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Balance is a bit like a big brother to a lot of our other qualities. Where exaggeration and proportion help us to push the limits of what our character can be, balance is there tapping them on the shoulder, and pulling them out of oncoming traffic!

Balance keep things in check, almost like a justice system. When were looking to balance something, what tool do we use? Usually a scale, where an object is placed on one side, and enough weight is placed on the other until they’ve balanced out. In character design, our tool is the S-curve.

The S-curve has its origins in nature and the human body itself. It’s what we use to lay down the positioning quickly when gesture drawing. Our spine is shaped like an s, which helps distribute our weight, and the same shape is present in the overall flow of our arms and legs.

With an S curve, you’re leaving and origin point and adding weight, exaggeration, or the extremity of a pose, then using a reaction bringing it back to an origin point. The beauty of the S-curve is that these 2 halves don’t need to be equal; They simply have to have the same termination point.

With proportion we talked about using small, medium, and large forms. But what if the character had tiny legs, a medium sized middle section, and a large upper body? Our S-curve would begin where the most weight is, and as it goes along the spine it would cause the legs to bow out and resolve the S.

Without balance, a pose can look awkward and off-weight.

As a practical tip, make sure that every part of your character’s pose is supporting the line of action. No arms are off doing their own thing, everything following the flow.

This is perhaps one of the most abstract qualities to quantify and show off visually so if you have any questions or confusion, please let me know any questions, and perhaps I can answer them further!

Next week, we’ll be talking about Contrast.