How to Draw Realistic Female Superheroes

Image: Renae De Liz's advice to draw realitic female superheroes.

I don’t recommend Googling ‘how to draw women’: if you do, brace yourself for an onslaught of conflicting opinions. You will get simple ol’ sexism, followed by simple ol’ rebuttals to sexism, then the more draining rebuttals to rebuttals of sexism, after which come the rebuttals to rebuttals to rebuttals of sexism and, next, the rebuttals to the…

Oh, you get the picture.

Artist Renae De Liz gets the picture too – and is understandably bored enough of it all to draw out some actual logic (shown above) from Power Girl’s infamous boob window (imagine if Superman had an equivalent crotch flap). Next to her brilliant drawing, she said on Facebook: 

1 Left: A common expression in comics. Eyes are lidded, mouth is pouty. It's look to promote a sense of sexiness & lessens personality.

1 Right: Personality & Uniqueness first. Think of distinct facial features outside the usual. Promote thought in eyes. Whats she thinking of

2(L): Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). Intent to highlight sex appeal, not realistic for hero

2(R): Whats REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a diff. look. Consider not ALL heroes have DD's

ANOTHER NOTE ON BREASTS: If your hero has a zippered top, DON'T unzip it! Breasts can easily fall out during hero work, which would be silly

3: Arms are closer to supermodel size on the left. What best fits your hero? If she's strong, she'l likely very built. Give her muscles!

4: Hands on left are set in a way to promote the sense of softness, it lessens her power. Be sure hands are set in a way to promote strength

5(L) It's common to see "the arch n' twist" in comics. A female arched & twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.

5(R): Twists in the body are a powerful art tool but stick to what can realistically be done, and use arches w/o intent for "boob/butt perk"

6: One on left feels like she's posing. Right feels like she's standing heroically. Make her overall pose functional vs. sexually appealing

7: Heels! Modern heels are generally used to amplify stance & increase visual appeal. I like them, but if I were a hero, not too realistic->

7 (cont.) Most important is what would your character choose? It's very difficult to hero around in stilletos. Perhaps consider low/no heels. 

Obviously, there’s been a lot of bouncing around trying to come up with excuses for Power Girl’s boob window and, obviously, Buzzfeed has compiled a list of them – my favourite (if that’s the word) is Power Girl's speech suggesting she is both too dumb and too boob-obsessed to think of anything else that could possibly define her. Just in case we didn't get it, she says all this clutching her boobs. 

Image: Power Girl. Forget her eyes. It's those boobs that will relentlessly follow you around the room.

Renae doesn’t condemn sex, but points out the ridiculousness of lust trumping everything and anything else in female superheroes – including legitimate muscles (and I don't mean the well-toned ones that unnaturally twist her boobs and bum towards the reader), anatomically possible poses and unsupported boobs not flying nto her face when she's actually, you know, trying to be heroic. 

Instead, Renae’s hero is a wonderful alternative that can be shaped to a wide spectrum of body types, whilst proving that females aren’t inherently, unavoidably sexual: they can powerful, heroic, well-posed, well-drawn and offer much more to than just a window to their boobs. 

Read a brilliant, in-depth blog post on stupid arguments people use to defend comic book sexism.

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