After writing a post about National Comic Book Day and the evolution of comics, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to draw a character in a comic book style and show how you can do it too!!

HOW TO DRAW… HARLEY QUINN

With the recent release of the Suicide Squad, this character seemed like the perfect choice for a comic book doodle. So get your pencils and pens at the ready, we are going to be going through the steps of pencillinginking and colouring the modern adaptation of HARLEY QUINN!

 

BACKGROUND RESEARCH OF THE CHARACTER

Before I began drawing her I wanted to make sure that I chose a pose that reflected her character and personality. I looked back over the classic interpretations of Harley Quinn and mixed it with the films portrayal of her. Instead of choosing the baseball bat from the film as her weapon of choice, I went for the hammer as she is holding the hammer in the majority of character shots in either an adorable non-threatening pose or mid thump of the hammer. To go with the “away with the fairies” vibe of Suicide Squad, a leaping pose with the hammer seemed the perfect way to combine these characters together.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

LETS START DRAWING!

STEP 1: ESTABLISHING BODY POSITION & SHAPE

TOOLS – Paper, light pencil & rubber / graphics tablet & drawing software e.g. photoshop

Drawing in loose circles and lines is key here, you want to establish the movement of the pose and from there you can add the proportions of the body.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

STEP 2: ADDING COSTUME DETAILS

TOOLS – Paper, light pencil & rubber / graphics tablet & drawing software e.g. photoshop, Internet access

Using reference images of Harley Quinns costume from the Suicide Squad, I was then able to add the details. If you are working digitally in photoshop, before you begin adding the details now is a good opportunity to start a new layer. Separating the layers means that when you have finished adding your detail over your roughly drawn outline, you can hide the outline layer or delete it entirely and your detail will still be intact.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

STEP 3: INKING THE PENCIL DRAWN COMIC CHARACTER

TOOLS – Paper, ink or different sized graphic pens / graphics tablet & drawing software e.g. photoshop

It is good practise to save each step of your drawing as you go, incase you make a mistake that cant be fixed you can always go back to an earlier copy. If you are working by hand with pen and paper and have a scanner handy, scan your pencil drawing now or take a good quality clear photo. If you are working digitally, save a version of your outline.

I have been working by hand so far and will be using a selection of Faber-Castell artist pens in different sizes to complete this step. You want to keep the lines quite light and flowing so alternate the weight of the lines through pressure and speed. Using Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen B allows for a great flowing line in a range of thicknesses, and I also used pen S for the tight detail and smaller lines.

When inking this drawing I used a graphic novel style as inspiration by the “Harley Quinn” 2016 series Issue 26, which was written and drawn by Amanda Conner. I wanted to maintain clean lines but still include cross hatch shadowing of the classic comic art style.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

STEP 4: BLOCK COLOURING COMIC CHARACTER

TOOLS – Marker pens e.g. Copic Markers / graphics tablet & drawing software e.g. photoshop

Copic marker pens are perfect for creating depth and tone with light strokes. They can look clean and crips and are ideal for comic art! However, they are on my christmas wish list so check back soon for a post on how to use them! For now I will show you how to colour your characters using the many tools photoshop has to offer.

PHOTOSHOP

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

Once you have taken a very clear picture or scanned your ink work, open it up in photoshop. Create a new file and drag you ink picture onto the new page. When creating something in photoshop I usually create the file as big as possible without loosing detail, as once it is finished, it is easier to scale down with the same results than it is to scale up.

Before we start adding colour we need to delete all of the white area from the image. It will be easier to then add layers of colour underneath the ink layer to create our desired effect. To do this use the MAGIC WAND TOOL to either select the white area and delete or to select the black lines, then right click –> select inverse and delete the white area. You can increase the tolerance to widen the selected area.

To check that you have erased every white area from your inked layer, click on the EYE symbol next to your background layer – this will make the background layer invisible. Your image should then look like this!

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

For the next step create a new layer underneath the ink outline layer and pick the first colour you want to paint with. You can either use the LASSO TOOL to select the area you want to paint and then fill it with the PAINT BUCKET TOOL or just paint freely with PAINT BRUSH TOOL at 100% opacity and delete the excess paint outside of the lines with the ERASER TOOLafter.

You will achieve the same result, just use which ever technique you find easiest.

How to draw - Harley Quinn


REMEMBERING TO CREATE A NEW LAYER EVERY TIME!
Until you have you finished matt picture.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

STEP 5: ADDING TONE TO COMIC CHARACTER

TOOLS – Marker pens e.g. Copic Markers / graphics tablet & drawing software e.g. photoshop

Creating new layers when filling in the block colour will make the tonal work in this step a lot easier! I will show you step by step of how I created Harley Quinns bleached colour skin that wont require you to mix any colours but to work with what you have already.

SKIN

How to draw - Harley Quinn

To create the porcelain bleached complexion, click on the skin layer and use your MAGIC WAND TOOL to highlight the selected area. Using the same colour you used as the block colour head to the BRUSH TOOL  and change “Mode: SCREEN” and decrease the “Opacity:”. This will act as a highlighter on the skin and lighten the tone of flat skin colour. You can then add shadows using the same tool but selecting “Mode: MULTIPLY”.

To create the deeper shadows and darker effects on the skin, click on the BURN TOOL and select “Range: HIGHLIGHTS”. This will create the dirty like shadows across the skin. To take the colour 1 step further and remove the warmer tones to leave just the cold blue tones, head to the drop down menu and select IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > COLOUR BALANCE. Here you can control the colours across the highlights, midtones and shadows of your work.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

 

You can duplicate your layers before so you have a backup incase you are not happy with the end result, and want to start again.

 

DIP-DYED HAIR

To create the dip-dyed effect on her hair, I used the same tools as before on the skin, but I left out the use of the colour balance tool.

How to draw - Harley Quinn

I selected the area with the MAGIC WAND TOOL, used the BRUSH TOOL with modes SCREEN and MULTIPLY to create the highlights and shadows in her flowing hair. I then created another layer on top of this, still using the selected area and painted the blue and pink ends, defusing it as the colour got closer to the hair band. Once again I used the BRUSH TOOLwith modes SCREEN and MULTIPLY to create depth in the bunches. Using the BURN TOOL on top adds a little more drama.

You can repeat this method across every layer of your painting until you have your finished piece!

How to draw - Harley Quinn

Hope you found this step by step helpful and informative, lets spread a little comic art love to everyone!!  Share your own comic art with us on our Facebook & Twitter pages 🙂