Secret Teachings of a Comic Book Master by Heidi MacDonald

Secret Teachings of a Comic Book Master by Heidi MacDonald

Author:Heidi MacDonald [Heidi MacDonald and Phillip Dana Yeh]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Dover Publications
Published: 2015-04-19T04:00:00+00:00

Anatomy and Proportion

One way to learn anatomy is to go to the gym and simply watch people. As they work out, you’ll see the various muscles groups in action. Or take your sketchbook to the beach and draw what you see. Once again, direct observation is essential. If you want to learn to draw animals, nothing beats the zoo.

As you watch people, Alcala says, pay special attention to the hands. “The fingers are the most difficult part of the body to draw, because they have so much expression. They can be angry or happy. If someone is angry, they make a fist. People point or try to grab. Hands can be asking for money, or appearing weak and helpless. The hand is more difficult than the face, because faces aren’t always moving. The only things on the face that actually move are the eyes, eyebrows and mouth. The ears, the nose and the hairline don’t move. But the hand twists and turns.”

Luckily, the artist has a top notch hand model standing by. “Draw your own hand. It’s the one that’s always around.” Alcala always recommends using an affordable but always available model to pose—yourself. “Look around inside your house, draw the folds of the clothes, the drapery.”

As you observe, pay attention to how people reveal their emotions through their body posture. Being able to express different emotions through anatomy is one of the most important storytelling tools for an artist.

We’ve talked a great deal about observation and memorization. By putting them together you learn the sense of proportion that is crucial to proper anatomy.

“The standard Olympian style is seven heads high. Draw a figure of a man, and he should be seven heads high from the very top of the head to the floor. Joe Kubert used a more than Olympian scale, nine heads high, but the standard is seven.”

It is through observation that you learn the proportions of the human body. “The upper arm is longer than the lower. The upper leg is longer than the lower leg. On the head, the eye lines up with the ear, and so on. In general, there should be the width of an eye between the eyes. There are also guidelines of movement. For instance, you cannot turn the head halfway to the back. You can almost do it, but it’s not possible to turn it halfway. These are all proportions that the artist must learn.”

Again, the only way to learn is by observation and getting a pencil out to practice. “You cannot just memorize everything that you see. You should practice just sketching. The more you doodle the more you remember.”

Once you learn the correct proportions, you can apply them to situations that you haven’t directly observed. For instance, take drawing from a bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view, “It’s like doing a drawing of a house and knowing the proportion of the sidings, plus the window. If a person was standing on the floor inside, you can see part of his body over the window, so you can imagine where the floor is.


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