Archive for category Medium: Drawing

How to Draw Dogs & Cats from Simple Templates || Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart is always good value and his many figure drawing books have proved deservedly popular. Turning his attention to the animal world, his straightforward approach will get you quickly on the road to success with what can be a tricky subject.

The book does what it says on the tin. The simple shapes really are simple, being mainly circles and ovals with variations on that theme. Put a few of those together and, before you know where you are, you have a recognisable outline. A little detail, some manipulation and a modicum of shading later, and there’s an entirely realistic dog or cat. You can accommodate smooth or rough fur, long or short ears and even a wide variety of facial expressions.

Whether you’re just starting out or part of the way along and starting to feel lost, this is a simple guide that will give you confidence from page one.

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Drawing Hands & Feet || Eddie Armer

There’s more, of course, to figure drawing than just the extremities, but hands and feet are notoriously difficult to get right and errors here can mar an otherwise successful piece of work.

Eddie’s method is to proceed by way of examples and exercises, with plenty of diagrams and blocking outlines along the way. Instead of contemplating what appears to be a mountain – the sheer complexity of digitation, for instance – you start with simple shapes and work from there. Breaking the problem down to a series of what become much simpler stages suddenly makes it manageable and the possibility of understanding it more reasonable.

A lot of books on figure drawing include what amounts to a basic anatomy course. While this is undoubtedly useful, it can be daunting and, if this is something you feel you don’t need, the lack of it here should give your heart an immediate lift. This is art, not physiology. There’s plenty of guidance on perspective, which is most definitely something you need to get to grips with, as well as hands and feet from different angles and in different poses.

At 96 pages, this is a concise guide, but there’s no sense of anything lacking or of corners being cut and it should provide all the information you need.

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Drawing: a complete guide || Stephen C P Gardner

This very thorough book really does live up to its title. The range of styles and subjects covered and the progression of the chapters provides a complete course. As a professor and administrator, Stephen Gardner has not only personal teaching experience, but also the opportunity to watch others at work and learn from their methods and (perhaps) mis-steps. It’s also worth saying that the very soft binding means that the book (it’s a substantial paperback) falls open easily and doesn’t have to be manhandled if you have both hands occupied trying to follow the exercises. Small things like that can make a big difference and, if that much thought has gone into the detail, the substance is likely to be good as well.

This isn’t, as you may have gathered, a book to dip into, try a few things and then zone out. The organisation, which is clear and structured, does mean that you can concentrate on one topic – mark-making, line, form, values, shape etc – at a time, but do expect a chapter to occupy most of a day, or maybe even a week, allowing for practice, studio exercises and a bit of revision.

Substantial in every way, this is essential reading for anyone who’s serious about drawing.

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Draw People Every Day || Kagan McLeod

The subtitle, short lessons in portrait and figure drawing using ink and color, sums this up perfectly. Whether it appeals to you will depend on whether you like the author’s loose, yet rather blocky style. Even if it’s not entirely for you, there’s no denying the sheer variety of types, shapes, poses and situations illustrated.

As the subtitle hints, this isn’t so much a book to read or work through as one to dip into for ideas and inspiration. Maybe you’ll want a reference for a seated figure, or to practise dynamic movement or the fall of clothing. If it’s hair you’re getting stuck on, you’ll like long, short, straight or curled here. There’s plenty of advice, too, on composition and mark-making and this is a very comprehensive guide that’s fun and really rather refreshing.

The author’s style isn’t, as it happens, particularly to my taste, but I still like the book a lot.

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Beginner’s Guide to Life Drawing || Eddie Armer

This began life in the Masterclass series in 2013. The title page says “this edition published 2019”, which implies that there might have been some re-working of the original material, but I am unable to verify this possibility. It is certainly passing strange that a book originally intended for the more advanced worker can reappear as one for the beginner and I’m not sure that any amount of editing could effect that much of a change.

You can read the original review here.

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Urban Sketching Step by Step || Klaus Meier-Pauken

I can’t help thinking that the popularity of urban sketching is going to wane at some point. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it – far from it – but simply that, having been extensively served with books covering every imaginable aspect (and some which, frankly, stretch the point), the world is eventually going to move on.

Many books on the topic mimic their subject by being busy, brash and complex. A vibrant city will be cacophonous and confusing. Capturing that requires a special way of working that uses quickly-drawn lines and bright colours. Results are impressionistic and suggest movement and crowds, even in what at least purport to be quiet corners. It can be quite an assault on the senses and many authors feel the need to reflect that.

So, what have we here? Well, a rather different take on the subject. Klaus, whose Quick & Lively Urban Sketching appeared a few years ago, has pared the instruction down. The format here is larger than is usual in this field and there’s more white space on the pages, which are generally less frenetic. The pace is much less “do this and this and this and this” and more a series of conventional exercises and short demonstrations that work at a slower pace and allow you to catch your breath. The subtitle is “Techniques for creating quick and lively urban scenes” and that word ‘techniques’ is important. Yes, the quick and lively – the soul of urban sketching – is here, but this is about how you do it and is something to practise with before you venture out into the field, sketchbook on your knee and pencil poised.

No one seems to have thought to do this before and it could breathe new life into the topic.

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The Graphic Novelist’s Guide to Drawing Perspective || Dan Cooney

I was particularly keen to have a look at this, as coming at perspective from a different – and specific – angle could well provide new insights for the general artist.

Perspective in graphic art is often enhanced as figures leap or reach out of the frame, but it also requires realistic, accurate and proportional backgrounds for them to work within and against. There is considerable potential there for landscapes and figure work.

The first thing that strikes you on a quick flick-through is the amount of workspace. This is a book where you practise on the page, so working in pencil would be a good idea. Most of the grids are squared-up, but some come with vanishing points helpfully hard-coded into the guidelines and this is certainly going to make things easier.

The book is certainly thorough and varied, but I’d recommend starting from the beginning and working through it. Opening it at random, or even trying to find a particular topic, can be confusing as diagrams, practice pages and grid lines seem to come at you from all angles. Rather like trying to untangle a ball of string, it helps to find a free end and work from there.

Will it appeal to the general painter? Does it make their life any simpler? To be honest, I’m not sure. Graphic art tends towards the technical and this does too – at times, it feels more like technical drawing – and this might be a bar to clarity for many. However, if you’re struggling with perspective and haven’t found another book that really explains it to you, at least have a look at this. It’s nothing but thorough and may be the breakthrough you’re looking for.

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