Take it from Arion Rashad, it’s never too early to start learning to draw comic books. Now 18, Rashad first got his start in comics at the age of 6, when his mom sent some of his drawings of Sonic the Hedgehog to Archie Comics, which published art from kids in the back. He was excited when his drawings got published, and soon his father created a website to start sharing his art. He started publishing his own comics when he was 10, and today he continues to use the site his father designed to sell his own art.
As Rashad’s story illustrates, today’s technology makes it easier to get started drawing comics than ever before. Here are three steps you can take to get you started on a path to becoming a better comic-book artist.
Get a Digital Tablet
While you can and should always practice drawing with a paper and pencil, today comic books are drawn digitally, making it essential for you to have the right digital tools in order to learn the art of drawing comics. The most fundamental tool you need is a tablet with a digital stylus pen, which serves as the electronic equivalent of a paper and pencil.
A digital tablet provides you with a permanent drawing surface you can reuse as often as you want. You can draw directly on your tablet, or you can trace scanned hand drawings so that you can edit them electronically in a program such as Photoshop. You can easily erase and redo lines, add inking and color to rough sketches, and save and share your work.
Phablet-sized smartphones such as the Galaxy Note8, which comes with a stylus, can serve as digital drawing tablets, and also allow you to use online digital drawing apps. You can also purchase specialized drawing tablets at a range of price points.
Practice Seeing and Drawing Shapes
As Stan Lee and John Buscema emphasized in their pioneering book “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way,” all comic-book drawing is ultimately based on simple shapes such as spheres, cubes and cylinders. Learning how to see these shapes in objects and how to draw them in perspective is the foundation of sound drawing skills.
The best way to acquire this fundamental skill set is to practice drawing basic shapes and to practice building up figures out of simple shapes. Many online tutorials, such as those on the YouTube channel for ArtTutor.com, can help you learn how to draw using basic shapes. Apps such as Learn to Draw can also give you guided practice using shapes to draw figures.
Learn Anatomical Landmarks
Learning to draw shapes serves as a foundation for learning to draw anatomical figures, which is the essence of comic-book drawing. The best way to learn to draw figures is to learn how to spot and draw anatomical landmarks. For instance, the average comic-book superhero is typically drawn eight-and-three-quarters heads high, while the average head is five eyes wide.
You can learn basic anatomy drawing skills from books or from online tutorials such as those at How to Draw Comics. For advanced figure drawing skills, consider taking a distance learning course from resources such as The Kubert School or Neal Adams’s Patreon video podcasts. Artists such as Ty Templeton also teach live on-site classes.
Getting a digital tablets, practicing seeing and drawing shapes, and learning anatomical landmarks are three fundamental steps to get you started on becoming a better comic-book artist. By taking these steps and practicing diligently, you will be surprised at how quickly your skills improve, and you will soon be ready to learn more advanced drawing techniques.