Action Sketching: Learn action movement with photos and mannequins

The best “stop action” photos are taken with cameras with shooting magazines that can take dozens of photos at a time. This is similar to video, but with slower and larger frames. These photos, like the one below from, make a wonderful sketch reference, but leave many unknowns.

Photo of a soccer player
Based on this picture, do you understand the position of the player from his sides or back when in this pose? How about the position of his shoes or the relationship of one leg to the other?

While a COLOR-LILIJ Body Figure mannequin cannot duplicate every pose, when used correctly, you can position it into similar poses, which, in turn, reveal unseen mysteries as you rotate it in front of you.

The mannequin is small, which is a perfect size for taking photos of it with your cell phone. Even though it is small, its body is fully jointed, and its toes move, something of interest for every soccer player.

Sketch manikin compared to a pen

Its joints all rotate on ball and sockets, as seen below. Everything is extremely stiff when you first use it, however, so if you are not careful (or yank at a joint), it can fall apart. Because it is so delicate, do not let children play with it!

Manikin split at the waist

Below is an example of the mannequin’s flexibility! Pay particular attention to its legs and feet and imagine positioning it similar to the photo of the running soccer player.

Drawing manikin with legs and feet in different positions

The mannequin kit comes with extras, such as arms, lower legs, hands, and accessories that fit in the hands. It also has a mannequin holder used for positioning it upright as though it was running or jumping.

Manikin kit with extra body parts, accessories, and model holder

My next blog will discuss how to position the mannequin in reference to a soccer player photo and what you can learn from it. I’ll also discuss how to handle the mannequin and what to do when things get loose or worse, drop off.