There comes a point in almost every body’s lives wherein they get immersed in the wonderfully intricate world of comic books and graphic novels. Some readers are even talented enough to copy and emulate their favorite characters into their adaptation, while the rest of us mortals are still searching for instructions on how to draw comic book style for beginners.
Drawing comic book style looks simple enough if you’re going to look at books and see how they are drawn, but sometimes it’s not enough to copy it, right? The eyes would not be aligned, and the rest of the face would not be proportionate while arm lengths would not be equal. Such is the woe of the normal folks who don’t have the talent to distinguish drawing techniques and styles.
How to Draw Comic Book Style for Beginners
Drawing comic book style can also be considered a skill if it was never a talent, and being a skill means it can be learned, correct? With enough practice and sufficient instruction, you should be able to come up with new characters, even new ideas for a comic book or a graphic novel.
Here are some of the tools that you would need:
- Flat Surface – before anything else, make sure that you have a flat surface that you can use to place your materials on. It should ideally be large enough to hold all your materials at once.
- Drawing Pad – this is a pad of paper that is often perforated and comes in different grammage. The rule of thumb is that for sketches and pencil drawings, the grammage should be around 90 gsm which grows progressively higher as the medium you are using becomes wetter.
- Pencils – your primary weapon in constructing images from your head. There are different grades of pencils but invest in an HB pencil first as it can be used as both a hard and a soft pencil. You can buy differently graded pencils when you get the hang of things.
- Erasers – there are two commonly used erasers: the kneaded eraser which is used for light sketches and it does not produce any dust; and the soft plastic eraser which is the usual eraser that kids would have in their pencil cases.
- Sharpening Tools – for safety and security purposes, use a pencil sharpener but you can also use a hunting or a paring knife to get that tip that you would want.
- Smudger – smudgers are rolled up paper material that is used to blur lines to express shades and shadow.
Setting Up Your Drawing Station
The best set-up for a drawing area is one that has the right mix of both natural and artificial lighting. Ideally, it should also have great natural ventilation and away from the street or any other source of ambient noise within your area. Having the best drawing set-up is almost as important as knowing how to draw comic book style for beginners.
Taking the First Steps
You may not have realized it but you started your training when you were very young. Remember drawing stick figures using crayons on the walls of your house? Yes, you will be following that same concept and that same construction sequence; you will be using stick figures a lot, even professional artists do it.
Start by drawing a standing figure and begin sketching a stick figure at the center of your drawing pad. Use the 8-head rule to proportion the distance between body parts accurately.
What 8-head rule, you may ask.
The 8-head rule is a proportion method that uses the size of the head to measure distances. For example, an average adult would measure about eight heads; teens would be about six to seven and children would be about three to six heads apiece.
The counting always starts at the top of the head, so your first head is the figure’s head. The second ends under the armpits. The third ends around the navel area. The fourth terminates at the groin region. The fifth just below the hips or where the fingertips would end if placed on the side. The sixth ends at the knees while the seventh ends at the calf muscles. The eight head obviously ends at the soles.
The width is about three heads from the edge of one should to the other. Estimate the widths of each muscle group based on the proportion given to the area. The torso and the thigh would have a larger coverage than other parts because that’s where most organs are.
Female figures are slightly shorter and narrower as compared to the male figure; while the proportion of children can be relative to their age and size.
Expressions are how your character would express themselves using hand gestures and body movement. Most artists would employ their own hands, while others would have someone model the expression for them. Still, others would have a wooden drawing mannequin for better manipulation.
Wooden drawing mannequins are doll-like wooden sculptures that have been around since the Middle Ages and have been used by artists like Da Vinci and Michelangelo to get the right proportion between body parts. This doll also lets them manipulate and draw human expressions better.
Most comic book artists used exaggerations as a vehicle to convey expressions like anger, fear, and excitement. Some would draw lines to exaggerate arm movements while others would have both eyes and mouth wide open. How you draw your expressions depends on the style that you want to emulate.
Once you have your figure, decide on what clothing it would wear, what its hairstyle would be and how it will interact with different characters. This is also the part wherein you decide on the point-of-view that you would use to narrate the story.
It is recommended that you work on one character at a time so you can think of how they would develop as your comic book story progresses. You can even come up with drafts of how each character would look like in the future and just update it as necessary.
Putting It All Together
As soon as you have your story and your main character, you can start creating storyboards that would help relate your story to the reader. You can use a grid-style plot to show your progression and then use a full-page drawing to emphasize a plot twist or the main action plot.
For your first comic book, it’s okay to keep the storyline as linear as possible to avoid confusion and to prevent your story from going astray. Whatever happens though, make sure to follow the rules of proportion and be consistent on how you draw your comic book. Art styles evolve and it’s okay to commit mistakes at this point. Who knows, maybe your comic book will be the next hit that Hollywood produces.