Balance and Weight

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For a figure to look right in its surroundings, it needs to have balance and look like it has weight. One of the problems with posing a figure in a virtual setting, whether it is with a software program such as Figure Artist or with a wooden mannequin, is the fact that it is easy to pose a figure that looks slightly odd or out of place. There could be a number of reasons for this, but the most common one is that the figure may not look like it fits in the setting. The perspective could be off. The lighting might be wrong. More than likely, the character might not be completely balanced or there might be a lack of weight to the figure.


If the character is off balance, viewing it will be uncomfortable because there will be a feeling of an impending fall. This is not always bad if there is a good reason for the off-balance pose, but it is bad if it is the artist's oversight. In Figure 5.4 the character is leaning to one side. He looks as if he is about to fall. The viewer might feel the need to try to catch him.

Being off balance is not always a bad thing. If you are working on an action drawing, you can use balance as a point of action. Say, for instance, that you are working on a picture of a person running. When a person runs, their weight is shifted forward in an off-balance position. Standing still in that position would likely cause the runner to topple over. The viewer recognizes the off-balance position of the person and interprets it as part of the running motion.

Comic book artist often have their superhuman characters in impossible poses. The exaggeration of the pose can give the picture the feeling of movement and superhuman powers. Figure 5.5 shows a character in an action pose. Not only is the character not balanced, but he is flying, something that a normal human can't do.

Because artificial environments don't have gravity (this includes your drawings), you have to compensate by learning how to keep your drawings balanced. You do this by locating the center of mass of the body and then determining whether it is supported by the figure. To find the center of mass, look to the person's hips. Even though the chest or upper torso of some characters might be larger than the hip area, the hips are what really determine the balance of a figure. Following is an example of how you might check the balance on your figures.

Figure 5.5 Some poses are off balance on purpose.

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