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.

What I mainly like about this book, beyond the attractive art, is the designer methodology and approach. It talks about collecting reference materials like photographs to give credibility to the look of your creatures, and it also briefly talks about exploring multiple ideas in sketches to find the best looking feature for the design you're working on. This is so important in undertaking art of any nature and I welcome its inclusion here.

Further to the designer approach, its clear that the author and artist, Emily Fiegenschuh, knows her subject matter beyond "this is how something looks, so draw it like this." In the Chimera tutorial, for instance, part 2 of the drawing process explains how the creature's weight is resting on its front leg and how that will affect the drawing position of the shoulder blade. 

That, and also, I learned a bit about the different types of feet there are in the animal kingdom and I was also glad to see Emily talk about how a creature has to suit its environment, mentioning how it might have certain features that are common to animals often found in that habitat.

This book mainly concentrates on the drawing aspect to creature design and its does so in a much more detailed and understanding way than other books I have seen while, sadly, leaving out the final steps in how to paint your creatures using watercolors or gouache to the same level as what Emily can (meaning you'll have to look elsewhere for this advice).

I think this book has a lot of value packed in and if any young artist is looking to pick up and adopt the right mental tools to approaching drawing, this is a great book to read through and I recommend it to anyone starting out without hesitation.

The Explorer's Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures can be bought through Amazon here.

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