A rhythm is the beautiful interplay of different energies 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. Understanding 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.
Be owore of the ongles of the body. The drawing on the right shows you how they are created by the f orces. 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 f igure 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.
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 three. 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 f rom one place to another.
I hove token 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.
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, ribcoge, 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 f rom 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 topic:
1. A man's center of gravity is in his chest, a woman's closer to her pelvis. Woman 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 cen-terline 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.
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.
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.
Look ot how connected the body's rhythms ore. 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 f igure. 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.
There is o greot 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.
Here I wont you to look ot rhythm's rood ond see how it continuously creates equilibrium.
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.
Michael D. Mattesi \ 29 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.
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 f lat-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.
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 sterno-cleido-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.
First, look at how much attention I gave the sweep of the back. Then look at how this force relates to the hips and head. See here 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 top drawing demonstrates a straight tubular neck with no relationship to the back. The second is correct with its opposing force.
This pose feels fost. Look ot 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 ribcoge is her upper back, which then rhythmically connects us with her neck through the sterno.
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.
In two minutes, each of the drawings above hos 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 anatomy.
The model did o 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.
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