How can I paint something that’s moving fast?
Jessica Stevens, England
Something special happens when a still, twodimensional image can create a sense of motion in the viewer’s mind. It can be a tricky feeling to reproduce, but I’ll use this Legend of the Five Rings piece to illustrate some ways to go about it.
If this is a figurative piece, you’ll want the pose to be dynamic. If there’s a lot of movement throughout your composition, I suggest creating a still section that will act as your focal point. When only one area is in motion, such as a rocket punch or roundhouse kick towards the camera, that section will become a strong focal point. On the other hand, an illustration full of moving objects will draw the audience into whatever parts of the piece are inert.
Fast movement looks blurry to the naked eye, so keep the edges softer in areas of high speed. Take short-exposure camera images: the faster the shutter, the sharper the edges are on moving objects. With a fast-enough camera, even pouring water can look frozen with crisp shapes. Softness implies motion.
The blurred background and movement of the character’s dress, hair and arms is balanced by the stillness of her face, which becomes the focal point.