okay so first off i just want to say that i am still learning this stuff myself
i only started to really try to branch away from sameface/samebody syndrome within the last few months and i still have a lot to learn!
but so yeah i thought i’d start by first posting some of my inspiration?? like if i am stuck for body shapes, etc, i actually keep a folder on my computer where i save images that have bodytypes i think are interesting (photos, illustration, animation stills, character design sketches, etc.)
i think the easiest way to really study body shapes is to go to cartoons! real life helps a lot, too, of course - it gives you the foundation and basic understanding of structure - but it doesn’t give you the exaggeration.
pixar and other such animation studios are, of course, the immediate go to
the most basic thing to understand about drawing bodies is that bodies are, essentially, shapes and that different shapes express different types of people. there are always going to be characters who contradict the stereotypes of their body types (the big buff guy who loves flower braiding and baby bunnies, the tiny little girl who wears pastel colors but listens to death metal and hates your guts), but most of the time a character’s body type is meant to indicate some aspect of their personality (because fiction is not real life so we can do stuff like that) (also, another note, when a character’s body type contradicts their personality, that also becomes part of the character design and usually indicates some sort of discrepancy between A) how the character is viewed and how they view themselves, B) how they act and how they want to act, C) some form of repression of the self or of secret desires)
basically, using shapes to create characters should be viewed as a way to instantly tell the viewer something about the character (which is why i am talking about this before actually drawing anything). because the way a character looks should express who they are (or who they want to be, or who they aren’t, or it should deliberately hide those things).
the other thing i am going to talk on before drawing is posture. posture is very important! it is also part of shape, but a bit more specific. characters can have the exact same body build, but their shapes will vary due to posture, and this also becomes part of the character! an accountant could have the same body type as a lawyer, but they will (probably) stand very differently (the accountant stereotype would be more likely to have poor posture and hold himself in a manner that expresses introversion, where a lawyer stereotype is more likely to have a straight, expansive posture; one is keeping to themselves, the other is more invasive to the spaces of others!)
to put it simply: it’s an issue of concave versus convex!
okay i have talked a lot, now let’s actually draw some things!
here are some shapes
you might say “wow, maya, those shapes are really boring!”
well, duh, they are the most basic shapes ever! and we are starting from the basics so of course they will look dumb!
but even with just these, look at the variation we can already get!
you don’t know any of these characters but already none of them feel the same! they are even have almost no height differentiation and they still look pretty okay!
where it gets fun, though, is combining shapes!
another fun thing to do is to use bottle shapes or the shapes of objects around you as inspiration!
most of the time, these things will look super weird, but don’t sweat it, it’s just an exercise!
after a while of doing this sort of thing, you’ll find out you have a few shapes that tend to be your favorites. here are mine:
as you have see, i have a tendency not to pay as close attention to differentiation in legs as i should! this is something i need to work on
legs are important because they really change the way a character reads in terms of balance
my favorite example for this is the beast
whether in disney or in traditional folklore, the beast is always a highly unbalanced character, emotionally, mentally, and physically. he is very top heavy with a very small surface area to stand on. sometimes he even has hooves, which makes that area even smaller! this is because he is standing upright when his form is clearly much better suited to being on all fours. this is important because it means that A) he is defying his nature to appear civil B) he is unbalanced and prone to fall (both emotionally and physically) C) it is very easy to indicate his horrible tempers because his emotional and mental changes are mirrored very clearly in his physical state (anger = animalistic = on all fours)
the incredibles also have incredibly tiny feet, but this is because they are all very fast! they have to appear light on their feet and even when they stand still, their poses have to give a sort of indication of momentum! if they had big, clunky feet they would look clunky and slow.
conversely, road runner’s large feet mean that he has total control - he is balanced, constant, and has a grip on the situation.
this is a very purposeful design (as well as a decision to make is aesthetically fit into the funny animals category of traditional animation). real road runners do not look like that!
one of my favorite examples for character design is up
the characters are roughly the same height but takes less than a second to see that they are not going to be the same sort of person. it’s a different between a boxy, compact shape telling us that carl f is going to be firmly regimented and unwilling to change or adapt and a balloon shape that indicates buoyancy and eagerness.
i hope this all makes sense!
also hi this didn’t really end up being a drawing tutorial, did it. oops.
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