Why the Line of Action Doesn’t Work for Figure Drawing

See the reasons the line of action can make figure drawing more difficult and misleading, especially in terms of anatomical structure and getting a true understanding of what a gesture drawing entails.

7 min. video

Discussion with Art Prof Clara Lieu.

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Video Walkthrough

  • This video talks about the line of action within the context of figure drawing, not for characters or animation.
  • The Line of Action is meant to show movement in the simplest way
  • The goal of the the Line of Action is to achieve a sense of movement in your figure drawing.
  • The Line of Action doesn’t have any anatomical basis.
  • It is possible to get the sense of movement and establish simple anatomy.
  • People often think anatomy is too difficult for a quick drawing.
  • Anatomy doesn’t have to be super complicated with full of details.
  • Very basic shapes like the rib cage and pelvis are much more important and create a foundation compared to the Line of Action.
  • What you need more instead of individual muscles is an anatomical mindset.
  • The Line of Action has nothing to do with anatomy, so if you add it first, it’s inevitable that it will have to fixed later.
  • Why bother with a the Line of Action which is misleading, and inherently anatomically incorrect?
  • The centerline is a much better investment of your time, it doesn’t take any longer than drawing the Line of Action, and doesn’t need to be fixed later.
  • Where you place the Line of Action is not reliable, depending on who is drawing it, it can be in a totally different place and show a different movement.
  • The Line of Action makes the figure flat, you are not thinking about form and mass which are critical to establishing the figure.
  • The Line of Action bypasses both arms and 1 leg, you aren’t creating cohesion by leaving out those body parts.
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