Renae De Liz, the Eisner-nominated artist and writer behind such series as The Legend of Wonder Woman, The Last Unicorn and Lady Powerpunch, shared her thoughts on how to draw women without objectifying and oversexualizing them. In her impromptu guide, she tries to dispel many assumptions people have when they set out to draw women because of deep-set trends in comics. She uses the below drawings of DC’s Power Girl as the subject of her case study.
De Liz explains that her “intent is to help those who WANT to promote change in their work (which can be challenging). Not shaming those who choose otherwise.”
De Liz, writing on Twitter, explains:
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.
2L: Commonly taught way to draw breasts (OR fully separated/circles/sticking out). The intent is to highlight sex appeal. It’s not realistic for a hero.
2R: What’s REALISTIC for your hero? Athletes need major support (i.e sports bra) which have a different 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’s 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
5L: It’s common to see “the arch n’ twist” in comics. A female arched and twisted to show both cheeks AND both boobs.
5R: 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. The 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. Most important is what would your character choose? It’s very difficult to hero around in stilettos. Perhaps consider low/no heels.
If nothing else, consider this: Would I do this to a male character? (IE would you perk out Batman’s butt & twist him to see BOTH his pecs?)”
And in case the disparity between how men and women are often represented in comics needs to be any more obvious, illustrator and colorist Emilio Lopez shared this as a contrast.