The answer: believable figures. Figure drawing skills are the foundation of your comic book.
How this actually looks depends on the type of character you are attempting to draw. In comic book art, there’s an established canon of illustrative stereotypes.
Superheroes aren’t regular human beings, and they’re drawn to reflect their superiority. Both male and female characters tend to have exaggerated forms that represent their extreme personalities.
A tall, broader shouldered male is viewed as more heroically proportioned than a shorter, narrower figure. Similarly, a female figure with a narrow waist and exaggerated long legs is the established shape of most heroines.
Even when they are exaggerated, human characters must look and function on the page like human beings. Beyond that, your characters are limited only by your imagination and the constraints of their environment.
Perspective and Dynamics
Once you understand the proportions of a figure, it’s time to convey movement.
You don’t see a lot of comic books cluttered with page after page of characters just standing around. Comic books rely on action and activity.
That means you need to make your characters interesting. Make your figures bend, twist, run and jump off the page; make them move!
To master how to represent your forms in motion you first need to understand anatomy and how it works.
- Step one. Learn the principles of anatomical proportion. Distinguish the muscle groups, and understand how they affect motion.
- Step two. Use perspective so you can pull your figures forward and back into each panel.
- Step three. Move on to bettering your grasp of foreshortening and more dynamic character posing.
Learning figure drawing is fundamental to drawing good comics. Need a place to start? Look at the sketchbooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and study anatomy books by the late Burne Hogarth and Andrew Loomis.
You may also be interested in a post where I discuss the artist as storyteller and share some advice I once received from one of the best comic book artists in history.
We’ll be digging into these topics a lot more in the months to come. Sign up for a free membership to get access to real-world knowledge about how to make a comic book and how to sell your work.