Saturday, March 10, 2012

Head, Ribs and Hips part 1

When we think about the expressiveness of the human body it seems like the further out from the torso the extremity is, the more flexible and expressive it is (shoulders seem pretty expressive, hands even more so). We don't always think of the rib cage and pelvis (otherwise known as the hips) as contributing to great expressions, but the relationship between the head, ribs and hips tell us a lot about a person and can have a big part in telling us the age and health of the person and what their mental state is at that moment.

Here's the "default" posture, the one we think of humans as having naturally and the kind of posture we associate most with youth.



I think in our minds when we look at how people are standing we subconsciously relate their posture to this "yardstick" (above) of how we know young people with perfect posture might stand. And when the relationship and orientation of the head, ribs and hips changes from this upright "norm", that can tell us a lot about that person: Are they young? Are they healthy? Confident? Happy? Sad? Or are they old? Are they sick? Are they in pain? Scared? Do they feel defeated or overwhelmed by the world?














So obviously there are two aspects to "posture", or the orientation of the head, rib cage and hips. There's the way we carry ourselves in normal everyday life (do we slouch? Or do we walk upright?), and the more immediate effect our mood has on our posture. A person with perfect posture may slouch when depressed, tired, or sick, but otherwise may carry themselves upright and straight.



 The relation ship between the head, ribs and hips is an interesting balance of angles that play off of each other. It's a mistake to think of them like this:
If there's one thing to remember about the human body, it's that it's an amazingly fluid collection of balances and counter-balances. The ribs and hips are no exception:




The fact that the human body (and all living things) is full of masses counter-balancing each other and curves connecting them is the greatest tools we have as artists to give our drawings fluidity and rhythm. Always look for ways to emphasize these beautiful curves!

Of course the relationship between the head, ribs and hips is not rigid and unchanging. The spine (which connects all of them) is very flexible.

So this installment is all about the relationship between the head, ribs and hips when we're standing upright and when the forms are perfectly balanced.  In the next part we'll talk about dealing with those forms when you're NOT standing perfectly upright (which is about 99% of the time, of course).

Almost every move of any substance you make with your body has a ripple effect on how these three forms relate to each other, to maintain your balance. Even turning your head from a standing position to look to the side brings your head out forward, which means your rib cage leans back to compensate and your hips will either lean forward to balance the whole thing out like this:
Or your hips may move back (like your ribs did) to counterbalance your head. Either way, try it and notice that if you move your head off the perpendicular to look to the side, you will feel movement in your legs as your ribs and hips rearrange to compensate...proof that the whole body has to be involved in making even the smallest of adjustments.

15 comments:

Taylor said...

Good, simple info to pay attention to. Thanks!

Vela Noble said...

Really helpful information, thank you! :D

Hansel Garcia said...

awesome! thank you! :D

James said...

Brilliant - thanks. Implementing these into my drawings as I write.

Alex_Munguia said...

WRITE A BOOK!!!! haha thanks for the post, :).

Colleen MacDonald said...

This is an excellent discussion, and not just from the standpoint of illustration. I love the underlying biology of our observations.

Liimlsan said...

I am convinced that this is the reason Ken Harris' animation looks so viscerally real: his characters have a fluid inner core, constantly fall forward and back slightly to maintain their balance. I'm amazed how he learned it... 0.e

Jack Ruttan said...

I am so happy to have this! Thanks.

JK Riki said...

Wow, so good. Thanks! I can't wait for the second part.

Also I want to second Alex's comment: Write a book! :)

Aminder Dhaliwal said...

great post!

Russ B said...

Your blog is the best blog. Fantastic breakdown.

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