Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition - A lesson for aspiring artists by John Byrne.
John had this to say on his forum upon receiving the book.
Flipping thru this volume, there are several things that come immediately to the forefront — elements of my art back then that I look back on and shake my head. Those of you who aspire to be artists might learn a lesson or three here.
• Too many meaningless lines. Back in the day, I had my own little “rule” for drawing backgrounds: Never use one line when you can use two, or three. Sometimes this worked, but more often it created masses of spidery lines that had no real function in the construction of the drawings, and very often closed up in the printing.
Over the next several years, I pushed myself away from this technique — if I may call it such! — and, typically, the pendulum swung too far the other way, and the drawings became too open. These days, I think I strike a happy medium, but those of you who wish to become comicbook artists should keep always in mind that you are working toward the finished product. Your job is to create something that will look its best on the printed pages, not as a piece of original art.
This relates also to…
• Line weight. In my early years, I seem to apply different weights of line almost arbitrarily. There does not seem to be a lot of thought about using line not only to give weight to the figures/objects, but also to define depth. It’s such a blindingly obvious thing, really, that the further back in the panel an object is, the thinner should be the lines defining it, yet it took me YEARS to figure it out. Most often, I depended on the colorist to define depth, and that failing becomes especially apparent in black and white.
• Random spotting of blacks. Thru the issues reprinted here I am struck that I often used more blacks than I do now — but very few of them were used in truly effective ways. They were dropped in helter skelter, without real consideration of how they defined the forms, or the depth, in the panels. Again, working away from this, I went too far, and my “middle period” is again too open. There is something too much of the coloring book to be seen there!
• Cartoon faces. This was not something I did consciously, but I am very aware of it in the earlier issues in this collection. Building faces was one of the things it took me the longest to really master (if I can say I have “mastered” it even now), and my “heroic” faces tended often to be too simple, and too similar. As I flipped toward the back of this book, it was gratifying to note stronger, more distinctive faces appearing more frequently.
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