Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Book Review: The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures



What immediately struck me with this book was how stunning the art work was inside and the pages throughout, have been designed and ordered in a very clear and easy to follow way. Its something that is just a joy to sit and look through and, at the same time, is instructional and full of great advice that includes an all important designer methodology and approach.

Like many of the 'Art Technique' books on the market, it does go into a little detail about how to use colour, perspective and what workspace and tools you could use an think about but, doesn't devote many pages to doing so. That being said, in this book, there's more technical advice and tips dotted throughout than some of the other technique books I have read.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Book Review: Dragonart by J. Peffer



With the title of the book being called "Dragonart," it initially made me think its focus would be on Dragons but, in actuality, the book is more broadly aimed at the fantasy genre as a whole, taking on subject matter such as fairies, goblins, dwarves and some other mythical creatures. While it does focus on dragons for quite a few pages nearer the middle end of the book, and some of the tutorials there are alright, I will say there are better books out there that deal with just Dragons in a much more comprehensive way.

After a couple of pages in, I begun to realise who this book was mainly aimed at. If you're someone who is working as a professional artist in one capacity or another, or even if you're looking to start to get really serious about drawing, then I wouldn't recommend this book to you because it oversimplifies the key fundamentals of drawing (like colour, perspective, light and shadow, practicing simple shapes and understanding them as three dimensional objects).

Thursday, 14 September 2017

3 Big Things I Learned At Industry Workshops This Year



Having recently transitioned job roles from a focused UI / UX designer back to a Games Artist, I found myself drawing more than ever before. This return to a love I had put down for about three years, came about at the right time to really get the most out of attending the entertainment-design-industry-orientated event, Industry Workshops, here in London.

In this blog post, I want to share three massive takeaways from the weekend I left with beyond the usual message of practice, practice and practice. I want to share them with you so that they crystallise in my own mind and so that you can learn from these huge lessons too.


1) Be Mindful And Present When Both Observing And Drawing
Take the time to really bring attention and awareness to what it is you want to draw. Be this during a life drawing session or when thinking about conveying an emotion in a piece, really extend the period of time to just notice what you're looking at or what's inside you. Spend time after to internally process what it is you just observed, to understand the subject matter fully, or as much as you can, before putting pencil to page. Do all this without judgement. Then execute quickly.

This is Kan Muftic's approach to drawing with mindfulness. A meditative practice that not only helped him begin to level up his own drawing skills but also the approach had positive effects on the rest of his life outside of drawing. Muftic explains this process in more depth in his incredible book: "Figure Drawing for Concept Artists."

2) Power Is Quiet
"If you want to appear more powerful, you've got to begin quieting down."

This quote comes from the veteran painter John Harris, who has a way of painting unbelievable megastructures in a believable way. The subjects he paints always have such majesty, such weight and such a grand scale to them that they have the power to stay in your mind long after you've stopped looking at them. He achieves this by not painting in all the details, and representing the huge buildings and spaceships in ways that suggest complexity and mass.

The quote though, while applicable to his paintings and usable in one's own work, was spoken in relation to meditation and how he also practices it to quiet down the noise in his own head to better focus on his creative ideas. However, I think he may have been subtly making a point aimed at a certain loud mouthed presidential individual (although that is probably just conjecture on my part).

You don’t have to render in every aspect of your work. Sometimes, suggestive detail is more powerful. Less is more. Think, before you speak.


3) Connect To That Inner Love
Across many of the talks and conversations with other attendees, the general message and consensus told over and over was that in regards to focusing on what you really like to create and what really gets you passionate. Simply put, the boiled down message is to "draw what you love to draw and the rest will follow."

I hear this sort of message spoken many places by successful artists in various walks of life. Write what you want to read. Play music you want to hear. Photograph what your eye is drawn to. It's important advice and it is good for both the career and one's own artistic soul. It's applicable to young designers wanting to get in to the industry and to those who feel a little stuck where they are and want something to re-engage them.

I fall into the later. Hearing this advice over the weekend has reminded me of some personal projects I started a long time ago that need finishing. Reminded me of all the reasons I started drawing in the first place and reminded me that the process of drawing, while frustrating, is incredibly fun.

Conclusions
So much can be said about these three points and admittedly each one is a book by itself (well, one actually already is). I feel like there is more to say on point three, and I intend to write something in the near future examining this point more fully but, for now, I think keeping these learnings short and sweet should be enough to give you something to work on in your own art journey.

I hope they help.

Lloyd Harvey
www.lloydharvey.co.uk

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