Welcome to Lesson 1
In general comic book art has no shading with a pencil. None absolutely none. All the gradations of grey and highlights are either done by the colorist or by virtue of line work. So if you’re planning to draw comic books try to stay away from shading. (although it is really fun publishers prefergood line work). Sketching. What I find a lot when I see people doodling and sketching is that they press on the pencil on hard. Sketching is really loose. There are usually multiple lines to denote the one solid line you’ll draw later. You’re not overly concerned with details or any of the other finer points. You’re really just trying to capture the essence and general felling of whatever your sketching. As you can see by figure 1, when I first started about 9 years ago, I didn’t really think I needed to set up a character by sketching. The bottom version is what the skeleton sketch should have looked like. What sketching also does is that it lets you look at the whole picture instead of just one part at a time. How many times have you drawn a really good detailed eye or arm and when you finish that picture that wonderful eye or arm is now totally out of proportion. Sketching helps you get the proportioning right before you ever have to waste all that precious time drawing the detail when the big picture is going to be all skewed. (fig 2) That being said we’re going to focus on sketching the human figure. Ok since we’re talking about the human figure some quick points to remember about anatomy.
- The body is about 7 ½ head tall.
- The arm usually lands about half way down the thigh
- The body is about 1/3 -1/2 the entire body length
the body is about three heads wide. This is the general anatomy for the average human being. I’ll go into more anatomy on the next lesson. Also there’s a great variance in normal anatomy in comic book art. People ranging from 4 heads tall to 8 or 9 heads. So take these as guidelines not the written code.(but you already knew that didn’t you) People have asked me if I really use that stick and ball method (fig. 3). It’s in How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way as well as a few other books about drawing. And my answer has been Yes. Although not all the time. But I do use it and it does make things easier. For sketching I do this a lot. So basically how this works is that for every major joint you have a ball, and for every part of the limb you have a straight line. Any pose you can think of, is represented by these lines. This is the premise for your gesture drawings. By adjusting the angles at the balls you change the poses of the figure. Usually after the skeleton is sketched out you fill it up a little with cylinders or squares are just simple circles. REMEMBER TO KEEP THE LINES LOOSE AND LIGHT!!! Ok ‘nuff said. So it’s good to do this when:
- you’re having trouble with a pose
- you have no clue what kind of pose to draw
- conflict of poses
- setting up the skeleton for a difficult angle shot.
- you REALLY don’t feel like drawing details.
- designing a new character
Ok that little skeleton sitting there looks rather bored. Standing straight up and down back stiff shoulders at attention. Here are some points to remember to even make your sketches a little more dynamic. Angle your shoulders and hips By simply angling the shoulders and hips in opposition to each other you already create a little action to the human eye. Anytime you can work in angles that are not horizontal or vertical in your sketches or drawing in general…DO IT. Curve that SPINE!!! by putting a little curve in your spine you give the character a little personality plus it helps you generate a little action when you actually flesh it out. The simplest little bend of the spine curve is one of the defining points to portraying expressions. Across are some figures with no faces at all for facial expression but with the simplest curve in the back you can get two different poses and feelings. Eyelines and midline try to draw in the eyeline on the head and the midline (which basically cuts the face in half down the nose) whenever you can. I almost always do. This becomes useful later… The eyeline is generally half way down the egg shaped that’s the head. Ok I think that’s enough for you now. What you say? Too simple? Too basic? Want to know more about the wonderful world of sketching? Well drop a note in ourguestbook and I’ll get back to you. Trust me I’ll get to the more exciting things like foreshortening and facial expressions and multiple character layouts and action sequences and all that fun stuff. Remember drawing comic books isn’t always that big splash page action scene. I’ve spent more time on a page drawing broken wooden boards and a brick wall then I have the actual characters sometimes. So patience young grasshopper.
HOMEWORK: Practice your gesture sketches. TIME YOUSELF see how many figures you can draw in under 30 seconds each with a different pose. Can you draw a figure in less than 10 seconds? 5? By timing your sketches you can figure out what points are the most important to defining a character. And it prevents you from trying to add a lot of detail. And you can’t do it with a time limit if you have a heavy hand. If you’re really daring try it with a marker and pen and try not to clutter it up. Send me your sketches and I’ll put a few up. Give a little critique and all that. For an example here’s the Teacher’s homework. What should you get from this.
- DON”T press down to hard with the pencil…light and quick…. Don’t define one correct line yet. Draw a bunch of them if you have to.
- angle those shoulders and hips
- curve that spine
- remember what you’re laying down here is the foundation for the character. So don’t over do it. We’ll be fleshing out the character and doing some anatomy next week.