This is a rare treat, because it’s not often you get a book on drawing by someone who is themselves a successful published illustrator.
Cliff Wright’s biggest claim to fame is a couple of Harry Potter covers (and you can bet the competition for those is pretty stiff), but he has also written some delightful children’s books himself such as Bear and Kite and The Star That Fell that are characterised by beautiful and sensitive watercolours that stop well short of being cutesy.
What this almost modest-looking paperback offers is a positive masterclass in drawing animals, people and natural history subjects, albeit slightly dressed-up as fantasy art. Cliff conveys more in a few words and drawings than many books don’t even manage in a whole chapter and this is a thoroughly practical guide as well as an absolute eye-opener to the many possibilities available to you. There’s also a good degree of humour – I just love the drawing of a Hippogriff wrapped in a blanket against the snow – and the spread where a self portrait turns into a horse eating a cake (yes, really) is in fact a masterpiece of character development and the use of line.
If you’re an aspiring illustrator, this has to be compulsory reading, but there’s so much more to it as well. It’ll show you how to develop characters, how to draw with absolute economy and how to work from life to art.