Archive for category Author: Giovanni Civardi

Portraits of Babies & Children || Giovanni Civardi

The sheer variety of this ongoing series is breathtaking, as is the quality that actually seems to improve with time.

Children are difficult subjects, not least because they’re hardly ever still and Giovanni acknowledges this with a short section on the use of photography. As ever, the main part of the book is a series of worked examples that demonstrate techniques with children of all ages – as the title implies.

What is particularly impressive is the depth of character that Giovanni manages to get into his work. Children are very much a work in progress and features, expressions and poses are constantly fluid. Picking the right moment is very much an exercise in observation and Giovanni is also sound on this – it’s getting to know your subject, as you should, but in particular detail.

Although this is not an in-depth study of a what is certainly a complex subject, it is nevertheless an excellent primer that includes much more than its 64 pages implies.

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Drawing Statues || Giovanni Civardi

Well, this is nothing if not niche! However, as Giovanni points out in his introduction, drawing statues has been part of art teaching since the sixteenth century. Originally, classical pieces were selected as examples of the highest standard of beauty, style, harmony and composition. On a practical level, they can be more accessible than a life model and have the advantage, as well as being static, of already being an interpretation that provides a clearly delineated form. Structure, anatomy and musculature have already been dealt with and it’s almost like having an outline prepared ready for you. As a first lesson in figure drawing, it’s a hard starting point to beat.

There is more of the worked demonstration here that is usual with Giovanni’s books, and it suits the subject matter well. Most of the statues include are indeed classical, but you’ll also find Degas’ Little Dancer and Rodin’s The Kiss. As ever, Giovanni’s sensitive pencil work is a joy to behold.

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Figure Drawing – a complete guide || Giovanni Civardi

I’m not normally a fan of reduced-format bind-ups, but this one makes pretty good sense. There are seven books here and, if they were in the original format, the 440 pages would simply be too heavy to handle easily. On top of that, Giovanni’s style is very much illustration-led, so the reduction has less effect that is often the case and there’s little or no sacrifice in usability on that score.

The selection included is well-chosen and kicks off with the excellent Drawing Techniques that was always a useful introduction. Some of the half-tones here are a little dark and it’s where the smaller page size is most felt. Even so, the important things are clear and it’s a good application of techniques to the specific field of figure drawing.

Further sections are: Understanding Human Form & Structure, The Nude, Sketching People, Heads & Faces, Drawing Hands & Feet and Clothing on Figures. It’s worth listing them simply to show how well this lives up to its own billing of being a complete guide.

To buy all these books individually would cost you over £60, so this is a bargain at £12.99. Price isn’t everything, of course, but the quality makes it an absolute steal.

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Figure Drawing – a complete guide || Giovanni Civardi

I’m not normally a fan of smaller-format bind-ups. The original books were the way they were for a reason and smaller pages and thick spines can make for difficult reading. All too often, they look like the sort of bumper value nonsense someone else would buy for you and which just sits on the shelf taking up space.

So, it’s a pleasure to be able to welcome this one. The Giovanni Civardi drawing books are a valuable resource, and there are a lot of them. This compilation includes seven, which would cost you the wrong side of sixty quid to buy individually. £12.99 for a bulk deal is a real bargain, especially as the result is actually usable. I’d like to say that Search Press have taken my previous criticisms of this kind of thing on board, but it’s probably more to do with the happenstance of production. What seems to have happened is that thinner paper and cover card have been used, meaning that the book falls open easily and isn’t too heavy to hold. It’ll even, more or less, lay flat by itself without breaking the spine. The smaller format also adds to the manageability: 440 A4 pages would make for a coffee table book, which this emphatically isn’t.

So, what do you get? Well, not Giovanni’s complete output, for sure. However, the selection is nicely thought-out and makes for a book that lives up to its own billing of being the complete guide. Drawing Techniques is a useful introduction. Being from 2002, some of the repro is showing its age compared to later titles, but not so much that it’s an issue, though the half-tones aren’t as good as they are later. Further chapters are Understanding Human Form & Structure, The Nude, Sketching People, Heads & Faces, Drawing Hands & Feet and Clothing on Figures. It’s worth a complete list to show just how nicely this progresses.

The page-size reduction necessarily reduces the size of the type too, so you may find yourself needing your glasses more that you otherwise would, but this isn’t too much of an issue due to the fact that so much of Giovanni’s instruction is done via the drawings rather than the words. The illustrations themselves are still perfectly adequate.

If you haven’t already got an extensive collection of the separate volumes, and you’re looking for a good primer on figure drawing, buy this. It’s very reasonably priced and so practical as to be ridiculously good value.

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Wild Animals || Giovanni Civardi

There is, it seems, no end to the talents of this popular and capable artist and author. Best known for his books on the human figure, this isn’t his first foray into the animal world, but it continues his tradition of sensitive pencil work combined with simple, concise captions that explain exactly what he’s doing. There really is nothing not to like!

The book covers exactly what you’d expect, as is confirmed by the subtitle “How to draw elephants, tigers, lions and other animals”. Each of these is given its own section and there is also a very handy introduction that explains the basic techniques you’ll need in this particular field. The results are lifelike and characterful and definitely encourage by example.

Compared to Giovanni’s other books, there is perhaps broader coverage, meaning that each section goes into slightly less detail, which in turn means that you, the reader, have to do more of the analysis and deconstruction than is otherwise the case. For this reason, it’s a book perhaps better suited to someone with a little more experience than is usual with this author. It’s a delight and a triumph for all that, though.

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Understanding Human Form & Structure || Giovanni Civardi

Sometimes I wonder how he does it. Not the drawing, I’ve got used to the excellence of that, I mean the way Giovanni manages to come up with new, fresh ideas that aren’t endless re-workings of previous books and also to put an original slant on subjects that are not exactly under-represented in the literature of practical art.

This one, as ever, allows the drawings to speak for themselves and includes a relatively short text that really only introduces the subject and the techniques and points up the things you should be looking at and for.

What makes it different from perhaps a hundred other books on anatomy (for that’s what this is) is the simplicity and the fact that it’s written purely for the artist, who wants to draw the human form and merely needs its underpinnings. If it was about architecture, it would be like stopping at the foundations and relying on other books, of which there are plenty, for the above-ground structure. It’s admirably simple, doesn’t offer the slightest nod to the medical student (other books may not intend to, but they do) and shows you – yes, shows you – how bones articulate and how muscles link them together. There’s no complicated colour coding that other books like to go in for, just sensitive, accurate pencil drawings that you can easily relate to.

The painter George Stubbs studied anatomised horses in order to be able to paint them accurately. You have this book, when is every bit as good as a rather messy hands-on experience. Be thankful, and buy it.

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Clothing on Figures || Giovanni Civardi

I’ve remarked in the past that some of Giovanni Civardi’s illustrations can sometimes be a little heavy and that some of his costumes can be a bit dated. Here, it’s true that there are some historic illustrations as well as some perhaps spurious drapery, but I think we can excuse that. If you want to show folds in cloth, the cloth itself has to have some substance if it’s not going to hang amorphously. On top of that, as you can see from the cover illustrations, there’s plenty of natural, modern clothing here too.

There’s plenty of good stuff here and Giovanni begins by demonstrating the way clothes look when they’re allowed to crumple. Folds are not sharp and shadows play an important part – there are some neat diagrams that get to grips with this in a single page.

As ever, most of the instruction is done by example, with the text being confined to captions that confirm what it is the illustrations are telling you, which is always the easiest approach to follow. As the book progresses, you’ll see clothing on figures in natural and believable poses – doing the things that people do, basically.

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