Saturday 11 June 2016

review: Art Book

I was in Bargain Books a month ago and spotted an art book '101 Top Tips for Fantasy Painters' by Kevin Crossley. Originally priced at $22.99 (£16+) it was on sale at £3.00. It seemed interesting and I liked the way the information was presented.

'Character Design: Giving a Character Different Treatments'

Flicking through it there are a lot of female warriors dressed in underwear. Have never understood this bar the titillation factor. How on earth could a savvy tried and tested warrior clad only in bra and thong expect to defeat a monster ? Armour exists in other worlds and excepting perhaps Conan the Barbarian there's a distinct lack there of male heroes in y-fronts. Share the armour. 

 inked and photo textured 'Elf Adventurer'

To give him his due there were a few images of an Elf Adventurer in chapters two and five...

using Photoshop to 'paint sketch'

Getting past the wardrobe anomalies the book is filled with very useful facts, each numbered in order regardless of which chapter they're found and therefore easy to relocate. I liked how the author covers both Traditional and Digital Art and seems to have thought of nearly everything a new, amateur or semi-professional fantasy artist might wish to know.

 'Know Your Anatomy'

The section on Anatomy, although not intensive, sets the reader on the right path, extending on to 'Exaggerate Your Anatomy' and 'Completely Breaking Your Anatomy'. Great food for thought.

Tip 030

Tip 031

Tip 032
In chapter 2 under Principles of Composition is Tip 017 'Working to a Brief 2: Sketching the Composition' where we're shown Crossly's process from a thumbnail sketch through more detailed drawings to a digitally composited thumbnail of the original idea, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. The process continues over Tip 030 'Working to a Brief 3: Shaping Up' which focuses on the use of a triangular composition below a spiral of Hell, through Tip 031 'Working to a Brief 4: Rule of Thirds' to Tip 032 'Working to a Brief 5: The Golden Ratio'. Some very basic yet ancient methods of achieving balance within the overall scene and there's a nice sense of continuity as the artwork develops. Not just a book of individual and unrelated tips.

Tip 047

Something that made me smile, and yet is a very clever way of stimulating the imagination is found in the Landscape section, Tip 047: Landscape Inspiration. The author has chopped up some carrots while making Christmas dinner and sees the pointed ends as an alien forest. Perhaps it IS a good idea to play with your food. 

The book ends with sections on The Devil is in the Detail, Understanding Light and Finishing Touches plus a page on Further Reading. Although I feel Crossley's work is sometimes too overworked and verging on horror for my taste he has written an excellent manual, a book I'll go back to again and again and adapt to suit my own style of art.

ISBN: 981-4380-0104-3

Kevin Crossley website

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.

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