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Drawing For Dummies Paperback – March 14, 2003
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From the Back Cover
Hone your drawing skills with 30 hands-on projects
Discover how to draw still-lifes, landscapes, animals, people, and more!
Worried that you dont have enough talent to be an artist? Relax! All it takes is some practice and the tips and techniques youll find in this friendly guide. Beginning with the very basics lines, shape, shading, textures, perspective artist Brenda Hoddinott shows you how to draw just about anything, from flower petals to a childs eye.
The Dummies Way
- Explanations in plain English
- "Get in, get out" information
- Icons and other navigational aids
- Tear-out cheat sheet
- Top ten lists
- A dash of humor and fun
About the Author
Brenda Hoddinott is a portraitist, graphic designer, and professional illustrator. She has taught both adult education and pre-school art classes and runs an art education Web site.
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The book has a number of strengths, including a positive attitude that's important for beginners to latch on to in order to avoid discouragement. The author is also great technician with the pencil, particularly where realistic portraits are concerned. Not everyone will warm to her fairly cold, analytical, draftsman-like style, though.
Despite those strengths, there are too many flaws in this book to make it a first recommendation:
* There's not enough info on materials and tools.
* The drawing reproductions are mostly way too small to learn from. They're fine for inspiration (or intimidation!) but won't much help you emulate the author's technique.
* The main focus is on the author's speciality of portraiture. You'll find some really interesting info there, but it would have been nice to see equal attention paid to landscapes, animals, still lifes, comic book and cartoon art, etc. As it is, they're totally ignored or covered so briefly as to be of little use.
* Instructions are vague. The author does some great texture and shading work with cross-hatching but never adequately describes _specifically_ how to do it for the different types of exercises and drawings. Why not tell us what pencil you're using when, why you choose certain stroke directions and lengths, etc.?
* The author totally ignores blending in favor of cross-hatching for shading. You can do great work with either technique, so why pretend one widely used method doesn't exist? Blending is particularly important for super-realistic renderings and portraits. Almost without exception, the very best pencil portraits I've seen have been created with blending.
Don't get me wrong: this isn't a bad book, just not all it could be. Hopefully a second edition will get it all right.
Drawing for Dummies is, as another reviewer states, like a classroom in a book.
Throwing you right into your first simple drawing project in Chapter 1, she talks about the types of pencils and erasers you should be using (before getting this book I had no idea that you could buy different types of pencils to get different shades of darkness, or that with a kneaded eraser you could lighten an area and not completely erase it).
She then talks about how to see as an artist - how to see the lines in objects, different levels of shading are, etc.
Also covered is how to create the illusion of 3 dimensions using shading, how to shade using hatching and crosshatching, how to create textures in pencil, and there is a chapter devoted to perspective.
And that's not all!
The author then covers composition, sketching and sketchbooks, how to draw from memory, drawing still lifes, and drawing animals.
There is also an entire section of the book devoted to drawing portraits, starting with babies (as they are allegedly easier to draw than adults) and then moving through childhood and to adulthood.
Although she doesn't cover them quite as in depth as the other subjects, she also touches on things such as gridding, preservation of your drawing, your work area, cartooning, and how to develop your own style.
There are drawing exercises through almost every concept, and several "bonus" exercises are included in the back of the book.
The only issues I had with this book were that when it comes to shading, hatching and crosshatching are the only types it covers (or even acknowledges). Hatching is not the only, nor the most popular, form of shading, and although I'm sure it depends on the artist I'd have to say it's not the easiest either - some coverage of blending techniques would have been nice.
I was also frustrated starting out because it was very rare during the step-by-step drawing exercises that she states which pencil you should be using for what. After enough practice it becomes somewhat natural, but when first starting out it would have been nice to see "Use your 2B pencil for the shading under the wings."
All in all though this is an incredible book, definately the best of all the drawing books I've looked through at the book stores (and there are a lot of drawing books out there!).