Drawing a cat proportionately can be tricky. Although they vary in color, size, and poses, their fundamental structure remains constant. In fact, famous author James Thurber once wrote, 'cats sit fat and walk thin.' We simplify the task of drawing a cat by breaking down its shape into simple geometrical shapes to form a simple outline first and spruce it to perfection later.
First of all, the action line represents the figure's flow of motion. This is particularly important in portraying cats. Artists experienced in capturing a cat's movement in drawing begin their composition doodling with waves of lines on their paper or canvas, trying to imagine a suitable movement or action for their figure. Finding the right line of action is crucial to their drawing as they consider it the "mother of all foundations."
To artists, a lines of action is never be complicated, lest it makes the figure awkward and mangled. Bear in mind that cats move, and shall always be expected to move, in a very graceful manner that when captured on film and viewed frame by frame, it would be like the cat were posing for a magazine cover or centerfold. Do also consider the fluidity of the cat's movement. The gracefulness of its movement seems to provide an uncanny feeling of predictability, that you almost always know what it is going to do next, except that this understanding is based on your feeling, as if you yourself were the cat. A cat glides through an unbroken sequence of what may seem to be a pre-scripted motion. Notice this difference when observing birds. Birds are nervous and jerky, and will not stand still.
Cat artists will explain that there is a unique excitement derived from drawing cats, and it begins in finding the right line of action. While it is true that the line of action fundamentally determines the motion pose for any figure (human, for example), with the cat, the line easily becomes the figure. Usually, an action line appears as a pencil streak across a blank drawing field where a figure is later built upon. For the human figure, it is a vertical or diagonal line, slightly curved in representing its spine; for cats, it is many times horizontal but more bent like the current of a wave of water. The sprinting image of a cheetah, for example, with its all its legs up in the air, may begin with an action line that looks like a representation of an AC power stream. A kitten captured in a pouncing frolic over a yarn may basically look like diagonal overextended S.
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