Life Drawing Semester 2 – Reflective Essay

Life drawing this semester has been significantly better than the first. When looking back on the last ten weeks I can see a slight improvement in my drawing confidence. I feel I have begun looking at the overall form of the body a little better.  As we have been concentrating on specific areas of the body, such as hands, feet or the head, this has given me time to improve my knowledge on how these body parts are put together whilst also learning how to draw them more accurately. I have been depending on books such as “Constructive Anatomy” by Bridgman and “Dynamic Figure Drawing” by Burne Hogarth to aid my learning along the way.

During week one and two we focused on drawing the head and overall form. My work was weak these two classes. A major mistake I had made was drawing the head inside of a circle rather than sketching the jaw around the circles’ outer circumference.


For homework we focused on the Chiaroscuro technique, which uses light and shadow to define forms. This exercise encouraged me to study the old masters use of this technique in their portraiture work. Knowing where and what shadows fall from the face really helped me to understand their relationships to each other more.

Week four and five were quite challenging but very beneficial. During this time we focused on drawing the model from someone else’s point of view in the class, thus forcing us to examine perspective. Storyboarding was difficult as I had never tried it before, again my work on storyboarding needs improving. Getting shapes down quickly to tell a story was difficult.

Tracing paper was introduced as a useful learning tool, helping to determine the body shape of a character, in our case Pinocchio. Although having the tracing paper on hand to measure the body shape, drawing our own version of Pinocchio still deemed very difficult. I resorted to drawing more expressions as I found this aspect hard to design when drawing characters.

My one minute gesture drawing has improved since last semester although I feel I am still lacking in understructure at times. I tend to focus on the outline as I find this easier, but in reality this is not helping my understanding.



For the remaining weeks we focused our attention on feet, hands and the head. I found this classwork alongside the corresponding homework to be very beneficial and rewarding when looking through my progress. I am very thankful to have been able to spend time focusing on these areas along with the one minute poses as I really have a severe lack of understanding when it comes to these complicated anatomical features.



Overall I feel my proportions have improved significantly throughout this semester although having said this, my perspective and putting things into boxes still has a long way to go. Having extra time to practise life drawing in the extra evening class has been amazing and boosted my confidence as I feel I’m learning something new each week and I can see slight improvements. Over the summer period I aim to practise my perspective whilst also learning to draw the clothed figure as drapery is an area which I have failed to practise this semester.



Bridgman, G. (1920). Constructive anatomy. 1st ed. Pelham, N.Y.: Edward C. Bridgman.

Hogarth, B. (1977). Dynamic Figure Drawing. 1st ed. New York: Watson-Guptill.

12 Principles of Animation & Character Design WIP

Disney’s Illusion of Life is where you will find all you need to know on the twelve principles of animation. When looking back on all I’ve learnt over the last semester, it was great to be able to bring it all together into the task of designing my own character. It namely had to be appealing and I feel this was one of the most challenging aspects of the project. Designing a character that would be fit for animating was also difficult. Firstly I will go through the principles and demonstrate my knowledge on each. I will then show my pain staking process of designing a mediocre character from imagination.

12p.jpg                                           Image Courtesy –

  1. Squash and Stretch

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Squash and stretch was first used by Disney Studios to give the illusion of weight and volume to a subject. It is often seen in use for comical effect. Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas were amongst the first animators to utilise this effect in animation and since then is still used today to bring life and realism to the animation world.



2. Anticipation

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Anticipation prepares the audience for action whilst increasing the realism and furthermore by increasing the suspense which is always good. The audience is also left feeling assured in knowing that they are aware what the character is going to do next.  As Disney’s Illusion of Life states; “they must be prepared for the next movement and expect it before it actually occurs”.

3. Arcs


In real life humans and animals always move in arcs, unless one day we all become humanoid freaks trying to replicate their movements. These arc movements increase the realism of the subject’s action. The image above is taken from a great website that goes into detail; It states that arcs “are gestures or lines of action; they are what give your animation consistency and flow, whereas straight lines give power and emphasis.”

4. Ease in and Ease Out

This principle demonstrates how a subject may need time to slow down and speed up.  Drawings between two extreme poses provide the subject with greater realistic movement.  The video below goes into good detail on how this principle is used and why. Without it, timing in animation would look computerised and un-natural.


5. Appeal

Appeal is extremely important when designing a character. An appealing character needs to ooze connectivity with the audience, it needs to be recognisable and somewhat pleasing to the eye. I found this a very tough principle to reinforce in my personal character design. I had gone through a few ideas but getting the character to have some appeal is tough. Over-complication of design is something I struggled with, my use of basic shapes definitely needs more practise.


6. Timing

Timing is simple to understand, with more frames creating slower actions and fewer frames creating faster actions.


7. Solid Drawing
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Solid drawing is having a good understanding of drawing in general, being able to draw an object that has weight, volume and balance. The Illusion of life speaks of how many animators  somewhere along the line end up drawing “twins” thus meaning a character/pose that is parallel on both sides. Also, if the drawing is solid and the animator has a good grasp of drawing skills, his drawing should give the illusion of being 3D. Knowledge of perspective would also come into play as foreshortening also gives more realistic and dynamic poses.

8. Exaggeration


This principle presents the physical features or elements of a character in an exaggerated form. A well executed exaggerated drawing would describe the pose/action more drastically by elongating that or puffing things out. An example would be
someone throwing their head back before a sneeze, although their chest would be extremely inflated and maybe the sneeze would be more forceful etc.

9. Pose to Pose

This works for highly emotional and dramatised scenes. Involves drawing a few key frames for each action, followed by filling in the intervals.

10. Staging


Communicates the primary mood, action or idea of a scene. Animators, Johnston and Thomas defined it as “the presentation of any idea so that it is completely and unmistakably clear”. Staging can also be described in terms of composition. Within a scene, everything must be leading the audiences eye to the object of importance.

11. Secondary Action

This reinforces, emphasises and supports the primary action of the character/object. It also provides scenes with more life and vitality, thus making things more interesting.

12. Follow Through

Refers to parts of the subject that continues to move after a completed action. For example, the movement of a hand after an object has been thrown. This follow through gives more of a realistic feel to a scene and without it, would look quite static and fake.



Pinterest. (2017). Tutorial 166 – Squash and Stretch | Nathan Aardvark on Patreon. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017]. (2017). Cartoon Brew-ED : Photo. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017]. (2017). Pose to Pose Animation. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017].

CAWorld3. (2017). 12 Principle of Animation examples. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017].

Evening Life Drawing Class

During the second semester, our tutor Michael was very kind to hold an evening life drawing class. These classes were extremely beneficial and I would love to attend them again in second semester if they ran again. The classes allowed extra time to practice my figure drawing skills whilst utilising new techniques Michael had taught.  Drawing the model striking poses inside a black sack was fantastic and really helped me to focus on the over all form. As each session lasted three hours you have more time to experiment with materials and styles whilst thinking about the underlying structures.

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Life Drawing – Week 10

This weeks class was great, Michael allowed us to choose what we wanted to focus on so I decided to draw the head and hands again as I am awful at hands in particular. Again we also had 1 minute poses. From doing the hand homework which was set, I feel my understanding of the structure of the hand has gotten a little better. I would have to keep up drawing a multitude of hands per week to see more of an improvement. I’m happy for now 🙂

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Life Drawing – Week 9

Week 9 already and I’m seeing a little improvement in my life drawing which is great. My perspective is still far off and my knowledge of anatomy is far from perfect but I’m getting there slowly. I need to work more on legs and arms in perspective, I always find it so difficult when the model has one foot in front of the other as if they’re walking. Foreshortening is still a serious problem. I will have to keep drawing! 🙂

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