How to draw a Comic Hero in 8 Simple Steps (with a free worksheet!)

This week is going to be a little different. It’s going to be dedicated to all of the children, young people and “young at heart” people who love to draw superheroes! Here’s how to do it in 8 simple steps…

You will need…

  • pencil,
  • eraser,
  • sheet of paper,
  • picture of a superhero or heroine,
  • black pen
  • colouring pencils or pens

(I have drawn my hero digitally on my Android tablet so that my sketches can be seen clearly but it’s simpler to do on paper with a pencil and pen.)

Step 1 – Draw a stickman

Using pencil make a stick figure in a heroic pose. Draw very lightly so that you can erase your lines later. Make his or her body roughly 8 head sizes tall from the heels to the top of the head, like this…

Step 2 – Make a rough sketch

Next, think of each body part as a simple shape. So, for instance, the upper arm might just be a cylinder. My hero’s cloak is just a wavy line and his feet are just quadrilaterals (four sided shapes). Then use these simple shapes to make a rough sketch of your figure over the top of your stick man. Again draw lightly. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look quite right yet – we’re just getting started.

Step 3 – Erase the stickman

Next rub out the stickman part of your drawing so you can see your rough sketch clearly.

This is my rough sketch (below). On the head I’ve just drawn 2 curved lines across his face and one down the middle. This helps me see roughly where to put my eyes and nose. Then I drew another small line across below that to show where his mouth will be. I had a go at drawing his hands at this stage but the fingers look a bit like banana fingers! That’s OK we’ll fix it later…

Step 4 – Carefully draw the outline a bit better while looking at your picture of a hero or heroine.

Now it’s time to make a more careful drawing. It’s a good idea to look at some pictures of superheroes so that you can see more details of their shape. Try to find one in a standing pose. Again draw quite lightly at first.

If you can’t find any, here are four I found on the internet – Spiderman and Thor from Marvel and Superman and Batman from DC…

(Image credit Marvel and DC respectively)

I looked at several reference pictures to draw my hero. I tried to draw the lines cleanly and to show the general shape of his muscles. I also began to make up an outfit for him and drew in his face and hair.

Step 5 – Ink the outline and then erase the rough sketch

The next job is to ink the careful drawing you just made using a black ink pen. Then leave it alone for a good ten minutes to make sure the ink is dry. Once it’s ready then you can erase your rough sketch. Here is my more careful drawing with the rough sketch removed…

Step 6 – Contour and Shadow Lines

Your next job is to add some contour and shadow lines to give your picture the feeling of being 3D. Contour lines are little light lines which show the viewer the shape of a 3D object in a normal flat drawing. Shadow lines are little lines added to show the areas of a picture which are a bit darker.

This stage takes a long time because you have to draw so many little lines so I usually listen to some TV or an audiobook while I do this bit.

Here’s the next stage drawn…

You can see the lines I drew more clearly in this close up. I imagined that the light was coming from in front of him and slightly above him. So the sides and underneath of each part of his body shape have shadow lines and contour lines…

I tried to use each line to show my viewer the shape of my hero.

Step 7 – Colour

After the contour and shadow lines are done the next stage is to colour your hero. I chose blue and yellow because they are my favourite colours…

For each shadow area I chose a darker version of the same colour I used for the rest of the shape. So the main colour of his suit is a bright blue, so I used a darker blue to colour in the shadows on his suit. His boots are yellow so I used a light brown colour for the shadow areas. This also helps the viewer to see the shape of your hero or heroine.

Step 8 – Shadow and Background

Your last job is to give your hero or heroine a shadow so they don’t look like they’re floating in the air! (Of course if your hero or heroine flies then you might not need to do this bit!). Then you might want to draw in background. I started out just giving my hero a shadow to ground him because I didn’t have time to draw a full background, but then I found an old digital sketch I’d done previously of a futuristic city skyline, so I put him into that picture. Here’s the finished hero with just a shadow…

And here he is in a futuristic city. I made him face the other way to fit into the background better and gave him a name “Captain Quark“. (Quarks are the most elemetary particles we know of in the universe. His superpower is to be able to manipulate matter to make and repair things.)

If you know anyone who would like to have a go at drawing this picture, I’ve made a free print out of the main stages I went though.

Click to go to the free download.

It should print out correctly onto A4 paper in portrait mode. It is licensed for Non Commercial Use under a Creative Commons License so you can use it, share it, make a paper aeroplane out of it! (It’s also free to use in schools.)

I hope you enjoy it! I would love to see any hero’s any of you have drawn using this basic plan!

Reusing Envelopes and Jars as Art Materials

Art materials can be expensive. Sometimes this expense is really worth it. For me, good quality paint brushes and good quality paint are worth the extra money – control and water holding is better with good brushes and paints are more densley pigmented and less fugitive with good paints. However, it’s always great to find some art resources that can be found for free.


This summer I spent some time experimenting with this. It began when I was watching Star Trek Voyager and felt like doodling. I grabbed a cardboard Amazon envelope and my palette which had a range of paints left over from a picture I had worked on the day before. Then I just began to play with it. I was really happy to find that the gouache paint went on to this surface beautifully and, because the surface was a mid range tone rather than dark or light, it was really super to work with tonally.

This was my first adventure into envelope painting…

The next day I tried the same thing with an insurance envelope. This was a thin, low quality paper and it really showed. The paper couldn’t take any water without becoming wrinkled and discoloured making it hard to work on…

So I decided to only do this with cardboard. I grabbed some old envelopes and used my trimmer to make some small postcard sized canvases. Here’s my current pile…


This time I found the painting was even better because I had only reused parts of the card which were clear of printing and belimishes. It really was a fabulous surface to work on – and totally free!

Here’s a close up of my third foray into reusing envelopes for painting…

…and my forth…

I then went on to make a fully painted, small sized painting of a tiny chihuahua on the same reused card the next day. (More of that in next week’s post!)


Another new learning for me this summer has been that my kitty cat doesn’t care if the water I am using for painting is green, or blue or pink, she will still drink out of it! This is despite her having a cat fountain and two fresh bowls of water in different places! So I did a bit more recycling and reusing. I tipped away the last bit of coffee from a jar, cleaned it out and now I use this for painting. It still holds about a pint of water, but I can screw the lid on if I get up from the table so she can’t get to it. I’m using my trusty old pint glass to hold brushes now instead.

She looks so cute and fluffy but she can be quite a pickle!

Lockdown Reading and Free Bookmarks

A while back I made a some bookmarks for my own use. (I am always in need of these. If I don’t make some I end up using old envelopes and other bits of tat.) During the lockdown I have managed to find even more need for booksmarks than usual.

I often have three or four books/comicbooks on the go at any one time, but I realised that, at the moment, I have 15 books on the go…

Star Wars Heroes and Villains (above) is a set of short stories so I count these four books as one since they are a series. (In fact there are six books in the series as a whole but I finished the previous two ages ago.) I’m doing the same with Autumnlands and Middlewest because they are both collected editions of ongoing comicbook series and it’s still up to 15!

I’m afraid I don’t have process photos for my booksmarks, but I do have a high quality image which you are free to download to help with your lockdown reading needs. All four bookmarks are on one sheet which should print landscape A4. Each bookmark has a slightly wider border on the right hand side to allow for space to cut them apart from one another.

To download click here to go to the full size image, then right click the image and use “save image as”.

(Creative Commons Copyright information for this image is at the bottom of this post. Basically anyone is free to use and copy this image for non commercial purposes.)

Here are the individual bookmarks…

I hope you enjoy them!

PS: I wrote this post a few weeks ago. I am now having some difficulties with my breathing. No need to worry, my Doc thinks it’s a regular chest infection (possibly a complication from a procedure I had done in March) rather than Covid. But if the next round of antibiotics and steroids doesn’t fix it, or if my breathing gets worse, I might have to go into hospital. So I apologise in advance if I don’t respond to comments etc. I think it will all be OK in the end. I just can’t wait to get back to regular traditional drawing and painting!

Copyright Info – Normally I hold all rights reserved on the copyright for all images on this site (unless explicitly stated otherwise when they belong to someone else). I also limit the size of the images I post to reduce the risk of copyright infringement. However I have given the image linked above a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC 4.0) and uploaded it at full size. Licence details below…

  • CC BY-NC 4.0
  • Creator: Jo Fox
  • File: jofoxfreebookmarks.png
  • Created: 20 Feb 2020

Love’s Sacrifice #1

So the bigger project I’ve been working on in the background these last couple of weeks is a picture which came out of the words of a song we sung at Church this Easter.  The phrase which really stuck with me was ‘love’s sacrifice’.  I just couldn’t get the feeling of those words out of my head and eventually they became a picture.

Here’s my sketch.  It actually took a few tries to get there with this image because the body position was quite difficult to pull off – particualrly his left hand which is mostly hidden by his right knee…


I drew on A3 cold-pressed watercolour paper and was planning to paint with Winsor and Newton watercolour paints.

However, I couldn’t quite picture the colours or style I wanted.  So I photographed the sketch and then made a quick colour study in the computer.

At first it was like this…

But I didn’t feel that the background colour was really working, it seemed too flat to me, so I tried a few different colours…



Eventually I settled on this colour plan for my painting…


So I began painting the figure with some lighter skin tones…


Then I gradually deepened my colour and added more shape to the shadows…

There’s still quite a lot of work to do here.  I need to fill in my basic background next and then finish the loin cloth which is going to go much darker under his right leg.  After that I have this idea of switching from watercolour to black ink to put in a layer of much finer detail to the portrait.


Health Problems

I was hoping to have this finished by now but I’ve had some problems with my medication for the neuropathic pain condition I have – my body is not responding well to it at the moment.  So I’ve been taking less and consequently I’ve been in a lot of pain for a while now.  It was OK here on my blog for a couple of weeks because I tend to post things a long way ahead of time but now I’m right up to date and still too sore to paint.

Plans and Ink Flamingos

Anyway, I’ve got less I need to do next week after work so maybe things will get a bit better.  If I get a chance to, I will finish this painting, but if I have less time I might have a go at a style of art I’ve been talking to another artist on WordPress about.

Last week Nicola, from Ink Flanmingos did a really interesting and beautiful piece based on Merton College in Oxford…here’s a linked picture…

‘Merton College’ by Nicola at Ink Flamingos

Here’s a link to her blog too…     Merton College by Ink Flamingos

You start with a drawing and then do a really loose colourful wash over the top before tightening it up with more layers later.  It looks amazing and I was thinking, when looking at it, how hard that would be for me, because splashing a loose wash on seems, well, mega scary.  I love precision and tight lines when I’m painting and they’re almost like a security blanket for me, but I actually really enjoy looking at the results of much freer work which other artists like Nicola can do.

So we’ll see what I manage to come up with.



Pastel Drawing – A Quickening Ray

I worked on a Pastel drawing today.  It was a sketch for a painting I want to do in acrylic paint at some time in the future.  It’s based on a scene in a prison I saw on the TV and a song we sing at church.  The relevant verse says:

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

This picture was the result – as well as I can render it.

I began with a sketch:


Then I began to use the pastels.  This time though, I decided to treat the pastels like paint rather than like a big fat pencil.  I think this approach worked better.  Lines are too thick with pastels but planes and blocks of colour are do-able.

Here’s the beginning of the figure in the picture:


And here’s the final result:

A Quickening Ray_FIN_WEB

The light didn’t come out as I had hoped – I find actual light rays very difficult to draw but the feeling of the picture is right.  I think it’ll need a bit more work before I paint it.