Archive for category Author: Lucy Swinburne
This stunning guide to wildlife drawing manages to be both a thoroughly serious study and completely accessible at the same time. Only someone who is fully confident and at home with their subject matter and working methods can achieve that.
The choice of pastel pencils is an interesting one. The use of pencil allows for both fine detail and a degree of blending, but Lucy is silent on why pastels specifically, which is perhaps a shame. This is a very minor niggle, given the quality of the work, content and reproduction here, but still one where perhaps a couple of sentences would have helped. Gosh, I’m hard to please.
After a general introduction to materials and reference sources (Lucy uses photographs here), you move into a series of exercises and demonstrations that usefully deal with both details such as ears, noses and paws and larger demonstrations that deal with the whole animal. These include a wolf, a chimpanzee, a panda and a prowling jaguar. The culmination is a black leopard, where Lucy shows you how to get an almost unbelievable amount of detail into an apparently monochrome subject. While there is menace in the jaguar, here the creature is at rest and has an almost soulful expression – there’s a lot more to Lucy’s work and this book than just technical wizardry.
The demonstrations are thoughtfully presented, with the sections you’re not working on greyed (or rather, blued) out. I haven’t seen this done before, but it very effectively allows you to keep the background in mind without it distracting from the details you’re currently working on. Lucy also manages to achieve a near-perfect balance between saying enough in the explanation and saying too much. This is a book which assumes a certain level of ability – let’s be honest – but not that you also know everything it’s trying to teach you. Once again, this requires a degree of confidence.
It’s also worth saying a word about the production. Self-published books often suffer from, as well as a lack of an editor, a tendency to skimp on the quality of reproduction for fear of driving up costs. This is a mistake Lucy does not make. Work with this level of detail requires the reader to be able to see every mark, and you can. The generous page size also helps. Yes, it comes at a cost (commercially produced, this would probably be ten pounds or so cheaper), but it’s not an expense you should quail at – you absolutely get what you pay for.
There are also accompanying videos on Lucy’s website, which just adds to the depth of instruction available.
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Also available from http://www.tamingwildflife.com
This is an enlarged edition of a book that first appeared in the Masterclass series in 2013. Sensibly, this time, the publisher has resisted the temptation to re-brand it as being for the beginner.
The Masterclass series was a good idea intended to appeal to more advanced artists who perhaps didn’t feel the need for instruction in basic techniques or a breakdown of the materials they’d need. However, it’s a risky approach as the non-specialist can easily feel excluded and that the whole thing is maybe too difficult.
Although there is plenty of advanced work here, this is nevertheless a thoroughly approachable book and should certainly appeal to anyone with reasonable drawing skills who is wanting to turn their attention to the animal world. Domestic, wild and zoo animals are included and there’s plenty of information on structural features such as eyes, ears and noses as well as complete projects that put the techniques you’ve developed into practice. There’s also a handy section on working from photographs and transferring that image to paper using a grid to get the proportions right.
I liked the original and, although I’m unable to compare the two editions, this has the feel of a complete guide.
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This series has gone a bit quiet lately, which is no bad thing. I don’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, just that it’s something that should only be added to when the right subject and author come along. And this new volume ticks all the boxes.
Lucy Swinburne’s sensitive pencil drawings capture personality perfectly and her modelling is also right up to standard. Perspective, especially in complex poses, is very easy to get wrong, but Lucy never misses a beat on this one. She’s also excellent on form, expression, character and the difficult subject of suggesting movement in what will always be a still-frame drawing.
The book is nicely progressive and features a good variety of subjects from young to old, male and female and different ethnicities. The instructional approach is to explain what you’re looking for under a particular heading and then to give examples with deconstructed captions that explain what was done. Demonstrations are not completely absent, but neither do they dominate in a book that’s aimed at the more experienced practitioner. This is important as both the subject and the readers are taken seriously – if you’re looking for an introduction to figure drawing, you shouldn’t be surprised to find that this isn’t it. Neither, though, is it so rarefied that it becomes inaccessible to anyone except those who don’t need it.
This is an excellent series whose standard has been kept up by judicious additions and this one enhances it considerably.
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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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