Monday, May 23, 2016

The Fantasy Art Techniques of Tim Hildebrandt (Jack E. Norton)

The Fantasy Art Techniques of Tim Hildebrandt
Jack E. Norton
Paper Tiger
Nonfiction, Art
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: The Brothers Hildebrandt became icons in the fantasy and science fiction world with their Lord of the Rings illustrations in the late 1970's. Separately and together, they created countless book covers, calendars, and other art that dominated the genre. This book examines the work and methods of Tim Hildebrandt.

REVIEW: I grew up seeing the Hildebrandts' creations on almost every cover in the bookstore, so this one has a touch of nostalgia on top of the usual draws of fantasy and art. Today, the images may look a little dated (particularly the very white characters, not to mention more than a tinge of sexism), but they're still very successful and imaginative works of art that grab attention and communicate ideas. Most of the pages are devoted to the pictures, which range from full-color panoramas to pen and ink spot illustrations, demonstrating mastery of a wide variety of media. The text isn't always particularly informative, often leaving half a sentence dangling for a few pages while more art is showcased. It's only toward the end that the promised "fantasy art techniques" get real attention, and even then it feels a little rushed without step-by-step demonstrations breaking down the process. But this doesn't claim to be a tutorial guide; one can see the concepts discussed by examining the images, many of which are large enough to allow detailed viewing. The last section, discussing how to become a working illustrator by building a portfolio and creating 35mm transparencies, can't help but feel outdated; in 1991, when this book was published, few could've foreseen the digital revolution that changed the face of the industry and the job-seeking process, even for those working in traditional media. Still, it has much to offer. Indeed, whoever owned this used copy before me spent a lot of time carefully, neatly underlining useful passages and making notes of Hildebrandt's favorite color palettes. (I can't help wondering if they moved on to more advanced work or if they gave up on art altogether when this made its way to Half Price Books.) Whether you're looking for a nostalgic gallery of Tim Hildebrandt's work or some tips and techniques from an undisputed master of the speculative fiction illustration genre, this is a good choice for any fantasy art lover's library.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Fantasy Art Workshop (James Howe) - My Review
Drawing from your Imagination (Ron Tiner) - My Review
The Art of Michael Whelan (Michael Whelan) - My Review

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