How to draw movement

Drawing movement is challenging, but will help you make more interesting drawings

Drawing movement is one of the most important interesting things you can capture in a drawing. But what is the goal of trying to work movement into your drawings? Ultimately, when drawing movement, we’re trying to communicate energy into our drawings.

When I draw animals, my main goal is to focus on drawing movement.

So, how exactly do you communicate energy and movement in your drawings?

Here are five key insights for adding movement into your drawings to give them more life.

1. Don’t worry about perfection when drawing movement

When drawing movement, don’t worry about getting everything exactly right. Your goal isn’t to draw photo-realistically.

For example, if you’re drawing animals, draw them with as few lines as possible. only focusing on the larger shapes that make up their pose. Imagine a line-of-action guiding their movement.

Basically, don’t worry about capturing all the details in your drawing. Try and think about the main movement of your subject. Then draw lines to capture this.

No matter what you’re drawing, try and depict the life of your subject. Yes, even if you’re drawing an urban scene or a landscape. Draw confident, sweeping lines to reflect energy and movement no matter how static your subject may be.

Later on, you can revisit your drawing and add more details and information to it. When you’re making your first initial sketches, it’s important to capture a feeling of movement in your drawings.

2. Use pens and markers to for drawing movement

Often we things of drawing and sketching as something you only do with pencils. Pencils can be too forgiving because we can smudge and erase as we please.

However, sketching in pen makes you more confident of each mark you make. Giving you confidence and avoid the sense of perfection we sometimes feel when you start drawing.

Begin by drawing movement using pens and markers. Animals or people are perfect. The goal of using permanent mediums is to grow your confidence to draw without thinking about it too much.

3. Practice drawing movement on location

When you’re drawing in the safety of your home, there isn’t a sense of urgency or spontaneity to your drawings.

Sketching on location is a great approach to give your work a more spontaneous and energetic feeling.

Just as we talked about in the previous step, leave your pencils and erasers at home. Drawing only with inky pens, markers, and watercolors on location.

So pick an artistic location and push yourself to draw movement in as many scenarios as you can in just a few short hours. Spend no longer than 5 minutes on each drawing. Any longer you’re going to focus too much on drawing all the details.

Which will end up giving your work a static feeling.

Remember, we’re trying to practice drawing movement.

Doing this will force you to draw your ideas quickly. And with spontaneity. This will result in drawings that convey movement and energy.

4. Sketch people and animals as often as possible

I live less than 5 minutes from the San Diego Zoo. It’s the reason I have so many filled sketchbooks. Not only from drawing animals but the people walking around the zoo as well.

There is movement everywhere.

I also pay for a more expensive pass that gets me into the zoo an hour early before normal operating hours.

Zoos and parks are perfect places to practice drawing movement. There are tons of people walking around and interacting with each other. Then, when you’re bored with drawing people, you can draw animals. Sketching people and animals are perfect practice because it forces you to draw quickly to capture them.

Remember, don’t worry about drawing perfectly. Continue to use confident lines and marks as you’re drawing movement. If you really want to, you can add more detail to your work later on.

Also, make a habit of keeping a sketchbook and a pen or pencil with you all the time. Daily drawing is an essential habit to build. You can’t wait for inspiration to draw. It’s a habit that you’ll only get better if you make yourself draw every day.

5. Capture energy in the longer drawings

Hopefully, you’ve been out drawing from life. The result of this is sketchbooks filled with loose and energetic drawings. Not only great drawings but ideas for larger works based on these.

Maybe you want to turn some of your sketchbook drawings into paintings, or larger more refined drawings.

When working on larger finished artwork, you can use the information collected in your movement drawings. These can help inform the lines, mood, and energy in your larger artwork.

Remember the feeling of this loose and fast approach you had while drawing movement in your sketchbook. Bring these same feelings into your larger artworks. Still, without worrying too much about your finished piece.

Otherwise, you’ll lose the energy and movement you’re trying to convey.  out sketching and don’t worry too much about this being a finished piece.

Final thoughts on drawing movement

There are no such things as making a mistake while drawing. The only mistakes you can make while drawing is feeling timid or afraid to make marks in your drawing.

Work confidently, and work quickly. Take a break every now and then, to double check you’re still drawing the movement and energy you’re trying to capture.

Ultimately, learning to not be so precious with your drawings will help you as an artist.