Fantasy World-Building: A Guide to Developing Mythic Worlds and Legendary Creatures
Mark A. Nelson
DESCRIPTION: Hunters of giant jellyfish, riders of flying bats, a city built on the towering backbones of long-dead behemoths... Artist Mark A. Nelson discusses the process of brainstorming and creating imaginary beasts, beings, and settings, from reference gathering to final rendering.
REVIEW: I've been feeling a creative itch again lately, and this looked like a good book for inspiration. On some levels, it is: Nelson packs the pages with imaginative artwork and sketches. On others, it feels a little lacking in actual instruction, the text being largely questions or rough suggestions of where and how to find inspiration, plus notes on the use of different media and the use of line weight, contrast, composition, and color to further the storytelling of a particular piece or series of panels (in the case of graphic novel illustrations.) I almost got the impression I was already supposed to be familiar with his work from elsewhere, and was missing something. I enjoyed Nelson's imaginative and intricately detailed art, though I have to confess I'd hoped for a little more actual discussion on creating worlds, such as thinking through designs and ecosystems, formulating internally consistent cultures, and so forth. Being an artist, Nelson thinks in sketches and pencils, not so much in words, I suppose. Still, it makes for a visual feast, every image hinting at a greater story to be told, and that is indeed at least part of what I was hoping for when I purchased it.
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