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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 beautiful standing poses, but it can be super useful for sitting poses too!
Let’s see how we can use contrapposto to create some dynamic seated poses, that will make your characters more attractive and engaging.
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!
Sitting on a chair
When a character is sitting on a chair, their weight is placed on their pelvis, rather than their feet. When a character places the majority of their weight on one side of their pelvis, the other rises like a see-saw. Note that this is the opposite effect to when a character is standing! (When standing, the side they are placing their weight on rises.)
Regular sitting pose
Let’s think of the hips as a see-saw. When a character is sitting totally straight upright like this, the “see-saw” of their hips lies flat, undisturbed.
Adding contrapposto to the equation…
When we have the character place their weight on the left of their hips/pelvis, their right hip rises, and the centre of gravity tilts to the left hand side, with the body curving to match this shift.
PRO TIP 1
The shoulders tilt on an opposite angle to the hips, to keep the character stable and balanced.
PRO TIP 2
When the weight is placed on one side of the pelvis, the centre of gravity tilts toward the side where the weight is placed, and the see-saw effect makes the hip on the other side rise up.
PRO TIP 3
To stabilise the body, the legs lean away from the centre of gravity.
Examples of a seated poses
By shifting the centre of gravity to one side of the pelvis, we get a beautiful, curved pose. Here we have the arm supporting the body, stopping it from toppling over. The shoulder is raised on the side of the supporting arm.
Notice how the character’s right arm (non-supporting arm) is slightly bent and relaxed, so the length of the arm fits with the lowered shoulder.
Crossed legs are another thing that can cause the body to tilt, and make for an attractive, sometimes sexy pose.
Viewed from behind
When we look at the pose from behind, we see the character’s hips and butt more clearly. We see how the character’s right hip is raised, and the effect that has on the character’s waist (we have a cleared “dip” on the right side of the waist). We also see how the whole line of the body twists, making the pose more dynamic.
As we saw from the front too, the left arm is supporting the character’s body, and the legs are swivelled off to the opposite side to the centre of gravity, balancing out the whole pose.
Be sure to use contrapposto in your work, to create more dynamic, attractive sitting poses!