Archive for category Subject: Figure

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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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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Amazing Girls || Christopher Hart

Let’s not hang about. This is the estimable Christopher Hart’s guide to Anime female figures. It’s a pretty specialised art form and I don’t think I can suggest that even a conventional artist would gain something, as is sometimes the case with Manga. However, if Anime is your thing, Christopher works his usual magic.

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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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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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The Complete Guide to Anatomy for Artists & Illustrators || Gottfried Bammes

This is the most substantial book I’ve seen on the subject of anatomy. Substantial, however, doesn’t mean incomprehensible and, looking into its pages, it becomes possible to believe the jacket’s claim that the original German edition is “bestselling” – even though I doubt it would have troubled the literary pages of the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Gottfried Bammes does a remarkable job of explaining every aspect of both anatomy and the practice of drawing it in a way that simplifies without reduction to absurdity.

Anatomy, rather like perspective, is complex and comes with the additional hazard that, when writing about art, any author needs to avoid something that looks like a medical textbook. That Gottfried avoids this is, in large part, down to the quality of the drawings he uses to illustrate everything. He has a lightness of touch that, while it might be out of place in a hospital lecture theatre, is more than adequate in a drawing studio. The result is not only manageable, but looks and feels manageable. On top of this, the way the book is structured makes each section a unit in its own right; you can concentrate on the room without feeling weighed down by the rest of the building, large and ornate though it is.

I’d hesitate to recommend this as a primer but, if you’re interested in anatomy for artistic purposes, I doubt you’ll ever find a better, and certainly not a more complete, guide.

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Drawing Statues || Giovanni Civardi

Well, this is nothing if not niche! However, as Giovanni points out in his introduction, drawing statues has been part of art teaching since the sixteenth century. Originally, classical pieces were selected as examples of the highest standard of beauty, style, harmony and composition. On a practical level, they can be more accessible than a life model and have the advantage, as well as being static, of already being an interpretation that provides a clearly delineated form. Structure, anatomy and musculature have already been dealt with and it’s almost like having an outline prepared ready for you. As a first lesson in figure drawing, it’s a hard starting point to beat.

There is more of the worked demonstration here that is usual with Giovanni’s books, and it suits the subject matter well. Most of the statues include are indeed classical, but you’ll also find Degas’ Little Dancer and Rodin’s The Kiss. As ever, Giovanni’s sensitive pencil work is a joy to behold.

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