Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How to Draw Dragons Made Easy (Beren Neale, editor)

How to Draw Dragons Made Easy
(The Made Easy art series)
Beren Neale, editor
Flame Tree
Nonfiction, Art
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: One of the most ancient and ubiquitous beasts ever conjured by the human imagination, the dragon has made itself quite at home in modern art media. This collection of step-by-step tutorials explores a wide variety of dragons by different artists, using everything from pencils and oils to digital tablets and Photoshop.

REVIEW: I'm feeling a bit of an art itch lately, and this one was discounted at the used book store, so it looked like a good bet. The back cover claims that these tutorials cover "basic drawing skills to in-depth advanced projects," but in truth they skip the early stages and skills; most of the projects provide one or two brief glimpses of reference sketches and thumbnail explorations before cutting to the main working drawing. Artists thinking to follow along from a blank page, in other words, will have to do some heavy-duty catching up, and had better hope their own skills on anatomy, proportion, composition, textures, shading, color theory, and so forth are up to par. They would also do well to develop a solid working familiarity with digital art terms, Photoshop tools, and their usage. The progressive pictures don't always make it clear what was changed, or why a certain tool was used over others, or what each step was supposed to accomplish, a problem not helped by the relatively small size of the images.
While it's not the greatest as a step-by-step art instruction tool (especially for beginners), this book does present a very wide array of dragons and styles, along with some intriguing glimpses of the creative process and the minds of working artists. Beasts range from realistic to stylized and brutish to benevolent, inhabiting all manner of stories and environments. It also includes websites and further contact information for each artist.
Ultimately, despite what it claims in the title and on the back cover, it's more of a book by professional artists for professional (or serious hobbyist) artists, not intended for newcomers to the field or those still learning the basics. While I found the cover misleading and its promises less than fulfilled, I did enjoy the different approaches to dragon creation and the wide variety of beasts presented.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon (Daniel Falconer) - My Review
Forging Dragons (John Howe) - My Review
Dracopedia: A Guide to Drawing the Dragons of the World (William O'Connor) - My Review

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