Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil
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on January 22, 2000
Refining your pencil work starts here. Hillberry pushes his medium and he pushes it hard. If you love the subtle, moody, sensitive qualities of pencil drawings and are working to take yours from the realm of rough diamonds to stand alone works of art, you are going to love this book.
Very well photographed, Hillberry gives detailed, progressive steps of many of his drawings and is very forthcoming about the techniques he uses to get his results. Hillberry's work is photo-realistic, but even if that is not your goal he spends the first third of the book discussing how to develop the skill necessary to create the even, shifting tones of graphite vital to effective pencil work. The photorealistic sessions are important for everyone as they hone your awareness of what you are seeing and your ability to relay it. His finished examples are beautiful and inspiring.
I love pencil, and there isn't a better book on the topic out there (after 15 years of collecting, I may just have them all). If you feel the same way, get this book. Then quit shopping and get back to your studio and work.
PS--Another interesting book is Robert Zappalorti's "Drawing Sharp Focus Still Lifes" (Watson-Guptill) but it is out of print and you will have to search hard to find it. I feel Hillberry's book is superior, but it's always instructive to see how different artists approach their work.
Good luck, draw hard.
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on July 15, 2000
I rarely read how-to books and think most of them are pretty lame, but this one is a clear exception. I hadn't read a how-to book on the pencil for decades (and I vaguely remember getting the basics from a couple of good books by Ted Kautzky and Paul Calle) and found this book by accident while looking for something else. I was instantly drawn to it (sorry...).
Seriously, though, this is one of the best how-to books I've ever read. Hillberry sets out to do, and does, exactly what his title says it's going do. I can't imagine someone working with this book and not getting something valuable from it. The author's prose style is like his drawing style, very clear and straight ahead. It's not verbose or vague and it's not too terse either. In chapters 1 and 2 he describes the basic tools and general methods of using abrasive media (not ust pencils but powdered graphite, charcoal, graphic blocks etc.). Then he moves on to some tutorials, well chosen to explain the problems of rendering general types of things - metal, wood, he human eye... There are many little gems within the tutorial that will reinforce the general technical points in chapter 2. Like all how-to books there is kind of a jump involved, a certain point where to the naive (most of the market for how-to books, probably) it seems like the author goes from point a, b, c... to point r. That's inevitable. How could it not be? If this stuff was easy, then everybody could do it. Drawing is not easy, but it's the most direct means of creating art, an irreplaceable core skill, useful to painters and sculptors as much as anyone else, and potentially a wonderful end in itself (think about it... think what Raphael and Michaelangelo did with a pencil; look at Henry Moore's drawings, look at... no, there's too many great works of art that are drawings to even consider listing them).
This book can help you with your drawing even if you're not a realist. Highly recommended.
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on November 16, 2004
I had seen this book around (on websites) and even viewed JD Hillberry's website, but was finally 'sold' on buying it when I used the Amazon feature to look inside the book. WOW! Even the very first page, which lists the supplies - was a revelation! I have been working from home as an artist and illustrator for a few years now (I'm self taught, like Hillberry) and I was intrigued by his list of supplies.

You don't have to be a professional to get a lot out of this book. I wish I had found this book years ago. If you're like me and you've enjoyed Lee Hammond's books on drawing from photographs and you're ready to take your skills to the next level, then you definitely want to buy this book.

It is comprehensive but easy to read too - if you look at textures and tell yourself "I can't do that"...this book will break it down for you and you can realize that you CAN do this and it's a learnable skill. Hillberry takes you step by step in each process, and it's never boring.

My art has been transformed!

I would love for JD Hillberry to write another book!
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on July 2, 2001
I try to avoid art books that read like cook books. The art books shelf at any bookstore is full of mediocre illustrations bound under titles like "Painting Realistic Waterfalls with Oil" or "Draw Spiderman Just Like the Pros". I was attracted to this book by the phenomenal cover rendering, but frankly I expected it to be another volume on how to paint an elephant's eyelashes in gouache.
That it is not.
Though it covers specific examples, the techniques illustrated by J.D. Hillberry can be effectively applied to pencil and charcoal rendering in general. Mr. Hillberry's rendering skills are incredible and inspiring. He illuminates mundane subject matter to the point of photorealism. This book is a must buy for a design student (or anyone fairly competant in rendering) who is ready to tackle the photorealism giant.
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on May 7, 2002
In this book, J.D. Hillberry gives detailed descriptions of techniques for drawing a wide range of textures. A background in drawing is recommended, because the author does not "waste" time on teaching sketching, or basics of drawing, generally, but filling space with a texture is explained in very detailed way, including many examples.
Another advantage of the book is an introduction to drawing tools and mediums, which is very detailed, also.
I personally liked the approach of the author, he's always giving more than one way to achieve some realistic texture and everything he wrote is an advice or a recommendation, while he's calling the reader to experiment alone, also.
Very detailed and very useful book. Recommended!
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on February 21, 2002
It's all in the technique. This book is for artists who prefer the simplicity and versatility of charcoal, graphite and carbon for their works. This is not a teach-yourself-to-draw type book. It's a book of techniques for artists who already have learned the fundamentals of drawing and want to advance their skills to the next level.
Materials and basic techniques are covered in the first two chapters. From there, the author provides seven step-by-step demonstrations of creating various textures from metal and glass to human skin and animal fur. Finally, the book concludes with two full-length, detailed still life demostrations.
The text is profusely illustrated and well written in a clear, easy to understand style. When the author mentions something, there's a picture to show what he's talking about.
This book is a valuable reference for anybody who works with graphite pencil, charcoal and carbon pencil.
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on December 29, 2012
I have been drawing for quite some time, but some of my art lacked the "pop" that I saw in others' drawings. Not anymore! The techniques taught and described in this book are some of the best I've been able to find. The author is obviously an extremely good artist and for him to share this hard-earned knowledge is appreciated beyond words. I highly recommend this book to any intermediate artist who wants to improve their work.
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on February 13, 2003
I found this book very useful in learning about the various belnding techniques and rendering textures. However I would prefer to have seen more material on clothing, hair and skin textures.
If you are already drawing fairly well in pencil or charcoal then this book is a must have, however if you want to learn the basic fundamentals of drawing such as proportions, shapes etc then you might go for some thing else.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am a great fan of JD Hillberry. He is a master graphite artist!
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on April 21, 2004
It is easy to find books that try to teach you how to draw, but this book goes way beyond that. If you need something beyond the basics, I highly recommend this book! It is very detailed and has simple steps to help in rendering very realistic textures. Great buy!
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on February 27, 2003
My daughter received this book for her 13th birthday and my whole family loves it. Even a beginner can benefit from this book. It's true that this is not a how to draw book, but how to make your drawings much better. My daughter had already studied online tutorials to learn to draw the basic figures from shapes. This book is teaching her to refine those drawings into a real work of art. J.D. Hillberry has a drawing forum link on his web site where you can post your drawings for critique or just ask questions about how to draw hair, eyes, etc. His site, of course, is jdhillberry.com. If you are an art lover with an interest in improving your drawing skills, I highly recommend Mr. Hillberry's book as well as paying a visit to his web site.
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