How to Draw (Sketch) with Artist Mannequin (Ball-Jointed Doll) (Body-Chan and Body-Kun Models) AWESOME Review and Rating

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Posted by
Ryan Peters
Updated by
Bill Miller
Last updated:
May 1, 2024

So here we’ve got our two character reference fingers. We’ve got Body-Kun and Body-Chan I guess. Size-wise comparatively they work really well for a standard, average male character in proportion and your standard average female. And when it comes to their suggested methods of use, there’s two main ways to go about things and that is after you’ve basically got the pose of your character, you can take a photo of them for reference and then use that to work your art off or import for whole thing digitally and draw straight on top.

We’re probably going to have to go with both. Now. I like this guy just as he is ugly enough. So I’m going to go ahead, grab my phone and take a picture like so. Maybe you guys can probably see that on the camera phone. Excellent. And as for this lady character, probably going to go through something where we get to see a bit of contraction on the length of her arm up there as well. Now one thing that’s definitely worth a mention straight away is that I’ve just been saying that these are a little bit smaller than I’d expected and that’s because I’m very used to using the more robust wooden figures to look at in real life. However, the size of these characters actually works out perfectly for taking reference photos on your phone. So they’re probably actually this small for a purpose.

Sure, they’re going to fit in your school bag a little bit easier, but because the camera lens on your phone has a very good ratio to the size of the object, it means that your images that you get on here are going to actually look really good when you’ve got them as a 2D picture. So if you wanted to just take that photograph straight away and use it as a simple reference pose for which you can just map out the basic building blocks of the character, then sure you can go ahead and just whip something straight out into your sketchbook to start off a drawing. But what we’re going to do is transfer that pose directly over to the computer. So as I mentioned, I do like that the size of these models works pretty well with a camera phone. If you’re going to be using that to import your images from, it meant that I could get the shots that I wanted in a very small amount of space using my shallow desk area without having to step too far back from them.

And before I go ahead and have a very simple go at a basic character, I did just want to show you guys what I personally feel the main function of these models would be for me. And that is using them at different angles for character reference sheets. Basically grab a pose that you like, use it as a reference point for a character, but actually take different photos of the same pose so that you’ve got it from different angles to work with, or maybe show off a costume or a uniform design without screwing up the geometry on different attempts. So basically I just took two very similar pictures of a male body configure from two high corner angles to use as a base from the front edge and from the back edge as well. And you can see that they’ll work together for me to be a basis for character reference sheets in the future.

Now of course I also wanted to take this over to a very rough character idea and the point isn’t to end up with a full complete image of a character at all, but really to explore how useful the body configures are themselves for use in crafting the pose. Now in terms of the two figures, immediately for me, the male one has a wider dynamic range from the female and it does feel slightly studier. The female one is smaller, which I think is why it doesn’t quite have the same joint range, but because the plastic isn’t particularly rock solid, I’m not sure how many uses you’ll get out of it before something breaks off. Now if the plastic was a bit more rigid, or the scale of the model was a little bit bigger, this might be avoided, but then it might not be so convenient to also just chuck straight into your bag.

In terms of a real time posing for male model, it was overall quite stiff across for joints, which is actually a positive thing for holding the pose in place. But I did encounter the odd slack moment in the arm joints and that meant for, I had to do a little bit of trial and error before getting the desired pose to hold. The simple accessories are a great touch because their basic forms can be used to represent any number of objects. Although you might want a tiny spot of blue tack in order to keep things in place. The different hands are a great feature as this is usually the most problematic thing to deal with when drawing, but you do need to get those fiddly little buggers on with care. Now what is great about these is that because it’s a real model, you immediately get the pose alongside any real world lighting, so all of your areas of shadow when you photograph these things and all of the areas of highlights are automatically mapped out for you.

And I was also thinking about using these figures in real life versus something like a 3D modeling software program that you can just put straight onto your computer. I would say that adjusting these real time figures, getting them sorted how you like on your desk is much easier than doing it online, but compared to 3D modeling programs, I really would recommend these reference figures. Essentially having a real life copy instead of just screen images means that you can have a look from any angle, but it’s also going to help your process develop as an artist because you’re using the part of your brain that maps 3D spaces. That’s going to kick into gear and help you understand the geometry of a standing character. Whereas if you’re using a 3D software program, you’re actually still only judging a two dimensional flat image.

But how do I rate them as artistic reference models overall? Well positive but still mixed. The female figure basically needs a wider range of motion and to be a bit sturdier. But the male figure I would straight up recommend. It’s just big enough to be of genuine use and I don’t feel like it’s going to break. The fact that the faces of both of these models map out the ridges of a brow, the cheeks and the nose is a massive plus for either of them. I’d recommend just having the heads alone and the child in me wants to make use of loads of random items from my room to represent scaled up objects for the models to interact with. And one thing I found very useful at different angles was the fact that the muscle groups are very loosely mapped as well. It’s not just the basic cylinders and geometry of the limbs, but it helps you understand where the bumps and ridges should be.

So if you’re already confident with your anatomy as an artist and you only struggle with the odd difficult pose then perhaps grab the male figure because you’re probably going to know how to use it as a reference base for male or female proportions. However, if you’re new to things and want something straight out of the box that’s going to help you with dynamic and professional looking scenes and character work, then yeah, dive in and grab both. And remember, it’s not cheating to use a reference model to help with your artwork, but I do recommend that you learn to copy the pose separately instead of just tracing over it as this is going to help you develop your art skills. Whereas just tracing is an immediate shortcut, but it won’t get you very far as an artist in the long run.

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