Archive for category Author: Lucy Swinburne

Drawing Animals | Lucy Swinburne

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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Clothed Figures (Drawing Masterclass) || Lucy Swinburne

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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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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