Throughout the ages, contrapposto has been considered a beautiful way to display the human form. It was used in ancient Greece and Rome, and after that, in the renaissance period, it was founded as an artistic theory.
Last time, we looked at how contrapposto can help to create some beautiful seated poses – this time let’s continue that study and look at how to draw characters sitting on the ground using contrapposto.
Let’s see how we can use contrapposto to create some dynamic sitting poses, that will make your characters more attractive and engaging.
You can find parts 1 and 2 here:
Note: Throughout this lesson, I will be referring to the sides of the body as viewed from the character’s POV, not the viewer’s. So the “character’s left hand side” will be on the right as we are viewing it. Left and right are very important here, so I wanted to make that clear before we start!
The “see-saw” theory
When a character is sitting on the ground, the same rules apply as for when they are sitting on a chair. The hips raise on the opposite side of the body to the side on which the character is placing their weight.
Think of it like a see-saw!
Unlike seated poses where a character is sitting on a chair, when we draw a character sitting on the ground, we have all different possibilities for what to do with their legs. This opens up a whole new range of poses!
Sitting pose without contrapposto
Because the centre of gravity is right in the middle of the body, the shoulders and hips are totally straight and even too. This makes for a well-balanced, but stiff pose.
Sitting pose with contrapposto
When we shift the centre of gravity to one side, the body will naturally try to balance itself by tilting the shoulders and hips to steady the body. This pose accentuates the natural curves of the feminine form, and it attractive to look at. You will often see models sitting in this way, for that very reason.
Remember, the way the shoulders and hips tilt on opposite angles, creates that S-curve we studied in our other contrapposto lessons.
PRO TIP 1
The body leans towards the side on which the centre of gravity falls. We need the character’s hand to prop up the body to stop if from toppling over.
PRO TIP 2
Like in a seated pose, the legs should be leaning over to the opposite side to the centre of gravity to help balance to body.
Shifting the centre of gravity
Contrapposto occurs when the centre of gravity is shifted to one side, and the shoulders and hips tilt in opposite directions. So to create a pose with contrapposto, we need to move the centre of gravity to either the left or right. The amount we shift it will also affect the balance of the pose.
Shifting the centre of gravity to the left
The body leans towards the side on which the centre of gravity falls, and the hand on that same side of the body should be propping the body up.
Shifting the centre of gravity further to the left
In this image, the character’s centre of gravity falls even further to the left. Here the left arm is providing a lot of support to the body. Don’t focus on drawing the left shoulder higher, but rather try to draw the right shoulder lower.
If we bend the elbow slightly, it will look realistic, like the character is really supporting their weight on that arm.
Sitting pose examples
When the body is turned diagonally like this, both the front and the side of the body are visible, so we need to think about perspective when drawing. Think of the spine as an axis on which to tilt the shoulders and hips.
Here, the right arm is holding up the body, so we need to remember to lower the left shoulder accordingly.
That brings us to the end of today’s talk on contrapposto! Be sure to use contrapposto in your work, to create more dynamic, attractive poses!
Read more about contrapposto here: