Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics—Action & Structure

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Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics, ™ and © Don Simpson 2000, all rights reserved. For individual use only. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.com for information. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc., PO Box 64, Wexford, PA 15090. www.MEGATONMAN.com

The Stick Figure
In our methodical approach to building up your confidence as an artist, we're going to tackle something simple at first—our friend the stick figure. Go ahead, draw one right now! A reasonable stick figure at this point should contain a midline for the spine, two arms, two legs, and a circle for the head. Fingers for hands and lines for feet are optional, but being the conscientious craftsman that you are, I know you'll want to include them. Now draw your stick figure running, jumping, falling, walking, running, climbing—see how many poses you can come up with. The record is 4096! Don't worry about niceties like exact proportions at this point. Getting your point across is everything. We'll be getting fancier a little later on.

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Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics, ™ and © Don Simpson 2000, all rights reserved. For individual use only. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.com for information. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc., PO Box 64, Wexford, PA 15090. www.MEGATONMAN.com

everyone recognizes what a stick figure represents—a person! Isn't that amazing? Cartoonists are able to communicate even with the most elementary of pictures. Just compliment them on their keen perception and head back to the drawing board! Conveying specific actions and even emotional states of mind with a few quick lines—and I dare say as few lines as possible—is an important first step towards drawing fully realized figures. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. all rights reserved. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.com for information. Many poses will be open to interpretation.MEGATONMAN. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. that's okay. 3 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. If you can accomplish that with your limited stick figures. For individual use only. so anybody can draw a simple stick figure. www. If they misidentify some of your drawings..com . think of what you can accomplish with even more tools at your disposal. Show your drawings to your friends and see if they can tell what your stick figures are doing. But the point I'm trying to get across here is that. Wexford.Okay. PO Box 64. more importantly. PA 15090.

etc.com . We've added a line across the shoulders and a line across the hips.. you're doing great! 4 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. www. slightly curvy lines are more human. Again. And don't even worry about getting the curves right. either—in fact.A More Sophisticated Stick Figure Let's use a slightly more sophisticated stick figure. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. as well as definite elbow and knee joints. rowing.MEGATONMAN. don't be overly concerned with correct proportions right now. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. one that is shaped a little more like an adult person. Don't worry about making your sticks perfectly straight lines. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. swinging. Stay focussed on depicting actions--leaping. If people can tell what activities your stick figures are involved in. test your drawings out on others. As before. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. golfing. For individual use only. PA 15090.com for information. PO Box 64. sitting. either—just go with whatever feels right. all rights reserved. Wexford.

Your friends may tell you they like your older.Our new. all rights reserved..com for information. funnier work better—don't be discouraged! Keep right on drawing. But try comical situations as well. You may even use some of your 4096 poses you came up with for the shorter. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. 5 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden.MEGATONMAN. PA 15090.com . Wexford. PO Box 64. sleeker stick figure seems to lend itself to more graceful and athletic themes. stubbier stick figure and see if they can be translated to the more sophisticated model. www. For individual use only. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.

Wexford. all rights reserved. the rib cage (the chest).com . www. The stick figure makes such a convincing person because it represents. These are the three largest bony masses in the body. With the skeleton in mind.MEGATONMAN. we can now add three shapes to our stick figures to make them more real. 6 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.The 3 Basic Solids It's time to let you in on a little secret. in a minimalistic way. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. the arms. what all people have got inside them—a skeleton! The spine. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.. one of which we already have: the skull (the head). Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.com for information. the legs—all are represented in a simplified way in a stick figure. and the pelvis (hip bone). PO Box 64. PA 15090. Use simple ovals for right now. For individual use only.

. PO Box 64. proceed to add the chest.com for information. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. all rights reserved. hips and head to begin fleshing things out. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc.com . PA 15090. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.After you've drawn the spine. If your drawings don't communicate the story your trying to tell. first and foremost. For individual use only. See how quickly things are taking shape? Keep the focus on the action. Build on a solid foundation: action and emotion! 7 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. all the ovals in the world aren't going to help you. arms and legs to establish the action of your stick figure. www. Wexford.MEGATONMAN.

Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. Wexford. And where bone goes. The first line you should put down on paper should be that line—it determines the entire thrust for the rest of the figure. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. PA 15090.. skull and pelvis—relate to each other differently depending upon the arc of the spine. Notice how the three basic solids—chest. because it represent the skeleton. Limbs and even the head branch off from that. For all intents and purposes.MEGATONMAN. flesh will surely follow! 8 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. Keep your figures moving! It's important to never lose sight of your stick figure.The Main Line of Action The first thing you need to determine is the main line of action for your figure. For individual use only. PO Box 64. www. all rights reserved.com . Continue the sweep of your pose into the arms and legs.com for information. that is synonymous with the spine.

www. Wexford. all rights reserved. You get the point. PO Box 64. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc.Okay. For individual use only. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.com .com for information. PA 15090.. Oh well.MEGATONMAN. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. so now every pose is starting to look like dancing. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. 9 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.

Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. get your figures to twist and turn. PA 15090. all rights reserved.. twists and turns at the waist. Don't draw your figures with a single solid body mass.Twisting and Turning Along the Spine The spine conveys the main action of a figure because it's highly flexible.com for information. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. 10 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Move the should in relation to the hips. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. The back bends. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Get your figures to boogie! Draw several figures where the shoulders are twisting and turning in relation to the hips. Make use of the flexibility of the spine.MEGATONMAN.com . For individual use only. PO Box 64. Wexford. www. and the head bobs all around—and it's all thanks to our friend the spine.

aren't these figures twisting and turning. a-writhing and a-wriggling? I think they are! I still like your older.Show your drawings to your friends. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. www. well. all rights reserved.MEGATONMAN. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. For individual use only. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. Wexford. “Say..com . PO Box 64. 11 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.com for information. funnier work!” Oh. See if they can't sense a new mobility in your work. PA 15090.

shoulders. Don’t get bogged down in accurate anatomy. Wexford. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden.MEGATONMAN. www. hands a feet to our figures.com for information. all rights reserved.. You’ll be studying anatomy later. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. we're ready to add the neck. Use simple ovals for now. arms. PA 15090. The oval is an all-purpose organic shape which can be molded into just about any muscle or body mass. Just get the basic feel of the figure for now. legs.com . and be able to apply that knowledge to your steadily growing understanding of the human figure! 12 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. For individual use only. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. PO Box 64. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.Fleshing Out the Figure With Ovals With a solid grasp of the allimportant stick figure.

Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.. PA 15090. all rights reserved.com . but curvy.Feel your way along the natural rhythms of the body. But perhaps we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. There’s another important consideration I’d like to address at this point. Muscles aren’t symmetrical balloon. www. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. tapered shapes that dovetail into one another. 13 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. PO Box 64. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. For individual use only.MEGATONMAN. Wexford.com for information. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. and it’s establishing a solid sense of the third dimension in your figures.

Adding the Third Dimension Sphere Cube Cylinder You can make your figures suddenly bursts off the page and come alive in three dimensions very easily—no complex shading or heavy-handed lighting tricks involved. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden.MEGATONMAN. For individual use only. PA 15090. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. all rights reserved.com . www. PO Box 64. cube and cylinder—and you’ll be amazed at how your figures fill up space! 14 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Wexford. Just use variations of the three simple geometric shapes at left—sphere. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000..com for information. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.

™ and © Don Simpson 2000. For individual use only. and whether it’s tilting up or down.com for information. The skull is somewhat like a sphere with the sides flattened (like a wheel of cheese.MEGATONMAN. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. We’ll be extending this principle to the entire body. Eye line The wonderful thing about using simple geometric shapes is that now you can instantly see which way the head is turning. PO Box 64. PA 15090. head. and a wheel of cheese is interesting. let’s start at the top. 15 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. all rights reserved. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. too. A light bulb shape is a bit better. so for now we won’t do more than suggest the position of a few of the face’s features.. Conceiving of the head as an egg is good for starters.com . while the face is triangular. chest and hips. And you haven’t added all that many lines to your arsenal. Wexford. There are two main parts to the head: the skull and the face. www.The Head Of our three basic solids. It’s knowing where to put those lines which is key. but it will only get you so far.

16 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden.com for information. www. PA 15090. all rights reserved.. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. For individual use only.com . ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Wexford.MEGATONMAN. PO Box 64.I don’t have much to say on this page—kinda like these guys. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc.

MEGATONMAN. and the stories they’re involved in. There’s really no ambiguity as to which way the figure is moving.com . or even 3D ovals.. Whatever shapes you decide on—and it’s important because these are two of our three basic solids here—the main thing is to keep the spine in mind.com for information. their actions. all rights reserved. Wexford. Notice how the geometric shapes really make clear the twisting. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. I’ve settled on a hybrid set of shapes of my own devising— a box for the hips. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. turning and bending of the torsos below. It’s also equally in vogue to think of is as two cylindrical shapes. and a chest that is a cross between a beehive and a Chinese lampshade. For individual use only. That’s the best I can explain it. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. Personally.The Torso in 3D It’s popular in artistic circles to think of the chest and hips as two boxes. PA 15090. www. 17 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. PO Box 64. And such clarity only adds to the impact of your figures. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.

Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Only now. For individual use only.com . chest and hips) with geometric shapes to make your figures come alive in three dimensions.. www.com for information. all rights reserved. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. PO Box 64. draw the main line of action. flesh out your three basic solids (head. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. to determine the main thrust of your pose. PA 15090. or the spine. Work with it! 18 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.MEGATONMAN.Follow the same routine we’ve established. First. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Wexford. Then continue with the limbs of your figure as stick lines.

In the fleshed out 3D figure. and which are further away.com . don’t be concerned with anatomical accuracy at this point.com for information. they become 3-dimensional. the oval. like those found on the human body. they can be endlessly tapered and distorted into all sorts of organic shapes. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Like their 2-dimensional cousin. For individual use only. www. or core. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc.MEGATONMAN. 19 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. of your cylinders. Wexford. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.. The main thing is getting those limbs to bend and fold through 3-dimensional space. right off the page! Use the 'stick' limb as the center line. there’s no question as to which parts of the body are closer to us. all rights reserved. and again. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. By using them on our figures’ limbs. Notice how the flat the stick figure above is. PA 15090. PO Box 64.Cylinders for Limbs Both cylinders and spheres are types of 3-dimensional circles. Don’t be afraid to bend and curve your cylinders.

www. This is really important—if your drawings aren’t beginning to feel powerful at this point. spheres and cubes really give these figures the feeling of thrusting towards us (or away from us). or gilding the lily is going to help. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. They closely resemble crude wire frames of 3D computer programs.Cylinders. PA 15090. achieving a 3D sense simply and effectively.. all rights reserved. PO Box 64. Get these principles down pat before going further! 20 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.com for information. Wexford.com . no amount of lighting. shading.MEGATONMAN. For individual use only. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN.

www.MEGATONMAN..com for information.You’re going further? That’s okay..com . PO Box 64. For individual use only.. I’ll just keep beating the drum for cylinders. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. 21 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. Wexford. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. all rights reserved. PA 15090. here’s still another page of 3D figures.

Harper perennial Library. ISBN 0805015280. ISBN 0823016927. ISBN 0671530771. 22 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics. continue to learn from. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. How to Draw the Human Figure (Famous Artists School : Step-By-Step Method) by Howard Munce.. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. Oxford University Press. Animal Drawing/Anatomy How to Draw Animals by Jack Hamm. www. WatsonGuptill Publications. ISBN 0836207483. ISBN: 0823015777. all rights reserved. How to Draw the Human Figure : An Anatomical Approach by Louise Gordon. ISBN 1560100842.com . Rubins. Action Analysis. Animation Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair. ISBN 0823023753. Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm.MEGATONMAN. WatsonGuptill Publications. How to Draw What You See by Rudy De Reyna. Dynamic Figure Drawing by Burne Hogarth. ISBN 006097625X. The Human Figure : An Anatomy for Artists by David K.A Select Bibliography Most of what I know about drawing I've learned from books. Human Anatomy/Figure Drawing Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck. Watson-Guptill Publications. Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth. Watson-Guptill Publications. Perigee Press. Inc. Perigee. Walter Foster Publications. These are all books that I have learned from. ISBN 0399508023. Viking Press. ISBN 0486274268. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Below is a list of books I recommend for every artist's library. Study them closely. Wexford. The Art of Animal Drawing : Construction. ISBN 1560100095. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. Simon & Schuster. Dover Publications. and in many cases. Walter Foster Publications. Comparative Anatomy (Human/Animal) Cyclopedia Anatomicae by György Fehér. ISBN 0140042431.. For individual use only. ISBN. ISBN 0399507914. ISBN 0195030958. ISBN 0140464778. particularly if you're in it for the long haul. Andrews & McMeel. How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Henry Holt. 0823015513.com for information. Your Career in the Comics by Lee Nordling. Caricature by Ken Hultgren. ISBN 1884822878. Figures in Action (How to Draw and Paint Series) by Andrew Loomis. The Figure in Motion by Mark Smith and Thomas Easley. Viking Press. PA 15090. PO Box 64. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000. Comics Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Future chapters will delve into human anatomy. Wexford. Please email fiasco@MEGATONMAN. an instructional book Don is creating to convey his approach to writing. ™ 23 Cartooning–Concepts and Methods Part 1: Figure Drawing Basics.MEGATONMAN. storytelling and other aspects of making comic book art. PA 15090. all rights reserved. inking. This book is dedicated to my wife.MEGATONMAN. www.com.Cartoonist Don Simpson is the creator of Megaton Man. Classroom use without express written permission is strictly forbidden. ™ and © Don Simpson 2000.com. animals.MEGATONMAN. Since 1996. Published by Fiasco Comics Inc. Megaton Man and Gower Goose are ™ and © Don Simpson. please check with www. lettering and writing. Figure Drawing Basics is the first chapter of Cartooning–Concepts and Methods. Don has been creating Megaton Man adventures exclusively for the Internet at www.. drawing. For individual use only.com . For more information and updates. PO Box 64. Bizarre Heroes and many other comic books. Judy.com for information. among other things. perspective. Border Worlds. all rights reserved.