Week 2: Understanding the Torso with the help of a Flour Sack

Using the flour sack for the torso

This week on the Mentor Experiment, we are going to take a closer look at drawing full body poses, with the aid of the almighty flour sack. (Click the image to see the large version). The flour sack is a helpful tool to learn how to make your body poses look more dynamic. We can vary the flour sack’s shape by making it small on the top, and large on the bottom (or vice versa). It works great for both male and female character designs. When drawing the flour sack (torso) you want to avoid symmetry. On the top right you can see that a symmetrical flour sack can lead to flatness. To avoid flatness in our drawings, I employ rules that govern when to use curves and straights (summarized below):

Curves vs. Straights

Using curves and straights helps us avoid drawing the “straight up and down” posed character. It helps get your character off balance and gives more visual interest to the pose. The main point to remember is that you want to avoid symmetry at all costs when drawing the torso. Study the image above and re-draw them to crystalize your understanding.

Your next exercise in this 10 week course is to draw at least 6 full body poses focusing on using the flour sack / torso concept. Here are the poses I want you to draw:

  1. A character throwing a punch
  2. A character bending over to pick up an object
  3. A character running scared
  4. A character twisting their torso to look in the opposite direction
  5. A character lifting a heavy set of barbells
  6. A character throwing a kick

Don’t focus on details. Focus on form and overall pose. We’ll focus on the specifics of male and female anatomy next week. Good luck!



The flour sack has VOLUME and MASS. Think of it as a solid object occupying space.

Flour sack mass

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Kim
    January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I’ve already made a flour sack animation, so I’ll be skipping this one. You can see it at the end of this here:


    • Krishna
      January 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Neat animation! Where did you go to school? I think the flour sack exercise can be really useful in posing your characters. Not just as an exercise in and of itself.

    • Jose Gonzalez
      January 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      Excellent animations!!!!! That flour sack is alive, then dead, then alive! LOL

    • DungeonWarden
      January 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Interesting animations. I did many of the same exercises at animation school in Nova Scotia. The pencil test of the folding box haunts me still.

  • Oskar 'Skar' van Velden
    January 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I read about the flour sack exercise a couple of times, but never really pushed myself into doing them. Will try to make these and have fun with it for sure :D

  • Kevin Rubin
    January 13, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I tried this one, but I drew the flour sacks a bit poorly, so in the action (punching, bending, running…) they leaked flour and clouds and clouds of it got all over, completely obscuring the drawing and I ended up with nothing but white… :)

  • Kristin Bowles
    January 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Got this one up on my blog right now, too!

  • DungeonWarden
    January 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Krishna, one thing you failed to mention, and failed to do in several of your examples, is the angles of the top and bottom of the flour sack need to bend with the fold. This represents the hips and shoulders bending as the body twists and turns. You get more dynamic poses when the hips and shoulders move in opposite directions and the bending of the flour sack helps you to visualize this.

    • Krishna
      January 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Good point, DungeonWarden. I’ll clarify this in upcoming examples.

  • Joe Z
    January 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Here’s my homework for the week. http://draweverything.tumblr.com/post/15948074933/week-2-exercises

    If anyone has feedback, I’m all ears. Thanks for looking.

  • DungeonWarden
    January 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Here are my six poses: http://georgewward.tumblr.com/post/15963100715/sackposes

    I kept the designs simple but it might be hard to see the flour sacks under the detail. I had the most trouble with the twisting backward pose (bottom left) and had to redraw it several times to get it to look right.

  • Andrew Glazar
    January 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm


    Took a while, but I got ’em!

  • jahhdog
    January 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    My week two sack poses. I did lots!



  • Jose Gonzalez
    January 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Whew…. slow but sure….. Here’s a big ol’ post on assignment 2, kiddies.
    Self critique too LOL – Quick slideshow saves you from reading :) (if you so desire).

    New post at the LAB! @pcweenies ‘s Mentor Experiment – 2 – Flour Sack torsos http://jaglab.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/pcw-mentor-2-flour-sack/ There’s a slideshow at the bottom too.