Help! I have been trying really hard to improve my drawing skills, practicing almost everyday. I have been watching tutorials and studying anatomy but I can't get my characters to look natural.. They look extremely stiff and blocky... Any advice?? Oh! I almost forgot, I LOVE YOUR ART SO MUCH!!!
GESTURES. GESTURES. GESTURES!
Studying anatomy is fantastic. Whatever you do, don’t stop! I’m going to suggest gestures but that is by no means a suggestion to swap. Just start implementing gestures as well.
Okay. So. Look at this.
This is a still from Glean Keane animating Tarzan - and it exactly nails what a gesture is. Just a few simple lines that are full of movement and you can tell exactly what the heck is going on. All with a few simple lines.
Learning anatomy is great - but learning how to implement it is another thing. If I focus too much on nailing anatomy - the drawing starts to feel stiff, exactly as you’ve stated.
Gestures are all about forgetting what you think you know about muscles and structure and instead drawing what movement in a body FEELS like. That might sound cooky but that’s kind of how I approach it in my head. It’s all about those lines of movement and contrast and CURVES.
I think loosening up and forgetting about how technically correct a drawing is and instead embracing something rough and full of movement, and looking at how the lines in the human body contrast themselves will do you wonders. Keep learning anatomy, but look at how we move and look the weird shapes we can make with our bodies. Look at the way we slouch and stand tall. The way we dance, the way we run. Sit in a coffee shop and try to draw the heart of someone’s pose in like 30 seconds.
Observe MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM AND MY GOD THE HUMAN BODY IS POETRY *GESTICULATES WILDLY*
Even just grabbing a photograph from the net and looking at it objectively - how would this pose break down into a few simple lines? It’s so damn simple to look at something this way. You can endlessly improve your knowledge of anatomy and your technical abilities - but I think so many of us (myself included) stumble at the simplest foundations.
My last suggestion is a wonderful book (videos are floating around on youtube as well) from Mike Mattesi in which he talks about Force. It’s fascinating stuff! I love this example of a simple gesture being built up on.
I hope at least some of that was useful! Just start small okay. Think about learning the chords before you try and master Stairway to Heaven.