Avoid using directly parallel movements which can result in a static drawing. Instead, play up contrasts. Use opposing directions to help tell the story, as demonstrated in this series of very simple doodles:
The etymology of contrast: Contrasts are what is different. Contrast is defined as the state of being strikingly different from something else in juxtaposition or close association.
The key is juxtaposition. So, what does that mean? Put two things side-by-side. You’ll notice the differences first. What’s unlike — not the same — will become more apparent. This is how we human beings see and understand what’s in our visual fields.
If you have only one thing you don’t have anything to contrast it with. Add two or more additional forms and contrast starts to liven up the drawing.
Even within the same form you can use contrasts:
- light – dark
- straight – curved
- rough – smooth
- long – short
- red – yellow– blue
- near – far
- small – large
- diagonal – horizontal
- diagonal – vertical
- horizontal – vertical
- warm – cool
You get the idea…
Emphasizing these and other contrasting relationships infuses the sense of life and personality into your work.
Ask the viewer to respond.
How do you want your viewers to respond to your work? What do you want them to know about your subject?
Perhaps you’re painting a portrait of a popular celebrity (fan art). What do you want to communicate about that person and the way you understand them?
The idea is to create an emotional response in your viewers. Your goal is to elicit an Aha! moment, make them smile, entertain them, cause them to stop, think, consider… You do this by considering the pose of the figures… their emotions and thoughts as they’re moving through space. What are they doing? How are they relating to their environment? What’s impacting them?
Illustrators are not observers. They are orchestrators of ideas. They’re illuminators. Therefore strive for and maintain accuracy for recognition and understanding. But also animate —infuse life into — your drawings through tension, imbalance, counterbalance, exaggeration anticipated movement, to depict action.
Inventive drawing in realism and animation starts with the reality of an action or pose, and then overstates the idea to become something more vital. Is your subject reaching for something? Depict them really reaching for it.
Exaggerate contrasts: curve/straight, stretch/squeeze, angles, axis, action and reaction, and opposites. You’ll still maintain accuracy in form, proportion, contours, structure, but what you’re communicating will be clear.
Form stories with your drawings so that they become meaningful. Make them compelling through interesting poses and provocative movements.
Draw things that are worth drawing — for you. Draw things that you can depict better than reality.