Poses and Anatomy


Starting a piece can be challenging to many artists on different levels. The composition must be useful to understand the portrayed scene, and finding the correct poses of the character/s is usually a process that takes some time. So this short tutorial will mention a few easy tricks to make it easier. This tutorial doesn't explain how to draw anatomy, it just helps with the poses. Lead to the Anatomy Tutorial 2.0 if you are interested in body composition and forms.


Here's a few points that can help creating more dynamic figures. It doesn't work for all pieces, but at least these are a few ideas for when it's needed.

  • One hand free, one hand busy. Meanwhile one hand takes the center of attention, by doing an action, the other one may support it, be hidden, or just add extra flow to the piece. Usually, the half jar pose is used so shows movement to what's static.
  • For a more cartoonish style, exaggerating the poses is important. Yet for realistic styles, it would be preferred to keep in mind the capabilities of the anatomy. 
  • Center the gravity point, which is located behind the navel on human bodies. Draw a straight line to the floor, so you can set the supports that work with balancing the body. The legs, a chair, sofa, rock, weapon, etc. You have to keep in mind the weight and effort holding stuff, if your character does so. So the back and shoulders will bend, as well as the legs, in order to make it possible to bear.
  • When falling, it depends if the character is in control or not. In case it is in control, Feet will be ready to land, so it would look like sitting in the air. But if it isn't, the first reaction is always to put the arms in front of the face, so arms and knees would land first. 
  • For running poses, the feet is the gravity support, so one of them should be on the floor. Otherwise it feels like the character is not in control, it feels weak. 
  • Search for the perspective that allows a character to show the emotions and feelings. Seen from above, it feels like the body is smaller, weaker. Seen from under, the point of view shows a powerful character.


 Every artist has their own method that works for them. But in this tutorial I would rather point out something really important. I've seen many artists who always say that they have problems with posing a character, because they lose the anatomy rules through perspective. And I've seen their primary sketches as well. Woop. There's something in common in all of them! So basically, there's two main way to build bodies (artistically speaking): Circles and Squares.

    • Circles: The easy way to build a body, from the junctures and bending points. Used for fast sketching, and it's the option most untrained artists use... But is it the best for learning? Probably not.
    • Squares: Encaging the characters is a way to keep better proportions. Once you determine the height of the body, all you need to do is remember how many squares ocupy each limb. Usually, as you might have already guessed, the squares' size is stated by the head. And bodies are usually between 7,5 to 8 Heads tall.