How do you figure episode 3: Using Line of Action to identify Exaggeration Opportunities

Today we’re building off of the concepts in a previous How do You Figure episode (see here) and will talk about using line of action to exaggerate our poses.

I’m working off of a stock photo from Marcus J Ranum, a photographer who provides amazing resources for artists mostly for free, check out his deviantart for great stock photos.

This character is swinging his axe, moving from left to right, I’m going to attempt to enhance the feeling of power in the axe swing.

Line of action

I’ll start by identifying the primary line of action, a curved line that shows the tension of the spine and the direction of the force. In my study drawing we can exaggerate the feeling of these forces by leaning the line further to the right and bending the line in the torso further



I find it helpful to think of the other limbs as having their own lines of action, often providing counter motion to the primary line of action.


The exaggeration opportunity here is often in the squash and stretch, and their relationships with the primary line of action. Adjusting slightly to avoid right angles can make the pose feel more organic.

From there the study is finished off using a few layers of sketching


block in


clean line



each of these other steps have their own shortcuts to get to a finished state more efficiently, but that’s for another blog post.

Posted in Art, How Do You Figure, Tutorial.