Warning: Today features an open letter to comic book illustrators that discusses the female form. It also contains a nude drawing. If this subject makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip today.
Dear Comic Book Illustrators,
I highly recommend that you take a figure drawing class at your local college or art museum. You will learn about the human skeletal system, musculature, and the skin that covers it all. Most importantly, you will learn about proportion. The reason I suggest this is because it appears to me that you really need to work on drawing the female form.
Yes, I know that comic book characters are often exaggerations of regular people, but why on Earth do you always have to exaggerate your female characters’ breasts? First of all, I’d like to point out that breasts are not perfect spheres. If they were, how the heck would they attach to the body? I know that if you’ve never seen a woman, and your roommate is modeling for you by stuffing cantaloupes down his shirt, you could easily make this mistake. Now, if you’ve already figured out that perfect spheres wouldn’t be able to connect to the human body, you’ll be able to make the next logical step by realizing that breasts are not perfect half spheres either. Take a class and look at some breasts so you know the correct shape.
(Drawing by Fanboy Wife from a figure drawing class.)
You can’t just observe the models’ breasts though because the instructor might think you’re a pervert and because you really need to focus on proportion. Proportion is an extremely important Design Principle. I want you to notice that women do not have breasts as big as their heads. See how the sizes compare to the rest of their bodies. Don’t argue with me and tell me that you don’t need proportion when drawing superheroes because they are supposed to be superhuman. Over exaggerated muscles on a male superhero are not comparable to over exaggerated breasts on a female superhero. Large muscles show his strength, whereas large breasts show something else entirely. Unless you consistently draw all of your male characters with huge testicles, then your argument is not valid.
Additionally, if you’re going to draw very lean and muscular women, you need to understand that they have smaller breasts. Larger women tend to have larger chests. Breast size has a lot to do with body type and body fat. If you’re going to draw a skinny superhero, then stick to it. If you want a female superhero with a large chest, then you need to draw her larger in other areas as well. Besides, you should try to use a variety of body types in your comics according to Scott McCloud’s Making Comics. It helps the viewer tell the characters apart with greater ease.
Seriously, sign up for a class and learn to draw from real models. You need to have these basic skills down before you start exaggerating anyway. It will make you a stronger artist, it will add variety to your characters, and you might just stop alienating potential readers who would like to look at something other than monstrous breasts.
P.S. Women who draw humongous breasts on all of their characters are not exempt from this advice, especially since they should know better since they have female bodies. Really, be a rebel and draw a variety of body types. You might pick up some female fans this way.