Animals (Drawing Masterclass) || Lucy Swinburne

As with previous volumes in this series, you get a lot for your money, though the layout here is a little more conventional, the book consisting mainly of a series of demonstrations and some notes on detail work. An innovation is the online demonstrations which you can access through a link or a QR code that you scan with a mobile phone. This is a good idea, though I must admit that I find the codes intrusive on the page and I do wonder whether the small screen of a phone is the ideal viewing medium. Tablets tend to have lower-resolution cameras and can struggle with these codes, so typing URLs on a keyboard may be the best solution. All the codes are the same and lead to a long online menu, so placing a single reference on the title page might have been a better idea.

I’m sorry to have taken so long over what sounds like a quibble, but the idea of using YouTube rather than supplying a bound-in DVD is so stunningly obvious that I’m genuinely surprised that this is the first time I’ve seen it done. It’s cheap, flexible and adds immeasurably to the value of the book without compromising the price and I’d urge other publishers to follow suit. Just keep the content good and appropriate, that’s all. A video done for the sake of it undoes all the good work of the printed page.

The book itself doesn’t start hugely promisingly. Lucy draws, as artists often do, her materials and equipment and it seems she struggles with three-dimensional objects and their perspective. This is particularly odd as this is one of her strengths when it comes to animals, which are much more difficult than a simple water pot. In every single case, her subjects have depth, texture, life and character and she is one of the best animal artists I’ve come across.

After the usual introduction to materials and techniques the book is, as I said, a series of demonstrations. These are divided into wild and domestic animals and include meerkats, elephants and tigers, dogs, cats and horses. Each section is a specific image, so you don’t get the huge variety that some other volumes in the series have introduced. At the same time, these are subjects that need a lot of attention and detail work and the trade-off is worthwhile.

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