Life Drawing

Life Drawing Assignment

12 Principals of Animation

  1. Squash and Stretch

This refers to an animated character or object which will change in shape or length to give the illusion of weight and momentum. This principal helps to emphasise what the material/s a character or object is made up of and what weight it is.


image source

    2. Anticipation

A way in which an action is prepared for is by exaggerating movement. In animation it must be made clear to the viewer what they should be looking at so to do this the character will be drawn in the various stages before carrying out the actual movement. This gives the audience time to realise what is it they should be focused on and why.


image source:

      3. Staging

This can be applied to many elements within animation including timing, acting, camera angles e.t.c. It is when it is made completely clear to the audience what is happing in the scene. Nothing is there by chance, everything is carefully thought out and placed in a specific place to present the story in its intended light.


image source

      4. Straight Ahead & Pose to Pose

This principal refers to two ways in which drawings can be animated. The first, straight ahead, is when each drawing is drawn in order one after another. The second, pose to pose is when the first and the last of each main action is drawn and then the blanks are drawn in later. Pose to pose tends to allow more control over what you draw because you can easily decide where the character begins and where they end up. This is more difficult with straight ahead. However straight ahead can be used to animate unpredictable scenes, things with constantly changing physics such as fire or smoke.


image source


image source

     5.Follow Through & Overlapping Action

This principal adds a sense of realism to the scene by leaving parts of the character/object behind during movement or allowing them to continue to move after the character or object has stopped. For example the cape on a super hero character wouldn’t move at the same rate as the character themselves, it would flow behind them and have to catch up. This also allows the animator to describe what something is made of.


image source 

     6. Slow in and Slow Out

Mainly all types of movement (excluding machinery) starts movement slowly, speeds up and comes to a gradual halt. This principal allows for an animation to look and feel believable.


image source

      7. Arcs

“The movements of most living creatures will follow a slightly circular path”.- Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston (The Illusion of Life)

Describes a form of movement whereby characters generally move in a circular path to avoid rigid movement and make characters move more realistically.


image source

     8. Secondary Action

“When used correctly, secondary action will add richness to the scene, naturalness to the action, and a fuller dimension to the personality of the character”.- Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston (The Illusion of Life)

This refers to additional actions which are added to support or emphasise main actions or primary actions. If a character is running secondary actions can be added to emphasise why they are running. If the character is looking behind them every few seconds they may be running from something but if they are looking straight ahead and have a relaxed posture they may be out for a jog.


image source

     9. Timing

This refers to how many frames are put into a scene and how different effects can be produced. The more drawings you place in between the first and last frame the slower it will be whereas the fewer drawers you place the faster the action will happen.

Drawing on ones: a drawing is placed on every frame. This can sometimes look jumpy

Drawing on twos: a drawing is placed every two frames. This tends to look a lot more fluid than drawing on ones, making it the more commonly used method.


image source

    10. Exaggeration

This refers to the emphasis of actions in animation. Without this principal animations would look flat and boring. This helps to really bring them to life.


image source

     11. Solid Drawing

This refers to the use of volume, weight and balance in animation to make it look as though the characters and the scenes that they are in are in a 3-dimensional space. This is also used to ensure that the perspective stays constant and that the characters and objects make sense in regards to scale.


image source

      12. Appeal

“To us, it meant anything that a person likes to see, a quality of charm, pleasing design, simplicity, communication and magnetism”.- Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston (The Illusion of Life)

The basically means that the characters should have some sort of charismatic quality about them which makes the audience ‘like them’. Generally characters will have a distinctive feature or features which make the visually appealing to an audience.

  • Variety of shapes
  • Proportions
  • Keep it simple

Our life drawing assignment was to design a character based on the principal of appeal.

At first I wasn’t sure what kind of character I wanted to design so I drew out some potential shapes and designed a little rabbit character.


My final character is a tiny dog with bat-like ears. Here are some of the early designs for him.lifedrawing3lifedrawing4

Here are some of the more final designs for him:


Here are a few digital drawings of the character with colour added:

dogcharacWhile I was designing him it occurred to me that he put me in mind of the character ‘Winston’ from a Disney short entitled ‘Feast’ (2014). So I watched it over and over to see how they approached animating his movements.


image source


When designing the character I thought that his big ears linked well to the Follow Through and Overlapping Action principal because of their size they could take a while to catch up to the body or flow behind him when he is running (almost like a cape). Here are some sketches showing this.


Secondary Action.jpgI considered giving the character a longer tail but thought that the shorter tail fit better with the overall proportions of the character. While designing this character I also thought back to the Secondary Action Principal. Expression can be shown from various points of the character not only the face and body, for example the tail could wag alongside a happy facial expression to show happiness or the ears could fall back and the body could hunch lower to suggest fear or sadness.

My character was greatly influenced by various characters including Disney’s Bolt (2009) because of the main characters small stature and boisterous nature.


image source

I also took some inspiration from the character designs from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians in regards to the characters eyes.


image source

I also thought about the tenth principal, exaggeration, when designing my character. I wanted to exaggerate the proportions of the dog and make his head and ears much larger than his body. In the end I feel like I could have did a better job at this but I’m still pretty happy with the character.

“When Walt asked for realism, he wanted a caricature of realism.”- Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (The Illusion of Life)

I found the quote (above) very interesting and definitely thought about it when creating my character. I wanted to emphasise obvious physical traits of dogs that I based the character on such as French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers which are easily recognised by their pointed ears and small bodies.


In regards to the second principal, anticipation, I considered this also during the designing of my character. I feel as though the character could easily be drawn in ways that show this principal. For example if he were about to jump he could be drawn lowering himself to the ground before springing upwards. This gives the jump context and prepares the audience for the following action.

Although the character isn’t what I would have liked it to be I am pretty happy with it. I plan to work more on the design of the character over the summer using what I have learned in the life drawing classes to help me create a more dynamic and well rounded final result. I would also like to have a go at modelling the character in Maya and maybe using some tutorials on rigging quadrupeds to me a. help me get better at character design and b. help me with learning more about modelling and rigging in maya.


Thomas, F. and Johnston, O. (1995). The Illusion of Life, 1st ed. New York: Disney Editions

Disney’s ‘Feast’ (2014) Directed by Patrick Osborne

Disney’s Bolt (2008) Directed by Byron Howard & Chris Williams




Life Drawing

For todays class I decided to use pencil instead of conte because I find it much easier to quickly sketch. Here are some of my favourite sketches from todays class!


Robert modelled for our class today for the first time since first semester so it was good to have a different model!

When we finished our usual 60 second pose warm up Mike asked us to draw Robert as our characters. I hadn’t thought too much about the character design so focused mainly on exaggerating his proportions to get inspiration for potential characters.


Life Drawing Second Semester- 9

Due to being sick I have missed the last two life drawing classes but I have been trying my best to keep up with what the class has been doing. I used the website to help me.

Here are some of my homework of drawing hands and feet:



So for this weeks class we started off doing 60 second poses. Recently I have been trying to draw smaller sketches to try and fit in as much detail as possible. I think this really helps me with quick figure sketching.

Here are some of my favourite sketches.


After this Mike had us do 15 minute poses of the female model. I was struggling with this so he came over and helped me see the perspective. I know this is an area that I really need to improve on!



Life Drawing Second Semester-6

This week we started off as normal, drawing 60 second poses with the female model!

I have been having trouble with life drawing since the start and it was getting very frustrating so I have been practicing at home to try and get better! I also thought that I had been drawing my sketches too big so it was hard for me to add much detail in 60 seconds. So for this class I tried drawing smaller sketches to see if it would help and I am really happy with them! I know I still have a long way to go before they’re anywhere close to being perfect but I feel like its a good start!

Here are some of my sketches:


After the warm-up Michael told us that we would now be looking at drawing hands and feet, starting with feet. He drew some sketches to help us understand the anatomy of the foot:


Our task was to draw the models feet thinking about perspective and proportion. This was quite difficult!


When I got home I used the website to help me with my homework which is to practice drawing feet.

Here is my homework:



Life Drawing Second Semester- 5

Before class this week I did some practice at home using a really helpful video on YouTube that explains gesture.

Here’s the video:

I then used the website to get some model shots to draw.

These are some of my drawings of gesture:

This video was really helpful in further explaining what Michael has been teaching us in class, how we use s curves and see curves to draw out the movement of the model before we start adding any sort of detail or form.

I tried to incorporate the techniques that this video taught me into this weeks life drawing class, however I am still struggling with actually putting the techniques into practice and creating a well proportioned drawing.

Here are some of this weeks one minute sketches:


Michael then gave us a task which was very different to anything we have done in class before. Jackie was going to act out a story and we had to draw it out into a storyboard using thumbnails. To do this we had to think of everything that we had learned up to that point in life drawing. Michael asked us what we should be thinking about the drawing our storyboards and this is the list that we came up with.


Michael said a series of events and Jackie acted them out for us to draw. The story was about a person that was walking to the bus stop and trips and their shoe comes off, then as they kneel down to put their shoe on their phone falls out of their pocket.. then just to make things worse someone comes along and steals the phone. It then starts to rain and so on and so on. Overall this character is not having a good day!


I know these are terrible but I’m going to try my best to fix them up for the homework which Mike told us is to fix up the storyboard into something that we would be proud to present!

I have also been practising more with drawing Pinocchio. I think I’m finally getting the hand of simplifying the character into shapes. Michael said that I’m on the right track which is great!




Life Drawing Second Semester-4

In todays life drawing class Michael had us critique each others sketches using a guide that he gave us at the start of the class.

This is the guide:


These are some of Michaels example drawings:

Here are some of my sketches from the one minute poses:


Michael then asked us to pick our favourite drawing/s so that the class could critique it. From the feedback given I need to focus more on surfaces and proportion. I still find it very hard to quickly draw the proportions and form of the model.

After this Michael gave us another exercise to draw Jackie sitting in a chair, we then switched places with others in the class and finished the drawing from a different angle. To do this we had to visualise what Jackie looked like from the previous position.

Here is my drawing:


I found this really difficult. I feel like I’m not improving so I’ll have to do much more practice outside of class!

Michael has given us a continuous task of drawing the shapes that make up Pinocchio so that we learn how to break up any character into simple shapes so that we can draw them again and again with the exact same proportions. I thought that this task would really help me with my drawing so I got started as soon as my tracing paper and pencils arrived! I then used the Pinocchio model sheet to trace out the shapes of the character:


Here is the model sheet that Michael gave us to work from:


Drawing with form

Our homework for life drawing last week was to draw a sitting model with form. At first I wasn’t sure what this meant so I looked it up. I started drawing a few model poses using pencil from to get the hang of drawing poses.

Here are my sketches:


After this I watched a few YouTube videos explaining form drawing with form is. I found the video below very helpful in helping me understand the concept of drawing objects in space and giving them a 3D look.


I started practising using shapes just like in the video.

Life Drawing Second Semester-3

In our life drawing class today Michael started off by using tracing paper and blue pencil to break down the basic shapes of Pinocchio. The way that Michael explained this really helped me to understand how to break down the body into simple shapes. He suggested that we try this if we are having trouble with seeing the shapes that a character is made up of so I went online and bought some tracing paper and Non-photo blue pencils so that I can give it a try!


This took up most of the class but for the last 15 minutes Michael had us draw the female model sitting on a chair. We had to draw the movement and then break the drawing up into basic shapes. I am still struggling with this! Michael makes it look so easy.


The homework that we had to have for this class was practice with drawing Pinocchio. I found a video on YouTube that really helped with this. Although Michael said that I need to focus more on the shape and less on the detail of the character .

Here are my drawings:


For the drawings below I watched a clip of Pinocchio on YouTube where his nose grows and paused the clip on three frames.


Life Drawing Second Semester- 2

In todays class we warmed up for a while. I try to capture the movement of the model before I start working out proportions but its hard to add much detail in only 30 seconds so I’ll have to work on speeding up my drawing.

These are some of my sketches:


After the warmup Michael told us that we would be drawing heads so the female model sat on a chair and Michael explained to us exactly what we were going to be doing. He drew four boxes and drew a head rotation in perspective (shown below). We were then told to draw the models head from how we could see it and then draw the rotation using Michaels guide.


These are some of my drawings of a head. I found this really difficult.. I found it really hard to grasp the concept of drawing the head inside the box. Michael helped me with my drawings (he drew over my sketches in black below).


Michael then drew over my sketches in a light brown to help me understand the concept better. I’ll definitely have to practice this more!


At the start of the class Michael showed us the Pinocchio model sheet and showed us how to break down the head into simple shapes and draw the head rotation. Our homework is to practice drawing the Pinocchio model sheet.

These are Michael’s drawings:img_5669

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑