Archive for category Medium: Drawing

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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Foundations of Drawing || Al Gury

This thorough and substantial guide to drawing is based on historical principles and uses examples from old and more recent masters as well as contemporary workers, including the author himself.

It is, as is common with Watson Guptill, not a simple how-to manual, but rather a discussion of the methods, techniques and creative uses of its subject that immerses the reader in a seminar rather than a class. Al has some thirty years’ experience of teaching and he puts this to good use, with clear explanations and a text that will keep the reader absorbed at all times.

Despite the approach, this is not a dry manual on what has passed, but includes plenty of practical work that examines topics from shading to perspective, Realism to Expressionism and a comprehensive range of subjects. The overall intention is to help you to develop your own portfolio and ways of working.

If you simply want to learn the mechanics of drawing, this will probably overwhelm you. However, if you’re interested in the whole creative process, it should amply satisfy.

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Drawing The Male Nude/Drawing The Female Nude || Giovanni Civardi

These two, which are totally complementary, very nearly caught me out. I was initially surprised that Giovanni had come to them so late in the canon, but was impressed by the freshness and simplicity of the style, which is totally different to some of his early works, some of which have an almost antique quality to them.

They are, in fact, among his earliest productions and were originally published, possibly in a different format, in 1995. There is no clue to this in either the printing history or the advance material. This isn’t Search Press’s fault – when I asked, they had to go back to the Italian publisher to find out.

So, let’s look at what we have. The first thing to say is that this printing is a complete re-working, with a new design and layout. They look exactly like all the rest of Giovanni’s books that Search Press have been publishing in English for some years. And, as I hinted at the beginning, they’re very, very good. The economy of line, attention to detail and variety of poses are second to none and it’s easy to see how I was fooled (I only found out by accident when I was checking ISBNs).

So, on that basis, if you want just about the best primers on figure drawing around, buy these. In fact, you might even want to if you have the originals. – I suspect the format may be larger and the reproduction probably better too.

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Draw – a graphic guide to life drawing || David Hedderman

I’m finding this more than a little confusing. The subtitle makes it sound interesting, but, drawing being graphic anyway, I was expecting something innovative – or at least different in a positive way.

The difficulties start out with the, to me, unnecessarily small format. Small is never good in art books because it immediately limits the size of the illustrations and some (too many) of these are so small as to be hard to interpret. The author’s style and the production don’t help either. Shades of black are never easy to see, and even less so when they’re against a dark background – often olive green – that seems to have been added by the designer rather than simply being the paper the image was drawn on.

It’s all the more of a shame because, when you do get to something that’s easily visible, it’s clear that David is actually very good and has some useful ideas. This is not a structured course, but rather something to dip into on a section-by-section basis, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even at the relatively low price, though, I’m not sure there’s enough of that to make it worthwhile. It just seems mannered for the sake of being mannered.

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Colored Pencil Painting Portraits || Alyona Nickelsen

Thorough and comprehensive, this is more than just a practical guide. Aloyna includes historical examples that set modern approaches in context and show how portrait painting has developed over the centuries. As well as exercises and demonstrations, there are example poses, explanations of skin tones, facial features and structure, and extended consideration of the medium itself.

The subtitle refers to “a revolutionary method for rendering depth and imitating life”, which is a harmless enough strapline to aid sales. The blurb glosses this as “new layering tools and techniques”, although I do seem to have heard similar claims elsewhere. I’m not debunking the claim or the superb quality of the book, but I suspect that the author hasn’t in fact discovered something completely new, but rather adapted the glazing-like approach that coloured pencil artists have been using for some time. For all that, the results are impressive and the explanation of how to achieve them well executed, so you’d have nothing to complain about.

Watson Guptill books are characterised by their assiduous approach and detailed explanations and this is no exception. It’s one to read as well as work along with and an excellent masterclass in its subject.

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Botanicals – secrets of observational drawing || Valerie Baines

This is not so much a how-to-do-it book as a how-it-was-done.

Valerie begins by describing the atelier method, where students learn by watching a master at work, gradually progressing towards their own origination and, perhaps, repeating the process. The illustrations here are classic pieces – the recurrent signature of P J Redouté gives you the idea – which Valerie breaks down into its components.

Each subject begins with an example painting, which gets a whole page to itself, and is followed by a breakdown of the outline and the colours and a description of the palette. The text is short and you’ll have to do most of the analysis yourself, which may be your preferred method of working. Such an approach is not for the beginner, but should appeal to the more experience artist who wants to do their own thinking without being led by the hand at every stage.

It’s an interesting approach that Valerie has handled with some aplomb, although it would not be unfair to say that it won’t suit everyone.

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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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