Archive for category Publisher: Impact Books

Dragonworld || Pamela Wissman & Sarah Laichas

Subtitled: 120 dragons with advice and inspiration and 49 international artists.

OK, regular readers will know by now what I think of fantasy art. That said, I absolutely love this book. Leaving aside the obvious question a non-specialist reader would have – who knew there were 49 dragon artists in the world? – it’s a homage to something a lot of people take very seriously and it’s beautifully produced. Even I can see the point, not least because of the amount of good humour there is. As well as big fierce Germanic dragons, Chinese dragons, manga dragons, there are some that are just downright cute and there’s a wonderful cartoon from Ursula Vernon that I want on my wall.

I can’t tell you about the quality of the art, though it looks pretty good to me, but I can say that this is about the most comprehensive book you’re likely to find on what (surely?) has to be a specialised subject and that the production won’t let you down.

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The Explorer’s Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures || Emily Fiegenschuh

Even if you don’t want to paint dragons, chimeras or a marsh nymph, the clear instructions and block diagrams here actually give rather a good grounding in animal drawing. You need to ignore or adapt the odd tail and maybe tone down some of the fins, but there’s no doubting that this is well done and achieves what it sets out to do.

Actually, a lot of fantasy and manga guides seem to be well-produced and I wonder whether it has something to do with the fact that their artists have to think more about their subjects. Interesting. General authors should take note.

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The Magic of Drawing || Cliff Wright

This is a rare treat, because it’s not often you get a book on drawing by someone who is themselves a successful published illustrator.

Cliff Wright’s biggest claim to fame is a couple of Harry Potter covers (and you can bet the competition for those is pretty stiff), but he has also written some delightful children’s books himself such as Bear and Kite and The Star That Fell that are characterised by beautiful and sensitive watercolours that stop well short of being cutesy.

What this almost modest-looking paperback offers is a positive masterclass in drawing animals, people and natural history subjects, albeit slightly dressed-up as fantasy art. Cliff conveys more in a few words and drawings than many books don’t even manage in a whole chapter and this is a thoroughly practical guide as well as an absolute eye-opener to the many possibilities available to you. There’s also a good degree of humour – I just love the drawing of a Hippogriff wrapped in a blanket against the snow – and the spread where a self portrait turns into a horse eating a cake (yes, really) is in fact a masterpiece of character development and the use of line.

If you’re an aspiring illustrator, this has to be compulsory reading, but there’s so much more to it as well. It’ll show you how to develop characters, how to draw with absolute economy and how to work from life to art.

David & Charles

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