Top critical review
122 people found this helpful
on June 28, 2001
I'm an Ed Emberly fan, and as my children (and admittedly myself) have drawn so much out of his books, we've started to branch out to more sophisticated drawings. With the exception of Ed's, most "how-to" books pretty much "teach" in the same way: They give you a number of guides which are supposed to take you from simple shapes to the picture you're trying to arrive at.
It's apparent to me now, having revisited Emberly's work as an adult, and going back to books like this, which were tremendously frustrating to me as a child, that the key difference between a book like "How To Draw Animals" and "Ed Emberly's Drawing Book of Animals" is =not= the complexity of the final picture.
The key difference is the =gradient= between the guides.
In an Emberly book, each guide adds one or two very simple shapes to add--and tells you which shapes to add and often where (though it's usually obvious) and maybe even some explanatory text, etc., etc., whereas a book like this often gives you half-a-dozen shapes, and requires you to tweak the shapes you drew previously, all without a word of instruction or a different color or kind of line showing where the changes are.
Of course, these things are obvious to someone who already =can= draw, but very frustrating for those who can't.
Now, in my experience, most drawing books are like this, and you can't realistically buy them and be shocked when they all more-or-less take this approach, so I didn't really mark Ms. Soloff-Levy's book down for it.
Parents and teachers should pay close attention when buying these books for children. They all have different skill levels and the difference between ending up with a kid who gets frustrated and wants to throw the sketchbook away and ending up with one who enjoys drawing is, in a large part, going to depend on the adult's understanding of what skills a particular book requires.
For what it's worth, I'll continue to post my experiences here.
From a skill standpoint, I'd put this book after Ed Emberly's Big Red Drawing book. The shapes used are subtler than straight geometrics, but there are often only a few elements to a picture. And, thankfully, there are more than just three guides. (Some drawing books give you just three--or even two!--guides to go from nothing to a finished picture.)
I'd give it four stars but in some of the drawings, the guides don't match! I don't mean that a shape has to be tweaked or subtly altered, but simply that a leg in one guide is in a different position than the same leg in the next! Other than that, this book is recommended.