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Artists create movement in still images using two techniques: motion lines and line of action. Motion lines show an object's path, while the line of action is an imaginary line in a character's pose that suggests movement. Using these techniques, we can make static drawings feel alive!

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Video transcript

(soft tapping) (clicks) - Movement is obviously a big part of films. However, since storyboards and concept paintings are still images, they have to suggest movement to help tell a story. In this video we'll look how to create the illusion of movement in still images. Focusing on two specific techniques, motion lines and line of action. Motion lines extend from an object along its pathway of motion to make it appear like it's moving. If I was drawing a car on a racetrack I might add some lines like this. The line of action is a little bit different. Think of this as an imaginary line that runs down the spine of a character which indicates the force and movement in that moment. We use this line to imply movement by guiding the pose of the character or in some cases other objects. Check this out. Notice we can feel movement even though the drawing is static. Now let's look at the Up storyboards and concept art with motion in mind. - The previous panel we've been looking at from Up where we see the house taking off for the first time through a city, there's a lot of things about this composition that really help us feel like even though these are static shapes that typically in our world wouldn't move on their own, suggest a sense of movement with this house. That directional of the balloons fanning up helps pull the house upwards. The shape of the house itself with the triangle pointing upwards helps move the house upwards. The framing devices that are happening in the background actually help move the house through the panel as well. As the trees go from medium to large size they pull our eye forward. - And then if you look at the house, it's not quite vertical, it's slightly askew. Which shows that it's different than all the other surroundings. Because the fact that it's flying but also it's like a character in itself. So there's like a slightly implied movement of going upwards and to the right. - One of the fun things we are sort of experimenting with with Ellie is even though you see her here as she's drawn with hands on hips firmly planted on the ground, we wanted her energy to just feel like it was pointing upwards. So we used these curves which are sort of pointing you upwards. We wanted it to sort of play a contrast to Carl. Who has become even more square and even more hunkered down. We wanted you to feel like age has just taken its toll on him. He's become this sort of grumpy old man who's now burdened and sort of locked in and just anchored to the floor. - I really like the movement in this image because it's very simple. It's like a really easy thing to do but sometimes it gets overcomplicated. If you look at McQueen here you see how these tires are slightly diagonal, which makes him feel like he's leaning to the right. As well as like this bottom here. And then the overall line of action is a diagonal line going that way. And then this car that's back here's line is going that way as well. And it just makes it feel like they're actually moving forward in space. As well as the speed lines which are always like a really quick an easy way to indicate movement in storyboarding. And if you look at this guy back here, he's a little bit slower than these other two. He's not quite as competitive in this moment as they are, he's more examining the bout, like what's going on and admiring the competition between them. So if you check him out, his line of action is more of a vertical line. Like even the tires are very straight, which really contrasts what they're doing here. - So this set of images from Brave are great. The character designer was exploring how Mum Bear would move as soon as she turns in the bear. And of course, she was a woman who doesn't know how big she is now. She's this gigantic bear. And this is something really important when we create characters, the line of action. This through line that goes from the top of the bottom of the character to kind of tells you what the gesture and implies the movement the character might have. Mum Bear is not very graceful yet, she doesn't quite know what to do with her body. She doesn't know how to move and she's a little bit off balance. Now a little bit later when Mum Bear finds her footing, she becomes really graceful. You look at these pictures and you can just see this beautiful line of action through the body of Mum Bear. She seems like she moves in a very graceful way. And I really love that kind of simplicity of design that we see in these pictures. - As we've just seen, we can create a sense of motion with motionless images. By thinking about the direction and the quality of our lines, as well as the pose of the character and the objects within the frame. In the next exercise you'll have a chance to explore motion in more depth.