Character Pose Design


Hi there! In this tutorial, I'm going to show you some useful considerations and tools that you can use to update your posture designs.

Designing a posture

This is one of the best ways to convey a character's personality and attitude. Before I start drawing, I like to ask myself: What aspect of this character do I want to show through posture? This aspect can be a personality trait, an emotion, a situation they are in, or a body trait ... or all at once! Let's look at some simple examples:

1) Posture to show a personality trait:

In this case, I think the posture and gesture help to interpret the character as somewhat mischievous and playful. He happily leaps into battle and those characteristics can be seen in his posture. This type of drawing requires that you take into account the entire design of the character and his personality, so that you can imagine HOW that particular character will move.

2) Posture to reinforce an action or attitude:

Look for references for the pose you want to draw, especially when you want to draw live action, such as someone falling or freaking out. This can be intertwined with the previous point, because in the same situation, each character will react in their own way, but they can also develop a situation without thinking too much about the character itself. In these examples, the monkey and the tigers are too simple, but I wanted to focus only on the action that took place in each drawing: a fall and a scare. I recommend that you practice drawing poses without thinking too much about the character, so that the pose is not limited by the character's design.

3) Posture to highlight a characteristic of the body:

Think about which part of the character is most important to your design and create a pose that highlights it. In this case, I wanted to keep the waist clean in a "flowing" posture and one arm behind the head. Based on these two considerations, I did the rest of the pose and designed the body and clothing accordingly. In this setup, I tend to design the entire character while doing it, so I just focus on the pose I want to do.

On the flow and the line of action

The line of action is what gives life to the position and, therefore, to the character. This line simply summarizes the entire pose in a single stroke and is extremely useful as a start to build the entire pose and body structure of the character. Exaggerating the fluidity of the line of action can add a LOT of life!

I recommend that you practice loose curved lines that try to convey a complete posture and your general attitude. This is especially important when designing the pose itself.

To that line of action, you can add a simple structure for the body. This is a tricky part of the process, because it often ends up stiff. For these cases, I want to highlight a very simple and easy trick that will help you to give dynamism to the postures.

As many classical painters and sculptors did before us, use the CONTRAST technique (sorry, I don't know what it is called in other languages, "counterpost" could be in English). This is a technique that helps to energize a posture, creating imaginary axes that join both shoulders, hips, knees and even eyes. Leaning these axes in different directions helps add movement and flexibility to the posture. Let's look at this more directly:

In the first case, the axes are completely horizontal, while in the second case, the inclined axis works as a guide to vary the posture. Pay special attention to the opposite directions of the shoulders and hips! these two axes are the most important !!

So, let's combine the line of action and the axis with opposite directions:

The line of action and the axis should help each other to orient the view and generate a path through the drawing. Use the posture design to guide the viewer through the important points of your image. For this, even a wrinkle in clothes can be useful! Let's see some examples:

In the following image you can see how the strands of hair, the posture and position of the hands, a bag, the edge of a wing or tail, can be used to generate imaginary directions within the drawing itself to reinforce and accompany the line of action .

About 3D references, tangents, and hollow spaces

Sometimes I have the posture a little messy in my mind, so the 3D models that Clip Studio provides help me a lot to visualize and correct it. So to start with, I want to show you two different uses of a 3D model:

A) You can use it as a direct guide and draw directly on it. Depending on your drawing style, this may not be the best way because it makes you adapt your style to the model. This can make your drawing feel a little crooked or stiff, compared to your previous drawings. This is also true for images if you draw directly on them!

B) The other option is to use the model for reference only, drawing next to it to help configure the structure correctly and thus maintain the proportions of the body. This allows you to have the pose already defined by the model and then be able to concentrate on drawing the character using your own style. This also gives the opportunity to change the pose a bit in your favor, and according to your personal preferences. In the example below, you can see that I took the opportunity to exaggerate the posture of the upper body a bit, I also changed the proportions of the face and made a more delicate posture with the hand that was holding the fan.

As you can see, if I place the two drawings next to each other, the pose remains the same, but I would say that the one on the right seems more consistent and dynamic than the other.

Of course, this is my personal preference as I prefer to force the curves and angles a bit to make the character look a bit sexier / flexible / agile. Still, we can compare the silhouettes of both drawings and study whether the pose is easy to read or not ...

To this, I can make several comments:

1) In area 1: drawing B has less space between the head / hair and the arm… the hair strands almost touch the fabric, and that creates a point of tension that draws the eye to an irrelevant place. Still, in the same section of drawing A, the empty space makes it easier to read, but the angle of the arm also makes it stiffer.

2) In area 2: Drawing A has more space as the torso is less contorted than drawing B. But, drawing B can be easily read even though it has fewer empty areas, as the arm and fabric also coincide with the inclination of the hips, which gives it more movement than in drawing A.

3) Area 3: In drawing A, this space is almost non-existent and it is a bit difficult to read the position of the leg, but this is somewhat offset by the toe of the shoe that can be seen behind the leg in the front . Drawing B has a wider space between the two legs, but that position hides the shoe behind the leg at the front.

So, let's take these considerations to fix the whole pose and get the perfect drawing! First, I'll start modifying the 3D model itself a bit. If you select the model layer and the editing options do not appear, press the button I marked:

So I changed the model a bit to clarify the silhouette following the previous study, also putting more emphasis on the face, which is the part that matters most to me. (I give explanations on how to precisely move 3D models later)

Then I drew the character again, also getting rid of the bow at the waist, which bothered me. Let's compare the three silhouettes:

As you can see, this way the silhouette is clearer in drawing C. I even managed to show the shoe behind the leg in the front and still maintain an empty space between both legs. Still I had to sacrifice tape and sleeve size to keep the gaps. You should always consider the location, number, and size of empty spaces to balance the pose.

Note that "empty spaces" do not always mean truly "empty" spaces; It is about selecting where to put more information or detail and how to give this feature sufficient distance from other important spaces, so that each one can be seen independently. Let's see an example:

In this drawing, the initial sketch had very little space between the cup and the face, and also the arms appear to be too close to the torso. By moving your arms to the sides a bit, the resulting gap makes it easy to read the look on your face regardless of the glass, and it also leaves a bit of room to add a small ear bow; At the same time, the posture now seems more relaxed and more in sync with the situation the character is in. So in this case, there is more "space" but it is not "empty", and it allows the posture to be more easily readable.

So now that we're at this point, let's talk about TANGENTS. In the drawing, tangents are lines that come very close to or even touch other lines, but do not cross them. This type of line makes it difficult to read the posture, or it simply makes it difficult to establish the distance between things, or it simply confuses the viewer. Let's see some examples:

Seeing these simple mistakes, then I kind of fixed two of these drawings a bit:

Basically the way to fix this problem is to add more space between the tangent lines or make them cross each other. In conclusion, you must avoid tangents; except when your drawing style is based on this for artistic purposes, as in the following example:

3D modeling of your character.

Clip Studio can help you create new body shapes for your characters with the use of 3D models.

By modifying the standard human model to suit the shapes you want for your characters, you can have a solid foundation and a good perspective to draw that same character in different positions and from different points of view; without losing structure and proportions, and adding variety to character designs.

This resource has its limits, since absolutely all parts of the model cannot be changed, but it is still very useful especially for human or anthropomorphic characters, and to use as a guide for postures and perspective.

This resource also allows you to modify the 3D model as a guide for weirder body shapes so that you can use it to draw even fantastic creatures like demons, fairies, elves, etc. (I also uploaded a tutorial for these types of characters! You can see it in my profile)

Follow the steps below to add a 3D model to your canvas:

Let's see the most important buttons to modify the model's posture:

1) Rotating the camera around the model
2) Camera movement: up, down, left and right.
3) Camera movement: back and forth.
4) Model movement: up, down, left and right.
5) Rotation of the model in all directions
6) Rotation of the model: left and right
7) 360 ° model rotation
8) Movement of the model: forward, backward, left and right, along the floor line.

A) Put the model back on the ground.
B) Save the model pose as permanent material.
C) Save the body shape, modified and all, as a permanent material.
D) Copy body posture from an image (automatic)
E) Lock / unlock the posture of the selected joint or body part.
F) Rotate the model horizontally
G) Restore posture
H) Restore scale
I) Restore rotation
J) Adapt the shape of the model to the parameter you set

To change the body shapes, you must modify your measurements. When you press the (J) button, the following menu appears:

1) Restore the default body shape.
2) Keep the modified body as permanent material.

Modifications are made by selecting the full body or just one of the parts of the human silhouette that appears in the menu and moving the white cursor to change the length and width of the part you selected. This cursor works within a Cartesian axis, allowing the combination of parameters (long and wide arms, or short and wide arms, or long and thin arms, etc.). Below this axis, you can see the numerical coordinates of the modification you made within the axis, which will be useful in case you need this precise information about those changes later.

Below I will show you how I modified each part of the body to create the basis of what could be a fairy or an alien ... just as an example of the uses that this tool could have when creating a character.

In this way, you can change the standard model to create different bodies for your character, more diverse and interesting; You can also move them into specific poses and use them as a guide for drawing.

To save the modified body as a permanent material, do the following:

See the model I made for the fairy body next to the normal model that comes with Clip Studio and compare the difference in proportions between the two bodies. Notice how a different body provides very interesting silhouettes for a character. Then it only remains to place it in an interesting position!

Once you have modified the body, change your position by moving the joint and changing the direction of the different sections of the body. You can select any of these modes by clicking on the parts of the model:

-One click will show the joints. This allows you to move an entire limb while moving the joint and changing its position. For example, if you want your character to raise an arm, if you raise it by pulling on the wrist, the entire arm will change position to follow that movement. The joint you are moving will change color and turn yellow when you are moving it.

-Two clicks will show the angles of the selected part. This allows you to move each part individually, by rotating them or by moving them at an angle. For example, with this method you can extend your arm and move the palm of your hand up or down. Use the colored lines to change the position of the selected part. each of them moves that part of the body in a different direction. The line will change color and turn yellow when you move it.

You can save the position of the model regardless of the body shape. This allows you to place any other model in the same position whenever you want.

To save posture:

How do you transfer that saved posture to a different model? Easy! First, drag the selected model onto the canvas. Then find the saved pose in the menu by following the steps in the image below, click on that material and drag it over the model that is on the canvas. Make sure you are on the model layer and have the model selected (it is necessary that the buttons to move the model are visible, as in the image)

Combining character and posture design.

So now that you've studied proportions, posture, voids, tangents, and 3D models a bit, let's look at a complete example with one of my original characters. She started out as a fox, but then I drew a human version as well. Let's see how we can take advantage of everything we learned to explore this character:

I started thinking about the character, his role, his job, his personality in general. Several traits occurred to me: she owns and works in her own bar; She is very independent and can defend herself; kind and loving but with zero tolerance for bad behavior from her customers. She is always in control of her bar and always watches over everyone. She is tall and curvy, sensual although she doesn't try to be.
I studied the stereotype of "bartender" to design his clothes, and I designed his hair trying to convey a bit the shape of a fox tail.

I tried many poses with both body types (anthropomorphic fox and human). This step is important, because you need freedom to design the pose and 3D models can restrict that, so it's best to just draw first.

Then I changed two models to match the proportions of the anthropomorphic body and the human body respectively, according to my design.

Then I selected a pose from the sketches and moved the models to match.

I added a wolf / fox face to the model to help me with the muzzle perspective. You can download it from assets at:

If you need a free version, you can also download:

Next, I drew the pose using the models as references. Finally, on another layer, I simply added the clothes, hair, and detail to finish the lineart.

Additional possibilities of the 3D model.

So, let's look at some additional tools to get the most out of 3D models:

A) Shadow and light.
This can help you a lot when it comes to painting! You can change the light source if you need, like this:

And you can also remove the shadows on the body and the ground in this same menu.

B) Manga Perspective.
This setting allows you to automatically resize some parts of the body to exaggerate the appearance of distance between them. Let's compare.



C) Automatic postures for the hands.
You can also modify your hand posture automatically with an axis similar to the one for body proportion we saw earlier. Follow steps 1, 2 and 3 to set the posture, by clicking inside the triangle, you can set the posture with the mouse.

Note that you can lock the posture of each finger individually by clicking on the icons that I marked with the letter B.
They can also save the posture of the hands independently of the body using the icons that I marked with the letter A.

Thanks and contact:

Well, and these are some (many) considerations that can help to design more solid and dynamic poses!
Thanks for reading and I hope it was useful !!
Feel free to tell me in the comments if you have any criticism or suggestion to help me improve.

If you like my work, you can find me on these social networks:
Instagram: @barbara_brutti_ilustraciones
Furaffinity: @barbara_brutti

And I also have a Patreon, where you can support me and see all my work processes for only 1 dollar!



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