Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Draw

For some, even in today's e-reader world, books remain an addiction. An addiction to physical books has been a problem for me my entire life. Books cling to me the way sticker-burrs cling to socks. Like many, I've made a wary transition to reading novels and newspapers on my tablet. I use another e-reader occasionally, and I feel fully assimilated into the digital world of literature.

Nevertheless, a Kindle or Nook is not the answer when it comes to books of art reproductions or books of art methods. I can't see the art or diagrams well enough. You just have to have the physical book. So I have quite a few.

As time goes on, I'll mention books occasionally, as they rouse my interest.

For the past few months I've been reading and re-reading "How to Draw" by Scott Robertson and Thomas Bertling. This is perhaps one of the most useful how-to art books I've seen in a long while. Although a beginner might be a bit out of his depth in using this book, the authors do attend a bit to selection of materials, the craft of drawing, and the like before diving into more technical drawing. Robertson's background is in industrial design, and the emphasis of this book is on mechanical objects like vehicles, airplanes, and boats.

This is not a book for those who want to make still life, or landscape drawings, nor is it a book that emphasizes sketching on the spot. This is a book for those who are interested in making drawings of environments and vehicles as well as people, in proper perspective and proportion, including rather complicated perspective drawing techniques with one, two, and more vanishing points. It will really be useful to budding video game artists and animators. Still, it really looks to
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be helpful in sharpening drawing skills for literally anybody.

The writing is clear and to the point, and the accompanying diagrams are especially useful. In particular, the attention to cone of vision, curves and ellipses in perspective, and a number of other matters should be helpful. I've been through the first seven chapters a couple of times, and found that repetition helped assimilate some of the material. Overall, this is an exceptionally useful book. The final three chapters deal with drawing aircraft and wheeled vehicles, which is interesting but less useful to me personally, so I've spent more time on the initial chapters. Finally, there is a great final chapter showing various sketching styles, combining materials I wasn't familiar with. In particular, they discuss and show the use of Copic markers, of which I was completely ignorant.

A bonus in this book is a series of symbols strung throughout that are keyed to a tablet app. That is, you use a tablet app (downloadable and free) to "see" a code on the book page that tells the app to find and show a video demonstration of the technique or drawing that you're reading about. So in effect, by buying the book you also get several hours of demonstration videos that show Scott Robertson making the drawings included on the pages. Very impressive use of technology, and the videos are clear and well done. Bravo.

You can see a number of Robertson's videos on YouTube, including a number included in the book.

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