Start small and loose
Decide how cartoony you want to get, what aspect of the model you want to communicate (personality trait, physical feature, particular motion and so on), then try to tell that story with the pose. In my case, there is an excitement to Josephine Baker’s live performances (or videos of them, at least) that I don’t see in most posed photos. Conveying that will be my goal.
Technique and varying line weight can go a long way, but the foundation of a vibrant figure drawing is a descriptive gesture. Stay loose, experiment and have a clear centre line before adding in the limbs. Use fast, simple strokes to try out different ways of bending and stretching the body. Don’t fuss with any single gesture, try out options until you find a pose that works for your theme.
Partly because it’s better for a tutorial and mostly because it’s my favourite, I’m going with the pose that strays furthest from the source material. I’ve used a lot of fluid, curved lines to get that bubbly mood, so it’s important to now sketch in anatomy and make sure everything is still working proportionally. When you bend and twist the body, it’s vital to double- check your structure.
As with the gesture and structure, you can push the character of the drawing by using thematically appropriate line work. An angry bouncer, say, might be drawn with short, straight, hard strokes. A drunk man stooped over a bar could be drawn with wavy, slightly disconnected lines. For this piece I’m focusing on smooth, jazzy curves that reinforce the happy mood I’m going for.