Sparkbook Snippet: Acting With The Entire Body

(This excerpt is from the Pose Drawing Sparkbook, a super-charged sketchbook designed to help you put more life and personality into your drawings. Think of it as acting exercises for your sketchbook.Read other snippets here and here.)

Don’t limit your acting to just the face and hands. The head makes up less than ten percent of a person’s body. You’ve got another ninety percent of your character to work with. Don’t let it go to waste! Is your character crying? Don’t just add a tear; hunch the back, droop the shoulders and bend the knees. Is your character feeling joyful? Don’t just smile; arch the back, raise the arms, and get those toes a-dancin’.

As an example, let’s travel back in time to the year 1800. Two southern gentlemen are having an argument. Insults fly and tempers flare until finally one of them shouts in a furious rage, “I challenge you to a duel!” How might you draw that pose?

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This first attempt is generic and boring. There’s nothing special about it. Other than the facial expression, it tells us almost nothing about what the character is feeling. To illustrate, look at what happens when I simply change the eyebrows:

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Suddenly it turns from an active, angry pose to a passive, worried pose. One subtle difference has completely changed the pose’s meaning. Why? Because the pose was weak and generic to begin with.

Here’s the same emotion with poses that use the entire body. Notice how much more clearly the attitude reads:

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Here’s another example of the power of body language. I’ve purposely left the faces blank to show how much you can say with just a pose.

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Before you get caught up in a detailed drawing, start by simply roughing in the pose. Use stick figures if necessary. If the pose doesn’t read clearly at the beginning, no amount of detail will fix it later.

Read two more Sparkbook Snippets: “Action Reveals Character” and “Personality and Emotions”The Pose Drawing Sparkbook is now available for pre-orderAlso, don’t forget to download your free list of 100 Sketchbook Ideas as my gift to you.

Sparkbook Snippet: Action Reveals Character

(This excerpt is from the Pose Drawing Sparkbook, a super-charged sketchbook designed to help you put more life and personality into your drawings. Think of it as acting exercises for your sketchbook. Read other snippets here and here.)

Action Reveals Character (Excerpt)

Once you decide who each character is, you need to find ways to introduce them to the audience. Here are three common shortcuts you can use to help people get to know your characters quickly:

1. Appearance (e.g. muscular or skinny; casual dress or formal; etc.)
2. Dialogue (Are they talkative or quiet? Do they use short sentences or big, fancy words? Is his voice strong and low or high and weak? etc.)
3. Behavior (how do they respond to a given situation.)

This book is about poses so I’m going to skip the first two and focus on behavior. There are two ways you can use behavior to show a character’s personality: by what they do and how they do it.

1. What They Do. When your character faces a problem, how do they respond? Suppose your character is a tiny grandmother.  While walking down the street, a thug pulls a gun and demands that she give him her purse. Does she obey? Does she refuse? Does she go on the offensive and start swatting him with her purse? Does she panic? Does she try to outsmart him? (“Hey, what’s that over there?”) Does she scream for help? Her choice tells us something about her personality.

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2. How They Do It. Suppose this tiny grandmother has some moxie and decides to simply refuse. The next question is, how does she refuse? Does she cross her arms and put her nose in the air? Does she wag a finger in his face and say, “You should be ashamed of yourself!” Does she brush him aside and keep walking? Does she put her hand on his arm and say, “What you need is some warm milk and cookies”? Each response will tell us something about her personality and her outlook on life. The more you can say with a character’s actions the better.

Something as simple as entering a room can tell us a great deal about a person. On Seinfeld Kramer would always explode into Jerry’s apartment.  The door would fly open and he’d come skidding across the floor. That energetic burst, combined with his wild hair and crazy clothes, instantly told you what kind of person he was: Confident, free-spirited and eccentric. Before he even says a word you get a sense of who he is. That’s good visual storytelling.

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Read two more Sparkbook Snippets: “Acting With The Entire Body” and “Personality and Emotions”. The Pose Drawing Sparkbook is now available for pre-orderAlso, don’t forget to download your free list of 100 Sketchbook Ideas as my gift to you.

My Kickstarter “Pose Drawing Sparkbook” Now Available As Ebook-Only!

A few people have asked for an ebook-only version of my Pose Drawing Sparkbook on Kickstarter. Good news! I’ve added an option to purchase the “Basic” ebook for $10. You can also purchase a new “ebook + webinar” combo or an “ebook + sketch club” combo. More info here.

If you’ve already placed an order for the physical book and want to downgrade, just log in and change your contribution. Piece of cake. Anyone can increase or decrease their order at any time.

Please help spread the word about this new option, especially if you live overseas. It’s way cheaper than paying for international shipping! Just paste this into Twitter or your favorite social media: The Pose Drawing Sparkbook on Kickstarter is now available as a standalone ebook! http://kck.st/12K2otL

Thanks to everyone for your support! The book is getting a lot of good buzz and I’m grateful.

Kickstarter Update: Day 4 – The Sparkbook Is “Popular”

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The Pose Drawing Sparkbook continues to do well on Kickstarter. It’s only Day 4 and it’s already passed the $4,000 mark and is 45% funded! Over 2,000 people have watched the promo video and the project is now featured in the “Popular This Week”section under Kickstarter’s “Publishing” category. Two artists with very large followings (over 10,000 each) have shared about it on social media and tonight the project was highlighted on Parka Blogs, a site that specializes in reviewing art books. The book isn’t even published yet and they want to promote it! How cool is that?

We’ve been warned that after an initial burst of interest most Kickstarter projects experience a long “lull” in the middle of the fundraising period, so I want to make the most of everyone’s attention while I still have it. My wife and I have been doing a ton of promotion work but we can’t do it alone. We are super grateful to all of you who have been spreading the word. The more people hear about this, the greater the chance that it will succeed.

Oh, and don’t forget to grab your free download of 100 sketchbook ideas:

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Thanks again to all my friends, fans and backers. You rock!

Wow! My Kickstarter Is Off To A Great Start!

Illustration by Cedric Hohnstadt

I’m truly blown away. My new Kickstarter, the Pose Drawing Sparkbook, has had a tremendous first day.

In the first  24 hours it passed the $2,000 mark (I’m currently at 26% of my goal). All 50 of the early bird specials have been purchased; the project is featured on the “Popular This Week” page under Kickstarter’s “Publishing” category; and it has received over 800 “likes” on Tumblr. Big thanks and high-fives to all of my fans and backers!

This is a fantastic beginning but there’s still a long way to go. I’m told that most of the contributions to a Kickstarter project happen at the very beginning of the campaign and again at the very end. The first 48 hours can be crucial. So I’d like to humbly ask all of my blog readers to please spread the word. Let’s make this thing happen!

In addition to the Kickstarter page, you can also remind your friends that I’m giving away a free download of 100 sketchbook ideas to promote the project, no strings attached. Just point them here: https://www.cedricstudio.com/sparkbook/

In the mean time, I’ll be working hard to spread the word and keep buzz going as well.

New Kickstarter: “Pose Drawing SparkBook” + Free Download

Illustration by Cedric Hohnstadt

I’m excited to announce the launch of my first Kickstarter, the Pose Drawing SparkBook! It’s a super-charged sketchbook, custom designed to help artists put more life and personality into their drawings. It will include 100 drawing exercises, 32 pages of instructional content, and hundreds of additional drawing ideas in the back of the book.

I’m really excited about the potential for this book to be a great resource for storytelling artists of all kinds – whether they work in animation, character design, storyboards, cartoons or comics.

To help spread the word I’m giving away a free list of 100 sketchbook ideas taken from the back of the book. Get yours here:

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In order for the SparkBook to become a reality I need to raise enough funds. In exchange for a small contribution to the project you can get several rewards, including the book itself (with free ebook version) or other resources I’ve created. You can read all about it and watch a promo video over on my Kickstarter page.

Would you consider helping spread the word? Just use the share buttons below, or copy and paste the following into your favorite social media:

Free download: 100 Sketchbook Ideas For Posing Your Characters: http://bit.ly/15kOpi2

Thanks a bunch!