(This excerpt is from a rough draft of the Pose Drawing Sparkbook, a super-charged sketchbook designed to help you put more life and personality into your drawings. Think of it as acting exercises for your sketchbook.Read other snippets here and here.)
As human beings we all experience the same basic emotions, but everyone has their own unique personality through which those emotions are filtered. This can make for interesting results.
Sometimes emotions and personality can overlap. For instance, everyone has situations in which they feel confident but there are some people for whom confidence seems to be a defining characteristic. They are up for any challenge and not easily discouraged.
Likewise, when a naturally confident person begins to feel nervous they may demonstrate it differently than a timid person who is nervous all the time. The confident person may try to hide their nervousness whereas a timid person may wear it on their sleeve for all to see. Both are experiencing the same feeling but it comes out in very different ways.
Here are two boys waiting for the bus. Let’s call the Tommy and Timmy. From their poses we can tell that Timmy is shy and insecure. His back is hunched over, his chin is down, and his knees and elbows are pulled in. He is taking a clear posture of submission. Tommy, on the other hand, stands strong and confident. His feet are apart and his back is arched. He is the more powerful of the two and he knows it.
Now lets take that simple set-up and turn it on it’s head. A snake slithers by and the usually-confident Tommy is suddenly gripped with fear. Drawing Tommy climbing onto Timmy’s back not only creates a comical visual, but it is also consistent with their personalities. Tommy is still pushing Timmy around. He’s forcing himself on Timmy and using Timmy as a sort of shield. Timmy, on the other hand, is clearly not afraid. He is curious and even excited, yet he is still accepting a submissive role. Either that, or he is so excited about this wonder of creation that he is oblivious to Tommy’s bullying.
In this short little scene we see each character expressing both confidence and fear – but those same emotions are revealing themselves in different ways, consistent with their overall personalities.
Read two more Sparkbook Snippets: “Action Reveals Character” and “Acting With The Entire Body”. The Pose Drawing Sparkbook is now available for pre-order. Also, don’t forget to download your free list of 100 Sketchbook Ideas as my gift to you.