Archive for category Author: Mark Crilley

The Two-Pencil Method || Mark Crilley

The title tells you what this book is likely to be about, and the subtitle confirms the bold claim: “the revolutionary approach to drawing it all”. No holding back, then.

The claim should be easy to verify – open the book at any point and … are the results any good? A bit more flicking through confirms that, oh my goodness, they are. Not only can Mark draw, but confining himself to one graphite and one black coloured pencil isn’t going to hold him back. A short discussion of materials leads on to basic mark-making and you’ll want to read this because this level of simplicity absolutely depends on getting the foundations right.

From here, there’s a look at working with simple objects and different types of subject, handily introducing things such as hard and soft edges, shapes, tones and textures. As well as being a revolutionary approach, it also turns out that this is a very nicely graduated course in basic drawing. You like it even more, don’t you?

The final section (roughly half the book) is a series of short demonstrations that are really more like tutorials. These cover just about every subject you’re likely to encounter, by way of landscapes to portraits via animals, water and still lifes.

If you like drawing, this is a stonkingly good survey of working methods tucked inside the aforesaid “revolutionary approach” (that’s really just an excuse for simplifying and clearing out a few cobwebs).

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The Drawing Lesson || Mark Crilley

“A graphic novel that teaches you how to draw”. That got your attention, didn’t it? Well, it got mine, which is why you’re reading this review.

I’m not going to tell you the plot … oh heck, yes I am. Spoiler alert: he gets quite good at it by the end. Disheartened by an encounter with an unsympathetic bookseller in a park – well, if I only had a bench-full of books to sell, I’d be hard-nosed too – The Boy, as we’ll call him, meets A Girl. This being fantasy-land, she doesn’t tell him not to stare at her, call the cops or cover up the drawing she’s doing. Well, of course she’s drawing, that’s the point. No, she’s sympathetic and, having assured him she’s not a teacher, proceeds to help The Boy to draw. In fact, they have a load of adventures together because, hey, that’s what people do in books.

Right, I’ve had a lot of fun with this because, you know what, it is a lot of fun. The narrative is pretty straightforward; there are no unexpected plot twists. The drawing is simple, too, which keeps the message easy to follow. This isn’t a graphic novel in the sense of one that rewards detailed study, though Gene Ha, who’s worked with Alan Moore, seems to like it. He says “I can’t wait to get this for every kid on my gift buying list”, and also “Whatever your age [it’s] an essential primer on how to draw what you see”. That’s a slightly mixed message, but he’s right. I can’t decide what age group it’s intended for either. I’m going to say it’s aimed at people who like it, and I don’t think that’s age-dependent.

This sets out to be different and it succeeds. Most importantly, it doesn’t just succeed in being different.

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The Realism Challenge || Mark Crilley

There was a time, when the world was young, and before the dawn of the internet, when you couldn’t move for books on magic realism. It was a mainly American thing and I always had the feeling it was primarily about being clever for the sake of being clever, but it was certainly eye-catching.

I therefore had an enormous sense of dejà vu when this flopped onto the mat and looked forward to reliving the days of my youth. I know, wild dissolution or what?

Anyway, it’s not magic realism anymore – do keep up – it’s hyperrealism and Mark Crilley is a master of it, it says here. His work is pretty amazing and, if you miss the intermediate stages, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a book of photographs. Whether that’s what you want is up to you but, if your aim is to paint a spanner a mechanic might try to pick up, this is the book that’ll tell you how to do it. Mark is sound on the handling of minute detail and, particularly, of dealing with reflections. To be fair, as well as said spanner, there are also flowers, fruit and seashells, as well as a lot more things that have the kind of texture that lends itself to detailed reproduction. Cardboard, anyone?

If you detect a note of unconviction, you’re right. I’m not sure how many people will want this. However, if you do, I think you’ll find everything you want here. I’m just a little bothered by the reproduction, though, which seems a trifle coarse, spoiling the effect.

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