Body Language

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Body language can be any expressive aspect of a person. It can be as simple as a facial expression or as complex as a way of walking. It includes the way a person moves and the specific position a person assumes in any given situation.

Some aspects of body language are cultural, such as bowing or shaking hands, while others are universal, such as narrowing the eyebrows for anger and slumping the shoulders when one is tired. The custom of shaking hands, as shown in Figure 5.23, originated back in the days when men carried swords or knives. If someone offered you his hand, it was a literal sign of trust and friendship.

When you consider a pose for one of your drawings, you might want to first consider whether you want to express a message as part of your drawing. Consider how that message can come across in the pose of the figure. For example, Figure 5.24 shows a pose of a woman looking at her watch. A drawing of her could express impatience.

With an understanding of how to incorporate body language into your drawing, you can express almost any emotion. The pose in Figure 5.25 indicates surprise. Her body posture and her facial expression emphasize this emotion. Her hands are open and turned up. She is leaning away from the source of her surprise, as if she is about ready to run.

Figure 5.26 shows a confident swagger in the figure's walk.

Learning the language of the body can help to give your drawing a more expressive touch. The best way to learn is to watch. Go out to a park for lunch and watch people as they interact with each other. See whether you can pick up on personality traits just by how people move, sit, stand, or play. Take a sketchbook with you and make some quick sketches, concentrating mainly on learning the language of the human form.

Figure 5.23 Shaking hands was and still is symbolic of trust and friendship.

Figure 5.24 This pose might be used to express impatience.

Figure 5.23 Shaking hands was and still is symbolic of trust and friendship.

Figure 5.24 This pose might be used to express impatience.

Figure 5.25 In this pose, the figure is surprised.

Figure 5.26 The figure has a confident swagger to her walk.

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