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537 of 546 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I discovered this unassuming volume after buying four other drawing books and looking through about fifty more. While finding a lot of good things in the other books, none of them had what I was looking for in a beginner's guide - a solid step-by-step foundation course starting from square one. Too many drawing books, I learned, either turned into art displays - filled with beautifully rendered drawings and too little instruction, focused too much on certain aspects of drawing at the exclusion of others, or were poorly organized with a vague sense of direction. What I wanted was a solid stone on which to build my drawing and (eventually) painting skills...and I found it!

Where Mr. and Mrs. Willenbrink have succeeded so magnificently is in both the completeness and organization of their material. They assume nothing while providing valuable insight on every page. Their goal is to get you drawing - quickly and correctly. Not a word is wasted on lofty theories and no drawings are displayed without full and easy-to-follow instructions on how they were created. This is a book that will teach you how to walk before trying to teach you how to run.

The book's six chapters are laid out clearly and logically, starting with how to hold the pencil and a great overview of sketch types. From there the chapters cover basic shapes, measurement and perspective, value, and composition, with over 25 step-by-step practice drawings to apply what has been discussed.

I could not find a better presentation of this material in any other drawing book. If you dream of being an artist and don't know where to begin...start here!
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159 of 166 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I like this book quite a lot. I got it as a review of basic drawing principles I learned in college, and for this it is really useful. It reviews much of what I learned in the first four art classes I had, explaining tools, going over basic skills like how to hold a pencil for different effects, creating value cards, and starting out with the basic shapes of an item and working towards the details. I'd forgotten many pointers my profs had shared that are repeated here, like how to use a sighting stick and what the basic proportions are for the human face and body. The demos/how-to's also cover a good range, including human and animal portraits, buildings, cars, a fruit still life, and a couple landscapes.

While I have never been a "natural" in terms of drawing, I have had 7 college drawing courses and three adult-ed classes at an art center in the last few years. This is to say, while this book is actually perfect for me, providing meaningful instruction and review at my present (still beginner) level, I think I would have been very upset and overwhelmed with it had I gotten it a few years ago, before taking any of the aforementioned classes. Likewise, you will notice that many of the other reviewers who got the most out of the book actually have some drawing background. The discussion of perspective is a great review, for example, but had this been my first introdution to perspective, I would have been competely lost, as the disussion is more an overview of the concept than the step-by-step tutorial that a real "absolute beginner" needs to follow. A good 20+ pages of the 128 page book deals with perspective either as its main focus or as a needed skill to follow the demo, including the demos on drawing planes, trains, and automobiles, as well as plotting shadows and drawing ellipses. Thus while I heartily recommend this book, I would reserve it for the person who has a little more background than an "absolute beginner" lest one become discouraged by attempting to follow instructions that are not sufficiently detailed for one with no previous knowledge of perspective.
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211 of 227 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is one of four instructional drawing books which I bought to try to get myself back into sketching and drawing, an activity which I enjoyed in my youth. Besides the "Absolute Beginner" book, I got the "Absolute and Utter Beginner", "Drawing with Children" (Mona Brookes) plus one about drawing faces. As you can see, I decided to go "all the way back" and get a good foundation to the craft. I draw nearly every day now, doing up to seven sketches or studies. My fat little sketchbook is half full now with studies from the "Face Book", still life pictures I've done of stuff in my room, and many drawings from the Willenbrink book. I dove right into this book and have been mostly pleased with it.

The book starts begins with a list of basic tools and supplies. It fits the bill for those who are looking for a guide to strictly pencil drawings (not colored ones, charcoal or ink or pastels: I'll do that later), and requires few supplies. Hobby Lobby had some small kits with most of the stuff in them: various pencils---from soft to hard, a little sharpener, plus a sandpaper pad to put a fine point on your pencil, and two kinds of erasers. Besides that you need sketchbook(s), a nice drawing board, and some drafting-type tools---an "eraser shield", folding ruler, triangle, t-square, and "dividers". Be sure to pick up a spray-can of fixative so that your drawings don't get all smudged onto the pages of your book, and pick up a hem-gauge from a fabric store.

Chapter One which introduces Sketching and Drawing was very helpful to get me thinking about art and "seeing" with artist eyes. In fact, I would like to have spent more time on these exercises and others ones like that. You learn ways to hold the pencil, and some types of stokes you can make, then moves on to structural sketches, value sketches, black-white sketches, contour sketches, and finally combining these approaches for a "finished" product. The same two models, a coffee mug and a man's face were used in each exercise, which was great because it gave you the chance to look at the same thing in several ways--like blocking out the shapes, simplifying it into just black and white or line drawing without looking at your paper, or even drawing from memory with your eyes closed.

OK and now unto the "basics", which in this case means: draftsmanship-- mostly perspective, and lots of it. This is important if you want your drawings to look realistic, but I find it to be dry and a bit intimidating, so I didn't get very far into it yet. Since I wasn't ready to do this stuff, I thought I'd have to set the book aside, but after thumbing through it, I found some projects I could do without studying the prospective stuff. I have done the exercises on drawing a standing cat, a cat face, human faces, trees, and drawing and shading stones, and others. I liked how the author listed which sections in the book you needed to have studied to be ready to do each project.

All-in-all I found this method book to be not only basic, but rather formulaic. A finished project was shown, prefaced by three or four steps of how the artist gets to that point. This is helpful if you like to "copy" art--which I do, but, so far I don't think that my pictures have really improved that much yet, nor do I FEEL artistic yet. I'll continue to use this book, but I'm going to use the other method books now, too, to round out my learning, because I am intrigued by the other approaches and drawing exercises. Must--get--those--creative--juices--flowing! I hope that helps!
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140 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I didn't purchase this over amazon, rather I went to my local bookstore and checked this out page by page.
I am an absolute beginner. I know how to draw a triangle, circle, and square. I know how to scribble- that's it. I have a hard time even making cylinders, pyramids, and cubes- that's beginner for you.
The book spends most of the time showing you how so many have improved and making you draw the weirdest objects. It didn't teach me how to use lines or shapes, rather it figured I already knew how to see all of those in various things. I found more helpful tutorials on the web than this. I found a lot of steps rather confusing and I didn't really get how they assumed I should know when and where my light will hit on an object and therefore I should automatically know how to shade & shadow.

Trust me, this is not for beginners. I learned a lot more browsing 'You Can Draw in 30 Days' and searching online tutorials than this item.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I wanted to like this book and the first few pages gave instructions on how to hold your pencil to create different kinds of lines, but the next pages expected you to practice these lines by drawing a realistic coffee cup and a cat's face. It was discouraging because there were no steps leading up to a it, so the end result (for me) were repeatedly awful pictures. The book's instruction was like all you need to become an artist is to angle your pencil a certain way and voila.
While I hoped this book would give me the skills to move beyond doodles, I didn't find enough basic steps before it quickly jumped to needing artistic know-how like shading, light, and shapes which the book gave no to very little instruction on, so I donated this book to my local library after several months of frustration.
Maybe this book is better for helping a beginner progress to intermediate, but its not a book I'd recommend for an absolute beginner.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this as a true rank beginner in drawing--"Drawing for the Absolute Beginner". I was hopeful that this book would give me step by step instruction on how to learn the basics. Unfortunately it really just shows the various tools needed, and the various types of drawings. This will useful as a future reference, but not what I need for actually learning to draw. Disappointing.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I purchased this art book for my 12 year old granddaughter. She was doing some very nice sketching but did not know any of the techniques that you need for shading, etc. She was thrilled with this book and spent a couple of hours on Christmas day drawing from it. She is homeschooled and will use it weekly for art class.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
You need some skills to accomplish the tasks in this book, it does not teach someone who cannot draw how to draw, it shows you how to do some basic drawings but not how to develop the skills necessary to complete them
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First of all, I am a beginner (adult) when it comes to drawing. At this time I am very interested in shading (values) and textures and so on. I found the instructions on this book too short and some of the projects are complicated, beyond a beginner's level, such as the portrait of the mountain man. His beard and mustache were complex. There is a lot to it. One of things that I would like to understand is what hashing to use to do the values of various objects, even as simple as the sphere. Some books use cross hashing other books other types of hashing. Of course, it depends on the artist, but certain things look better than others.

When I was at University I had a Statistics teacher who used to say when it came to proving some formulas were true: I can write each step of the proof, or write every other step or jump to the result directly. Some of the exercises in this book feel like jumping to the end, and skipping the middle which is the most interesting aspect in my mind. The tricky part is to know what techniques to employ to make a beard look real, for instance. How do you emphasize the white strands? Sometimes you have dark hair but the light makes it shiny. How do you draw these?

What I would like to see in a beginner's book, in my mind, is studies a various objects/people/landscapes. First you see the picture of the real object etc, then you see how the artist drew it and why he drew it like that and how he did it. I am pretty sure there are a lot of tricks to make the drawing live. If you draw fur, it's easy to say follow the texture of the fur, there is more to it than that.

So far I haven't seen yet a book for beginners that goes to that much detail. Perhaps there are older books.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
if this is for beginners than im a lot lower on the totem pole than that. theres no clear direction or anything
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