Archive for category Medium: Drawing

Drawing Human Anatomy || Giovanni Civardi

I always have to check the copyright dates very carefully with Giovanni’s books, as new editions are starting to come out. This one goes back to 1990, but the pages have a fresh feel to them that makes me pretty sure it’s a complete re-working. The older books were often of a smaller format as well so, all things being equal, I’m going to treat this as new. Even if you have a well-thumbed 28 year old copy, you might still want to have a look at this.

Giovanni deals with skeletal and muscular structures and looks at various components – heads, hands, arms, feet – in detail. He also shows how the body performs at rest, in action and under stress. It’s probably worth noting that most of the gendered figures are male and I’d say that the muscle illustrations probably are as well.

A lot of books on anatomy are either aimed at, or are at least suitable for, the medical student. This is aimed firmly at the artist and is all the better for that.

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Drawing for the Absolute Beginner || Carole Massey

This is quite the best introduction to drawing I’ve seen. Carole has a simple, unfussy style and she’s also very good at simplification – reducing subjects to their essence, avoiding unnecessary detail, working loosely and explaining simple shapes and their relationships.

Although it has the same series title as its watercolour and acrylics cousins, it isn’t associated with the SAA. Although the cover doesn’t mention tracings, they are there and are helpful when laying out some of the more complex subjects.

There’s plenty to get your teeth into, from basic techniques to outlines, hatching, shading and the use of colour. Subjects range from landscapes, trees and water to figures and animals (both static and moving) and buildings.

Like the rest of the series, this is well thought-through and will take you from first steps and on to some really quite advanced work.

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Drawing Birds || Andrew Forkner

Where Andrew’s previous book dealt with acrylics and included colour, this concentrates on drawing and monochrome.

Birds are never an easy subject and simply observing them can be a challenge. Although Andrew does not cover the use of photographs in detail, he does hint at their possibilities and also has some useful notes on sketching in the field. The assumption is, I think, that you’ll find your own reference material, of which there is plenty available.

The book begins with some handy notes on structure and plumage along with features such as eyes, beaks and bills. This section is worthy of considerable attention as it introduces basic techniques and helps you work towards the complete studies that come later.

These demonstrations cover a good variety of species from garden birds to waterfowl, birds of prey and game birds. Andrew shows you how to map out the outline and structure and then fill in the shading so that your finished result has both shape and solidity.

Although birds are not a subject for the complete beginner, neither is this a masterclass that need deter those who are new to the subject and it should satisfy them as well as those who want to take the art considerably further.

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Drawing – techniques and tutorials for the complete beginner || Christine Allison

This is the sort of book that GMC manages really rather well. General introductions are prone to two main traps: being too specific so that the beginner is shoehorned into the author’s personal obsession or so general that the instruction whizzes by faster than you can focus on it. Those latter are the books I often remark seem to be aimed at the non-artist who is buying for a friend.

This is certainly general, both in terms of subject and style as well as mediums, which range from charcoal to ink blocks. At 96 pages, there’s no great detail, but that’s good, because it encourages those new to art to dip a toe in a variety of waters. The introduction to materials and techniques is undaunting and makes you want to get started rather than feel you’ll never get to grips with the complexity. The nine demonstrations are quite short, but contain plenty of information and manage to cover most of what you’ll need to know, including colour, tone and even positive and negative shapes. Subjects include still lifes, portraits and landscapes and Christine deals with both monochrome and colour work. There’s even a nicely thought-out chapter at the end on where to go next.

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Dare to Sketch || Felix Scheinberger

Felix Scheinberger has appeared here before, talking about urban sketching. This book, to be honest, is little different. The title suggests a wider view, but the previous book covered the inhabitants as well as the city and the catch-all concept is broadly similar here.

The drawing style is quick, rough and cartoon-like. The people are caricatures rather than likenesses, although they also stand for types that can be seen on every street. This is not, it should be said, a record, but rather an impression – perhaps a soundscape – of the rush, bustle and noise of city life. Felix does not stray far from the centre and there are no landscapes here. Yes, there are animals, but they’re mostly street-dwellers too.

The title and subtitle (a guide to drawing on the go) tell you the philosophy behind the book – use your sketchbook as a kind of life-log (remember them?) and draw everything you see. Don’t make a record, put down how it felt to you. This is a valid approach and encourages observation and fast working. How you use it beyond that, though, is very much up to you; for Felix it seems to be more or less an end in itself.

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Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life || George Bridgman

This is every bit as comprehensive as its title suggests. The fact that it’s the fifth edition suggests longevity and the preface reveals that it was first published in 1952. This does help to explain the rather odd hatching that appears in the half-tones, and which makes them look rather faint. Don’t let this put you off, though, as the publisher does seem to have been aware of this and all the necessary detail is there; this edition is fully re-originated, albeit, I think, from earlier versions rather than the original drawings.

What you get is drawings of every aspect of the human form: whole body, heads, legs, arms, expressions, poses – the whole caboodle. There are detail pull-outs, block diagrams, varied viewpoints and stressed as well as relaxed poses. Muscle and skeletal structure is covered as well. If you want an example guide to human anatomy, you’ll have to go a long way to find anything as comprehensive as this, and I doubt there’s anything to match it on price.

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Botanical Drawing || Penny Brown

This is a comprehensive guide that will take you through all the stages of drawing flowers, fruit and vegetables. Penny’s medium is pencil and the concise technical notes she opens with are in context to the point. It’s always a good sign when an author excludes anything that isn’t relevant at this point as it invariably means you aren’t going to get bogged down in excessive detail later.

The book progresses by way of a series of demonstrations that are also studies of the subject in question, with field notes, detail sketches and lessons on what to look for and how to observe. As is common with natural subjects, similarities and a wealth of detail can be confusing and it’s as essential to know what to discard as what’s important. Alongside these exercises, you’ll find information about composition, perspective and the use of photographs.

This is a gentle and nicely progressive guide that, while it requires a reasonable level of skill in drawing, doesn’t assume too much previous knowledge of botany and will take you from first steps to competent work with more complex subjects by an entirely practical route.

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