Step-by-step: Illustrating a character in action
1Working out the action with a stick figure can enable you to see the overall action. This saves a lot of time and can help to solve any problems early in the drawing. The key here is to have as many different elements moving in opposite direction, but also have it look natural. Using basic lines, I indicate where the head, shoulders, hips, and so on are going to be.
2I flesh out the drawing, adding all the details. As she punches her fist forward in one direction, her opposite leg is thrusts back and the opposite arm and hand curl back towards her in a pendulum of motion, strengthening the punch. One shoulder is twisting forward, so the other is naturally back. While her head is moving in one direction, her hair flows in the opposite direction.
3I start adding skin tone, but pay extra attention to the shadows. Using shadows can help to add motion and energy to the character. For example, her lower torso and midriff are all in shadow, helping to emphasise that she’s leaning forward into the punch. Furthermore, her punching arm crosses over the shadow, making it visually stand out from her torso.
4Finally, I paint the clothing and the hair. When adding clothes, remember that they should react to the motion of the figure. In many respects the clothing will react just like the muscles of the body. In some cases it will be stretched tight, like on her arm. In other areas, it’ll be loose or bunched up. The key is to make sure that the clothing accentuates the anatomy.