Drawing Basics: Contrapposto pose, how the body adjusts to balance


This is a brief post to help those who struggle to get the figure in their drawings to feel like it has weight and is not just floating on the page.

The body is always adjusting to balance itself and one of the ways we can learn to see how the body balances is to study a pose called the contrapposto pose. It  is a pose that has been used by artists for a very long time to create a natural stance. It is also a great way to introduce how the body will react to gravity.

Let's take a look. 


Contrapposto pose
The contrapposto position is when a person stands in a relaxed manner resting his weight on one leg. To stand in a contrapposto pose is to stand in a position of asymmetrical balance. This is to say the body is in balance but the forms of the figure do not line up equally. This is because though the body is balanced, as to not to fall over, but the weight is not evenly distributed throughout the body.

The body moves in certain ways to naturally balance its weight against the forces of gravity. 

In this pose, the positioning of the shoulders and hips are used to balance the torso as we stand.

The hips and shoulders are in positions that are angled in opposing directions. That is, if the left shoulder is higher than the right shoulder, the left side of hips will be lower than the right side of the hips.

This allows the center of gravity of the torso to rest over the weight bearing foot.

This tells us that the weight bearing foot will be under the torso but we can take that even further. The head will adjust to balance with the shoulders and will match the center of gravity of the torso. This puts the foot  underneath the head in the contrapposto position. 

Practice drawing this pose and this might help you learn see how the body adjusts and shifts to balance itself.