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Compressed vs Stretched and "Break Points"
20 Feb 07
Unlike cartoons, in real life muscles NEVER buldge out evenly on each side of an appendage. They are not symmetrical but are asymmetrical. The body would simply not be able to move if muscles did not oppose each other in an offset manner. When one side of an active muscle is tightened and compressed, the muscle diagonally opposite is stretched.

This is illustrated in the following photo:

6 One Minute Poses

This is a critical thing to study and understand in order to create believable renderings of the human figure. It's also useful to understand because it is this type of muscle reaction that can be exaggerated to show even more emotion or action in a rendering.

Break Points in Direction

The other observation I wanted to point out is the idea of "Break Points" where angles change. The really valuable information you get from noting where angles change is how it lines up with and affects what's going on on the other side of the figure.

In the photo of Olivia below, I've pointed out two obvious points where there is a change in direction. The thing to key on ALWAYS is what's happening directly opposite that point because it will be "opposite". Where a part of the body juts out, this needs to be countered in the opposite way.

Break Points

I also pay special attention to these break points because these are the points that help me really get the action of the pose correct. If you get them a little high, a little low, or offset in the wrong way, the figure will look wrong, but you won't always know why.

So the next time you draw a hip jutting out, make an extra effort to go back and study what's going on directly opposite that dramatic change in direction. These are effective points you can exaggerate in order create more action and a dynamic drawing!

E-mail me at: terry@terryvision.com I'll gladly answer your questions or post your comments if you like.

Till Next Time...


Life Drawing Photos Site

I've created a NEW SITE that offers photos of the fabulous life drawing model, "Olivia"! The photos available on this site are intended to be an instructional aid for anyone interested in learning to draw the figure. Check it out at:

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