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Alex Ross

Updated on September 5, 2007

The master comic book artist

This lens isn't just for fans of Alex Ross, but for artists who wish to learn from him. Alex Ross is an amazing artist. He is also kind enough to share his process through his books, magazine articles and vidoes.  While I admire him for his ability, I revere him for his generosity.



A misconception about Alex Ross is that he has a photorealistic style. He does use photographs for reference, but he does not slavishly copy them;he slavishly improves upon them. The proportions and measurements he uses to improve the photos were learned by studying "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth," by Andrew Loomis.

Take note of the following images:

The image on the left was drawn by Andrew Loomis, which describes in detail the measurements for an ideal male, and the image on the right is a character study of Superman by Alex Ross. Notice how in this image, or any other for that matter, that Alex Ross renders, his heroes are drawn with the idealistic proportions set forth in Andrew Loomis' books.

Andrew Loomis and the books that influenced Alex Ross

Unfortunately Andrew Loomis' books are out of print. They are, however, considered the gold standard in figure drawing instruction. If you can track down his books, you will find that they are worth the effort and expense.

A little more about Andrew Loomis

Many artists have a hard time explaining how it is they do what they do. Andrew Loomis did not have that problem. In addition to the helpful diagrams and examples in his books, is an engaging, almost chatty writing style.

Here are a few quotes from "Figure Drawing For All it's Worth" that I especially love:

"May I confess that two weeks after entering art school, I was advised to go back home? That experience has made me much more tolerant of an inauspicious beginning than I might otherwise have been, and it has given me additional incentive in teaching."

"Every artist will do 'good ones' and 'bad ones.' The bad will have to be thrown out and done over. The artist should, of course, make a critical analysis to determine why a drawing is bad; usually he will be forced to go back to fundamentals, for bad drawing springs from basic faults as surely as good drawing springs from basic merits."

"I not only assume that my reader is interested in drawing but that he wishes from his toes up to become an efficient and self-supporting craftsman. I assume that the desire to express yourself with pen and pencil is not only urgent but amost undeniable, and that you feel you must do something about it. I feel that talent means little unless coupled with an insatiable desire to give an excellent personal demonstration of ability. I feel also that talent must be in company with a capacity for unlimited effort, which provides the power that eventually hurdles the difficulties that would frustrate lukewarm enthusiasm."

If you can only buy one Alex Ross book, buy this one

This book is biographical in nature. It is limited to his DC work, but it talks about his development, has original artwork, and shows his process for planning comics and painting them.

Alex Ross in his own words

Alex Ross in action

Watching these videos is not a substitute for studying Alex Ross' tutorials in his books, especially "Mythology." Still, you can pick up little tips on how he sets up his pallet, what brush sizes he uses, and how he moves around the painting surface.

Who am I kidding? It's impossible to buy just one Alex Ross book

Recent Alex Ross projects

The paint is still drying on these books. Alex Ross painted over Doug Braithwaite's pencil drawings for a striking collaboration of comic book art.

P.S. If you buy something from this page...

... you'll automatically be making a donation to The Acumen Fund, working to solve global poverty.

Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      thank you for the lens on Alex Ross. Do you know if he uses smooth or vellum Bristol paper?

    • GannonBeck profile image

      GannonBeck 5 years ago

      @mojoCNYartist: I think he is mostly doing covers and commissions these days. To my knowledge the last thing he did sequentials on was "Justice." He painted over someone else's pencil work, but realized it really didn't save him as much time as he thought it might. I'd love to see him try a traditional style. His book "Rough Justice" has some pitches in there that show that approach and it looked great.

    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      Love his work. But I don't think I've seen anything from him recently.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A very solid lens on Ross. I love his comic book work and would love to see him on a monthly comic, though I doubt it will ever happen due to the time it takes to create his pieces.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      For your Alex Ross Fans

      PHX comics has recently placed a 1 time auction on ebay of an Alex Ross Collection. If there are Alex Ross fans that you know would like to add this to their collection or start their collection could you send them to the link below:

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      This page has a lot of useful info on the guy, thanks. Anyway, I did a tribute piece about 10 years ago for KC and placed it on my spanking new (and spare) blogspot page. I'll add more artwork when I get the time to feeling "empowered" again...Cheers, Roby


    • coreyweb profile image

      coreyweb 10 years ago

      This guy is amazing, and so is your lens about him. I think you're right - it is impossible to buy just one.