Captain's Orders #2 - "Waisted!"

Ahoy Shipmates, Crew and Visitors!!!!

I am finally getting back to me regularly scheduled Cap'n's BLOG'n and here is the latest installment of the "Captain Order's" tutorial series, titled "Waisted"!

This will be a brief description of how to use elements of the body from the waist up to to really create impact in your comics and illustrations. When restricting the elements like this and leaving out the legs and lower torso, you really have to learn to focus the power in a new way. As is common with my tutorials, I will show the basic structure of the body in the way that I normally build the frame, then I will add in other elements to show the more texture and finishing extras that can help to emphasis the characters motion and stature. I will explain this in more detail below. When finished with the tutorial, I will have a finished illustration from my very first post that shows this very information put to use in a fully penciled and lightly photoshopped manner.

So lets begin!!

Element #1 - "All in the arch" 
     One of most important element of any character illustration; human, alien, monster or animal is the overall shape that character take in each image. This is where the lessons of amazing artists like Chris Oatley are so important. You must establish a proper structure in the very beginning to have everything else connect to. when done right, the art will feel well connected, when done wrong your audience will always feel a level of discomfort because something in the structure is not right.

This is why the shape of the back and ribcage is so important. It is one of the most basic structures in the body and eventually almost everything in the body connects back to it. This is where we as artist have a real level of control and can create great moments of impact. #1 - When you settle the figure in a strong, straight upward pose it automatically establishes the characters attitude as stable for the moment (or conniving with a change in the facial expression). #2 - Also, when saddened, a character generally rolls over onto itself making itself smaller to express its emotion. #3 - Then, we have a character that desires to intimidate and pound an enemy and for one like this, his chest is opened wide and back is fully arched backward to make himself larger and give him the positions to strike with.

Each is show below missing arms so that you can see how just the torso and head can begin to establish these emotions and states of mind.

Element #2 - "Up in arms!"
     Simple step, add the arms in different positions to help further the character's visual statement. You need to ensure that the arms are still conveying the same emotion as the torso, otherwise the body is confusing its purpose and then the audience. Hint: Never give your audience an opportunity for unintentional confusion. I will separate them from the reading experience and then away from your story. Also, confusion is a powerful emotion and can be very useful in your story when used on purpose!

What? Are ya gonna hit me with those roses?! Gotta make that arm match the torso!

Element #3 - "U talk'n ta' me?!"
     Use the head in as many gestures as reasonable. It is a great way to add the character's personality (cuz we probably all know someone whose neck movements do half the talking for them) and it is an awesome way to give a character a neat quirk too. A simple head tilt can convey intrigue or confusion. Also, if the head is turned in a different way than the body you can use this to help direct the reader to an area of the page or to specific information. We as artists need to use every tool at our disposal to aid the reader in following and understanding the story. And unlike a novel, we can use images wisely to direct the reader without words.

Helpless, the direction of his eyes contradicts the way his body is turning away

Our precious Fairy Queen. Honest and confused, her head still balanced at the center even on a tilt. 
( Look at the spot between her eyes and line it up to the center of the base of her neck. )

Extra note - The triangular torso
     There are many times that I only want or have time to make waist-up illustrations but I still want them to look and feel finished. To do this I angle off the drawing with either interesting clothing or shapely cuts to end the muscle groups at a clean stopping point. I like to do this by using the natural shapes of the body. In the case of humans, we can cut the shape like an upside-down triangle leaving the lower point at the base of the torso and having the two side off of that point travel along the abs and obliques to the hips. This helps to make clean lines and to slenderize the figure at the same time.

Finisher - The Winged Artist
     As promised, below is a finished image I created around July of last year. It was made for the first art contest of Paper Wings Podcast and it uses these very techniques that I mention in this post. Here is the link to the post with this drawing in it. It was the very first Captain's BLOG post ever!!!!

All right my friends, I believe that will do it for this Captain's Orders Post! Thank you all for visiting and I will be back soon with more awesome content. Please let me know if you have any questions!

May the winds be at your backs and friends be at your sides. Blessed be your journeys.

Captain Dutz

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