How to use the tools at hand, to better your drawing skills!
When you are telling a story in the comics medium, it is important to be able to convey emotion and expression in your characters. More important than cars, cityscapes, menacing monsters and cool costumes, is how the characters interact. How they express themselves.
A superhero might express himself in a striking pose. A seductive witch may use her body in another fashion. But the face is what ultimately draws you in to a character and into the story.
As a cartoonist, you can get away with a whole lot, if you can just learn to draw two things well: hands and faces. Those are the two things we human beings use the most to express ourselves. And luckily, most of us have those things attached to our own body!
Since Google Images, it seems effortless to find any sort of reference you need. While that may be true, I think we sometimes spend too much time surfing for a specific pose or expression, when we could just as easily pull up a gadget that has been around for centuries: A mirror.
Of course you shouldn’t draw yourself in every panel. But it is a good idea to study your own face (you could also use me as a reference) for clues as to how the mouth curls when you are sad or how you quizically raise your eyebrows or frown . Apply the same facial expression to your characters, and you have a great way of conveying the same emotion on the page.
If, like me, you have a desk lamp that can be adjusted, it is also very easy to find a reference for dramatic lighting on a face. The darker the room, the better.
I recommend sitting down and drawing your own hands as well, even just for practice. The more you master this, the better a visual storyteller you will be. Just remember that we don’t all look alike, so change the features to suit the character you are drawing.
You want to learn how to draw facial expressions and hand gestures? Put the comics away, turn off Google and pull out a mirror.