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).

Combine this with its slightly manga inspired style of finish, I would say this book is more likely to be for the early teen who is expressing interest in the fantasy genre and that style of drawing.

While I feel this book doesn't tackle those important subjects in any real depth, devoting less than a few pages to them and peppering tidbits throughout, it still has some value. Knowing that dealing with the fundamentals isn't something a youngster with a passing interest wants to get bogged down in, or even an impatient adult either, it dives into some of the cooler elements of drawing fantasy themed art, with a mind of achieving quick results.

Viewed through this prism, I found that I was a little more open to reading the tutorials in this book and, while I maintain it shouldn't be a starting point for someone craving a serious understanding of the craft, I actually found the tutorials I attempted easy to follow and was able to produce similar results put forward in the book. Then again, I have been drawing for many years now, so bare that in mind.

I liked the approach to drawing hands and feet, taking such complex subject matter and breaking it down to a few manageable steps. I think some of the tutorials are better than others and as a whole the focus of the book is more on drawing and line work, rather than colouring and painting your creations. This means, I think you'll probably get as far as achieving decent line work before you feel like you've outgrown the content and/or become frustrated with your progress.

I feel like the art it lays out is attainable for people who've not really drawn much before yet it doesn't offer a deep, long term understanding of what you're creating. Some books aimed at a more mature market often can be intimidating but this one to me, isn't. So, for this, I feel there is a balance that "Dragonart" was striving to hit and I feel it achieves a friendly, easy introduction into a very wide world of drawing, laying some ground work that could help later on if committed to really improving.

Its an okay book. Its not great, its not a must have, but its okay.

Lloyd Harvey

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