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Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life Paperback


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Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life + Constructive Anatomy (Dover Anatomy for Artists) + Heads, Features and Faces (Dover Anatomy for Artists)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; 3.8.2009 edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402766785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402766787
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

It's rare to find good, comprehensive books on drawing the anatomy. Each of these the first, the return of a classic; the second, a focused study; and the third, lessons from the masters deserves a place on library shelves. Bridgman was a legendary teacher at New York's Art Students' League. There, he originated a system of drawing known as "constructive anatomy." In 1952, his seven books on anatomy were gathered into one volume, which became a standard work at art schools and universities. Published now for the first time in paperback, it holds up as an indispensable volume, with more than 200 illustrations of hands and hundreds of images of arms, shoulders, heads, torsos, legs, knees, and feet. Fairley's book concentrates on those troublesome extremities hands and feet. Sketchbook exercises are followed by eight detailed painting demonstrations in watercolor, oil, and other media. Fairley then continues on to portraits in which variations in age, skin tone, composition, mood, and movement are integrated. Advanced students will find Hale and Coyle's Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters a rich source of inspiration. Hale, like Bridgman, was one of the great teachers at the Art Students' League. His student, Coyle, gathered together Hale's famous lectures to produce this compendium. Hale drew on principles found in 100 masterpieces by such artists as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens, Raphael, D?rer, Titian, and Rembrandt. In 1995, Giovanni Civardi's trilogy Drawing Human Anatomy (Sterling, 1995), Drawing the Female Nude (Sterling, 1995), and Drawing the Male Nude (LJ 3/15/96. o.p.) reached a high standard for good, basic books in this genre. These three surpass Civardi's works and are highly recommended for serious artists and comprehensive library collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...the return of a classic...Bridgman was a legendary teacher at New York's Art Students' League. There he originated a system of drawing known as 'constructive anatomy.' In 1952, his seven books on anatomy were gathered into one volume, which became a standard work at art schools and universities. Published now, for the first time in paperback, it holds up as an indispensable volume with more than 200 illustrations of hands and hundreds of images of arms, shoulders, heads, torsos, legs, knees, and feet." -- Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

You also should find vintage copies of those books and avoid the Dover publications for them specifically.
toku
The mechanics of the body are so clearly shown and with many illustrations - all pages in this book are filled with useful information.
Hans Hummel
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn how to realistically draw the human figure.
Emily Hurst

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Carlo R. Montoya on February 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
You MUST have an in-depth knowledge of the human anatomy (particularly the bones and muscles) before you buy this book. I bought this book on the account of the previous reviewers who I assume (just now, unfortunately) are professionals or fine-arts students. Most of the analysis refers to scientific names of bones and muscles. I understand this is a good thing BUT most of the time, there are either (1) no visual references to these bones and muscles on the page where the analysis is made (i.e. sometimes you have to move forward a few pages to determine what is being discussed) or worst, (2) there are no visual references at all. I don't blame the author considering this book is a compilation of his individual works which may have been complete unto themselves. I blame the publisher for not taking the time and effort to add value to the book by labeling the visuals themselves (perhaps by asking Mr. Bridgman's former students to do it for them) and for making sure the pages are in the correct order. I get the feeling this book was hurried out of the press.
I have downloaded Mr. Loomis book "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth" and if you're a beginner like me, it's a better deal (heck, it's free) because the text are clearer and the visuals cleaner. Please consider my rating a beginner's gauge rather than a professional's or a fine-arts student's.
I'll just probably use this book as a visual reference rather than a self-study guide...
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By "extreme_dig_cm" on March 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mainly for intermediate-level artists- it's a highly *comprehensive* way to appreciate Bridgman's work.

It has a little bit of everything depicting figure construction from memory. It's also great for general improvement; a few tips & tricks- an in-depth reference for all working artists.

This somewhat large-sized Complete Guide seems intended to represent the best of 6 out of his 7 individual books. Drawing the Female Form is the book that gets left out. Assembled & designed by editor Howard Simon in 1952; Bridgman passed away in 1943, so it's not Bridgman's fault if anyone has issues with the layout(!).

Here's a quick breakdown of his 6 individual books, from my very favorite to least...

1. Book of a Hundred Hands- His *best* representation of hands; if hands are your main interest, skip all else & buy 100 hands.

2. Constructive Anatomy- His clearest & most detailed line work in his figure anatomy- especially with his cube-based construction of the head.

3. Bridgman's Life Drawing- Like a mini Complete Guide, it's often considered Bridgman's best individual book. It gives us full-figure movement, as well as briefly treating the figure in its essential parts.

4. Heads, Features and Faces- Great for beginners; it isn't in-depth, and it isn't nearly overwhelming like this Complete Guide.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Surreal Friend on July 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was very put off by this book initially for reasons that I see in some of the other reviews: very rough drawings, and somewhat inconsistent labeling. However, with my professor's repeated encouragement, I stuck with this book, and I'm glad I did. It outlines a method of machine-like construction that I have found invaluable for illustration, life drawing, and animation.

The idea of breaking down the human figure into simple forms for construction is not new - most good figure books I've come across outline methods of doing this. (One of the other reviews suggests Andrew Loomis, for example, which everyone should definitely check out.) What makes this book unique, though, is that it takes the principle a deeper extreme - you learn how to construct not only the basic masses (rib cage, legs, head, etc) but the individual bone and muscle groups that they are made out of. Solid drawing taken to a new level.

The loose, simplified style of the illustrations is necessary, I think - they capture the bare essense without any distracting detail. They also demonstrate how dynamic a drawing becomes when it is not overworked. On the other hand, they can be hard to "read" if you have no idea what you're looking at, so I think a companion book is necessary as a counterpoint for beginners like myself. My recommendation would be Dr. Paul Richer's "Artistic Anatomy," whose diagrams are the exact opposite of Bridgman's - exhaustive in detail and clarity. Usually, I have the two books open side by side - Bridgman for construction, Richer for clarification. Andrew Loomis is another must - very clear, very accessible. His system of construction is simpler, but as a result it is great for gesture drawing.

Bottom line, this book can be challenging in places, but it is well worth it to puzzle through them.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By G. Escobedo on April 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been drawing for going on 50 years; Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing From Life is one of those books that was always around when I was growing up and learning to draw. I turned to this work (and many others) for reference often when I was young. Recently I purchased a new copy of this book from Amazon.com just to have in my collection of drawing resource material (and, I suppose, for a bit of nostalgia). The reproductions of Bridgman's demonstrative drawings in these newer editions are surprisingly poor I think, sometimes washed out and faded, all too often very muddled or blotchy... the same effect one would see if you used a low quality copy machine to make a copy of a copy of a copy of a pencil sketch... the publishers are obviously keeping in print a long established favorite that they know will sell and are not overly concerned with putting out a quality product. So, look for a vintage edition if you must have this book... I could not see using these current editions as a quality learning or teaching tool.
From a more subjective point of view, Bridgman has never quite impressed me for learning life/figure drawing... personally I just never quite warmed up to his style. The text is appropraite to the illustrations in terms of the mechanics of the body and naming the parts that do the work, but there is little to nothing by way of drawing theory/technique, elements of what makes a successful drawing work... Bridgeman rightfully focuses in breaking down the human body as simplified shapes... although in Bridgman's drawings simplified shapes appear rather grotesque distortions. On pages 212/213 where he describes how to draw an armpit... well, I'm looking at it right now and... well... frankly it's a mess.
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