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How to draw movement: 16 top tips

As an artist, many of us are drawn to expressing ideas through character design. I’m constantly seeking to improve, and over the years I’ve picked up some helpful tricks in designing more appealing and expressive characters. It’s important to design not only how your figures look, but also how they tell a story with their gestures and movements.

This is especially crucial in the animation industry because the characters you’ll be conceptualising are intended to perform as though they were an actor in a film or TV show. Here are some tips on how to draw a more engaging character.

01. Draw a line of action

A straight or curved line forms the foundation of a movement drawing

Envisioning a single line overlaying your drawing can be a simple way of creating a feeling of movement. This line of action can either be straight or curved; both can give a different feeling of movement. While a straight line is usually very fast and direct, a curved line can create a more graceful mood. However, it’s best to avoid a perfectly straight vertical line of action, which may make a drawing feel static.

02. Show what the character is thinking

The character’s thoughts will help to suggest their actions

Just as we imagine our favourite TV and film characters to be real, we should try to imagine the characters we create have minds of their own. If a character in a drawing is moving or acting, they should have a reason for doing so. 

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