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Bryan HITCH’S ULTIMATE

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Foreword by

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Joss Whedon


Bryan Hitch trademarks It is inevitable that your own style and personality comes through in your work, and that readers become familiar with that. I like my action to be ‘big’, and the devices I use for this have become known as my ‘trademarks’. To me, it’s all just part of conveying a story with as much impact as possible.

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New York establishing shot Establishing shots make the location of the action a key part of the story, be it a city, a building or a spaceship. The detailed panorama here provides a level of reality, and is also a useful tool to give the reader a moment of space to breathe and re-adjust.


1. Establishing shots Not all comics are keen to show the reality of the environment in which the story is set, but to me it is an important part of the storytelling process. It makes the reader feel involved and helps to achieve verisimilitude. If a story is set in New York then I want the reader to experience the awe of walking around Manhattan. I want big shots of the city, which I research using a variety of books and bespoke photographic reference.

2. Widescreen action I like my action to be big. My artist’s viewpoint is from within the action, not from a peripheral point, and I want the reader to feel that they are being dragged through the action as well.

These widescreen shots really put the reader in the thick of the action.

3. Close-up portraits This is all about choosing a viewpoint to give you an angle of a face that you’ve never seen before, to get an expression that has impact and purpose for the story. It can be quite daunting to approach a big, empty piece of paper and start drawing in an awful lot of detail, but you have to be fearless.

4. Detail I am sometimes told I could get away with putting less detail in my work, but I just wouldn’t be satisfied doing less. I put the detail in because it should be there; I see it as intrinsic to my role as a storyteller.

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The superhero close-up This is a close-up of Doctor Impossible from the novel Soon I will be Invincible, rendered in a classic foreshortened pose for the front cover. I think this works really well as a good example of a close-up portrait.

‘The’ eight-page widescreen shot It was coming towards the end of The Ultimates, a six-page spread had just been done in Batman, and I wanted to beat it. The action moves from left to right and the eight characters each have their moment in space to clarify the layout of this mega conflict scene. It’s one of the most fun pieces I’ve ever done. The satisfaction of unfolding each of the printed pages to reveal the whole scene is hard to beat.

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The drawing process

You’ve received and read your script, doodled all over it and have already started to visualise the story. You should have a clear idea in your mind of what you want each panel to look like, and now is the time to put it on to paper and check that it works.

The sketching process It is a good idea to use a few different colours in your roughs to help you spot shapes and lines as you work. I use an HB pencil initially, followed by an erasable blue pencil and then red, black and blue brush pens.

The drawing stage is the first opportunity for you to really check that what you see in your mind as you read the script actually works on paper. It is a process for addressing compositional problems, not storytelling ones, so it’s vital that you already have a clear idea of what you want characters and environments to look like. This might occasionally change as you find that a scene just isn’t working, but the more you practise and grow in confidence the less this will happen.

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Ruling up

On the lightbox

Your drawings will already have been ordered and sized with the panels in mind, so inserting the frame lines should just be a formality. You will need to use rulers to measure up your panels and ensure that the space between each frame is correct.

Try not to let the lightbox stage become a mechanical process of tracing. Do basic outlines on the box and then finish up away from it, adding more detail and tone. Have a clear idea of the point at which you’re going to come off the box, and stick to it.

A lightbox is a useful tool for the comic

Your rough sketches should be a full size version of the finished page, with your composition already having taken account of the rhythm of the story, the pacing and the sequential action that you planned earlier. To mark vanishing points and panel frames I use erasable blue pencil. You can draw over it quite easily, and it just fades into the background once you add black or grey pencil, enabling you to see the composition, lines and shapes much more clearly. You don’t need any fancy equipment to rule up your frames – an art board is useful, but not essential.The most important thing is that you don’t work flat, and are in a position where you can eye up the panels easily.

artist, as it enables you to create a more finished outline drawing while still keeping the rough. While this means that you can return for a second pass should you not be happy with the final drawing, it is a good discipline to know when something works and to have confidence and stick with it. Even if you think of another way of composing a scene or working an effect, it is a good idea to leave it for the next piece, rather than going back and re-working an existing one. Don’t put too much time or polish into your drawings. Work quickly, lightly and instinctively, and try to avoid spending too long on the lightbox. Switch the light off every now and then to check that the lines are making sense, and also to prevent your hands from getting too hot. And remember to stick both sheets of paper to the box with masking tape – there’s nothing more frustrating than having to keep realigning the pages when they slip!

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Picking the outlines An ordinary 2H mechanical pencil is ideal for the initial outline work, providing the accuracy and detail that you need at this stage.

drawing

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Composition The more accomplished you become as a comic artist, the more instinctive the principles of composition will become. Thinking about the composition of each panel should come into your mind from the moment you first read the script, so that when you actually come to put pencil to paper you have a clear idea of what you want each panel to look like, the camera angle that you want to use, the vanishing points that will draw the reader into the action and the pacing of the story from panel to panel. The initial roughing out process is when you find out if the composition that’s in your mind works in reality and, if not, when you start to tweak it.

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Bryan HITCH’S ULTIMATE

Description The world’s top comic artist Bryan Hitch explores his inspirations, approaches and techniques through a stunning collection of his finest pieces from Marvel, as well as brand new pieces commissioned especially for this book. Special highlights include step-by-step development sequences on some of the Fantastic Four scenes, and extended commentaries on some of his classic pieces from the Ultimates. Packed with information, practical tips on panel composition, storytelling, tools and materials, inspiration and references, how to break into the industry and much more, this is the long awaited guide and a must-have for Bryan Hitch fans all over the world.

Marketing points Bryan Hitch is the most popular comic artist in the Including a foreword by writer, director and producer world bar none of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, this is a veritable visual feast of dynamic, impactful art for Wizard magazine, which circulates 250,000 copies, comic fans all over the world. currently ranks Bryan as the most popular artist in the comic/graphic novel industry This is first practical book by Bryan that also talks about his inspirations, approaches and techniques, making it essential reading Packed with Hitch’s best pieces for Marvel and with a foreword by Joss Whedon

The Author

Contents • Introduction • Foreword 1 2 3 4 5 6

Story telling Composition Drawing Inking and colour The business of comics Gallery

• Index

Specifications PuBlication date: OCTOBER 2010 Size (HxW): 254 x 225mm Size (WxH): 83/4 x 10in Extent: 128pp Illustrations colour: 150 Edition: First Word Count: 20,000 Format: Hardback ISBN-13: 978-1-6006-1327-2 Imprint: Impact RRP: £19.99 Format: Paperback with special fold-out front flap ISBN-13: 978-1-6006-1327-2 Imprint: Impact US RRP: $24.99 Rights Available: World Category: Art Techniques BIC Code 1: WFA Painting & Art BIC Code 2: Manuals FM Fantasy

Bryan Hitch is the world’s most popular comic book illustrator who is probably best known for his role as co-creator and writer on bestselling The Authority (DC) and The Ultimates (Marvel). Bryan was also character design artist for the Ultimate Avengers animated films, the video game Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and concept artist for the re-launch of Doctor Who. www.theartofcomics.com

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Bryan Hitch Ultimate  

Bryan Hitch Ultimate