Comic Spiderman Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Through experimentation, this comic Spiderman drawing guide will look at the thought process and reasoning needed to create this superhero. Most of the complexities deals with the design on the costume where using a grid is helpful. Here's how I did it.

First, why is Spiderman popular? There are many reasons but I believe it's not to do with the hero but more of his alter ego, Peter Parker. More specifically, this character is portrayed as someone that had issues identifying who he is and had a lot of social issues that surrounded him.

In those times, the major buyer of comic books were teenagers. Therefore, this doesn't come as a surprise as Peter was designed through the social construct of a teenager growing up as a means to connect with young comic buyers. I believe it's this relationship with social values that makes Spiderman popular.

To make human connections and to relate to their struggles was new in a period of creating the best superheroes with the best superpowers. Now that Spiderman has been cemented himself, artists love to draw him as an exercise exploring new ways to portray social pressures in young people.

Sketching the comic Spiderman drawing

The comic Spiderman drawing can be split into two sections: the body and the costume design. First, start off the drawing with just a simple sketch on the posture. The idea is to create a body that is slim to show agility but powerful enough to support the current posture.

One of the most popular position is usually leaping building to building about to activate his web-shooters. Of course, references do help to see how other artists are able to draw Spiderman. Personally I use a quick wooden mannequin to reference the posture.

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Again, I am not worried about the costume design at all. The purpose here is the get the drawing ready to have muscles and shadows drawn in. I also like to have a solid shape to work with. Therefore, I am not concerned about the borders at this time as I am with filling out the sketch with a solid color.

When the filling is done, simple blocking of shading is necessary to isolate strong muscles of the body. The quads, chest area, biceps, etc. are highlighted. This is nothing more than a sketch to identify key shading that will be used bring the drawing to life.

Cleaning up the comic Spiderman drawing

This particular section focuses on refining the rough sketch. The drawing can be further be divided into two main areas: creating the muscle tone and deleting excess spilling from the rough fill. Details can be handled with the regular drawing brush with a chalk styled brush head and the smudge tool.

It's idea to use the sketch as a way to guide some of the rough muscles. First, the sketch lines need to be muted or incorporated into the drawing. This is where the smudge tool is useful. By smudging the lings, I am able to hide some of the lines while adding shadows in key areas.

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For details, I switch to the regular paint brush. To quickly select different colors, the eyedropper tool is used to select color directly from the drawing itself. The chalk styled brush head is ideal for gently blocking in muscle tones after everything is smudged in.

At the same time, I am also working on deleting the spill left over from the fill. For example, once I have the shape of the arms done, I erase into it to form a clean outline. If I ever need to redraw some details, I lock the layer down so the colors do not continue to spill out.

Coloring the comic Spiderman drawing

For the costume, like the previous steps in refining the comic Spiderman drawing, it can be further split to an additional two processes: coloring and adding the web lines. In order to color the reds and blues of the costume without it overpowering the muscle tones, the settings of the paint brush must be changed.

By default, normal is selected. However, adding color using the paint brush will require switching this to something like 'soft light'. This is the setting that is just enough to get faint values colored over the drawing without it overpowering the details. It is possible to experiment with other blend modes, but I find this one the best.

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Photoshop adds an additional functionality to layers. By drawing the colors on a layer, the entire layer itself can be converted to something called a clipping mask. Even though the colors are on a separate layer, it conforms to the drawing underneath. I set the entire layer to have the 'soft light' mode instead of the paint brush.

The hardest part of this step are the web designs. Once the blues and reds have been defined, I use this to draw in the division points for the boots, gloves, etc. Then, I suggest the web designs via a grid. The key here is to observe the lines to make sure it bends with the curvature of the body. It takes time but is necessary.

Enhancing the comic Spiderman drawing

Since Spiderman is a comic book character, there are multiple styles to have him drawn. While it is a bit realistic in this example, a traditional comic book style can still be possible using certain filters. Before that can happen, the colors need to be brought out a little bit more.

Before that, merge any additional layers to keep things simple. There are options. Most drawing software will have an option to set the contrasts on a global level. Otherwise, just like the previous step, this can be done by duplicating the layer and changing the blend mode to 'contrast' or 'soft light'.

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The comic book outline is done in Photoshop using layer styles. In one of the styles, there is an option called stroke or outer glow. I set this to a dark color to automatically generate an outline. Any outlines that cannot be filled in will be drawn in manually like the transition of the gloves and boots from the rest of the costume.

The outline can be generated manually as well. I can duplicate the layer, fill it completely black after locking it, move it behind the drawing layer, and the change the scale every so slightly by a percent to make it bigger than the original drawing. I would keep these two layers separate in case I need to edit the original drawing.

The rest is adding simple lighting effects like a simple rim light to show the direction of the light source. The background is simple enough to do. It is generated with just a simple photo that has its contrast threshold set to the maximum after turning it into a monochrome picture.

Any further refinement will be up to the artist. The take away is that there are more than one way to create a comic Spiderman drawing. Traditional methods of scanning in a line drawing and coloring it that way is perfectly acceptable. Doing it with this method is also a good way to get a different effect. Which way works for you?