Sunday, November 29, 2009

Studies from last year - Line of action for animals

I first learned about the "Line of Action" (shortened "LOA" in my notes) reading John K.'s excellent animation blog ( ). The concept is summed up in this picture by Preston Blair:

Arguably the most dynamic-looking poses are those which can be synthesized with just one or two lines of this kind. There is much information about using LOAs to draw human and human-like bodies in motion, but I couldn't find much about using it for animal motion, such as running horses or birds in flight seen from od angles.

So I found it very instructive to study animal photos and decide out which lines stand out in each pose for me. They are the lines which might serve as LOAs for drawing that pose. (Sorry for the unreadable notes in the pictures - these were the last sketches I did like that before sticking to uppercase.)

Solid red lines are the lines I see most prominent in the original. Dashed red lines are the ones I used, which I thought made the pose slightly better looking.

Things I noticed in these first experiments:
- Drawing with LOAs in mind is useful when using photos as references, to avoid the temptation of just copying exactly the photo.
- If at the end of the main line there is a part of the body pointing in a different direction, e.g. a muzzle or a limb, it adds to the feeling of movement. See the bats and dolphin. If the muzzles followed the solid line the bodies would look a bit too simple.
- Making a LOA turn into a spiral is necessary to draw certain animal bodies, especially when odd tails are involved. There is no way to draw a nice chamaleon using just the Blair rule of slightly curved lines...

Monday, November 23, 2009

First post!

This new blog is for sharing sketches and studies. My old blog is still visible on but will no longer be updated. I used to post mostly finished art there, but that wasn't very useful, so I got better organized to share pictures all the way from the initial idea to the finished piece, and also ideas which might not make it to a finished picture.

Also I did a lot of basic exercise during 2009 - life drawing, composition studies on animals, etc. - and I'll be scanning and posting them along with the current pictures. I hope this will be interesting for other artists who are facing the same problems I wonder about when I draw animals and anthro animals, for example how to exploit tails and wings for composition, how to apply the classical rules of composition to animal bodies without distorting them too much, how to make an animal's species recognizable in spite of stylization, and so on.

But first some work in progress on next painting!

In some country areas there is this stupid tradition of nailing owls to the barn doors in order to keep back the devil and ill luck. Probably it is still done in some places. Not sure how it is done in reality, but I got this idea of an owl nailed by the wings, as it reminds a lot of a cruficied human.

The preliminary sketches. Nowadays I decide almost all details of the pose with thumbnails and geometry studies like these, especially when I'm not sure about the anatomy of what I'm drawing. Started out trying to do a profile but the final version is shown at an angle so the wings and the expression can be quite visible.

Copied by sight on the canvas, on a basic desaturated underpainting. Since most of the plkumage is white I started by deciding where the highlights will go exactly. This painting is done in acrylic gouaghe. I need to work on colors so I'm using a simple palette: titanium white, PBk11 black, natural sienna, ultramarine, plus bits of quinacridone magenta.

The first approximation of shadows and main shapes, for now I'm using mostly black and white with a bit of sienna.

I lost some control after that as I'm not yet able to handle value gradients well. Also the strong highlights should have been left for later. I'll continue from here trying to improve that - also the flash of the camera is disrupting the colors though, the white and blue are not so blinding in RL!