How to Learn to Draw Marvel Comics

By Andrew Dewitt
Marvel Comics Issue #1

Marvel comics is the largest comics company in the world. Beginning in 1939 and continuing to this day, Marvel comics has created some of the world's most iconic characters. Super heroes like Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-men have sparked the imaginations of children and adults for decades. Marvel comics fills pages with action packed illustrations, images, and storylines. This article will give you some basic steps on how to learn to draw Marvel comics characters yourself.

Research was never more fun.

Research the comics you like. Go to the store and check out some your favorite comics. Notice what draws you to them. Look at the shapes of the heroes, the way the action flows across the page, and how the images catch your interest. Pay attention to the style of the artists you enjoy the most and ask yourself what the artists are doing right. Check out some comics that don't particularly hold your interest. Ask yourself why this artwork and storytelling bores you compared to other comics. Make sure that you don't repeat these same mistakes.

Some of the drawing supplies you will need.

Gather your supplies from a local art store. Spend a little extra money on supplies; quality supplies last longer, do a better job, and make drawing comics easier. You will also need some large drawing paper. Keep in mind that most comic book pages are drawn on large 10 inch by 15 inch sheets and are later reduced to enhance the quality of the picture.

The three stages of a generic superhero.

Master drawing the superhero body. Draw a frame with a series of basic shapes. Make an oval for the head, a rectangle for the chest, and a triangle shape for the pelvis. Add a cross to the head. This will later show you where to draw the eyes. Connect these together with basic lines. Use circles and ovals for the joints on the knees and elbows. Draw circles for hands and wedges for the feet.

Add muscles to the frame with football shaped ovals. Add on the shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles with this method. Draw the pectoral (chest) muscles with larger more square like shapes. Create the abdominal muscles with six small ovals below the pectorals. Draw the leg muscles with large, long football shapes that extend to the knee. Below this, draw the calf muscles with an oval that tapers toward the ankle area of the foot. Add small ovals for eyes on the face cross.

Create your superhero by adding costume details. Once the basic muscle frame is done, a superhero costume can be built on top of this by adding a few small details. Draw on shoulder pads, a cape, mask, and boots if you wish. Detail your superhero with any costume piece that will make him/her look unique. Ink the drawing with a black pen after the details are added. Wait a few moments and erase the pencil lines and you've created your first Marvel superhero.

Typical storytelling in comic books.

Learn to tell stories with the "Z" format, the most accessible form of comic book storytelling. Draw a four panel comic book page. Create the action and plot within the panels so that the eye moves from left to right diagonally down and left to right again. Look at the example provided. Notice how the left page of the comic book is in "Z" format.

Emphasize action on every page. While the "Z" format is the most accessible and basic way to tell stories with comics books, experiment with other methods. Look at the example provided. The right page of the comic is a variation on the "Z" format. The story still moves left to right but the action kicks off with a large picture taking up half the page. Use something like an explosion or a surprise attack by a hideous monster in a panel like this. Create the reaction to the action packed image in the following panels.

Practice drawing everyday. Commit to learning how to draw Marvel Comics by practicing your technique. Drawing comic books takes patience, practice, and enormous dedication. Carry around a sketch book with you so that you can draw anytime you want. Remember, if you follow these steps, you are well on your way to becoming a Marvel comics illustrator.

About the Author

Andrew DeWitt is a freelance writer/illustrator and stand-up comic with more than eight years of professional experience. He has written for Chicago Public Radio, Vocalo Radio, Second City Chicago, and The Lemming. DeWitt has a liberal arts degree with a double major in theater and creative writing.