Observation Journal — ways of walking

This observation journal page is about how characters walk.

Earlier in the year I heard David Suchet talking about the importance of voice and walk when creating/conveying a character (see Act Like It). On this page, I wanted to play around with that in writing and drawing, vs acting. (Incidentally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Make It Then Tell Everybody, on which cartoonists and graphic novelists frequently discuss working on the on-page acting of their characters.)

Left page: Laundry in need of being done but remaining undone

I started with some stick figures, mocking up a few silly walks. Then I elaborated them into a character. (Putting a specific costume onto an idea is generally a quick way to create the feeling of a personality.)

Then I jotted down a written description of each hypothetical walker — led by the hips, flouncing and sauntering, setting each foot down smartly as if stamping a particular bug, trailing sullenly away, etc.

Finally, I wrote a sentence describing how each would move in a hurry: borne on a tide of consequence, leaping off the second-last step and landing with both shoes together, and so on.

It was an interesting little exercise, and a good way to think through and condense/amplify aspects of physicality. (Related: observing hands in cafes.) It’s also good for exercising related vocabulary.

Writing/illustration exercise

  • Jot down some stick figures with exaggerated walking styles OR pick a few letters of the alphabet and imagine how they would walk.
  • For the artists: Sketch that letter/stick figure as a character. I like to do this by picking a favourite era/style of clothing, putting it on the person, and going from there.
  • Try describing the style of walk — dot points of good adjectives and verbs are fine. (Z with a slashing sashay, D leaning slightly back to support their magnificent weight, etc).
  • Pick one of the following (or another mood). Consider the walking style you’ve just described. How would that person move in this situation:
    • haste
    • showing off
    • swooningly romantic
    • sneaking
    • trying to outpace someone else to a goal
    • with extreme distaste and reluctance
  • For the artists: Now sketch that scene.

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3 thoughts on “Observation Journal — ways of walking

  1. Pingback: December 2021 — round-up of posts | Kathleen Jennings

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