Once you have down the basics to drawing the whole figure (click here for article), you may begin exploring a figure in motion. Of course I always highly recommend stopping at your local library and investigating books on figure drawing as well as human anatomy. As with everything else there are several techniques and methods, I am sharing the methods I like.
Rule #1: Draw! Draw! Draw some more! Always have a sketchbook with you. When you go out, try to capture the whole scene or person as quickly as you can. It may be constantly changing, this is a perfect opportunity to draw one after another or even layer on top of one…just have fun and experiment with it and KEEP DRAWING!
Rule #2: Your eraser is for emergencies ONLY! This took some getting used to, but once I learned to avoid using my eraser as much as possible, surprising things began to happen! Just try it and remember to start out lightly.
Rule #3: Change your mind! You’re not drawing a person. Draw what you see, shapes, lines, and then tints and shades! A good way to get your mind where it needs to be is to draw something upside down. This makes the object more subjective, verses objective and you can focus on which way the line travels rather than what the object actually is.
As I said, there are several methods, but this is how I like to get started. As always, begin with a warm-up. Whether you have a model or not, begin by drawing quick sketches of a figure in simple or slow motion, i.e. walking or stooping. Start by drawing a quick line drawing that suggests the movement; it’s a sort of stick figure drawn just as quickly as possible. If you’ve been sketching a lot, you may have become aware of the very different ways of movements of individuals.
After you’ve captured the line drawing begin to put in your shapes, discussed in The basic figure. The difficulty here can be getting the right angle of the shapes, but with practice you’ll get it. Remember that you’re simply drawing lines and shapes, not a human figure. After that you may begin adding details, shading and focusing on characteristics of the individual.
Another thing that may help is to photograph a person in the motion. Take several in-sequence photos, but personally, I do not like drawing solely from the photos. These can be helpful to capture those difficult angles that you can no longer find because your figure has moved on. If you do have a model, after studying people in motion, you may be able to set up just the motion you want, frozen in time, by your model. However, these are tricky to set up more than once.
Lastly, some artists like to draw several figures to represent one figure in motions, or sort of echoing figures. Others just draw the still figure that suggests motion. If you do that, be sure to leave room for the motion! For example, if your figure is running forward, give him room to run by leaving plenty of space on your paper in front of him. If your figure is running forward but is stopped right at the edge of the space (no place to run) there is a sort of tension created by the seemingly sudden stopped space.
As always, have fun and happy drawing!
P.S. I have recently been invited to a group here in town that you may want to check out and it is called the Springfield Life Drawing Group. Contact them on Facebook.