Did you ever wanted to know how to draw the mythical “Man of Steel”? In this post, I will teach you how to draw Superman. This step by step tutorial will guide you through the whole process of drawing and coloring the famous comic and movie character from the DC Universe. We will start drawing a dummy, that will serve us as a base over which we will draw our final sketch.
SO, HOW TO DRAW SUPERMAN?
If you want to draw Superman, you should follow this simple 10 step by step process:
- Step 1: Gather references you can use as model and inspiration.
- Step 2: Start drawing your dummy starting from the upper torso. Create first the rib cage.
- Step 3: Draw the abdomen and the hips.
- Step 4: Draw the arms.
- Step 5: Draw the legs.
- Step 6: Draw the head.
- Step 7: Draw Superman´s cape and symbol
- Step 8: On top of your dummy draw the outline and features of Superman.
- Step 9: Paint the base color.
- Step10: Paint the shadows.
LET´S START THE TUTORIAL
Ok, now that you know which are the steps we are going to follow, it´s time to go one by one and create an amazing Superman´s drawing.
STEP 1: REFERENCE GATHERING
The first step will be to find some reference images you can use for inspiring yourself when drawing Superman. Also, this images will help you so you can get all the details right about our character.
I usually like to work with realistic photo references and I use them as inspiration for my creations. In this case, the character I´m going to draw is not an original concept. Superman, it´s a fictional character created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. His first appearance was in Action Comics, issue #1, in 1938. You can find endless renditions of the character on the web. Some of them are images from the comic books and others photos from the several movies done about him.
Because Superman has been a cultural icon since the 40´s, everybody has a clear vision of him. Of course in this 80 years of existence, Superman has been redesigned and changed depending on the fashion and trends of the moment. Nevertheless, I think the most classical version, with the famous red underwear over the pants :), is the most iconic of all. This is why I decided to draw him like in the 80´s Christoper Reeves movies, and more importantly because this is how Siegel and Shuster designed the character.
For reference gathering I recommend you to open a Pinterest account where you can create some mud boards and pin the images you consider useful. Pinterest is a great repository of images and I’m sure you will find, in there, tons of images. If you type Thanos on Pinterest you will find lots of images you can use as references for your drawing.
Once we will have our references gathered, it´s time to start our drawing. The next first 7 steps will be about creating a dummy that will serve us as a base on top of which we will draw our character line art. The next step will be about detailing the character and the rest about coloring. Let´s have some fun!
STEP 2: DRAWING THE RIB CAGE
We will start drawing the rib cage area. You need to define also the line that divides the chest. This line will divide your rib cage and will set the view we are going to use for our character. In this case, we will draw Superman in a 3/4 view.
Also, remember to draw an ellipse on top of the rib cage, and another on the side, so you know where the head and the arm will be placed.
STEP 3: DRAWING THE ABDOMEN AND THE HIPS
Following your drawing of the rib cage, you should follow with the abdomen and the hips. I recommend you to draw first the hips and the crotch, like some sort of underwear, and next draw the abdomen just connecting the hips with the rib cage on top.
Remember to follow the line dividing the chest and continue it on the abdomen and the hips with the pelvis. This will help you to understand better how the full torso will be placed and will guide you when drawing the rest of the body.
STEP 4: DRAWING THE ARMS
Next step will be to draw the arms. We will start with the shoulders. I like to draw the shoulders like a couple of egg-shaped spheres. I start creating a descending line starting from the traps and continuing on the deltoid muscles. The result is a more natural and fluid body line. On the other side the left shoulder is almost hidden from view, so you can barely see it coming from behind the left pectoral muscles.
THE BICEPS AND TRICEPS
The second segment of the arms will be the area of the biceps and the triceps. As you can see, on both arms the triceps is represented as short curve line, followed by a descending line that connects with the elbow. This part of the triceps represented on the drawing is known as the “lateral head of the triceps”. The “Triceps Brachii”, which is the largest head of the triceps, is always closest to the interior side of the arm and in consequence, it will not appear represented on this drawing due to the perspective.
The biceps will be drawn as a long curve line, connecting the deltoid with the forearm. Notice how in the left arm, the biceps appear almost totally hidden due to the position of the body.
The elbows will be situated on the same height of the floating ribs, on the sides of the torso.
The forearms in both arms will be drawn as tubes. This tubes will become narrower on the bottom part where the wrist connects with the hand. More or less, the wrist will be aligned with the crotch on the hips area.
Both hands will be drawn in a schematic way so you can understand better how each part is placed. The palms will be drawn as squares, the fingers rectangles and the knuckles like little spheres. In later steps, you will be able to define better the different parts of the hands, detailing each finger, knuckle, palm, etc… properly.
On the left side, the hand appears drawn like a clenching fist. The whole hand is in a 3/4 view so you gotta be careful when placing each element. The thumb and the index finger will be the most visible of the 5 fingers. The other 3 fingers will be placed behind the index finger in succession. You gotta do the same with the knuckles. As you can see this view of the hand leaves the pinky finger and its knuckle barely visible.
The right hand will be drawn in open with the index finger full straight and the rest of the fingers in a more relaxed pose curving a little bit towards the inside. I think is a good idea to break symmetry at least in one of the hands. If all the fingers are placed equally the composition tends to be predictable for the viewer, and predictable in this case will be equal to boring. Combining straight lines ( index fingers) with curve lines ( the other fingers ) the composition becomes more dynamic in rhythm and the pattern less predictable.
STEP 5: DRAWING THE LEGS
Regarding the length of legs, the thigh will be almost 2 heads more or less and another 2 for the shins. Each leg will be drawn from a different perspective. The right leg will be drawn fully frontal to the viewer. Meanwhile, the left leg, appearing from behind the right leg, will be drawn in a 3/4 view.
The drawing of the thighs will be quite similar compared to the drawing of the forearms, only that in the thighs case, these ones will be drawn 3 times larger. The wider side of the “tubes” will connect with the hips, meanwhile, the shorter side will connect with the knee.
Both knees will be drawn as if the dummy was wearing knee pads. Basically, this oversimplification of the joint will help you to understand better where the knee starts and ends. Also, drawing the kneecap as an ellipse will give you a clear demarcation on where is the center of the joint. Remember to place the right kneecap frontal to the viewer( in the center of the “knee pad”), and the left leg’s kneecap more sideways( drawing a narrow ellipse and placing it on the left side of the “knee pad”).
THE CALVE AND THE SHINS
The calve will be only visible on the right leg. Similar of what we did for the triceps( only that in this case will be much larger), the calve will be drawn as a curve followed by a descending connecting with the interior side of the ankle.
The shin, on the left leg, will be drawn as a concave curve. It will start on the knee and will end on the feet.
The feet will be represented as simple geometric shapes. Do to the pose, the right leg’s foot will be drawn fully frontally, and because the character will be floating in the air, both feet will be hanging. There are two distinctive shapes on the right foot. The interior part of the foot( on the left side ) is a concave line. On the opposite side, the curve will be convex. Both sides(“concave and convex” or “interior and exterior”, whatever you wanna call it) will meet on the tip of the foot, where the toes should be. I decided not to draw the toes because it is totally unnecessary. Our Superman will be wearing his famous red high boots and the toes will be fully hidden.
The other foot will be drawn in a 3/4 view, and only the food part of the foot will be visible, coming from behind the right foot.
STEP 6: DRAWING THE HEAD
Drawing the head, at this stage, will be quite easy to do. Remember the ellipse we drew on top of our torso. Now it´s time to draw the head on to of the sphere. Just draw a sphere, flatten on the sides and draw a vertical line across it. Once you have this done, you gotta draw a horizontal line. Don´t draw the horizontal line across the middle of the vertical line. Try to draw it a little bit above.
The ears will be placed on the sides of the sphere, more or less at the same height than the horizontal line.
After this step, I will take our dummy and I will draw on top of it, but before I will start drawing I need to make my dummy less visible so it will not distract me and interferer with the final drawing. If you are drawing using paper and pencil you can use a kneaded eraser to reduce the visibility of the dummy sketch without removing completely the drawing. If you are interested in knowing which kneaded eraser I use you can visit my Recommended Art Supplies section.
In case you are drawing on a digital medium, you just need to reduce the layer opacity to 20% so you can leave just a thin trace of the original dummy´s sketch lines. If you work in digital, maybe you will find interesting my “Buyer’s guide of Drawing Tablets for 2019”.If you wanna learn m
STEP 6: THE CAPE AND THE LOGO
Drawing the cape and the logo will be the next step on our journey. First I will explain to you how to create a believable floating cape and afterward, I will focus on the logo and how to draw it properly.
Drawing the cape is easier than you think. First of all, you gotta acknowledge the cape fabric is light enough to have some foldings due to the air moving around, At the same time, the foldings shouldn’t be too many because the fabric of the cape is heavy enough to not allowing many small foldings or wrinkles. This is the reason why you gotta create long fluid lines starting from the shoulders and continuing down towards the bottom of the cape.
Regarding the logo, first of all, you should draw a diamond shape form on Superman´s chest.
Once the diamond shape is on Superman´s chest, we need to draw the famous “S” inside of it.
My most important advice when drawing the “S” is to draw the empty spaces instead of the “S” itself. What I mean by that is to focus on the areas in between the S and the diamond border. Drawing these areas one by one will leave you with a more accurate design, trust me :) .
STEP 7: DRAWING THE FINAL LINEART
Now it´s when the real fun starts. We are going to draw on top of the dummy we created on the previous steps. For this purpose, we will need to have our references pretty close so we can be as accurate as we can when drawing Superman´s features and clothing.
In order to give a nice sensation on depth, you can play with the thickness of the lines. Choose where the main light source will be coming from, and make the lines closest to the light source thinner. On the opposite side, the lines further away or hidden from the light must be thicker. This change in the volume of the lines, depending on where they are placed in reference to the main light source, will give to your drawing a more organic feeling.
If you wanna learn more about drawing the human head, feel free to check my step by step tutorial ” How to draw a face “. I think you will find it useful.
STEP 8: BASIC COLORS
This step is quite simple. Pick the colors you see on the image above and paint each area with solid colors.
STEP 9: PAINTING THE SHADOWS
Now it´s time to add some shadows to our Superman. If doing this the right way we can create a true sensation of volume. Our character will look more 3 dimensional.
My first recommendation will be to not complicate Superman’s shading. For this reason, I will advise you to use a darker version of the local color( meaning the base color) of the area we are working on. As an example, let´s say you want to shade Superman´s skin, the only thing you should do is to use some brown color and start the shading process.
Like I said, using a darker tone of the local color will help you to avoid complications. Of course, you could try to add warmer tones or cooler tones to your shadows, depending on the type of illumination you want to achieve, but because the character is against a white background no external color is affecting him.
My goal is to try to keep the coloring quite simple so you can achieve a similar result than mine.
Depending on your style you can create shadows with visible edges. In my case, I prefer to be more gentle and create smooth transitions between shadows and light. If you are coloring with markers you can use the blender marker to help you achieve a smooth transition between colors. Down here you have a very useful video from Kattvalk regarding how to use the Blender marker:
If you are interested in some cool markers, definitively you should check the Promarkers from the brand Windsor&Newton. This is the same markers I use myself. Together with the Brushmarkers from the same brand, which are also great if you prefer brush tips instead of marker tips, these markers colors are truly fantastic. You can check them on Amazon clicking here.
Well, now is your time to create an amazing rendition of this comic and cultural icon. My recommendation is to follow closely all the steps so you can try to achieve similar results than mine. Once you have completed your Superman´s drawing you can try to create your own version. When doing your own and new version you can try to change the pose and even the costume design. Superman costume has been changing and evolving over the years, so who knows maybe you can draw a Superman wearing his black and white costume.
If you are interested in more free step by step drawing tutorials similar to this one, feel free to visit the Drawing Tutorials section.
I hope this tutorial was useful to you. If you have any doubt or question please leave it on the comment section, this will encourage me to keep working in new tutorials and articles.
Toni Justamante Jacobs.