Figure construction using
cylinders, circles and lines of action.
First begin with a LINE OF
ACTION. The LINE OF ACTION should always be active. Avoid vertical lines — they
are still and can make your character wooden. Try a sweeping curve, a diagonal
or horizontal LINE OF ACTION.
Add some simple shapes to the
LINE OF ACTION. Think of these shapes as three dimensional, i.e., as FORMS with
We now need to build some
STRUCTURE in our character. Draw simple lines for the structure of the arms and
TIP: The hips are always attached across from each other and they are
always opposite each other. If one is forward, the other is back. If one is up,
the other is down.
Create forms around the
line of structure for the arms and legs. Most of the time you will be using
different shapes of cylinders. Curved lines against curves or, better yet,
curved lines against straight lines form more dynamic and interesting shapes
Know which direction the
The neck is always on the
front side of the body and not on the top of the shoulders.
Finally, hang the clothes over
the forms. The details are the last elements you add to a character design.
TIP: Work RUFF and LOOSE; it will add more action attitude and
spontaneity to your designs.
- Start with a LINE OF
- Add SIMPLE SHAPES.
- Define the character’s
- Add the FORMS.
- Finish off with the
clothes, fur, etc.
- Details are added last.
Character Construction with Line of Action and Silhouette Theory:
The concept of line of action
and silhouette helps in creating dynamic poses so that animation will look more
appealing. Line of action is nothing but the imaginary area that exists in the
centre of the character on which the entire character is built. Silhouette
concept enhances the animation, to project the action of the particular pose
even when there is no light put on the character. Silhouette can be defined as
the shadow of the character in the darkness.
Basic Head Construction: 1
Character Design for the Head
is very simple. Like all character design is it based on simplified anatomy and
construction. All characters can be broken down into basic 3D shapes or forms.
Once we have the ball. We draw
an eyeline horizontally around the ball. Then, draw a line vertically, the
centerline, perpendicular to the eyeline.
The bottom of the eyes is
anchored to the eyeline. The top of the nose is anchored below the eyeline. The
eye lines show the up and down and tilt directions of the head.
HINT: Due to perspective the eye closer is larger than the eye
farthest from us. The centerline shows us the left and right direction the ball
(or character) is facing.
Add the pupils and the mouth
and bottom lip. Bottom lips are very important to expressions and dialog.
HINT: The mouth is drawn slightly to one side – it keeps the design
asymmetrical and it makes the character more appealing.
The pupils are always drawn as
complete shapes (a) – and not as cutouts (b). Add the ears (c)
for human characters they generally begin at the eyeline. Find the crown of the
head at the back and draw the hair forward from there.
HINT: Think of it as covering the ball shape of the head. Continue to
cover the sides of head (ball) and you have the basic head construction.
When drawing eyes begin with
the pupil and let the eye shape and the eye brow radiate from it.
Using the same principles of a
simple head design, let’s create other characters.
Again, draw a ball, and then
draw the eyeline and the centerline. Remember, these lines always curve around
the ball. In fact, draw 2 or 3 balls with eye lines and centerlines. Now add the
eyes (anchored above the eye lines) and forms for snouts or muzzles below the
HINT: Part of designing characters is play so play with different
forms (3D shapes).
Draw a ball with the eyeline
and centerline (a). Draw the eyes above… and the snout below… (b). Note in
drawing (c), the bottom of the snout or muzzle is the top of the animal’s mouth.
Also, when the character has really large eyes, you can draw brows above the
eyes. These brows parallel the eye shape.
Basic Head Construction: 2
Obviously, not all character’s
heads are designed as perfectly round. This section shows how to create more
complex character head construction.
We can accomplish our task by
adding to the ball shape below the eyeline – a combination cheek and jaw line –
that extends from one side of the eyeline to the other side of the eyeline.
HINT: This cheek/jaw line comes in handy for squashing and stretching
the cheek/jaw line during lip sync (dialog).
We can combine both the
cheek/jaw line with a snout to create even more complex characters. Let’s take
LaMatt the dog and construct him. Again, we begin with the ball, eyeline. Center
line and cheek/jaw line.
Next we add a 3D form for the
Then we draw in the eye sockets
and a nose.
Finally we complete LaMatt by
adding a mouth, ears and fur and other assorted details.
Just remember that the details
are always added last.
Character Construction with