The Silhouette Project, Part 3: Balance and the Weight Bearing Leg

Left to Right:1.Straight... 2.Weight on Right Leg...3. Weight on Left Leg...4. Figure Unbalanced

1.Straight............2.Weight on Right Leg.......3. Weight on Left Leg... 4. Figure Unbalanced


A standing figure will take one of one 3 basic positions:

1). Straight; weight is distributed equally on both feet. An imaginary vertical plumb line (the orange line above) running from the pit of the neck to the floor will be midway between the two feet. 

2). Weight is on the right leg. The plumb line moves closer to the the right foot. 

3). Weight is on the left leg. The plumb line moves closer to the left foot. 

If both feet are on one side of the plumb line, the figure is off balance, as in 4). A figure can be off balance, but it must be supported by an object like a wall or table, or it will fall over.  

When the weight is on one foot, the hip on that side will push upwards (illustrated with the blue lines above). To compensate for the thrust up hip, the shoulder on the same side will lean downwards, causing the arm and hand on that side to lower. To compensate for the lowered shoulder, the hand on the weight bearing side is closer to the knee (illustrated with the pink lines above). 

If you’re having trouble determining which is the weight bearing leg when you look at a figure, look at the hips; the higher hip is the weight bearing leg.

You now have all the basic information needed to paint credible and well informed silhouettes. After you get the basics down, take it up a notch and add your imagination to the mix – make your silhouettes as personal and creative as you can. Let go, be free, have fun! 

Happy Painting!

2 thoughts on “The Silhouette Project, Part 3: Balance and the Weight Bearing Leg

  1. Nancy Walker

    Oh good grief – ok, I’ll do it. But only because I have been working on all the stuff you have taught me and producing really bad results. Even went back to it last nite after a couple glasses of wine and made it MUCH MORE WORSER.

    i know, i know. , I’ll just keep working and hopefully the old brain is storing away some information. I’m even going to paint a color wheel. WHICH OF THE REDS ON YOUR PALLET DID YOU USE FOR YOUR COLOR WHEEL? I have used this lack of info as an excuse to not start the wheel.

    Your blogs are great! Nancy

  2. Corinne Vivian

    This summer I have been doing a lot w/ stencils and many are silouettes of people, it came out of my interest of shadows and figures. This info is fab. Thanks for being this great teacher.


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