Friday, January 6, 2017

Drawing Stick Figures - How Do I Move?

Drawing Stick Figures — How Do I Move?

We have been talking about how to draw stick figures that look a little more like us. Why does this matter? Because pictures are such a great story-making tool—some have suggested they are worth up to a thousand words each!

Children are often more willing to play with pictures than with words to make a story, so pictures may be the way to ignite their story-making potential. Also drawing characters and cartoons can provide opportunities for kids to write in Bits and Pieces around their images, and therefore, to feel less threatened or worn out by the writing process. Practicing the use of literary elements like characterization, plot, conflict, climax, and resolution do not require major writing efforts. In fact they can be practiced and sharpened with little to no words at all!

With that in mind it can be fun to create a satisfactory stick person, because with movement comes story!

 Last time I asked you to notice where our joints are because they allow us our freedom of movement. Since everyone has the same set of joints, we all move in relatively the same way (ignoring the people at Cirque du Soleil, of course, because they seem to have a bunch of extra joints).

Learning to make our stick figures move may require a bit of exercise. First, stand up straight and picture yourself as a stick person. The lines of the stick person are the major bones of your body. Your spine runs up the center with your head perched at the top. Your shoulders bisect your spine at the base of your neck. Your arm bones hang from your shoulders. Your hips create a horizontal shelf across your lower spine and your legs extend down from your hips. 

Now try tipping your shoulders to the right side while still facing forward. Feel what happens to your spine, shoulders, and arms. The vertical line that represents your spine is now curved like a banana. The horizontal line that represents your shoulders is tipped with the left end up high and the right end down low. (Your hips and legs should still be straight.) Since your arms are attached to your shoulders, the left arm is now pulled up and the right arm has now dropped lower. (Also note that since your head is attached to your spine, your head tips to the right along with your spine and neck.)

Try drawing a stick figure who is in this pose. Keep the legs and hip line straight, but curve the spine line, tip the shoulder line and make sure the arm lines follow the shoulder line. (Your arms are still the same length as one another, the left one is just higher up than the right one). Now try some other poses. Bend your arms and legs and picture what the ‘bone’ lines in your body are doing so you can then try to draw a stick figure doing that same thing.

As you get more comfortable thinking of your shoulders and hips as a line, you will be able to see how those lines tip as you move, and how that tipping affects the placement of your arms and legs. Go ahead, dive-in—the more you play with drawing moving figures, the more stories you can tell!

To see previous Drawing Stick Figure posts, go to How Tall Am I? and How Am I Made?

(For more on writing in Bits and Pieces visit—writing in Bits and Pieces)


Drawing Stick Figures - How Am I Made?

Drawing Stick Figures — How Am I Made?

In our last post we talked about basic proportions when drawing a stick figure, and I promised to offer some tips for making your stick figures more expressive.

Tip #1: Add two horizontal lines, one for the shoulders and one for the hips. If you think about how we are made, you quickly realize that the ‘hangman’ stick figure has a couple basic problems: our arms don’t spring out of our necks, and our legs don’t’ come together in an upside down ‘V.’

Instead we have shoulders and hips, so let’s add a simplified version of shoulders and hips to our stick figures. First imagine yourself standing straight up. Now picture a line from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other shoulder. Notice that your arms are attached to your body at either end of this line. Likewise, picture a line that runs from the tip of one hip bone to the tip of the other. Your legs extend straight down from the ends of this line.

Now add these two horizontal lines to your stick figure and attach the arms and legs to the ends of the appropriate line. Voila! With just these two new lines, your stick figure is a closer representation of you!

Tip #2: Notice the major points where we bend and move (our joints). Our stick figure is only a few simple lines (one for the neck and body, one for each arm, one for each leg, and now we have included the connector lines for the shoulders and hips). If we take the time to think about where these simple lines bend (shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles), then our stick figures are ready for action!

In the next post we’ll talk about how to make our stick figures move at our command.

To see other Drawing Stick Figures post, look here: How Tall Am I? and How Do I Move?