How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character

Written by josh turner
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How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
The ability to draw an animated muscular character is crucial to comic art. (my muscles image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from

Any comic book artist must be able to draw animated characters, but the artist needs an understanding of anatomy and the whimsical nature of comics. Comic book artists create animated characters to embody overly exaggerated physical prowess, unseen athleticism and unwavering agility. Animated characters can use their bodies in ways that the average human cannot. This sense of embellishment appeals to our imaginations. A strong animated character must have muscles and powers beyond those of a normal human. In order to draw a strong animated character, you must appeal to the amazing and,for a moment, suspend disbelief.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Two clean sheets of drawing paper
  • Drawing mannequin or photographs of people
  • Anatomy book
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Various sized markers
  • Light box
  • Acrylic paints, markers or coloured pencils

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  1. 1

    Decide on a pose to draw. Use an anatomy book, photographs or a drawing mannequin if needed.

    How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
    Use a drawing mannequin if necessary. (mannequin d'bois image by Juliette Deschodt from
  2. 2

    Sketch a line that best expresses the action and direction of the pose; this will be the line of action. The line of action determines the positioning and stance of the character's body. All of the muscles and body parts will come off this line. The line of action needs to be full of movement and drama; this will be the difference between a figure drawing and an animated character.

  3. 3

    Draw a stick figure with the line of action as the centre of the body. Draw the arms, legs and head so that they follow the original pose.

  4. 4

    Break each part of the body into sections starting and ending at the joints. Draw each part as a basic geometric shape: tapered cylinders for the arms, legs, neck and core (stomach area), a sphere for the head, a barrel shape for the chest, and tapered wedges for the hands, feet and pelvis.

  5. 5

    Lightly sketch the muscles on top of the geometric shapes, one muscle at a time, and interconnect them with the other muscles; this will give you a solid foundation to build on. Use an anatomy book if needed. Once you have created a fairly accurate portrayal of the muscular system, resketch large, over exaggerated muscles on top of the original ones; this will make the figure appear animated and speak to the comical nature of the drawing. Make the muscles bigger and rounder. Use different line thicknesses to make the muscles appear as if they bulge. Use the anatomy book to gain a better understanding of elongations, turns, twists and compressions in the muscles.

    How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
    Make sure to account for twists and compressions in the muscles. (muscle 54 image by chrisharvey from
  6. 6

    Draw facial expressions, hair and clothing on the body.

  7. 7

    Shade the character with diagonal hatching lines and by darkening areas of the body.

    How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
    Use diagonal lines for shading. (diagonal striped pattern of a carpet image by GoodMood Photo from
  8. 8

    Set a clean piece of paper on the sketch and place both pieces on a light table. Carefully trace the sketch on the clean paper so that no erase marks or accidentally drawn lines show up.

  9. 9

    Ink the new drawing by tracing it with black marker. Use smaller markers for thinner lines and thicker markers for shading.

    How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
    Ink the drawing with a black marker. (black marker image by Alexander Zhiltsov from
  10. 10

    Colour the picture with acrylic paints, markers or coloured pencils.

    How to Draw a Strong Muscular Animated Character
    Colour the drawing with paint, markers or coloured pencils. (coloured pencils 3 image by sonya etchison from

Tips and warnings

  • Draw everything extremely light in case you need to erase something.
  • Use a latex glove or sheet of paper under your hand to prevent smudging.
  • A kneaded eraser works best for erasing drawing lines.
  • Use the anatomy book to gain a strong foundation of the body; its importance cannot be expressed enough.

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