Tags: drawing books

drawing

drawing references linkspam

This probably is already obvious to anyone not me, but: I was browsing the internet archive for books, and found that they archived some vintage mail order catalogs, which have lots of pictures and illustrations and thus are great for easy to find period references for anything from clothes to carriages, farm equipment and kitchen stuff. Not to mention that it is just kind of cool to look at mail order catalogs from 1900, 1907 or 1920. I had no idea that you could find old catalogs online, but there's all kinds of interesting scanned things with pictures available there, like I found some sort of British government guideline for protective clothing worn by female factory workers in 1917, with photos of what they were wearing.

I also found old course books on fashion drawing and costume design, which look kind of helpful for clueless and fashion-challenged people like me to figure out how clothing more complicated than t-shirts actually fits together, because when I look at pictures of older clothes I often can't figure out the pieces, and old photographs aren't the clearest either. I mean, even drawing contemporary clothing is hard.

I also found this old book on pen drawing with lots of examples for different crosshatching and other b/w inking techniques for illustrations, which I have only skimmed so far, but it looks interesting.
talent/enthusiasm

drawing book rec

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed Drawing and Painting Fantasy Beasts by Kevin Walker from my library (or rather the German edition of this), and I found it quite useful and interesting overall. Basically it's just a bunch fantasy creatures drawn as examples, but each creature comes with about four pages of step by step process description of the techniques used, and the different sketches and stages that went into the final work.

Initially I got it because I had never painted with acrylics, but generally found hobby painting books about acrylics my library had rather useless and boring. I mean, it's not that painting with some new medium was like repairing a motorcycle or any of the other things for which you really need either direct instruction or a book rather than just muddling along, and there's only so much variation to the theme of "you put color pigment on a surface" anyway, but this book has a neat introduction section that just lists different techniques with a little picture of how it looks, which makes it easier to try things than unguided trial and error and I'm lazy like that. Also I wanted to do dragons anyway, and this has examples of fantasy art done with acrylic paint (other techniques too) with step-by-step pictures, so that seemed like a good match.

The first part of the introduction is just the usual list of drawing and painting materials, and rather pointless. Frankly I wonder why nearly every such book feels the need to recap materials in a generic manner at the start. I mean, if you pick up a specialized drawing book you are most likely aware that there's a difference between watercolors, gouache, acrylics and oil paint, and that pastel chalk is different from oil pastels and so on. It's not that I haven't picked up some useful general info from skimming these chapters, because every now and then one will mention something I hadn't know of before, but overall I find them superfluous. Still, the list introducing the materials used is only four pages in this book, so it doesn't dwell, and then the introduction gets more specific with the neatly ordered examples of actually using the materials.

The main part is sections with fantasy beasts sorted by regions in which they supposedly live, and realized in a variety of techniques, both traditional and digital, though most involve acrylics or acrylics mixed with other media. I suspect that if you are already really experienced this book won't tell you much new, but since I've only started using acrylic paint it was useful to have illustrated examples like this for achieving different effects and textures, and getting ideas on what to do, though I have only tried a couple so far.

I've scanned a couple of pages to give you an idea of the way the process descriptions and illustrations look like, though obviously if you don't speak German the text of these scans that explain what was done in each step won't do much for you.
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spork

more a book impression than a review...

So I got The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards out of the library, because of my vague intention to draw more this year, and look for exercise ideas. Well, actually I got the German translation which doesn't have anything about brain sides in the title (and I wouldn't have borrowed it if it had, frankly).

Anyway, my overall impression can be summed up as: "Wow, that's a lot of pseudo-scientific 'wawawa wawa' (you know, like the adults go in the Peanuts?) for a couple of simple drawing exercises." Seriously, I skipped most of the endless and idiotic "brain modes" talk (or whatever it's called in the original) about supposedly "tricking" your brain into something to browse for the actual drawing stuff, and it still grated on me.

Some of the exercises sounded okay for drawing practice, but you could have probably cut about 200 pages of mumbo-jumbo from the total 300 pages without loosing any significant drawing content.
comics

Scott McCloud's latest meta comic...

I liked Scott McCloud's Making Comics a lot better than the previous Reinventing Comics. I didn't find it as cool as I did Understanding Comics way back in the mid-90s, though that's probably also because I hadn't read a lot of other comic meta yet, and also the format was really unusual then.

Anyway, I didn't learn anything really great or new about comics, but I did have several of those moments were you find yourself nodding along, and things become a bit clearer while you read something laid out in a certain way. While I don't quite agree with him completely on a number of points, I mostly liked his practical illustrations of certain techniques. Overall he's more of a manga fan than I am, and sees manga influence in Western comics differently, not just the adoption of a really manga-like style, but how for example he credits a number of general narrative techniques (e.g. slow and wordless scene setting by showing details of the surroundings in close-up in favor of an establishing shot) and their proliferation in comics mainly to manga popularity even when the comics in question aren't much like manga in the end, whereas I'm pretty sure I've read a bunch of comics whose artists weren't influenced by Japanese stuff, but for example by movies, and in the end used similar kinds of panel transitions, if not in exactly the same style.

I mean, obviously it's hard to tell where exactly influences are coming from unless you know through artists interviews or whatever, and I don't doubt that manga influences are present in some comics that don't look like manga, but seriously, if you imitate a camera and start in a closeup, roam silently over your location before zooming out you may end up with establishing sequences like that without having ever opened any manga doing the same kind of thing.

Overall the comic was a good read. Even in the chapters where he mostly summarizes from other sources and I was already familiar with those, like in the section on facial expressions that heavily relies on Gary Faigin's book The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression (which I talked about here), I still wasn't bored. I also liked his idea of exercise suggestion at the end of the chapters and I may do some of them, since several seem like they could be fun.

As in the previous books I found the more "philosophical" parts about his views on artists' motivations and comic community rather more boring than the analysis of comics and how to make them, but there was a lot more of the latter than the former, so I didn't mind much.

If you've already read a lot about comics, most will seem familiar to you in one way or another, but I really liked how he played his examples through to show the effects of graphic storytelling choices in a kind of variable by variable way. For example in the section of what he calls "clarity vs. intensity" of graphic choices (with "intensity" being graphic effects like extreme perspectives and depth cues, breaking of panel borders and unusual panel shapes, lots of diagonals in composition, exaggerated poses and facial expressions, etc.) he shows varying degrees of these added dramatic choices for the same page, and how it affects the narrative, its readability, emotional impact and such.

Throughout the book I found several good ideas that I hadn't seen quite like this, like for example to add typical gestures, expression and body language to your model sheets for a character not just different perspectives. I liked his section on character design in general, though again I had several seen several suggestions before, because I've read the books he refers to, like for example Eisner's. I mean, I know from experience how difficult it is to make your characters look recognizable and different from each other, but too often, especially in some superhero comics, artists don't even bother to try and you end up with Oracle looking like Black Canary only with a different hair color and in a wheelchair. It certainly couldn't hurt for example Greg Land any to do some character design and expression/body language exercises. I'm just saying.

I also thought the section on body language was useful. It made me understand stances and how you can vary them a lot better, because it broke aspects down into several variable factors, and again showed the effects. Like similar stances, but one symmetrical one asymmetrical and how that changes things, open and closed stances, distances and gestures etc. and he illustration these principles with an example narration of adding gestures and body language to a conversation.

Other parts were a bit of repetition from what I remember from Understanding Comics, though from a more practical viewpoint. For example in the first chapter Writing with Pictures he revisits his classification of different kinds of panel to panel transitions and in the third chapter The Power of Words his categories of word/picture combinations, but you don't have to have read the former to follow his storytelling examples.

Overall I think it's well worth reading.

ETA: Does anyone else keep loosing icon and tag choices after doing a spellcheck and/or preview in the LJ update editor? This is annoying.
spork

I have no idea why I am doing this to myself...

...i.e. reading Frank Cho's chapter on how to draw effective covers from Wizard's "How To Draw: Advanced Techniques". To quote one of the many great pearls of wisdom (emphasis not mine, btw):
"VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!
You also can't use the same pose for guys and women--and women are much harder to draw covers for. With guys you just have to convey power to make the figure work, while with women, you have to emphasize their, y'know, curvaceous nature. It's almost like a swimsuit-issue pose--you have to emphasize their curves, yet at the same time reflect their power as well.
[...]
SKETCH APPEAL
Drawing a cover is mostly just trying to come up with a strong pose and trying to build upon it. It's kinda hard when you're drawing girls, because you're trying to come up with a strong, dominant pose, yet at the same time make it very sensual and sexy. I was just playing around with various poses, and for whatever reason none of 'em were sexy enough for me."

I don't have the pages scanned right now, but looking at the sketches illustrating that last bit I'm really wondering why anyone would consider sitting with spread legs and a "flirty" look towards the reader to be a "strong, dominant pose" for women. BTW, the solution for why the first ones weren't "sexy enough" becomes apparent when you look at the sketches, since the first ones are not showing the woman sitting with her legs spread. You'd think the cover example for "dominant + sexy" would show something like that Wonder Woman cover where her boot grinds down on Batman's head, but apparently not....
refrigerator

how to draw female comic characters (according to Wizard)...

brown_betty asked for examples "to illustrate the exactly how and why female comic characters are illustrated differently than the male." And I thought, really, what's better to illustrate these things than the books teaching the style in the first place?

A while ago I posted some scans from Wizard How To Draw series on drawing female superheroes (here and here), and I thought I'd post a bunch more from the first book of the series on "How To Draw: Heroic Anatomy".

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ETA (11 April 2010): Thanks to LJ's new comment option I can now freeze the post without deleting previous comments. I'm sorry I'll be missing out on some interesting comments, but I'm sick of getting offensive, sexist drivel dumped in my journal in a years old post.
grumpy

more drawing book wtf?...

A while back I posted about women characters in the Wizard How To Draw: Character Creation, however what I didn't really notice at the time (and that says a lot about my own blind spots), but which leapt out to me today when I happened to leaf through it, is that once again there are no non-white characters in the whole thing. Okay, that is not quite true, there is one black guy in Gene Ha's chapter on "Brutes", and in Scott McDaniel's chapter on "Costumed Vigilantes" a bunch of gang members could conceivably be non-white, though with McDaniel's stylized drawings it's hard to tell for sure without coloring. But otherwise, nothing.

Seriously, wtf? I mean, as I have noted in an earlier rant it's not that unusual to find drawing books that show only white people, but most of the "classics" have at least the excuse that they're reprints from some time between 1920 and 1960, this book has been published in 2006. And worse, it's not just about anatomy, but about character creation for comics, and not even mainstream comics are that bad. I suspect that unlike with the women characters (see my post linked above), they might have been reluctant to include the most cringe-worthy cliches and thus ended up with sticking just with white characters, but I think even an Asian ninja guy would have been better than this.
refrigerator

I just had to share...

This is a scan from Wizard How To Draw: Character Creation, from the chapter Super Women

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WTF? That woman on the left looks freakishly disproportionate, not attractive, not even if you like larger breasts. And that thing with the ashamed body language of the normal woman left me speechless. To be fair to the book as a whole a few chapters onward in another section on female archetypes titled appropriately "Vixens" (sic!) the same approach to drawing breasts is actually mocked, so strangely enough the example "vixen" drawings have thus smaller breasts than usual for superhero comics. Go figure. Anyway, so it's not consistently advocating freakish balloon boobs.

However that in the archetype section the chapters are Super Men, Super Women, Acrobats, Costumed Vigilantes, Brutes, Vixens, Armored Villains and Sidekicks, and the only chapter with examples from both genders is the one about acrobats (by Adrian Alphona, who draws Runaways), is quite telling. I mean, talking about archetypes I kind of get why they wouldn't think of women as typical examples for brutes or even armored villains, but no sidekicks and costumed vigilantes either? *grumble*