Archive for category Subject: People

Sketching People – faces & figures || Giovanni Civardi

Giovanni Civardi has been something of a fixture in the field of drawing people for some time and his books offer excellent instruction and a wealth of illustration. However, I’ve always felt that there was a certain heaviness to them and that they looked maybe a little dated. And now, suddenly, he seems to have developed a quite delightful lightness of touch and slight loosening that gives his figures life and movement. It’s really quite something of a revelation.

The main body of this relatively short book is taken up with pages of a wide variety of figures: young and old, static and moving, in a variety of costumes and poses. The instruction (though, in truth there are relatively few words) is confined to the introductory sections where Giovanni deals with a few basic drawing principles.

This is a book that’s probably best approached with at least a moderate ability to draw and the ability to interpret without being told what you’re looking at. As long as you have that, there’s a wealth of ideas here and you’ll find that the method of teaching by example works remarkably well.

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Renoir (Ready to Paint) || Noel Gregory

The Ready to Paint the Masters series has so far left me cold, but I can see a definite merit in this one as Noel Gregory has chosen to interpret the originals rather than copy them slavishly. In the process, he manages to tell you much more about the way Renoir worked and it’s an exercise worth following as the Impressionists laid the foundation for so much of the modern approach to painting. It’s to them that we owe looseness and interpretation and the abandonment of the studied formality that had built up prior to their arrival.

For this book, Noel uses acrylics rather than oils, but in impasto, so the net effect is similar and this is not an exercise in working in another medium, but simply the convenience of what’s available now. The interpretation comes rather from allowing for all the history that has come between then and now, and not trying to paint like an Old Master. If it was a radio, it would have a retro case and modern DAB innards; a bit of a mule, but none the worse for that.

As I sometimes do, I’m going to sit on the fence on this one. I’m not going to tell you to rush out and buy it, but I do think it’s worth a look as you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Super-Cute Chibis to draw & paint || Joanna Zhou

Personally, I can’t stand this book. I don’t like the style and I can’t help feeling there’s something just slightly wrong about the whole thing.

However, it’s a well-established form and it’s very popular so, is this book any good and will it help the budding practitioner of the style? Well, yes and yes. Joanna gives you forty different demonstrations of both children and animals. Each is presented in a double-page spread with the outline shapes and a series of development drawings that show you the build-up as well as a variety of poses and facial expressions. It’s neatly done without over-complication and, if this is what you aspire to draw, there’s no doubt this forms an excellent primer.

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Draw Shojo Girls and Bishie Boys || Inga Semisow

OK, this is definitely one for the Manga specialists, but it’s worth observing that it’s as well done as these books so often tend to be and contains much that anyone wanting to draw the clothed figure might benefit from. I can’t tell you what you might get from it because this is not my area of expertise, but do give it a look.

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30 Minute People in Watercolour || Trevor Waugh

In the way that Trevor Waugh’s other book in this series deals more with flowers in the landscape than as subjects in themselves, so this is much more about populating a painting than it is about portraiture. It’s not possible, of course, to do a detailed portrait in the timescale set by the title and Trevor doesn’t attempt to, rather concentrating on people as a series of shapes and colours that bring life to a landscape or townscape. He’s got some good tips on both posture and movement and, although it’s simply written this is really much more than a basic introduction to figure drawing.

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Mega Manga || Keith Sparrow

Once again, Search Press have managed to come up with a book that’s a great deal more than it first appears. This may or may not be any good as a guide to drawing Manga; I can’t tell you because I’m just not qualified but, on the basis of its layout and presentation, I’d be prepared to guess that it is.

However, almost accidentally, what you also get is a near perfect primer in drawing people. Leave aside the stylised hair and big eyes that are (this much I do know) characteristic of Manga and what you have is very easy to follow and laid out to show you how figures are built up from a starting point of basic shapes. All the different parts of the body are covered and you get figures that are both static and in motion, as well as wearing a variety of clothes (including the inevitable martial arts but, hey, you never know…). The additional sections on vehicles and weapons are going to be superfluous for the general reader, but some of the animal drawings can be easily adapted to more domestic creatures.

I think the reason this works so well in the way that it does is because it’s not trying. Its prime aim is to introduce the more general reader to Manga drawing and it therefore operates for the most part on a basic level. By doing this, it becomes an absolutely invaluable primer for anyone looking for a basic guide to figure drawing and is a lot easier to follow than many more specialised guides. You just have to be able to see past the big-eyed kids.

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