied upon the line will be a
previous directional force. That previous directional force dictates how strong the applied force is.
These concepts are proven to us in everyday reality through physics. If these lines were roads, you
would obviously be able to drive your car through a straightaway faster than you would through a
curve. The tighter a curve is, the more you have to decelerate to drive through it. When driving
through the curve, the place where you would feel the most amount of force would be at its apex.
The force would diminish as you pulled out of it, allowing you to gain speed. Let’s look at this in line.

Seeing Life

The drawing above presents us with a line that starts with much speed (by its straightness) and then
slows through the curve. We also see that the line shows us a mass that is bottom heavy because of
where the apex of the curve is located on the line. The attitude or direction of the mass is pushing in
the direction of the gray arrow on the right, which represents applied force. Now, if we look at both
of the arrows, we get a sense of purpose from the line that takes the mass down and to the left and
then directs us to the right.

In talking about the amount of force being applied upon a line, we can use the analogy of a flexible
metal bar. The curvature of a line tells us how much force it is revealing to us. The line on the left is
stretched between two points and shows us speed. The line on the far right has the most amount of
force applied to it because of how strong its curvature is. In animation terms, it is “squashed,” which
tells us that there is force pushing on it from above and below. The mass being pushed on is thrusting
out, shown to us by the curve. This curved directional force is also slower than the first force.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Curved lines are more forceful than straights since they clearly show us directional and applied

Here is a clear example of applied force. Look at how strongly it is pushing up into the hip. I also
described the rhythm of the right leg shooting up into that hip.

Seeing Life

In this drawing, the model’s left shoulder is an obvious apex of applied force. Look at how it fluidly
connects to the direction of the neck.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

In this drawing by Mike D., you can see directional force apply itself into the model’s left shoulder
and back.

Seeing Life

The leading edge
The leading edge is the edge of the body that leads a motion. This is where the largest amount of
applied force can be found. A past force that directs itself to this moment in the body creates it. To
help students understand this idea, I describe it as the bow of a ship or a catch of force. A simple
way of finding this is to watch the model go through a movement. The direction of his or her motion
gives you the answers.

In these drawings, see how the leading edge is the ribcage. In drawing 1. the ribcage directs us to
the left, as the head looks right. The model’s upper body turns in the direction of the head in drawing
2. When it does everything follows it. The arrow from 2. through 4. represents the direction of
applied force that creates the strengthened curve of the ribcage.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This was an adventurous and daring motion. The model executed a backward roll on the platform!
At 1 the leading edge is her upper back. It initiates the drive down to the platform. At 2 her legs
become the leading edge. They help continue the momentum over her upper body and get us into
3. Here her right knee brings us down to the platform and the ribcage shows what direction (from left
to right) she rolls in. Then finally in 4 her upper back returns her to the seated position.
The following drawings are the model standing still. Nonetheless, we want to see movement. Pay
attention to he or she getting into the pose to help recognize the leading edge of applied force. The
repetitive lines in some of the drawings show also the direction the model would have moved in. I
have drawn thumbnails to show you what my approach was on these poses. Enjoy the energy.

Seeing Life

The model here takes an aggressive counter clockwise rotation. His left leg is the brace for this
motion. Applied force is constantly pushing against the directional curve. The leading edge is where
you see the repetitive lines above his left shoulder. Think of this concept as deciding where the model
is going.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

I love the upward rotational thrust into her ribcage. Again, the leading edge is the place with the
three lines. It feels as if she would push herself forward to continue the motion of the pose. The
applied force found here originates in the hips.

Seeing Life

It is obvious here how much applied force there is in the model’s shoulders. See the strength of the
curve. Here is our catch or ship’s bow from all of the force she is using to pull back on the rope. This
is also the peak of our leading edge. She would continue this pose in the direction of her shoulder.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here the model’s stretched arm acts like the arrow that relates directly to the applied force and
leading edge of the back.
In the first half of this chapter, we discussed directional and applied force. Now we will see how the
union of the two creates rhythm and harmony.

Seeing Life

A rhythm is the beautiful and seamless interplay of different forces in the body that helps it stay in
balance, or creates equilibrium. Rhythm exists in all living things. Your understanding of rhythm will
help you create living drawings.
Gravity is the reason we have rhythmic balance in our bodies. Our anatomy is not linear but
asymmetrical in its musculature. This allows us motion against the force of gravity and equalization
when standing still. Understand this will help you draw a living, grounded, balanced figure.
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so
that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”
William Faulkner

One line or idea is a force; two forces create rhythm. To draw rhythm, we must understand the
relationship between two directional forces or ideas. The attitude or direction of one line or force will
apply itself towards the next. In the first part of this chapter, we discussed directional and applied
force. The applied force is actually part of the body’s rhythm. It is the result of an earlier directional
force. Energy is coming from somewhere and sweeping into the main idea of the pose. Some
students understand this better as action, reaction, or moments of pressure.

In the drawing on the left, notice at the top we begin the same way we did in our description of
applied force. On the right, we see applied force represented by the arrows pushing into directional
force drawn in curves. The directional force then directs us to another place in the body. The
directional force becomes applied force. When this energy hits its next exchange and needs to be
redirected, it hits a new directional force and then turns into an applied force once more.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Be aware of the angles of the body. The drawing on the right shows you how they are created by the
forces. See how angles allow you to stop straightening out the pose. This is a bad student habit.
Angles are exciting and you want to find them. Try to avoid horizontal and vertical moments. The
forty-five degree angle is the most aggressive. Do not draw the figure with straight lines as we
discussed earlier.
Since rhythm is at least a pair of forces, you will get closer to the top of the pyramid by taking two
ideas and turning them into one. Another way of combining is to be aware of the relationship
between the arms, legs, and both sets of limbs to one another. The most expansive relationship is
between the head and the feet.

Let’s use the analogy of skiing slalom. Before us we have gates we must go through. These gates
represent the apexes of our directional lines of force or where applied energy in the model is the
strongest. There is a most efficient way to ski from one gate to another and the bouncing effect
created in doing so feels like drawing rhythm. As seen in drawing 1, the more close the gates are in
distance going downhill, and the further apart they are from left to right, the slower we will have to
go through them. The closer they are to being a straight line, the faster we can go through them, like
the example in drawing 2. Gravity is what continuously pulls us through the gates. A certain fluidity is
obtained in skiing through the gates, along with a certain rhythm.

Seeing Life

Here are four basic set-ups for the ribcage to hip relationship. The crosshairs represent the center of
the chest. This is the top of the pyramid. These are some generic ideas because we all have the same
anatomy. These concepts represent the front and/or back of the figure in rhythm. Always try to find
one of the four.

Here is the general set-up for the side view of the figure. Notice how rhythm goes from one side of
the figure to the other to obtain balance. In figure 1, look at how I draw through the crotch to get to
the butt and up into the hips. Then we shoot down the thigh. Drawing 2 shows the rhythm of the leg
from the front and the back. Drawings 3 and 4 are the arm from front to back. All of these diagrams
are generalizations. These will work almost all of the time but there are instances where the rules will
be broken, fortunately. Look for idiosyncrasies.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

These examples show two common errors that students may make after an initial discussion about
rhythm. On the left, what we see is that the student has put the same kind of force on both sides of
whatever part of the body this represents. The body will almost never be the same on two sides.
Rhythm must be oblique to create balance. In the case of the left and right side of the trunk of the
body, it is the front and back that are anatomically oblique. We will go into this further in Chapter 3.
Going back to our car analogy, we see here that this is an accident because both forces collide
instead of passing force off to one another. You should not worry about encapsulating the figure in
the beginning. Draw only the rhythms of the body.
On the right is the spaghetti line. Some students will do this as an attempt at connectiveness and
mass but lose energy in doing so. This line has many energies with no obvious transfer of force. The
line does not start somewhere, do something, and go somewhere. Every arrow represents what
should be another force or idea. Energy needs to be passed from one place to another.

Seeing Life

I have taken one of my drawings to show you an example of this. If we start at the top right shoulder,
once we get down to the lower back we should not continue over the right buttock. Rhythm is not
about following the edge of the model. This would put the model off balance. Notice inside the
model how the arrow takes us from the right shoulder to the left hip. This is our applied force. It is
what pushes out the left hip.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Through following rhythms in the figure, you can get a quick understanding of the entire pose’s
purpose and balance. The relationships of different forces in the body will become broader in
concept. Remember, your main objective is to draw what the model is doing, main idea first. There
will almost always be a relationship between the torso, hips, and head. In animation, you want to
animate the primary source of purpose creating action. This is usually the head and trunk of the
body. The limbs follow and assist the idea.
Beyond the head, ribcage, and pelvis, you want to draw these lines of force from joint to joint in the
figure. For instance, connect the hip to the knee or the shoulder to the elbow. This will stop you from
drawing hairy lines or broken ideas. Again, if you are having a problem seeing the forceful curve,
draw opposing curves and see which most resembles the movement of that particular part of the
body. In time you will understand the operation of a whole limb, like the wrist to the shoulder.
When animating, or drawing, gravity is the invisible force you must always be aware of to bring
reality to your work. Some pointers to think about when drawing the figure and considering our
1. A man’s center of gravity is in his chest, a woman’s closer to her pelvis. Women in general are
better balanced because of their lower center of gravity.
2. Always pay attention to where the model’s head and center of gravity are in comparison to his or
her feet.
3. Think about the model’s mass and forces and realize they have to be equalized on both sides of
the centerline of balance in order for the model to stand. This does not have to occur when
someone is moving. Then the body has time to compensate for its lack of balance.
4. Notice the implications of gravity pulling on the model, squash in the feet, muscles working with
and against it.
5. When drawing the amount of pressure in the model’s feet, take into consideration the weight of
the model.
Now, once more, let’s go to drawing small and thinking big.

Seeing Life

This is a four minute with the model. Again, see that the focus is on getting the main forces of the
model and how they relate to one another. Look at how the weight and force of the ribcage sweeps
down into the hips.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This drawing shows the first big rhythm to find, the top of the pyramid, the ribcage to hip

Seeing Life

Looking at these four drawings, there are many patterns one can see. Notice the constant attention
to the relationship between the ribcage and pelvis. The buttocks represent the pelvis. In most cases
you can see the force of the thigh pushing the knee and calf back. Look at the close resemblance to
the skiing analogy.
The road of rhythm is the figure’s solution for balance. You must first find this road and draw the
moments along the way. Your initial recordings of the pose should not involve you teleporting from
one area to another in the figure without understanding the body’s connections. Only draw the parts
of the body you travel to through rhythm. This makes the drawing’s sense of balance clear.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Rhythm in this drawing is obvious. (It is the only parts of the model I have addressed.) So little is
actually drawn yet so much is said about the essence of the pose. Once we sweep into the hips,
force divides down each leg. See the importance of the knees as a place for the transfer of force
between the upper and lower leg.

Seeing Life

This drawing shows a clear asymmetry from the left shoulder to the right hip. Notice how we travel in
an “inside, outside” pattern from the hip to the heel in the model’s legs.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

There is a great deal to absorb here, so let’s go through this step by step:
1. The applied and directional forces set up the body’s cohesiveness or rhythm. All of this happens
for the body to stay in balance. This applied force obliquely crosses over the line of balance,
equalizing force and weight on both sides of the body.
2. Notice the line of balance. It is a guide of equalization of force and weight of the model. The
model’s head coincidentally happens to fall on the centerline.

Seeing Life

Here I want you to look at rhythm’s road and see how it continuously creates equilibrium.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Another blueprint. In order to comprehend the model’s balance you must look at the rhythm or
relationship of one leg to another instead of only moving down one leg. This is a great example of
pairing. Notice again how applied force moves across the line of balance of the figure.

Seeing Life

Look at the next few drawings and find the vertical line of balance.

In order to see balance, look at these drawings and understand how the model would fall without the
rope he is holding onto. The top drawing shows the center of gravity in his chest way past the
platform of his feet. The rope in his hands pulls back over his body to balance his weight. In the next
pose, he would fall to the right were it not for the rope’s tension on the left side of his body.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here the model is just slightly assisted by the rope. He would normally be teetering on the balls of his
feet because of his chest’s placement relative to them. Instead he stands flat-footed since the rope is
used like a pendulum.
The head is extremely important because it usually establishes the direction the body is going to
move in, like the engine of a train. If you turn, your head initiates that movement. You never turn
your body first. It is the control center for the figure’s actions. Pay attention to how it affects the
body’s balance because of this. It is so small in size relative to the figure, though, that for the sake of
the pyramid and getting the largest idea on the page first, we go for the ribcage/pelvis relationship.

Seeing Life

The head must always coincide with the nature of the back. Many students forget to notice how the
head projects out of the ribcage and that the neck does that job. I usually try to use the sternocleido-mastoid, or the muscles that run from the back of your ear to the meeting point of the collar
bones, as a way of showing the neck’s forces.

See the opposing force of the neck relative to the back. The sterno-cleido-mastoid shows this with
subtlety. I drew a couple of diagrams showing the wrong and right way to handle this relationship.
The bottom drawing demonstrates a straight tubular neck with no relationship to the back. The top is
correct with its opposing force.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This pose feels fast. Look at the beautiful rhythms. The westward lunge of the back against the
eastward projection of the head and legs creates an aggressive angle of balance. Look at the road
of rhythm.

First we have an elongated stretch of the abdomen all the way up to the pit of her neck and down to
her hips. All of the weight of the torso that is being suspended by the cradle of the clavicle drives
upward from the hands into the shoulders. This is the reason for the stretch. Notice the transfer of
force in the elbow. The opposing force of the ribcage is her upper back, which then rhythmically
connects us with her neck through the sterno.

Seeing Life

Notice the spatial quality of the long ride of rhythm. At 1., we start way back in the left thigh. We
then travel through the body to 2. and dip aggressively down to 3. After the hairpin curve, we shoot
down to the hand.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

In two minutes, each of the drawings above has the main concept of the pose described. Long fluid
lines help describe these ideas.

With three extra minutes, you can see how the top drawing has more mass and description of

Seeing Life

The model did a great job of giving me something new and exciting to understand. He held this
fireman’s carry pose for five minutes. See the majority of the weight of her body draped over his right
shoulder and how he uses the pole as assistance to his balance. Notice the broad base he created
with his stance.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The road of rhythm is a more flat, two-dimensional, left to right approach to comprehending the
fluid-like balance in the body. It is the beginning of something greater. The roller coaster analogy
starts using the body’s masses to recognize how force moves in a more connective and dimensional
I tell students to imagine the model’s platform as the amusement park and the model as the roller
coaster. Your first task is to get your mind’s eye into the park, close to the model. I suggest to
students that they think of themselves as being one inch high. This empowers them to envision the
figure as gargantuan. The model’s tremendous size guides the students into seeing more roundness
and depth. This helps you see just how long an idea goes before it turns into an opposing force
because the body’s energy changes direction. This again will help you get closer to the top of the
pyramid. Beware of drawing the spaghetti line we discussed earlier in the chapter.
You now connect the directional forces to one another and how they are applied. The road of rhythm
becomes seamless. To create this seamlessness, you NEED to travel around the forms of the figure.
Next, find the largest moment of force on the roller coaster and hop on. The tracks are smooth and
graceful. Feel how they project you through space, over high peaks and low gullies, through fast
straight-aways and G-force-filled turns, spiraling along loop-to-loops, and pretzel-like structures.
Then time is up, you get off the ride, the model changes positions, and a new and exciting ride is
yours to experience.
You have to give yourself the right to draw through the figure. Those of you who are uptight have to
loosen up in this exercise. Drawing through the figure will dramatically help you see long and begin
to understand space, dimensionality, and structure.
Disney’s Fred Moore was one of the best artists at going long with beautiful, rich, fluid ideas. You
can see drawings of his in some of the older Disney books.

Seeing Life

Look at how connected the body’s rhythms are. This one-minute drawing shows how much can be
said about a pose’s energy in very little time.
Students seem to think that they always have to draw an enclosed figure. This is just another habit to
hurdle. For now, you want your attention to be on rhythm. Remember it is the essence or main idea
that you want to achieve. Fluidity, continuity, action to reaction, and all of the theories I have given
you are ways to think about this concept. Use whatever it takes for you to understand this principle.
Remember, if you can find but one place in the figure where you feel you understand the forces
shown, they will lead you throughout the rest of the pose on the road of rhythm.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This drawing shows how force directs itself seamlessly from one place to another in the model.
Notice that I draw through the right leg to get to the buttocks and the shoot up to the hip. Also see
me draw through the right shoulder and over the top of the back to create the rhythm between the
upper back and neck.

Seeing Life

Here is another drawing that shows force directing itself through the entire body. These drawings
show the first steps to drawing force and the most important ones. Line skates the page and
moves force. Notice how we can travel from the hand through the entire body to the foot on one
connected path.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The thumbnail on the left shows you my first thoughts on how to approach this pose. Look at how
much is said about it with long ideas.
Here we shoot up the model’s right leg, roll around the knee to the forceful side. Then we swing our
way up the thigh and over into the hip where we make our final ascent up into the back, over the
shoulder, and down into his extended arm. The relationship of the left arm and right foot helps
encircle the idea of this pose.

Seeing Life

I love this drawing. To me it is so alive that it’s musical. The thumbnail on the right shows my initial
Look at the long connection of her head and elbow down through the hips, up through the thigh to
the knee. Finally, after that long and elegant journey we have a change in tempo but for a moment,
found in the knee. Off we embark down the calf for a fast and graceful curve to her ankle where it
repeats the tempo of the knee. Look also at how effectively mass is described with few lines.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here we see where some ideas are longer and more connective than others.
1. The upward sweep of the back is where we will begin. This directs us across the body where we
travel down to the crotch and sweep up through the left hip at 2. and drive up into the right one at 3.
We then pick up speed again and shoot down the thighs through the knees and to the different
endings in his feet.

Seeing Life

See here how at 1. I address the largest idea, the connection between ribcage and hips. Then, to
push the ride, we can sweep into the arms at 2. and 5. We also can glide into the legs at 3. and 4.
with seamless rhythm.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This drawing started off as an exercise where I have students begin a drawing and then another
student finishes up the time restriction. This drawing was started by Chuck and then completed by
Barrett. Barrett unknowingly succeeded in producing a drawing with a very long idea. Above the

Seeing Life

figure you will see my explanation of the roller coaster ride we take. Barrett explained how he was
content with seeing the model’s left leg from hip to foot as one idea. A second look at the drawing
shows us how that force sweeps through the crotch, up and over the back, into the deltoid, and then
down to the model’s wrist. Remember: Everything in Chapter 1 works together. At times you will see
applied force, and sometimes you will see the chance to go long, all within the same pose. Either
way, you want your drawing to be a rich experience of the humanity that was in front of you, a loud
drawing of your understanding. Don’t forget the power of the force full curve.
Now let’s look at how to better describe the forms around which force travels.
1. Skate the page. Close your eyes and imagine the paper as ice and you as the world’s best figure
skater. You are performing your best routine. As you skate, feel the fluidity and speed of your
movement. Notice how the blades cut into the ice as you move through tight and open curves.
Your marks should indicate the change in force and pressure that your body would feel on the ice.
2. Find the ribcage to hip relationship first. Keep seeing how their relationship is asymmetrical and
falls into one of the four previously discussed scenarios.
3. Stand and mimic the model’s pose. Start with the biggest ideas of the pose and work down to
the small detail. Close your eyes and feel your body in that pose. Notice the stretches, torques,
pressures, and gravity on yourself. Then push the pose and feel where it wants to go. Put those
experiences into your drawing.
4. Watch the model move into a pose. Look at the directions their body swept into to take the pose.
There lies answers to force.
5. Draw with a clear directional force for each part of the figure.
6. Be passionate about the aliveness of the model and the pose. Draw your excitement.
7. Write what you are achieving in a drawing. Bring a thesaurus to increase your vocabulary about
your ideas. Write verb first then noun it affects.
8. Pay attention to your internal dialog. Don’t be self defeating.
9. Explain what you see, don’t just copy it.
10. Get out of your own way. Don’t worry about the drawing.
11. Always have something to say.
12. Draw to feel what the model is feeling.


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Chapter 2
Forceful Form

Learning how to draw takes two parts. One part is knowledge about technique. That is perspective,
anatomy, force, and shape. The other side of drawing is honest observation, being able to draw what
you see. When the two combine, you can draw! You draw what you see and understand it at the
same time. You can assess your own experiences and see where you need more technique or more
honest observation. Is the drawing generic? Look more. Is it specific but flat, dead, and poorly
designed? Use technique.
Every chapter of this book is designed in a hierarchy. We go from big ideas first and then to specifics.
In this chapter I will cover many techniques about forceful form. This will lead us to observation of
specifics. The largest technical skill to learn when it comes to form is …
Artists’ understanding of the theories of perspective has changed the world we live in. Their
observations helped them create dimensional thoughts upon a flat surface. You are affected by this
every day of your life. Recognize that the chair you occupy and the space you live in were conceived
by an artist with the capacity to draw form.
The first topic we’ll cover is perspective. Perspective is not difficult, it just takes some time to
understand what you are seeing and know that you are capable of representing depth on the page.
This happens after understanding the traditional ways of drawing it. I learned perspective in junior
high first, then from “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,” and then, most importantly, from the
four years of architecture I studied in high school. The cube or box is the beginning of understanding
structure in space.
One of the major uses of perspective is to show you what angles to draw objects at. These angles
give you the sense of vanishing that occurs in our world.


Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

One, two, and three points

One-point perspective is everyone’s beginning when it comes to seeing space into a flat page. It
is limited. Its main use is to draw flat planes in depth. In the box on the left, one point shows its
limitations. When looking at a box, as soon as we face it from any direction besides head on, we are
dealing with two points or more of perspective. We cannot see another side of this box until we have
two points as reference.
The box in the bottom left corner is an example of what I receive from students when I ask them to draw
a box in perspective. This is the nemesis of perspective. I know we are taught this, but if you look at the
box, notice how the front face has right corners all around. We are looking directly at the front face, so
how would it be possible for us to see any of the other sides? It is as if we took the back plane of the
box and slid it, in a parallel manner, away from its actual structural orientation with the front of the box.
Two-point perspective has the cube converge in perspective on one plane of existence. Notice how
the vertical lines in the box are parallel and the others are not. Here our cube is affected only on
a horizontal plane. The horizontal lines of the cube are being squeezed into perspective by the
vanishing points. As soon as we are above or below the box, which means we should see three of
its planes, we must have three points of perspective.
In three points, the box is affected by perspective on two planes, vertical and horizontal. Number 1
and 2 are the horizontal points and number 3 is our one vertical point. We could have two points on
a vertical line and one on the horizontal. In this case, the third point gives us a sense that the box is

Forceful Form

long vertically. We seem to be floating above it looking down. The vertical lines that create the box
are converging downward towards the third point. An easy way to find out how many points a box is
affected by is that to find out how many planes you see. They will be the same amount.
Some simple rules to help you become aware of perspective:
1. The left point on the horizon line affects the left plane of the box. The right point affects the right
2. This is inverted when you are inside the box. This comes into play when you do a room interior.
3. When an object is below your eye line, the verticals are affected by the point below your eye line.
When the object is above your eye line, the verticals are affected by the point above your eye line.
To help explain one, two, and three points, I am going to use drawings of people’s heads. Why? The
head is the most block-like structure of the body. Some artists like to construct the head from a ball;
I prefer the cube. It is more definitive. It has clear planes that erase doubt as to what specific direction
in space a person or animal’s head is in. Use the angles of the cube to help define the angles of
the facial features. Just as curves defined force in Chapter 1, straight lines evoke structure and

This drawing is a profile or one-point perspective. Here we are looking right at the side of the
model’s head.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Mike Roth’s drawing of Keith is in two-point perspective. We have the front and side of his head
visible to us. The edge of those two planes is at the peak of his right eyebrow. That edge defines the
forehead and temple planes. The drawing itself is solid. Look at the bottom of the nose and his upper
lip. We see three planes of perspective in these features, but the head itself is not in three points. Also
notice the slight pinching effect of the projection lines of the eyes nose and mouth. The glasses are
obvious evidence of the two planes of perspective. Mike did an excellent job.

Forceful Form

Here is a drawing of my wife Ellen. You can immediately tell that I was above her when it was
produced. See the clear three planes of her head. Notice how her facial features block one another
because of the perspective. An example would be her nose blocking her mouth.
Know how to draw the right angles of a box in space and then how to squeeze those angles to give
your drawings even more depth. Pay attention to the vertical and horizontal lines and how they need
to converge to suggest a plane progressing back into space.
You must be able to draw a cube from any perspective out of your head. This is a definite
requirement of drawing well.
In my classes, for homework, students draw five heads a week. The way I have them do this is to first
find a victim. (Don’t draw from a magazine; it is flat, which actually makes the job harder.) Then they
are to see their relationship to that person to figure out the cube of perspective the head is in and
draw it. Lastly, the head should be drawn with surface lines to show structure. Later in the year, they
move on to hands and feet with the same disciplines in mind.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

As a homework assignment, students create many drawings of their heads. Above is an example of
Mike D.’s assignment in his first term and then in his third.

Four-point perspective
So here it is, four-point perspective in all its glory. It reminds me of looking out a window in New York
City. If you were at the height of about the thirteenth floor and the buildings around you were thirty
floors, this is what you would see. We have squeezed depth on both the vertical and horizontal
planes with each having two points of convergence. This is the world of perspective we live in. The
closer something gets to your eye, the more of a fisheye lens effect you will see. The centre of the
object will emerge closer to you while its perimeters will squeeze away back into space.

Forceful Form

The problem is, we are not normally close enough to objects to be aware of heightened perspective
and not around the middle of objects that are large enough to look up and down.
What you see in the side-view mirror of a car is what you want to be aware of all around you every
day. In production art, you will sometimes see this in camera tilts for storyboards or a layout.

Here is an example of how four-point perspective affects the model. The first thing I try to make
students aware of in learning to apply perspective to their drawings is having an awareness of their
eye level and location in reference to the model. In the drawing I have done, the eye level or horizon
line is at mid-thigh.
I have chosen these next four figure drawings for you to see the reaction of four-point perspective.
Make yourself aware of where the artist’s eye level was. The way to do this is to see where the body
seems to go flat for a moment, a place that you cannot see above or beneath, where you are
looking head on at the model. See where the closest edge of the box of space that the model
occupies is in reference to you. In most standing poses, my eye level hits right around the mid-thigh
of a model.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This drawing is terrific for seeing the perspective set up between the model’s two feet. Because they
are connected with a line, we are given a direction towards the left vanishing point. As a visual
reminder, when drawing a model’s feet, notice the height difference of the two on the page (as
I have drawn with the arrow). From there, you can see how the rest of the body is affected by the
guidelines of perspective I have drawn. The closest edge of the box of space she occupies is
represented by the contour line running down the right side of her body.

Forceful Form

See the angles of his feet, knees, hips, and jaw. Here it is the hips that are at my eye level. Look at
the line running over his left shin that defines its form and direction of force.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here the feet and shoulders happen to fall on the lines of perspective the body is in. See how the
hips do not do the same. The model’s knees are at my eye level or horizon line. The body is complex
and can move to present various different perspectives in one pose. You must be aware of your eye
line and how the entire pose sits in four dimensions.

Forceful Form

The steps the model is sitting on are our most obvious clue to the perspective of this drawing. Look at
their angle relative to that of her breasts and shoulders, or the straight line that represents the back
of her head. There is a strong sensation of looking upward at her here.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This drawing gives us a sense of depth through height and from left to right. Here you can clearly see
the perspective angle between the feet. In fact on her right foot, I put the angle of perspective down
the back of the heel and the right side of the foot. Her shoulders also angle down away from us.

Forceful Form

Anatomy is structure in drawing the human figure. There are too many books out there about
anatomy for me to take up a chapter on this. If you feel uncertain in this area, it helps for you to
have a book that shows basic understanding of the placement, relations, connectivity, and workings
of the major muscles of the human body. Some books I can recommend are Bridgeman’s “Complete
Guide to Drawing From Life,” which is stylized, but the drawings are forceful and he explains how
things work. Another book is “Anatomy for Artists” by Jeno’ Barcshy. It is informative and the drawings
show some of the mechanics of the body. Lastly, Elliot Goldfingers’s “Human Anatomy for Artists.”
This book considers the body’s muscle groups and draws the layers that create a given area’s
anatomy, from the skeleton to a photograph of a model’s actual musculature, as we would see it.
Drawing through the figure is probably the fastest way to start your journey on forceful form. You will
see this in most of the drawings in this entire book. This shows the difference from someone copying
the model to someone attempting to understand what they see. Don’t let an arm, leg, or any other
part of the body block you from comprehending what is happening in front of you.
Surface lines
Many art classes teach students to draw the figure with cubes and cylinders. I believe that this is a
good foundation for artists. It allows you to see the angles and planes of perspective on the body as
we just learned them.
The human body happens to be a little more complicated than just boxes and cylinders, though. In
this part of Chapter 2, I will show you drawings that possess lines that evoke force and describe
form. This will occur with the use of surface lines.
Going long in Chapter 1 was the beginning of seeing force wrap around form. Now we will focus on
the forms.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here we see surface lines with simple structures. The cylinder on the left shows lines that adhere to and
go around the form. Some of them pull along its surface from end to end. On the right, we see lines
that do not explain the surface of the cylinder. They seem to carve into it instead. The box on the bottom
shows us how to describe a flat surface with line. You can also describe a change in planes with surface
lines. As with the cylinders, inappropriate lines cut into the surface of the right side of the box.
Many drawing classes have an exercise called “blind contour” drawing. In my classes I have students
perform “blind force” drawing. The difference between the two is huge. Blind contour is done to
teach you to copy the “edge” of the model. Blind force is an exercise that persuades you to see force
travel through and around the model. It is extremely exciting.
Forceful flight
So, let’s start the process of blind force. As you are sitting and observing the model, I want you to use your
imagination to “fly” from your seat, like a tiny, ant-sized airplane and make your way across the ocean to
the land of the model. The model is hundreds of miles high and wide and has miles of depth. You fly
across the model’s landscape to that first sweep of force. You start drawing along with the movement of
your forceful flight. You fly over mountains, across plains and hills. Your eyes, mind, and hand are all in the
same place at the same time. You must concentrate on being present! Did I mention that you are not
looking at the paper? This is similar to the roller coaster with the main difference being blindness.
There are other skills we learn through the blind flight. One of the most important is you getting in front
of you paper, not behind it. Students’ egos are what get in between them and the model. You must
move out of your own way to truly see. I remember trying out this exercise myself and after a few poses,
the massive weight of responsibility for the appearance of my drawing slid off my shoulders. As I
mentioned at the beginning of the book, don’t make the act of drawing about your drawing, make it
about your experience while drawing. The drawing itself is but a by-product of your time with the model.
The leap that students take in this process is inspiring! You become aware of how much you lie when you
draw and how much more interesting reality is than what your mind can come up with. Boring drawings
occur because you have not created a vast enough library of reference from years of drawing from life.

Forceful Form

Here is a two-minute blind flight drawing. I remember looking at the paper once. I completed the
entire pose except for the model’s left leg. Look at the information of the right knee and left foot.
These locations show the beginning of forceful surface lines.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This five-minute blind shows an exciting experience. Look at the rhythm of the ribcage to hips. Notice
all of the form in the left arm, scapulas, butt and feet. Look at the line variety again. I love the feel of
force trying to escape out of the right hip and abdomen and then reconnecting back into the right

Forceful Form

With more time, look at what can be accomplished. Mike D. had a rich experience here. This
exercise teaches students to draw “inside “the figure instead of the contour. In truth, there is no
contour. The edge of the model is coincidence relative to where you sit. This flight makes you
aware of the model’s structure or form.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Throughout the process of blind forceful flight, I give students more opportunities to look at the
page. For instance, at the beginning they look down every minute, then thirty seconds, fifteen and
finally when they decide to. Here is a drawing of Mike D.’s that is under his control. Look at the level
of specifics with fluidity and form. It feels close to the model. See the interior line work that sculpts
the models forms. This leads me to our next topic of forceful form.
Sculpting force
Forceful form will help you get away from the edge of the body, or its perimeter. The model takes up
space and you want to be able to explain how. You will learn to see force throughout the entire form
and this in turn will make you aware of structural and rhythmic connections. Remember that the edge
of the model exists because of where you are seated relative to the model. If you or the model were
to change location or position, the edge would change.
Pay attention to the location of the natural centre on the forms you understand. For instance the nose
on the face, the centre of the ribcage, or the belly button on the stomach. You obviously have the

Forceful Form

spine for the back. On the legs you find the model’s knees and the top of the foot. For the arms you
can use the center of the biceps or deltoid to explain each of those different planes.
Going back to hierarchy, think about addressing larger structures first and then smaller ones. Understand
the direction and form of the ribcage before you draw the muscles attached to it. I remember when
I was first experiencing the enjoyment of seeing space, it was because of an instructor telling me to
imagine I was an ant crawling over the surface of the model’s body. Everything is large in comparison
to you. It is a new landscape for you to explore. Hills, valleys, and plateaus will appear on your trip.
Ride the rapids of force in the figure. The more you can believe what I tell you, open up your mind,
and envelope what you see, the faster you will obtain awareness of space.
Another exercise in drawing form is for you to act as if you are sculpting the model with your pencil.
Draw as though you are caressing him/her with the pencil’s tip. Feel the forms in your mind and
express them on the page.
Sometimes students confuse this exercise with drawing shadows. We are not looking for shadow; we
are looking for form through force.
Michelangelo comes to mind when I think about line showing force and form. He was the master at
making a complex group of muscles, such as the back, work together as a whole. This is no easy
task. The vast sea of bulges and depressions could leave any artist confused and lost.
In the beginning of the twentieth century lived a man named Charles Dana Gibson. He was best known
for “The Gibson Girl.” His lines dealt mainly with structure. Everything occupied space as he illustrated
scenes from that time period. Dover publishes an excellent book called “The Gibson Girl and Her
America: The Best Drawings by Charles Dana Gibson.” I fortunately almost tripped over two large, old
volumes of his work on the floor of an antique shop in South Jersey. Definitely a precious find.
Heinrich Kley was an artist I had never heard of until representatives from Disney told me about him.
At that time, I was lacking form and Kley’s drawings were not. Kley was a German artist who did
satirical cartoons for Germany’s newspapers. These illustrations are full of life and creativity. He
draws everything with solidity in mind and uses line to do it. He draws centaurs and satyrs, dancing
elephants and gators, giants and fairies, all in service of his political opinion. His book is readily
available and it costs fewer than ten dollars. “The Drawings of Heinrich Kley” from Dover. This is
a worthy investment.
A contemporary master at giving line force and form is Frank Frazetta. Some of you may know him
as the great fantasy painter that he is, but his black and white ink work is intelligent and beautiful as
well. His brush strokes evoke solidity and force at the same time. Check out “Frank Frazetta, The
Living Legend,” to see some great examples of this.
Go and see the sculptures of Richard MacDonald to get a sense of what your drawings should
evoke. His sculptures are incredible representations of figures that occupy space through rhythm,
form, and poetic power. His work can be seen on his website of the same name.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

(Again, don’t copy the model; instead, recreate him or her.) You must rebuild them on the paper.
I usually give the students ten-minute poses to actuate these exercises. Also start to consistently draw
the hands and feet within each drawing. They add another level of expression to the images you

So, here we are, the model in perspective and showing form through sculptural lines. See how most
of the surface lines sculpt the model’s space and also move in the direction of the force of that part
of the body. As an example, see the surface lines along the ribcage that give us its form, but also the
sweeping upward sensation caused by the model’s raised arm. Also look at how the surface lines of
the ribcage and hips help to explain their different directions in space, which aids in telling a clearer
story about the pose’s ideas.

Forceful Form

I’ve drawn this as simpler masses on the right. The right leg in relationship to the hip is more severe
in perspective. It comes out towards us more rapidly than the hip. The calf also rapidly descends
back into the page. The capacity to create three-dimensionality or a sense of deep paper is a
miracle of drawing.
I have students cover as much of the model’s body in forceful line as possible to speed their process
of understanding. The more you do it, the faster you will learn it.

Look at how the lines evoke a direction of force and form at the same time. See how the lower back
sweeps into the legs. His left arm opposes this major direction by going in the flip direction.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

So here we have an experience in sculpting the model. Look at the surface lines of the left forearm.
They show us the volume and how force sweeps down towards the hand. See the shadow on the leg,
and how I adhered it to the body instead of creating a flat shape.

Forceful Form

Look around this drawing and see how the lines of structure also describe force. I started this
drawing with the sweep of the back. Notice the straight, hard moments of the shoulder, hand,
and head.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Again, surface line helps describe forceful form. We see the direction of forces and how the forms
are affected by them. Look at the ribcage sweeping to the belly. You can see rhythm in the deltoid
and the outer edge of the tricep.

Forceful Form

Here there is less physical drawing. The lines are used in an efficient manner to help us feel the
solidity of the model’s forms. The thickness of the feet and pressure put upon them by the model’s
weight are revealed by all of the surface lines here. Look at the knees and the roundness of the
ribcage for more structure. This is still in four-point perspective.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here you can see how the place where the ribcage and hips meet is furthest from us in perspective
for those structures. See how I handled the hair to show solidity.

Forceful Form

Here is high drama and speed with efficiency of form. Notice the repetition of grouping of two or
three marks in strategic areas showing the direction in space of form. For example the oblique, the
top of the leg and the forearms.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Overlap and tangents
Let’s address some visual rules of space.

The first visual rule is overlap. See how it is that shape 1 is closest to us and 11 is furthest away. This
is all done with overlap. Overlap occurs when one line stops as it touches another. This makes it
appear as though it has gone behind it. The circles in the bottom left corner also give us this depth
effect. I have heard some instructors call this the “T” rule because of the intersection creating a “T.”
At Disney they made a huge fuss about tangents, and rightly so. As the drawing at the bottom right
shows you, if you have a tangent or two lines meeting, neither takes dominance in space and we
have flatness. Decide what is closest to you and see the journey back into space. All three of the
circles feel as though they are on the same plane. Overlap helps evoke foreshortening.
With all of these concepts in mind, as you draw the model, ask yourself what is closest to you and
what is furthest away. Enjoy the journey between the two moments.

Forceful Form

We have come to the point where we have a solid structural drawing without all of the surface line.
The centreline of her back, her spine, helps set up all of the structures. The buttock and hip area
shows plenty of overlaps describing depth. Look at where two lines meet and which one moves over
the other. The form it describes is in front.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here force makes an aggressive vertical climb up the model’s right leg. When we crest the hip we
quickly shoot back into space over the upper body. See the hip in front of the stomach, with the
ribcage beyond it. Look at the lats, and the shoulder blade resting on the ribcage, and the head
over the horizon. Overlap helps divide the back into left and right halves.

Forceful Form

In this drawing, the model’s elbow is closest to us. The rest of the model falls behind it. See the
straight places that show us the angle of the head, the hardness of the shoulder and hand, and the
strength of the lower back. A quick visual aside: I was taught that a heavier edge on an object with
less interior information makes an object punch forward. Now when I draw this comes to me
automatically. I see closer objects as having thicker edges to them. In this drawing, it helps push the
entire right arm slightly away from the model’s body. In the end, you are trying to show your thoughts
as clearly as possible, so this is another approach to consider.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The most telling overlap here is the ribcage stretch beyond the hips in depth at 1. His right arm has
extreme foreshortening at 2. We move from the deltoid to the bicep and elbow into the page. Then
we make our way out from the forearm to the hand with the face lying just beyond it. The left arm
at 3. has a more casual progression through space still created by overlap. Also see the sweeping
surface lines that assisted me in finding the model’s forms.

Forceful Form

The success of the overlaps is what makes this drawing legible. Besides all of the overlapping
moments, notice the surface lines on the deltoid that sweep us down into the rhythm of the arm.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Size and foreshortening
Size matters. The larger an object is, the closer it will appear. Therefore, the smaller an object the
further away. This rule will help explode the boundaries of the paper, thus fooling the eye into
seeing depth. We are so conditioned to this rule in our everyday lives that something as simple as
the size of a circle fools us into seeing space. The more you force space into your drawings, the
more conditioned you will become to seeing it in everyday life. To provoke the sight of space, try
drawing the model from a closer position than you usually do and exaggerate size. Make things
ridiculously small or large. This will help you see the power of size.
Imagine what would happen if while driving, all of the cars on the freeway around you were the
same size, no matter how close or far from you they were. Size tells our brain about the drama of

Look at how effective both examples of this are. We are forced into believing we see depth when it is
only the size of the object that has changed.
Try drawing as close to the model as possible. This shorter distance will help you experience more
depth. The further the model is from you, the flatter they will seem. This should begin to help you see
direction into and out of the page.

Forceful Form

Foreshortening is shortening the lines in the drawing to create depth. In this drawing we have a tube.
Its distance from top to bottom is shortened in the drawing on the right. This immediately tells our
brain that it is coming forward. The combination of foreshortening along with size develops dramatic
depth. When students ask me about foreshortening, the first suggestion I have for them is draw what
you actually see. Your mind wants to flatten out what you see. Accept the truth. When a leg for
instance is foreshortened, look at the distance between the joints. Notice how close they are to each



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Since space, or depth of the page, through size is our focus, look at the size of the model’s right foot
relative to her hands, head, or most importantly, her other foot. This is so important because if two of
the same objects are different sizes, we immediately make a visual connection that helps us realize a
change in perspective or distance between them. You can also see some moments of surface line
here. Down the model’s right leg I drew the distances between her joints. Imagine her standing and
how much longer they would become.

Forceful Form

In this drawing, his left hand is the object that is closest to my eye. The reference of his other hand
helps the spatial illusion. See how I structured his arm and hand in the depth it occupies. Now
overlap helps describe form in a foreshortened space along with the shortened distances between
the joints of the arm.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

I love the upward climb. Starting at the left foot, we have an invigorating journey ahead before we
reach the model’s face.

Forceful Form

Here is a fast and aggressive drawing showing a vast amount of depth. See the hands relative to the
model’s face. Look at the distance in the feet. The back foot is tiny in comparison to the hands.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Our triangular trip through space takes us from the model’s right foot to her head and then to her
other foot, where we see a digression in size that makes us see space or depth. Again, also notice
the overlapping to force space. See the foreshortening of the model’s right leg relative to the left.
Look at how close her big toe is to her hip!
All of the topics covered in this chapter are to assist you in describing forceful structure. You need to
be capable of describing forms moving with rhythm in a four-dimensional space. In animation,
surface lines are not evident in the finished product. Moving shapes are important. These shapes are
created via a true understanding of force and form, or in simpler terms, curve to straight. That is the
topic of Chapter 3, forceful shape.

Forceful Form

1. Learn four-point perspective. See the model in space.
2. Practice blind force. Travel with your mind’s eye beyond your paper to the model and follow the
path of force around the surfaces of the model.
3. Sculpt the model. Think about actually touching them with the tip of the china marker.
4. Draw your head many times to see two- and three-point perspective.
5. Pay attention to anatomical centers.
6. Learn anatomy.
7. Walk around the model to become aware of roundness. Sit close to the model to see depth.
8. Get in front of your page while drawing, not behind it.
9. Pay attention to size and overlap.


This page intentionally left blank

Chapter 3
Forceful Shape

John Ruggieri and the late Jack Potter, both of whom were instructors at the School of Visual Arts,
helped me to recognize shapes in life. This made me curious about their expressiveness and
efficiency. It is exciting to see the world in shapes. Everything has shape.


Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Let’s make believe that we are looking through filters when drawing. In Chapter 1, the filter we
peered through was force and its different aspects. The previous chapter’s filter was form and some
pictorial tricks that gave us space. This chapter’s filter is shape. Shape exists because of the first two
Shape gives us immediate width. Shapes can wrap around form to describe a particular mass. In
animation, shapes change from drawing to drawing, which also helps present form.
Again, let’s enjoy shape in a hierarchical manner. The biggest, most encompassing shape is the
silhouette. The silhouette is the filled-in shape created by the outline of the entire object. It is a vital
element to animated drawing. A silhouette helps us see the whole body clearly, without any
interruption. You can see if the story of a pose is clear in its silhouette.
It allows you to see how all parts relate to each other on a flat plane. Here it is the size of shapes that
gives us depth. As I will show you, shape can give you force. A good silhouette can even imply form
by its overlapping shapes. Silhouettes can tell you about character, emotion, and much more. There
are two different kinds of shape: forceful and un-forceful, lively or lifeless.
“What is conceived well is expressed clearly.”
Nicholas Boileau

Forceful Shape

So here is a silhouette of a full female figure. Notice the positive and negative space. There is so
much said with just the silhouette of the figure. We can still see how force pushes this flat shape from
left to right down the page. Don’t forget that the silhouette comes from form. That is why it is the
third chapter! You must clear to see these flat shapes from structure.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Keith’s drawing has a great deal of force and form. You can tell he saw the connection between the
upper and lower body. I love the “drawing through” in the left arm and also the head seen through
the hair. The forceful shape he saw in the model’s left hand is excellent. The drawing’s major
problem lies in its silhouette. The orb the model is holding gets lost within the shape of the body. The
left arm is a clear read. I don’t have students make things up to suit their needs, but what Keith could
have done was physically move to obtain a better vantage-point of the pose for a clearer silhouette.

Forceful Shape

This drawing by Mike D. has a very clear silhouette that was designed from force and form. See the
rhythms and how applied force pushes into the right shoulder and then shoots into the left.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The top of the page shows us three shapes: a circle, a square, and a triangle. None of these shapes
evoke force or form. They have no forceful direction because of their equalization and symmetry in
shape. They are without force. The shapes underneath are full of life and fluidity. I filled the bottom
shape with contour lines to show you how the shape still is filled with structure.

Forceful Shape

A forceful silhouette is a great opportunity to show us all of the above because the silhouette changes
shapes, overlaps, and size. Shape is great for seeing angles and thickness, and gaining a new
awareness that you can have an opinion about.

Here we have the silhouette of a porcupine and a water balloon. One shows us hard, pointy
aggressiveness while the other is soft and placid. Nature has already done a tremendous job of
designing its world. To break both of these shapes down to their simplest components, they are both
created by the relationship between a straight and a cur ved line. The cur ve represents an upward
force while the straight tells of the hard surface on the bottom of both forms. This straight to cur ve is
the beginning of forceful shape. Look for this shape in the figure drawings that follow.
Working at Disney made me realize that there is such a thing as appealing and unappealing shapes.
I prefer forceful and un-forceful shapes. If you truly understand something’s function, it will be
To discuss un-forceful shapes, look at the old cartoons where the characters had rubber-hose arms
and legs. The shapes of their appendages did not lend themselves to asymmetrical, forceful energy.
Their parallel quality created dysfunctional shapes.
Disney’s first feature films suffered from softness. Everything from characters to backgrounds was
primarily created from cur ves. The animation was excellent, but the designs were weak. Believe me,
this is no critique of the stories either.
It was not until “Sleeping Beauty” came along that the studio really caught on to straight to cur ve
design. Although the film was a financial failure, it changed the design principles of the studio. The
dramatic modification took the studio to a contemporary style and thought process that has evolved
to the efficient and graphically strong appearance that it has today. Because of this “Sleeping
Beauty” was a great success. It changed the face of American traditional animation.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

In “Disney Animation, The Illusion of Life” by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston on page 68, there is
a small box that discusses appeal in drawing. It has so much importance yet it is easily passed over
in the book. It briefly talks about the theory that the studio stands on!
I freelanced for Walt Disney Consumer Products before going into feature film and the guys there
were great at appeal. New York’s artists were mainly drawing the traditional Disney characters. That
is where I learned what a great example of appealing design Mickey Mouse is. I heard that tests were
done wherein babies were shown an image of Mickey, and they would smile and laugh. That is
appealing design!
The artists kept telling me to design more. I did my damnedest to make the characters look right and
I thought I was doing a good job. I look back at those drawings today and just want to thank them
for giving me any work at all. They were dreadful. They lacked the spark and clarity of design they
should have had. It took me four months down at the studio in Florida and some great “Timon”
drawings in front of me to finally understand appealing design. It’s strange how the light bulb just
came on. Once you fully understand the theory, you realize just how applicable to reality it is.
Look at the Batman cartoon of today. Bruce Timm has done a great job of designing a character
from a different medium, in this case comics, and converting Batman into an appealing cartoon
design. This design principle has made it possible for the animation to be of higher quality than it
usually is. Intelligent simplicity has lead to a greater product. Samurai Jack is also fantastic because
of the amount of forceful shape applied to the design theory of the cartoon. Characters and
backgrounds are affected. Here you can enjoy it in a graphic, raw representation created by
Genndy Tartakovsky.
Appealing design, or what I like to call forceful shape, helps us see force and form in the construct of
a shape. We do this by being aware of straight to cur ve. We touched upon this in Chapter 1 as it
related to force. Now the relationship of the different forceful lines creates forceful shapes. Straight is
hard structure and cur ved is flexible force.
The trap in trying to draw with shape in mind that I find students fall into is forgetting about force and
form. The theory of forceful shape is not something you have to assert upon the figure. Like the
previous topics we’ve discussed, forceful shape is a reality. Learn to see it.
Effective shape comes from force and form.
The Do’s and Dont’s of Forceful shape
Since we have gone over what kinds of lines create force and form, let’s discuss what kinds of shapes
do and don’t. Notice their similarity to the rules of force from Chapter 1.

Forceful Shape

First the don’t:
1. Don’t create a shape with parallel lines. Force has no way of moving obliquely through the body.
As we will discuss further, human anatomy is not built in a parallel manner.
2. Don’t have the same kind of force on either side of the same shape. I call this mirroring. Here the
forces crash after doing their function.
3. This is similar to number 2 in that the forces mirror each other. Here they collide at the peak of
their function.
Now let’s talk about the do’s:
4. Do draw oblique forces. This is what creates rhythm. Think of the skiing analogy I made earlier.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

5. Do see straight to cur ve simplicity in the figure. Here we have created a shape that has function
or force to it. It is appealing because of its contrast in ideas, and it also has direction. There are
no mirroring moments.
The cur ve is the energy that moves through the shape, and the straight helps direct its path and give
it structure.
6. Do see different kinds of shapes. Here we have straight to cur ve again, but represented in a
different shape.
7. Do see the massive variety in which these rules can be applied. Here is a cur ve against a straight
and a cur ve to give us a play of forces.
8. In this example, I want you to see how shape can explain form. Where the white shape overlaps
the black shape, it describes its surface. The spatial concepts come in handy now. Size, overlap,
and tangent theories help shape gain structure. You should still help yourself feel form to see
more convincing, clear shapes.
An artist that I utilize to show students the graphic yet functional effect of straight to cur ve is Mike
Mignola. He is the creator of “Hellboy,” the comic book. His brilliant designs show forceful figures in
a simple and efficient way. Check him out! His new book, “The Art of Hellboy,” is awesome.

Forceful Shape

I want you to see the differences between the effects of straight lines versus cur ved ones:
1. Here is a forceful drawing with strong cur ves that move us through the model.
2. Look at what happens to energy when the figure is drawn with only straight lines. There is no
forceful power. The drawing seems to be more about angles. If a figure is drawn out of only straight
lines it has no energy, and if it is all cur ves it lacks strength and structure. The balance of the two
within every shape gives us drawings with a sense of believability through contrasting forces.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Here is a sample of just how efficient you can become with your line through the power of forceful
shape. Look at the level of abstraction found here. Overlap becomes essential to fooling us into
seeing depth on the page.
Going back to the hierarchical way of thinking, shape can be used on a large scale, first to address
the greater issues and then the smaller ones. Again, we will start in a generic, graphic manner to
pursue the issue of straight to cur ve design and then move onto specifics. Big straights to cur ves first.

Forceful Shape

See the animated shapes in these drawings. Notice the absence of mirroring and how there is a
straight for every cur ve of force. See the silhouette. Shape 1 and shape 4 both represent the torso of
the body. In this comparison, they are opposite in function. Shapes 2 and 3 are basically the same
idea for both legs. See how shape 5 seamlessly moves us into shape 6.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The road of rhythm is created by the overlap of forceful shapes from one to four. Shape one is our
first in the pyramid, explaining the majority of the body. For depth, notice the size difference in
her feet.

Forceful Shape

Here are some fast drawings that show the efficiency of using shape. Shape along with some overlap
gives immediate form. The leg has straight to cur ve and the knee overlapping the shin give the leg



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Look at the extremeness of the pose. See the straight of the chest relative to the cur ve of the back.
We can see a smaller representation of this in the model’s arm. The straight to cur ves move us from
the deltoid to the triceps to the forearm and into the hand. Also notice the size difference in the feet
for depth. See the thumbnail for clarification.

Forceful Shape

This silhouette gives us a clear contrapposto pose, the oblique balance between the torso and hips.
This originates with the straight to cur ve of the upper body. We can see the plane of perspective she
is standing on because of the location of her feet relative to one another. Look at the straight to
cur ve shape of her left hand and the size difference between both hands. This implies depth. Her
facial profile gives us the direction that her head is pointing in. I also reveal the design of her right
leg. See how it is structure that creates the shapes.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

Mike Roth’s drawing has simplified the body into the straight to cur ve shapes. Look at the back
relative to the front of the ribcage. The right arm and leg are other good examples of this theory. The
fluid hair shape is fun, too. See also the size effect of the foot here.

Forceful Shape

In this drawing, let’s look at how straight to cur ve strengthened the story of the pose. The cur ve of
the front of the model’s ribcage and belly is not strong enough in the large drawing. He weakly
leans to the left side of the page. Through seeing silhouette and the concept of straight to cur ve,
I strengthened the push of the back into the belly with the straights in the upper back and hips. This
helps the clarity of the rest of the pose as seen in the thumbnail. I like the strong cur ve of the left arm
pulling on the belt.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

The largest example of forceful shape is her upper body. The left side is the straight and the right is
the cur ve. This drawing is full of stronger against weaker cur ves like the one in her right foot. This
same shape appears again in legs, arms, and the fold of skin that wraps around her ribcage. Also,
there is a subtle straight that runs from one knee, through her hips, across to the other knee with the
bottom of her butt be the cur ve.

Forceful Shape

The sense of straight to cur ve in this drawing starts to create an abstract and appealing quality to
the work.



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

This experience was exciting in combining force, form, shape, and some texture. Remember to see
the big straight to cur ve ideas of the body to create a more forceful silhouette. You can see the
straight line I thought about going down the right side of the body. That helps us push the cur ve out
on the left.

Forceful Shape

Forceful shapes can get more specific. I want to discuss some powerful theories about the anatomy
of the body that pertain to force and rhythm as seen by forceful shape. The body, as I said earlier, is
built to move. Its musculature is set up in traverse angles from one area in the figure to another.
These relationships allow it to perform. If you work out or you are a physical therapist, you know
exactly what I am talking about. The biceps are opposite in function to the triceps. The biceps bring
your hands to your shoulders and your triceps help straighten your arm.
In the following drawings, we will travel from simple to complex depictions of the power of the
human form through forceful shape.

Here I want you to see that, as a whole, the body looks symmetrical. Because of this, the torso of the
figure feels rigid. Its left and right edges are a mirror image of one another, causing forces to collide



Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators

(as the arrows show). The torso does not work from left to right, but from front to back. It is in the
torso’s profile that we see how this complex organic entity is built to move and