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WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 1998)

cover: Fred Fields
WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77
Jan 1998

$4.99
Wizard

Magazine (264 pages)

Includes "Basic Training" (6 pages) by George Pérez
Reprinted in WIZARD BEST OF BASIC TRAINING #1: HOW TO DRAW (Mar 2005) and APRENDE A DIBUJAR COMIC #1 (Spain)


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    WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 1998)



     December 25, 2002 | Basic Training Part 3
    From WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)
    BASIC TRAINING
    written by George Pérez
    transcribed by Vu
    published in WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)

    (continued)

    STEP FOUR: Avengers Assembled!
    On the finished piece at the left, you can see many of the principles I outlined earlier. However, with so many characters doing so many things, even an old pro like myself still makes mistakes. The important thing is to keep the piece interesting and dynamic. For that to work, composing a group shot should be an organic process, with the picture changing as you go along to take care of problems you didn't consider in your original thumbnail sketch. Some examples:

    a) I moved Cap's shield closer into his body and made him run straight toward the reader (a change from the original image I showed in Step 3). This allow more of She-Hulk to be seen.

    b) I changed Sandman's left hand to a fist because the open hand looked too much like the Hulk's. I also "pulverized" Sandman's other hand (bottom left so not to distract from Wanda.

    c) I changed Hakweye's bow to a verticlal position so I wouldn't block off Crystal.

    d) I added a stinger blast effect for the Wasp to throw something at the reader. A blast from a larger character would boscure too much of the drawing.

    e) I removed the energy effects on Iron Man's fists so that Giant-Man's face is clear.

    f) I changed the Falcon's posture so it wouldn't look the same as that of the Vision and Stingray.

    g) I added Redwing (the Falcon's falcon) because I didn't know where I'd put him until the drawing was finished.

    h) I changed Black Widow so that Natasha could be holding on to Machine Man's arm.

    i) Because of the immense amount of space the Black Knight and his winged horse would take, he had to be put far into the rear. Now he looks like the same size as the Wasp, but all the overlapping of characters keeps the size ratio clear.

    j) In the "peekaboo" spots, areas where I'm basically just trying to fit parts of characters in when there's no room for full figures, I try to use characters who can be identified even without their costumes being revealed. In the case of Sersi, I used her glowing eyes to easily identify her.


  • Avengers Assembled!
  • Well, there you have it. Those are just a few nots on how I do a group shots - your mileage may vary. There is one thing I didn't mention yet, however. As I said, Wizard only asked me to put together a primer on drawing a group shot, not a group COVER. Imagine having to do this - and leaving room for the logo and the UPC box? The padded room awaits.


    George Pérez's amazing ability to throw way too many characters on one page, and somehow make 'em all fit, can be seen monthly in the pages of Marvel's Avengers, as well as his creator-owned Crimson Plague put out quarterly by Event Comics.

     December 23, 2002 | Basic Training Part 2
    From WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)
    BASIC TRAINING
    written by George Pérez
    transcribed by Vu
    published in WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)

    (continued)

    Size DOES Matter
    As I said earlier, size relationships should always be kept in mind. Usually, larger characters are pushed further back, while smaller ones are in the foreground. However, make sure that relationships remain clear. Let's take the two size extremes: Giant-Man and The Wasp would look standing on the same horizon line, but without any perspective lines or backgrounds to indicate how far they are from each other. Without that scale, Giant-Man and Iron Man seem to be the same height, while the Wasp appears as tall as the Scarlet Witch. Then add perspective lines, and the illusion's exposed.

    If we drew Giant-Man taller in the first place, though, there's be no such illusion. So, to maintain Giant-Man's sense of height, always draw him bigger than other characters, regardless of where he is in the picture. Conversely, overlapping the tiny Wasp in front of any larger foreground character full establishes how tiny she is.

    NOTE: Speaking of overlapping, try not to have characters butting elbows with each other, since that might fool the reader into thinking they're standing side by side, rather than on different planes of depth. Overlapping definitely solves the problem of who's in front of whom.


    Frequent Flyers
    Since we've got a vertical space to fill, we should decide which guys and gales are on the top and who's on the bottom. (Get yer minds outta the gutter, class.) The top is easy: to be in the sky, ya gotta fly - although leaping characters like the Hulk and the Beast also fit in this category. Flying characters are useful, since they can be drawn in deep perspective, so all you really need to draw is the character's upper body. This can save quite a bit of space.


    Ground Control
    The lower half of the page is usually where the non-flying members are relegated. Primarily, they're runners, but all runners aren't created equal - no two characters should run exactly the same way. Speeders like Quicksiver would seldom be at the rear of the charge, although we have to slow him down so he doesn't run out of the frame.


    And not everyone needs to run. Some characters work better posing, like Hawkeye and Crystal pictured at the right. It adds variety to the shot and draws the reader to their area of the page.

    Here, There and Everywhere
    Then there are those characters who can have it both ways. Characters with expansive abilities, like Machine Man, could actually be in many places at once just by stretching out over various points of the illustration. (Check out the finish piece on page 138 to see what I mean.) Gimmicks like this brings a sense of design and unity to a group shot.

  • Right
  • Wrong
  • Black + Black = Black
    Be careful to keep characters clear. Drawing two black-suited characters overlapping each other makes it hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. If you're not sure who will be inking the piece, you may be asking for trouble. Either avoid the problem, or make it easier by throwing some highlights on the outlines of the conflicting characters (as I've done in the example on the left.) And since we're drawing in black and white, pencilers often fail to consider color's effect on a group shot. Thanks to modern coloring techniques, placing characters with the same color costumes together is much less of a worry. (Although, for the sake of balance, try to avoid having all your red guys in one group and all your blues in another.)
     December 23, 2002 | Basic Training Part 1
    From WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)
    BASIC TRAINING
    written by George Pérez
    transcribed by Vu
    published in WIZARD: THE COMICS MAGAZINE #77 (Jan 98)
    This month's host: George Pérez
    How to Draw Large Group Shots
  • Photograph by Al Ortega
  • Hi, class! When Wizard asked me to host one of these "Basic Training" articles, I was told they had me specifically in mind for this lesson. After more than 23 years in this business, I knew what they meant. For better or worse, my main claim to fame is drawing group books. Seldom happy with just getting a half-dozen characters on a page, I'm the type who likes to get as many as he can elbowing for attention. Some say I'm crazy, others say I'm insane. And they're all correct. Now it's time for me to pass that insanity onto you.

    Until I put this article together, I never realized that there's actually some method to my madness - certain basic principles I follow which might help a novice artist deal with that unfeeling writer or editor who asks for that dreaded "big shot with everybody in it." Warning: Once you've proven you can do it once, you'll be asked to do it again. And again. And again.

    Welcome to the asylym.


    STEP ONE: A Cast of Thousands
    Actually, it's only 25. before I start laying out a group shot, I make a list of the characters I'm going to use, so I can then check them off as I draw them. The characters are usually determined by the script, so picking and choosing is generally not an option. However, since I've just returned to The Avengers (Unabashed self-promotion here!), the guys at Wizard figured Earth's Mightiest Heroes would do nicely. Thus, the cast is set:

    1. Beast
    2. Black Knight (on winged horse)
    3. Black Panther
    4. Black Widow
    5. Captain America
    6. Crystal
    7. Falcon (with Redwing)
    8. Giant-Man
    9. Hawkeye
    10. Hercules
    11. Hulk
    12. Iron Man
    13. Machine Man
    14. Magdalene
    15. Photon
    16. Quicksilver
    17. Rage
    18. Sandman
    19. Sersi
    20. Scarlet Witch
    21. She-Hulk
    22. Stingray
    23. Thor
    24. Vision
    25. Wasp

    STEP TWO: Group Dynamics
    First off, just as there's no one way to draw a character, there are many ways of drawing a large group (not counting covers, which is a whole other ballgame). Most of the time, that decision is dictated by the script. In my career I've found that group shots fall into three major categories:

  • The Gathering
  • The Gathering
    Here, the characters are usually in some large room, either talking to each other or reacting to their surroundings. For the sake of this articles, I'm skipping the background altogether. A major difference with this type of layout compared to the others is you have the option of turning characters away from the reader. In the case of characters with capes, that's a way to avoid drawing all the detail on a character or two. Just be aware of the comparative sizes of the characters.

  • The Portrait
  • The Portrait
    Usually requested for a splash page, this style shows the characters standing in appropriate postures as they look directly at the reader. Sometimes this portrait consists merely of head shots. The layout I've drawn here is somewhere in between.

  • The Action Shot
  • The Action Shot
    This one's got superheroes doing what they do best! They could be charging at the reader, ready for battle, while some use their powers to indicate that an enemy's just out of page range. They could be running at the reader in the same direction, or be in the midst of battle with enemies all around. For the sake of this lesson (and since drawing two groups battling is a bit much for now) we'll concentrate on the Battle Charge because it utilizes many elements common to all the group shots.

    NOTE: Since we read from left to right, there's sort of bias that establishes the right as the direction of advancement. Having the characters running toward the left seems to imply retreat - unless you've already established that's where the menace is located. While the characters are running straight at the reader, I can still direct them slightly to the right through small turns in their bodies and heads.


  • Captain America
  • STEP 3: Method to the Madness

    Stars and Co-Stars
    Unfortunately, there's no way to give equal time to everyone in a group shot - somebody's got to be man the rear. This creates a sense of depth and perspective, which is very useful if you decide not to use backgrounds. Choosing which characters will be in front is an artistic decision, often based on the popularity of certain characters, but few will argue Captain America's right to lead an Avengers charge. However, that doesn't necessarily mean Cap will be the absolute front-most Avengers. Character positioning is sometimes dictated by who the characters are and what they do. In choosing who will be emphasized, several considerations need to be made.

    [ TO BE CONTINUED... ]


    02/01/2006 01:48:08




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