Posing the Figure

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The human figure is an expressive form. Often you can tell what people are thinking by how they stand or hold themselves. When doing figure drawings, you will be confronted with the choice of how to pose your figures. This decision can be critical to the success of the drawing. Look at the difference between the stances shown in Figure 5.1. Can you describe the emotion of each figure?

The human body has an expressiveness that communicates through an unspoken language often referred to as body language. As an artist, you must learn this language and become as expressive with it as a writer is with words.

Much of the choice of how you want to pose the figures in your drawings is determined by the purpose or goal of your drawing. It begins with the creative germ of an idea that is developed sometimes well before a pencil is put to paper. Sometimes the idea developed is wholly the artist's, although many times the artist has influence from outside sources, such as in the case of commissioned work or commercial art.

Another important aspect of posing a character is the physical association of the body with the environment. Because we live in a physical world, our bodies are subjected to a number of physical forces, not the least of which is gravity. A pose that is off balance or ignores the effects of gravity can often make for an awkward-looking drawing. While this may not be as much of a problem when drawing from life, it does become a problem when posing a figure in a virtual setting.

The third element to posing a figure that will be covered in this chapter is beauty. The human form is considered by many to be the ultimate expression of beauty. It has the potential to inspire the mind and enrich the soul, but like any subject, it can also be seen as awkward or unsettling depending on how it is portrayed.

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