[book report] Illustrator's Guidebook
 

I Kickstarted 21 Draw's Illustrator's Guidebook because I have this hopeless habit of chasing after art instruction books. I'd picked up a copy of their previous book, called simply 21 Draw, and enjoyed it a lot. It won't teach you fundamentals of drawing (arguably I don't know the fundamentals of drawing; I'm mostly self-taught), but it's really fun to browse through: it's a collection of a zillion different character designs as inspiration and reference by 100 different artists.

Illustrator's Guidebook is a collection of tutorials, each by a different artist, on different topics. I browsed through the whole thing, although I haven't tried anything but the very basic exercises for improving hand-eye coordination for drawing (basically, practicing drawing horizontal and vertical lines, and spirals). As someone with terrible hand-eye and a hand that tends to shake, I figure it couldn't hurt--a friend of mine who is a fabulous professional illustrator, Astrid Vohwinkel, told me once that illustration is something you can learn with practice, which was encouraging--and it's something I can doodle whenever I have paper and spare moments, like during Pathfinder Society or Pathfinder card game sessions. :p The thing about a lot of games is that they tend to have moments of dead time when it's someone else's turn, so what I do is bring a sketchbook and work on a picture or practice life drawing (usually working on capturing poses) or doodle.

Topics, in order:

Figure Drawing
- "Design an Animation-Stye Male Hero" by Tom Bancroft
- "Create a Cartoon-Style Female" with Bleedman
- "Drawing the Ideal Female" with Warren Louw
- "Mastering the Art of Hands and Feet" with Reiq
- "Drawing the Ideal Male" with Steve Rude

Character Design
- "Designing Witches and Warriors" with Dave Bardin
- "Otherworldly Character Design" with Randy Bishop
- "Creating a Heroic Couple" with Charlie Bowater
- "Designing a Female Superhero" with Loish
- "Welcome to the Villain's Lair!" with Loopydave (this one has especially delightful examples)
- "Creating Heroic Characters" with Raul Trevino
- "Bonus: Weapons with Character" by Lorenzo Etherington (yessssss)

Perspective
- "Drawing a Scene in Perspective" with Chamba
- "What Is Perspective?" with Jazza (this is a very quick overview)
- "Designing in Perspective" with Gerardo Sandoval

Backgrounds with Lorenzo Etherington (really illuminating--I am pretty clueless about backgrounds)

Composition with Jazza

Text into Art
This final segment is very interesting: "We asked three world-renowned artists to work with the same classic poem about Helen of Troy. Each artist took their own creative path, and the results are as stunning as they are instructive. Professional illustrators need to take direction well, but they also need to breathe their own life into the artwork they create by using their unique style and imagination" (151).

In any case, the three examples are different and beautiful, but what I love best is the contrast between Genzoman's reaction to the assignment and Kim Jung Gi's. The former: "I love mythological figures!" (152) vs. the latter: "First of all, as someone who is not familiar with Greek mythology, this work was stressful. I did, however, enjoy working on the drawing, and I tried my best to create on paper the image I had in my head" (158). Kim Jung Gi is an artist from South Korea and a Korean not being familiar with Greek mythology sounds pretty plausible. (My dad knew a fair amount about it and gave me books on classical mythology, but my dad also really loved literature-in-English.)

In any case, the tutorials vary in level of detail and how advanced they are. I'm really not good enough to be messing with most of this as opposed to working on fundamental stuff. For example, "Drawing a Scene in Perspective" is way beyond my ability level. But the book is delightful to browse through, just for inspiration.

Also, if anyone has art instruction books they'd particularly like to recommend, I'm all ears. :p