Archive for category Publisher: Rockport

Portrait Drawing (Pocket Art) || Miss Led (Joanna Henly)

There’s much to like about this fresh, and refreshing, approach to drawing portraits. The author is an illustrator by profession and this shows in the often stylised form of some of her completed works. This doesn’t detract from the nature of the instruction, however and, in fact, adds to the sense of this being something a little (but not too) different.

I will always take issue with small formats in this kind of book. It’s mannered, and you really don’t need to carry a portraiture manual around with you. It’s something you’ll sit down with when you have time. Yes, I suppose you could have a quick go on the train or the bus, but the results in a moving vehicle will never be satisfactory. However, I’m going to give this a pass partly because it’s so good and partly because of the flexible cover that makes it actually possible to see the pages.

The approach is very basic and covers the shape and form of the face as well as individual features such as eyes, noses, skin tones and hair. There are relatively few words and plenty of well-executed examples that show you both what you’re trying to achieve and how to get there.

The whole thing has a clear idea of what it wants to do and fulfils its own brief nicely.

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Figure Drawing || Miss Led (Joanna Henly)

This rather slight volume is actually one of the most useful guides to figure drawing I’ve seen. The style of finished work is relaxed and casual and has a much more up-to-date feel than many other books. The author, whose background as an illustrator can be guessed from the illustrations, brings a freshness to the art that makes for figures that look like real people rather than stiffly posed models.

There is plenty on technique, but this is light on technicality. Capturing body shapes as well as features such as hands, faces and feet seems as straightforward as it’s possible to get it. You’ll also find help with expressions – where the character comes from – and clothes, this latter looking natural without getting into too much detail.

This would make a perfect introduction for the beginner, but also has much to say for the more experienced artist, who should enjoy the spontaneous approach. My only quibble is that the small page size necessitates a rather small font that makes the text a little difficult to read.

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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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