Things to Look for in Walking Subjects
Everyone has a unique gait. Like your signature, a snowflake, or fingerprint, no two are identical. All of us are observant, the artist and the non-artist alike; we all pay attention to others. Have you ever spotted a friend from a distance, just by the way they walked?
Through observation the artist analyzes the nuances that make each person’s walk different, and with pen or pencil in hand puts that uniqueness on paper.
The key to this process is being observant. Listed below are some things to look for as you scrutinize your subject:
1. Observe how the foot is picked up as it affects the negative space between the legs.
2. Do the heels come up toward the calf of the opposite leg or go outward as the toes point in?
3. Does the heel come straight up and forward as in a military march? Answering these questions with pen on paper will capture the uniqueness of the individual being drawn.
Tip: Be on the lookout for those walking with objects in their hands (props). Malls at Christmas time and airport terminals are favorite “lookouts” of mine for this reason. Negative shapes and how props are balanced give believability to the sketch.
Analysis of a Walk
Below are depicted three different females and the unique way in which each picks up their rear foot to bring it forward. In the top sketch the foot comes straight up; in the middle sketch the heel points outward as it swings through; and in the bottom sketch the heel is in with the toe pointing out.
These types of observations make your sketching true to the individual you are sketching. All human gaits are individualized. It is up to the observant artist to notice these peculiarities. There are hurried walks and leisurely walks. Capture the emotion of the walk as to how fast, slow, determined or leisurely your subject is proceeding. When sketching couples walking, observe the negative shapes and opposites that occur between them. There are at least five opposites. Can you spot them?
Some walk for two, some walk with aggressive dogs, and some even walk backwards. Observation is a key ingredient in making these action sketches interesting. The negative shapes created by the man and his dog sell the story. The backward walker’s actions are the same as a person walking forward, only in reverse.
Excerpt from Quick Sketching with Ron Husband © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
About the Book
Quick Sketching with Ron Husband offers instruction to quick sketching and all its techniques. From observing positive and negative space and learning to recognize simple shapes in complex forms to action analysis and using line of action, this Disney legend teaches you how to sketch using all these components, and how to do it in a matter of seconds.