Action Sketching: Handling a fully-jointed mannequin

By using a fully jointed manikin, soccer coaches, trainers, players, and very involved parents can better describe, photograph, or draw their instructions.
While stop-action video is an extremely useful training tool, still images also are important, especially when you need to print instructions. By using a manikin to envision a body, you can show a single play from many angles.
The COLOR-LILIJ Body Figures discussed in my previous blog is a fully jointed manikin, popular with the Japanese who are experts at creating hand-drawn stories. American sports enthusiasts can do the same thing, although probably not as stylized as Japanese manga.
Out of the box, a fully jointed manikin is stiff and if you force a position, easy to break. To prepare one for positioning, warm it up first by exposing it to a hair dryer.
Heating a plastic manikin
It only takes ten seconds or so to warm up an area, but you probably will have to repeat “heat treatments” until your manikin is fully flexible.
Warning: Be gentle! Use heat, not force!
Take time to understand the manikin’s joint system. You’ll find ball joints and/or slots at each pivot point, and sometimes two types in one place, like on the shoulders. The documentation explains all this, but it is written in Japanese, so you’ll need to be extra observant to figure it out.
Manikin joints
After flexing all your manikin’s joints, check out the remaining parts in its kit.
Recommendation: Pour the parts on a table
using a towel as a tablecloth.
The interchangeable parts that come with your manikin allow you to use it to play-act many scenarios. The thing is that these parts are very tiny and if you pour them out on a hard surface, they will probably skitter all about. To keep them from rolling around, cover your work surface with a bath towel which will slow down their unpredictable movement.
Store the parts, like the six sets of tiny hands, in a sandwich bag or small food container. If your main interest is to depict soccer moves, you will probably concentrate on feet and legs, not specific hand positions, so storage organization won’t be an issue.
Manikin parts
The most important parts in the kit make up the manikin’s stand, which are bagged separately from the other items.
manikin stand
Use a jewelry sized, Phillips-head screwdriver to tighten the stand’s screws. The stand also has snap connectors. If they are stiff, use heat from a hairdryer to soften them. Do not use force!
The stand snaps into a hole on a platform. This platform also doubles as a storage box cover, but does not fit tightly and is worthless for that use.
staged manikin
As you can see above, a staged manikin looks very lifelike! By rotating the manikin in front of a camera, one pose can demonstrate many positions and a lot of information about what happens to a soccer player’s body when executing a play.
Examples of poses
In my next Soccer Sketching blog, I’ll discuss different ways a manikin can be used for a drawing reference.

Links Worth Repeating

  • General reference on Amazon to body figures by COLOR-LILIJ.
  • General reference on Amazon to body figures by Body-Kun models for Artists.
  • Really Worth It? Drawing With BODY-KUN & BODY-CHAN, a video by “mikeymegamega.” This 18 minute video is very complete and demonstrates how the manikin is used.
  • While the Japanese art of cartooning focuses most on the upper body and stylized features, Video Drawing Tutorials for Anime Manga, it will stimulate your imagination with respect to drawing action characters and story telling.