Action Sketching: Tracing a photo of a mannequin

In my last post, I demonstrated how you can get a nice action sketch from a video fragment (see below). There are a number of ways to accomplish this, depending on skill. One of the fastest ways (one used by prolific manga artists) is to model your drawing on a mannequin.

Video Image

Ideally, you can set up your mannequin to copy the pose you see in the video, then take photos of it with your cell phone.

Setting up an action manikin

You might need to take several photo to most closely reproduce the angle of the player. I chose the following pose to trace.

Photo of manikin to trace

Before printing this photo, I replaced the blue in the above picture with white so I didn’t waste printer ink. I also enlarged the image to 8-inches tall.

The next picture shows the photo laying on top of a LED light tablet, as described in a previous blog. Again, note that I lightened the dark blue area before printing to save ink.

Print on a light table

At this point, I place a sheet of printer paper on top of the printout. The light behind the sheets lets the photo on the bottom show through the paper on top. Trace on the top sheet with a pencil.

Tracing an image of a manikin

From there, make adjustments to the initial trace to better match the required pose. Next, repeat the process by placing the adjusted trace on the LED light tablet, covering it with a piece of printer paper. At this point, refine your drawing.

In the photo below, the final image is sitting on top.

final trace

Depending on your paper and need, you can shade your new image, color it in some way, or even make a new tracing using a fine tip marker instead of a pencil.

No matter what, I am sure you can see the potential in this, with your soccer team members creating still pictures of moments in the game or practice session without requiring years of art training.

Bonus! After tracing a few mannequin images, you’ll subconsciously understand human anatomy in motion and will be able to create your own drawings without going through so much preparation. This is especially true when you save your work so you can refer back to it.



This article was written by Karen Little as part of an ongoing series of blogs on Action Sketching.

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