Comics Characters Oil Paintings

Updated: 02 Jan 2019

Oil painting of comics characters

The Difference between Comics Characters & Realistic Characters

Comics and cartoon characters have distinct characteristics different from realistic figures.

For drawing cartoon characters in a traditional way (pencil, pen and markers), visit How to Draw Comics in 3 Steps.


Unlike realistic figures, cartoon characters are made from saturated colors, meaning sharp and rich colors.

Shades & Transitions:

Comics are characterized by a single hue for each part of the figure. It is recommended to pre-mix the colors you intend to use.

In realism, because of the three-dimensional structure of each object, the lighting conditions and other factors, each point in the figure will be affected differently and there will always be transitions of different types.

Paintbrushes & Texture:

Usually, for oil painting, hog bristle brushes are great for moving paint against the canvas grip.

That said, they could leave brushstrokes, which generate a textured surface.

For a smooth surface, one can use synthetic brushes or brushes from soft natural bristles.

Another option is to use brushes designed for smoothing (after painting with a regular hog bristle brush).

Here is a list & guide for types of oil painting brushes.

Round synthetic brush for oil painting Round synthetic brush
Mop brush for smoothing and blending Mop brush for smoothing

Snow White Oil Painting

You can start an oil painting by first drawing the character with a pencil.

In order to draw with a pencil on canvas, using a grid of guidelines, read this article: How to Paint Realistic Animals.

Second step is the actual painting.

It is convenient to paint the "far" layers first. For example, painting the landscape first and then the figure. It is a matter of personal preference though.

Mix in advance the colors you want to use and paint with smooth synthetic brushes.

Violet color palette Violet color palette
Painting the collar of Snow White Violet & white for the collar

For the skin color, mix red and yellow to create orange and add a lot of white.

I prefer titanium white, which is an opaque pigment and great for covering.

If the result is too saturated, adding a bit of blue, which is the opposite color of orange, will decrease the saturation.

Skin color palette Skin color palette
Painting the sking of Snow White Red, yellow & white

For the hair, mix ultramarine blue and burnt umber to create black.

Use blue and violet for the light areas of the hair. White makes the hair look like gray hair.

Hair color palette Hair color palette
Painting the hair of Snow White Blue & violet for light areas

For Snow White's bodice, mix blue with a bit of brown to create a dark blue.

Add a cool red to the mixture, to make it a bit violet.

Gradually add white for lighter shades.

To understand about warm and cool colors, color theory and much more regarding oil paints and pigments, read this massive article: How to Mix Oil Paints - The Color Wheel.

Violet color palette for bodice Bodice color palette
Violet blue bodice for Snow White Violet blue bodice


Oil painting of Snow White, Disney Snow White oil painting (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney 1937)

Author's comment:

If you like comic books, you might want to read my guide on collecting comics.

Merida Oil Painting

Another option is to sketch directly with a brush instead of pencil drawing.

This time with a slightly more realistic style.

Drawing with a paintbrush Drawing with a paintbrush
Drawing merida with a paintbrush Finished drawing

As mentioned above, it is recommended to start by painting the background, which in this case is a landscape.

The landscape will be affected by atmospheric perspective.

By making the background less noticeable, the figure will stand out.

For learning about the effect of the atmosphere in landscape painting, go here: How to Draw in Linear and Atmospheric Perspective.

Painting the background landscape for Merida Painting the landscape first
Painting the face of the figure Painting the face

The hair can be painted using a fan paintbrush from hog bristles.

Merida is a figure with complementary colors: orange hair and blue outfit.

Other examples for Disney characters with complementary colors:

Rapunzel (Tangled) - yellow hair and purple dress.

Ariel (The Little Mermaid) - red hair and green dress.

Painting the hair for Merida Fan paintbrush for the hair
Painting the blue outfit for Merida Blue outfit


Merida oil painting, Brave, Disney 2012 Merida oil painting (Brave, Disney 2012)

Mickey Mouse Oil Painting

For recreating nostalgic cartoon characters, do not forget one of the main characteristics of comics drawing: they have outlines.

The background for Mickey Mouse oil painting from the movie Fantasia can be painted with Prussian blue.

Mickey Mouse oil painting, Fantasia Mickey Mouse oil painting (Fantasia, Disney 1940)


You can draw any style or genre by mastering the craft of color mixing and understanding the important factors for painting in a realistic style.

With these 8 key factors for painting realism you will be able to paint ANYTHING.

In addition, check out these handpicked YouTube painting channels.