On drawing women

A quick question for your consideration:

How should women be drawn? Traditionally, women have been drawn attractively, with large busts, etc. I have been writing for a secular audience, so I have held to that, but I would like to hear some other opinions. Thanks.

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  • Thanks everybody. I was actually going for athletic to allow for the female characters to be ble to be used in a variety of plots, but I may be a victim of my times. Growing up, athletic girls and women were cheerleaders or gymnasts which kind of fit into the body stereotypes of the day.

  • Thanks, everybody. That is something I have tried to avoid by finding models for the characters from the internet, television shows, movies, or even people I have known in the past to allow for some diversity in character appearance, but I was still hearing the same complaints from some of the wives/girlfriends/mothers/ or even sister of the illustrators I had hired over the years. I had always thought it was because they weren't grasping what I was trying to do, had already made their minds up, or simply wanted to control their husbands'/ boyfriends'/sons'/ brother's careers. I guess I just needed a second opinion. Thanks.

    • Best o luck, Mike. You might know more than me on this from your experience.

  • I agree that it's all about intention. If there was an intention to incite lust, then you'd probably want to reconsider your design; but if the story requires an attractive woman, don't feel bad about it.

    Also, draw whatever best represents the character. A diversity in body types can be refreshing instead of the cookie-cutter perfect body for every single woman.

    • Actually, I have an idea how that 'cookie cutter' approach came about. Bettie Page, the 1950s pin up model. had a body that was in perfect proportion to itself, and with the abundance of her photos, a lot of comic artists used her as a model for their female characters, which led to a uniformity of approach.

      In regard to inciting lust, I agree with you, it shouldn't be done and I don't think I do. On the other hand, you have many of the heroines, Wonder Woman, Sue Richards, Supergirl, Black Canary, Black Widow, Red Sonja, Vampirella etc, do adhere to that, even though in real life it would be the result of good old fashioned gym time and, with the exception of Power Girl, their bodies aren't out of proportion. However, if I go with the genre for a secular audience, I still hear this complaint from female readers, who granted aren't a big audience for the comic book genre. Am I just a victim of the battle of the sexes or do you think it's a valid complaint? Thanks.


    • Mike,

      You are a good man and have a good head on you. Do what you want, go where your passion and beliefs take you.
      I don't think you need to struggle with this. If you want the girl or girls hot...make'm hot, if you want them petite or conservatively dressed do that......ultimately a strong story is the strength of your book and strong storytelling..... not T & A.

      A secular audience loves a good story....look at the Walking Dead comics....not to much T&A there.

    • I agree with Ron. 

      People will always criticize. I don't look like Captain America, but I still don't think you should draw him with less muscles and a gut.

  • When it comes to drawing (for lack of a better term) female specific anatomy, I don't. It goes back to my motto in art: Always make your limitations (self-imposed or otherwise) look like design choices.
  • Hey Mike,

    Ron Z here.
    I know you know what I think, but for the benefit of other readers.
    Women should be drawn as the writer wants them drawn. petite, medium / average, directed.
    However, if the artist is also the writer, what can can be done?

    Ultimately both women and men should be drawn with respect and a level of Christian conservatism.
    As a Christian artist, my thoughts is.... draw her dynamic and not sexualized.....but that could be open to individual interpretation as well.  The personality of the female character should be the focus of the art, not her woman parts with the intent of arousing the reader, especially if the artist and writer believe it's going to sell more books.

    That's my two cents and I'm sticking to it.


  • For me, it's all about intention. Some women do have large breasts, but it would be unrealistic if every female in the story is a double D. Keeping it varied keeps it real. I also try to keep my poses from getting too extreme. No woman will ever naturally pose in such a way that shows both her bosom and her buttocks. That would be painful.

    As a male, I am attracted to the female form. I understand others share that intrigue. Should I cater to that audience and produce artwork that incites lust? I made the personal decision that it's not the kind of market I want my work to be mingling with. Does sex sell? Oh my, yes it does! But I will not personally publish anything that I don't feel comfortable having my children pick up and show to their friends saying "Look, this is what my Daddy made!".

    Christian or secular, I believe great art should be just that, great art. People will appreciate it more for the great quality instead of cheap eye candy. Big boobs can't save a drawing if the anatomy is poor.

    I found this helpful regarding the technicalities of drawing women in comics:

    Best of luck to you and your work!

    How To De-Objectify Women in Comics: A Guide
    As an artist, what can I consider if I want to de-objectify and add power to female characters? A visual guide by Eisner nominee Renae De Liz.
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