Attack of the Killer Word Balloons! (Why Artists Should Study Silent Storytelling)

Attack of the Killer Word Balloons - Illustration by Cedric Hohnstadt

News about my Kickstarter the Pose Drawing Sparkbook continues to spread! More sites are featuring it including On AnimationAnimator Island, ShowMeTheAnimation, ComicRelated, and even a concept art blog from BrazilBut the biggest news is that the Sparkbook is now on the pop culture blog I wrote a short article for them called Attack of the Killer Word Balloons (Why Artists Should Study Silent Storytelling) and whipped up the above image to go with it.

BleedingCool has a pretty big audience which is great exposure! I had hoped the article would run on Saturday, which is what prompted me to try the Special Weekend Stretch Goal. Since the article didn’t go live until Sunday evening that momentum didn’t get a chance to build like I had hoped, but a lot of backers still stepped up to the plate which is great! Thank you so much! You are helping us get to 100% faster, which means we’ll have more time to add some awesome stretch goals.

We are almost there! As I write this we are 92% funded with almost 300 backers, so we could cross the line as soon as tomorrow. Once that happens I’ll be announce some great stretch goals so stay tuned! In the mean time it’s not too late to back the project and get your own copy of the Pose Drawing Sparkbook, plus other goodies like a webinar, sketch club membership, and original art.

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?


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:


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:


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.


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.

Sketchbook Update: Getting Dressed In A Hurry

Sketch-"Getting Dressed In A Hurry"

Very soon I’ll be launching a Kickstarter project, a new tool to help artists add more life and personality to their poses. In preparation I’ve started doing pose sketches to communicate various themes and situations. I’ve already posted a page of sketches playing off the theme of “tired”. Here’s one of a man getting dressed in a hurry.

Once the Kickstarter launches I’ll also be giving away a freebie for artists to help promote the project. If you’d like to be one of the first people to be notified when it launches, just send me an email at

Sketchbook Exercise: Posing A Tired Man in a Chair

Tired Pose Sketches by Cedric Hohnstadt

I’m working on a Kickstarter project that I’m planning to launch soon. I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but it will be a tool designed to help other artists strengthen their poses and put more life into their drawings.

One of the exercises related to the project is to take a mood or an expression and explore as many different poses as you can to communicate the idea. In this case I chose a tired man in a chair. How many different ways could I communicate exhaustion using the same sitting pose? These rough doodles are the result.

If you’d like to be one of the first people to hear about the Kickstarter project when it finally happens (hopefully soon), just shoot me an email with your email address and I’ll be sure you get on the list.

Putting Life In Your Poses


I recently purchased the special edition DVD of Disney’s Jungle Book. It is widely regarded as one of the all-time classics of animation. Not because of the story. The plot is so simple that the movie should be a total bore. The movie is revered because of the characters. They are so incredibly entertaining and delightful to watch that you can’t help but get caught up in the fun.

That is no small feat.Read More