Balance and Gravity

This week in life drawing we focused on the line of gravity  and  points of tension; namely how these can create be used to make characters more believable. Michael told us to imagine it being like a stool or tripod, and to consider this in our drawings as it will help us to show the figure’s weight and make the way they are posed seem more believable for an audience or viewer.

Points of tension for a figure refer to where the weight is distributed in a pose, whether this is one or both feet, knees, hands, or any combination of other body parts. The points of tension are where the mass of the figure is applying pressure on a surface in order to work against gravity and allow themselves to maintain  balance.

The line of gravity is an vertical line which passes through the centre of gravity and is vital when giving a figure weight and form as well as ensuring the figure would be able to balance believably while in motion.

‘The Art of Drawing the Human Body’ by Edgar Loy Fankbonner suggests that the centre of gravity is usually found in the abdominal area or near the base of the spine. We are told that the stability of a figure can be determined based on whether or not the line of gravity dropping down from this point  passes through the space supporting the main points of tension within the pose, if so the figure has good equilibrium and would be able to hold it’s own weight.

Proko’s video ‘How To Draw Balanced Poses‘ suggests that rather than the centre of gravity being in the  abdominal area is instead found where there is the largest amount of mass, usually between the ribcage and the hips as this generally makes the distribution of weight more believable considering the figure’s proportions.

Another thing which this video highlights is the fact that when drawing from a live model the poses will naturally be balanced as they have to be held over long periods of time, and how it is only static poses which will be balanced as when a figure is in motion there is a change of weight at various points within the movement.

When working with poses and taking this in to consideration it is important that the pose feels balanced over being literally balanced as sometimes things may not appear to be balanced even if they are. It is important as an artist and designer to ensure that this is considered as if the form seems off even though mathematically it is accurate the believability will drop. This ties in with the principles of animation, where exaggerated poses often help to convey the characters form more believably than an understated pose would.

Ensuring the perspective is correct while also considering these concepts is a whole other set of challenges as the points of tension often are not visible within the pose and so it is difficult to ensure that the line of gravity is accurate. This may however be because I am still struggling with getting the right scale within poses, especially in regards to foreshortening.




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