Allright! My phone service has been restored! Thanks to everyone for being so patient.
Is anyone confused by the term "Line of Action"? I keep using the term as it was used in Preston Blair's book on Animation. I assume that anyone interested in the topics that I talk about would be familiar with the book. If you don't already have it, Amazon.com has it for under $8! To find it on Amazon, just search for "Preston Blair" and get the one called "Cartooning: Animation 1". Even if you're not interested in animation it's great help for anyone who wants to learn about drawing.
I usually don't post stuff from books that are still in print, but here's the part of that book that concerns "Line Of Action".
A good Line of Action is really important in any drawing. It helps organize what you're trying to say into one thought. Any drawing should only try to say one thing - it's hard enough to draw a character doing ONE thing and put it accross clearly. Trying to draw a character doing TWO or MORE things simultaneously is incredibly difficult and usually a recipe for disaster. It invariably leads to confusion.
Over the years I've learned a few things I would add here about Line of Action. I think you should always keep the line-of-action simple. I think a gesture, in order to have any kind of punch to it, needs to be based on either a straight line, a curve, or an "S" curve. Those three types of lines have direction and force to them. Anything else, like a zigzag or a more complicated series of curves, loses it's ability to convey an action or direction.
These are from a page out of Bill Peet's Autobiography. Study each one - each has a line-of-action that is either a straight line, a curve, or an "S" curve.
Years ago, fellow Disney artist Wilbert Plijnaar posted these Daan Jippes comic pages over at the cartoonretro forum. They had a big impact on me - I was struck particularly by how extreme the line-of-action was on each drawing. He was really adept at making EVERYTHING subsurvient to the gesture line. Mickey's clothes and ears and entire expression became part of the line-of action. And the amazing part was he was able to do it without destroying the identity of the forms. If you push a line-of-action too far, or in the wrong way, you can sacrifice the structure of what's underneath and you're left with something that feels like it's made out of jelly with no skeleton - that's not good. Check out the gestures on these crows - in lesser hands they might have started looking like snakes or something, but they don't.
Also, looking at his stuff, I was struck by how he pushed every line on the figure in the same direction as the gesture, but he was ALSO minimizing any lines on the figure that went opposite to the gesture - which really gave the line-of-action a lot of power. (Check out this section from a handout I did for an explanation).
Okay, here's the whole crow bit. Leave a comment and let me know if anything I've explained seems unclear...I have more to say about this so hopefully, if it's confusing, I can clarify in future posts!