Comics : How to Draw Spider-Man (Alligator)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color

This review was first published on: Sep 2013.


Right now (in 2013) there seems to be a bit of a surge in "How to Draw" Spider-Man books, especially in the UK/Australia/NZ market. That trend has prompted me to go back and catch up with a review of this much earlier offering from UK publishers "Alligator Books" back in 2005.

In Detail...

How to Draw Spider-Man (Alligator)
Oct 2005 : SM Title
Find ISBN 9781842395264
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Like many UK colouring books (and even many of their magazines), this one is slightly oversized at 8.25" x 11.7". It has 32 full-color glossy pages, and staple-bound cover.

Inside you'll find a the usual "How-to-Draw" fare. A quick page introduces pencils and paper to those of you not familiar with the concept. Then a couple of panels show you how to sketch a skeleton, add outlines, and then fill in the details to create a perfect super hero/villain pose. Check out the image gallery for a couple of page scans to give you a feel for the nature of the content.

Every two pages introduces either a new Spidey pose, or a new hero/villain. Doc Ock, Daredevil, Black Cat, Venom, Lizard, Mysterio and Vulture all get an outing. There's a couple of quick introductions to perspective lines, and the concept of foreshortening.

In General...

When I'm trying to give a rating to these "How to Draw" books, my primary consideration is a question of depth. Learning to draw is like learning to play an instrument, or learning to perform any other incredibly sophisticated human activity. It requires years of study and interpretation.

Every "teach yourself art" book lies on a scale. At one end are texts which begin with the foundations, and indicates the extensive course of study you must follow. Down the opposite end of the spectrum are books which suggest that learning to draw is just a matter of investing ten minutes to learn the following four magic steps.

This one from Alligator Books unfortunately falls in the latter category, with pearls of wisdom like this: "If you're having trouble drawing arms or legs, just remember that they're made up of cylinders (like DD's right thigh)!"

Overall Rating...

This book is glossy, attractive, and at £3.99 asking price in 2005 was pretty well-priced.

It doesn't include any pencils or pens, but honestly I don't see that as a problem. A learn-to-draw book needs to include a pencil like a learn-to-swim book needs to include a bucket of water.

My main objection to this book is the naive over-simplification of the task. I might also mention that I don't find the "finished" examples to be particularly attractive either.

Overall, this book is decidedly uninspiring, and I'm going to hit it with a two-web rating. There are better options out here.


For more substantial offerings, I would recommend Klutz: Draw The Marvel Comics Super-Heroes, or the old How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.

If you really do want something a bit more lightweight, I would suggest that Amazing Spider-Man: How to Draw (Parragon/Scholastic) is probably about as simplified as you would ever want to get.

Alternatively, put the super-hero thing aside for now. Start with a book like the highly-rated classic Keys to Drawing and learn to draw first. Then specialise in super-heroes later.