The phase retardation difference, ΔΦ, is calculated for hybrid liquid crystal (LC) cells as a function of LC pretilt angles, Θ(1) 0, Θ(2) 0, on the opposite substrates of the cell for the case of an arbitrary angle of light incidence in the range from 0 to 90°. An LC director configuration is suggested for its application in optical compensators. Design and fabrication methods of hybrid aligned nematic (HAN) cells with an arbitrary LC pretilt angle are described. The LC pretilt angle is measured in the HAN cells with a given planar or vertical LC alignment on one of the substrates. © 2014 Optical Society of America.