Archive for category Author: Christopher Hart

Sketchits! Faces & Fashion || Christopher Hart

The always entertaining and informative Christopher Hart is back with a simple guide to drawing clothed figures. “More than 7 million books sold”, the cover proclaims and it’s not hard to see why. Christopher manages to simplify everything and to be elementary without talking down to the reader.

“Got Color? Just add lines”, the blurb tells us, adding that it’s “introducing an entirely new approach to drawing”. Well, up to a point, but the idea is ingenious – paint the basic shape, then add facial features, hair, accessories and detail such as folds and shadows. “Jump-start your creativity”.

If you want a simple guide to drawing figures, this would fit the bill nicely. If you don’t, you might find that the absence of complication encourages you to add your own simplification.

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Figure It Out! Drawing Essential Poses || Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart is the absolute master of the simplified guide to figure drawing. In this remarkably comprehensive guide, he takes a number of typical postures and breaks them down into a series of simple shapes that make them both easy to understand and to replicate. Part of the secret of his simplicity is to deal with only one thing at a time. When, for example, figures are clothed, the clothing is simple and little more than a few lines – it doesn’t distract from or complicate the main message and won’t detain you for more than a few seconds. While you’re at it, you might want to notice that folds, creases and hangs can be delineated in just one or two marks, though.

As well as shape and proportion, Christopher hints at perspective, but without going into a great deal of detail – this isn’t a book about perspective. He does, though, look at three-quarter as well as front and back views and explains how to portray depth – his figures are always more than just two-dimensional cut-outs.

If you’re new to figure drawing, or finding yourself bogged down in self-imposed complications, this is a brilliant life-saver.

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Figure Drawing Hints & Tips || Christopher Hart

I’ve long been a fan of Christopher Hart’s simplified approach to demonstrating figure drawing. His way of translating block diagrams into realistic representations is easy to follow and takes much of the mystique out of the process of drawing people.

There is a multitude basic introductions to drawing the human figure, many of them truly excellent and a lot that are elementary enough to deal with the process of getting started. Some also go on to get you onto the road towards a reasonable degree of competency. That, however, can be daunting in itself for the complete novice – even in quite a short book, where you want to be can seem impossibly far away from the jumping-off point.

You won’t have that problem with this book. At a mere 32 pages, there’s no room for expansion and the end never looks more than a comfortable reach. Sure, you’ll need something else when you’ve finished it, but the point is that you will do that, and there are plenty of books to choose from. Everything (amazingly) is here: heads, bodies, hands, structure and perspective, and presented in a non-intimidating way that can’t fail to have you thinking, “yes, I can do that”.

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Monstrously Funny Cartoons || Christopher Hart

OK, let’s be clear. You stand very little risk of needing your sides stitched back together if you venture into the pages of this book, but the title is a pun (you’d guessed, hadn’t you?). Actually, I managed to raise a smile at most of the pages. This is an engaging book that’s full of ideas if you fancy creating a world of amusing monsters.

I like Christopher Hart. He has a way of creating characters in a very few lines and of conveying his working methods succinctly and clearly. The book is full of good ideas and manages that tricky thing of not looking as though it’s been written by someone who’d like to be a cartoonist but isn’t quite good enough. (The best practitioners are too busy at their craft to write books about it). The instruction is fun, straightforward and produces results. Job done, I’d say.

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Figure It Out! Human Proportions || Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart is a master of the simple explanation, with clear diagrams standing in for many paragraphs of exposition.

If you have trouble getting your people to look right and as if they could stand on their own without toppling over or their arms dragging on the ground, this is for you. Not everyone is exactly the same, but some measurements are so standard that they can be quantified, the eyes/nose/mouth being perhaps the best-known.

Christopher deals with all the body parts – as a whole, and separately: head, torso, arms, hands, legs, head and so on. He shows how they appear at rest and in a variety of poses and angles. Clear, annotated diagrams are the key to his exposition. This is a handy reference guide that’s easy to follow and where you can find what you want quickly.

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Modern Cartooning || Christopher Hart

The problem with books on cartooning is that they tend not to be written by people whose work you know and love. The result is that, however good they may be, they don’t produce a recognisable result. The obverse of that, of course, can be a good thing: a cartoonist’s work is highly individual and the last thing you want is not to have a style of your own. At least this way you don’t get sucked in by emulating someone you already admire.

So, here I am sitting on the fence. Can I have my cake and eat it? Is it even wise to try to eat cake while sitting on a wooden divider of territory?

I’m going to leave that one (rather like myself) hanging in the air. I think we’re on safer ground if we start to talk about the techniques of drawing cartoons, of which there’s plenty here. The first thing to say is that this is a book about creating characters, not (I contend) about cartooning itself. A cartoon can be a strip or a single drawing, but the point is that it tells a story and there’s none of that here. All the figures stand entirely alone and it’s up to you to put them together if you want to.

The other issue I have is the strongly 1960’s feel to the style and not, I think, in a retro way. This rather limits the appeal of the book. The other factor is that the characters all look like squared-off Manga figures (coincidentally, I’ve reviewed a Manga series by the same author in this batch). It’s the simplified, graphic bodies and the over-emphasised eyes that do it. Then again, if you want to be able to create cartoon characters with a few simple lines and are prepared (as you should be) to do a lot of adaptation, there’s much to learn and a great deal of sound instruction and advice here.

So, come on, what are you saying, should we buy the book or not? Well, I’m still stuck on this fence, remember and I can’t climb down until someone takes this rather delicious chocolate cake off me. I think this is a book you should look at if you can, and certainly before you buy. If you like it, you’ll thank me for bringing it to your attention and, if not, for giving you the heads-up. Now can I have my cake back please?

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Draw Manga Now! || Christopher Hart

Manga not being totally my thing, I’m going to review the six titles in this series as one.

The thing about Manga drawing is that it’s a style in its own right and it has very specific conventions, one of them being that the figures have a very simple, comic-book structure. This has a lot of advantages for figure drawing, because all the books come with a simplified guide to anatomy which is aimed at both keeping it easy for the artist and also at paring it down for the drawing itself. It also features a lot of action, so you get figures in all kinds of poses and making, or preparing to make, all kinds of moves. Not all of them involve fighting.

So, if you want a very basic guide to get you started in figure drawing, I’ve always maintained that a Manga book is going to be really helpful. Christopher Hart is an established author in the literature of figure drawing and I’d have to say that he makes a pretty good fist of this particular style. There’s a lot of material here, so you’re spoilt for choice, too.

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