Every good action pose should have a suggestion of "sweep." Perhaps I can best describe sweep by saying that the movement which immediately precedes the pose is still felt. On the following pages I have tried to show this sweep or the line that the limbs have just followed. The cartoonist can add terrifically to the sense of motion by drawing his sweep with lines back of a moving hand or foot.
The only way to get sweep in the line is to have your model go through the entire movement and observe it carcfully, choosing th^; instant that suggests the most movement. Usually the action can be best expressed if you use the start or finish of the sweep. A baseball pitcher suggests the most action either as he is all wound up, ready to throw, or just as he lets go of the ball. A golfer expresses movement best at the start or finish of the swing. If you were to show him on the point of hitting the ball, your drawing would have no action pietorially, and he would appear only to be addressing the ball in his ordinary stance. A horse seems to be going faster when his legs are either all drawn up under him or fully extended. The pendulum of a clock appears to l>c moving when it is at cither extreme of its swing. A hammer raised from a nail suggests a harder blow and more movement than if it were shown close to the nail.
For psychological effect in drawing, it is essential to acquire the full range of movement. The observer must be made to complete the full motion, or to sense the motion that has just been completed. You would instinctively duck from a fist drawn way back from your face, whereas you might not withdraw at all from a fist two inches away. The prize fighter has learned to make good use of this psychology in his short punches.
Another means of illustrating action is to show its result or effect, as, for instance, a glass that has fallen over and spilled its contents, with an arm or hand just above it. The actual movement has been completed. Another example is that of a man wliu luii> fallen down after a blow, with the arm that hit him still extended.
There are instances, however, when the middle of the action is best. This is eallcd "suspended action." A horse in the act of clearing a fence, a diver in mid-air, a building collapsing-are all examples of suspended action.
Fix in your mind the whole sweep of action and make little sketches at this point. At times you can help the action with a bit of blur, some dust, a facial expression. The cartoonist can write in, Swish, Smack, Zowie, Bmg, "Crash," but you may not.
If you perform the action, it helps to give you the feel of it. Get up and do it, even if it does seem "a little silly. If you can study the action in front of a large mirror, so much the better. There should be a mirror in every studio.
Some of your "action" camera shots may be disappointing unless you keep these facts in mind; knowing them helps you click the shutter at the precise moment.
Was this article helpful?