How to draw superheroes

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When I was a kid, Superheroes were my jam. As a matter fact, I still love them, and enjoy drawing them. My friends and I created an ongoing comic series and sold the issues to our classmates in school. We modeled the whole enterprise after how we assumed the big comic companies did things: someone would sketch the scenes in pencil, someone else would go over that with pen, another person would color everything with crayons or markers, etc. Too bad we didn’t have the foresight to make photocopies of each issue, and sold every original for just a couple of bucks.
When I was about 12 years old, long before my days in art school, my parents took me to a public appearance from Scott Rosema, a professional comic book artist who has worked on, among other things, Batman and X-Men. I still view the method he taught that day to be one of the easiest ways to draw a figure, so that’s what I’ll be covering in this lesson.
It all begins with basic shapes: ovals and rectangles. It’s easier to get the proportions right this way, and much easier to change things up if you don’t like the initial pose you’ve drawn. If you’re going to draw a huge bulky character like The Hulk, the pose will probably be much less dynamic than The Amazing Spiderman. As always, it’s pretty helpful to have a nice kneaded eraser on hand.

Starting with basic shapes

Once you’re happy with the basic frame, you can use your eraser to lightly brush the darker lines away. You’ll still want to see everything of course, but you probably won’t want it to be visible in the finished drawing. I find it helpful to sketch a vertical line going down the center of the face, followed by a horizontal one representing the character’s eye line. It’s all part of the imagination process and will come in handy later.
At this point, you’re ready to start drawing the details. My recommendation is to start at the root – your characters arm positions are going to be affected foremostly by the shoulders, so start there before sketching in the forearm, which should be touched on before starting on the hands, etc.

Adding details and shading

In the days of yore, comic artists often employed professional strongmen to pose for them in order to get the muscles just right, so don’t be afraid to internet search pictures of actual musculature if needed.
When you get to the face, the T sketch is going to come in handy for knowing where to place the eyes, nose and mouth. Remember, with almost all characters symmetry is pretty important.
I usually sketch in clothing details as my very last step, adding wrinkles where muscle bulges are the most prominent. And since most superheroes wear their clothes pretty tight, you likely won’t be losing any major details. Don’t forget to sign and date your finished drawing, because 1, it’ll be great to see how you’ve improved your method as you add to your portfolio and 2, you never know what it could be worth in a few years!

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Matt Smith is an art teacher currently living in Michigan.

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