Sunday, February 22, 2009

My favorite books, part the second

Here are some more of my favorite art & illustration technique books. This series is my idea of an indispensable library for professional or aspiring illustrators, especially someone in the SF/Fantasy/comics field like me. I'm a bit of a book nut, so I have lots to choose from!

How to Draw Animals, Jack Hamm

Of course it's best to draw from nature when possible, or photographs when available, but as with any subject a good idea of what you're drawing, and pointers on the details to look for, can be invaluable. Jack Hamm, in this book and his other classic how to books, approaches minute details with a passion that can perhaps best be described as clinically insane. If you need a quick reference for how to construct a drawing of a large variety of mammals, this should do the trick.

The Artist's Guide to Animal Anatomy, Gottfried Bammes
This animal anatomy book, on the other hand, approaches things from a more holistic direction than the Hamm book does. Here we see the bone structure and the underlying muscles and tendons,and how these things effect the fur and skin that you see on the surface. As well, there are an ample number of stylistic examples throughout. Bammes has a lot of focus on gesture drawing and the effect of different media on the final outcome of the rendering. Hamm's book is a great quick reference/reminder for the working illustrator, but this book by Bammes is more of a ground-up tutorial for beginning and intermediate artists.

Creative Perspective for Artists and Illustrators, Ernest Watson

While other books explain perspective more thoroughly, or more engagingly, or even in a more organized fashion, there is no book that does quite what this one does: it explains when and why you need to use perspective, as well as how. There are also some simply amazing ideas on how to "cheat"; - either with time-saving shortcuts or by exaggerating/distorting perspective for illustrative effect. I'd recommend this book for people with intermediate skills - if you already know the basics, this is an invaluable volume.

Perspective! For Comic Book Artists, David Chelsea

This is an exceptional book for several reasons. First, it's done in a comic-book format, like Scott McCloud's remarkable "Understanding Comics". Most importantly it's the best ground-up, basics-to-advanced perspective book I've found, and I've read dozens! The clear narrative is fun to read and also filled with practical examples - and since it's done in that comic book style, those examples are actually a part of the story. Very clever, very useful, and not to be missed.

That's it for this post. Next time out out I'll feature several invaluable books on painting - books which I think are not only great for traditional painters but also those who work digitally (which is most of my work these days, too!)


Kat said...

How does Jack Hamm's book compare with Joe Weatherly's? Just curious. I've wanted more books on animals and the Weatherly book is the only one I've got so far.


Patrick said...

A good question. Weatherly is a more fine-arts oriented approach. The scope and even art style is similar to Hamm, but where Weatherly is concerned with a holistic way to draw animals as they really look, Hamm is obsessed with the details, and what makes animals different - for instance the difference between a dog and wolf.

They are both good books to have, but from an illustrators standpoint, when I want a quick hit of "what makes this animal unique" I would go to Hamm first. If I were just starting out, I'd get more from Weatherly. But really, there's no reason not to get both (and get the Goldfinger and Bammes books, too, for the Anatomy side of things.)

Kat said...

Cool. Thank's Patric. I'll have to get the Hamm book because that all sounds like extreamly usefull information. Also, I haven't heard of the Boldfinger and Bammes books. what are they called?

Do you know of any good books that discuss rendering plants and foliage?

Patrick said...

Here are links to the other ones I mentioned: Animal Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form, Eliot Goldfinger and The Artist's Guide to Animal Anatomy, Bammes.
These are both very good books on the subject of anatomy - the Bammes book is much less expensive, though! :)

Metal snail said...

Cheers Patrick, I'll check out that comic perspective book, I definatley need help in this area :)

Patrick said...

Hey Andreas! I don't think you'll be disappointed at all with that one. :)

Patrick said...

Kat, for foliage I'd look into a painting book by Jerry Yarnell. It has a lot of good painting techniques that can easily also be used in Digital art. Jerry Yarnell's Landscape Painting Secrets