It is a participle. Participle phrases ALWAYS function as adjectives. They tell you something about a noun, and thus have to be handled with care as to not create the infamous 'dangling participle error.'
The participle will attach to the noun closest to it in the base clause. In this case figure.
But in sentence like say:
Running down the ally, the garbage can tripped the boy.
Participle running creates an adjectival phrase that modifies the noun closest (in the this case the first one) in the base clause: the garbage. Clearly the garbage can't run, so that participle, which was meant to describe the boy, is dangling.
FIX: Running down the alley, the boy fell over the garbage can.
I found Jim, searching for my dog.
Who is searching for the dog? Searching modifies Jim, so Jim was found searching for the dog. What was really being said: While searching for my dog, I found Jim.
- For Teachers