Top positive review
first it should be made clear that this book is great for a very specific reason and is not
November 17, 2015
Okay, first it should be made clear that this book is great for a very specific reason and is not, as its title might suggest, a procedural book on the physical act of drawing itself.
This book is about figure construction, and all the rules and formulas that will assist you (greatly) in drawing a figure from your imagination, as well as help you make sense of what you're seeing when a model or photo reference is present. Although there is one very illuminating step by step procedure showing how to draw a woman in 3/4 view with her weight heavily on one leg (which is quite impressive in the way it makes it look easy to get everything right in such a complex asymmetrical pose) this is for the most part a catalog of rules of thumb regarding proportion and anatomical landmarks.
I've never seen a book so densely packed with so many useful little tips and tricks. For example Hamm has the best simplification of the pelvis I've ever seen (why didn't I think of that? Why didn't Loomis or Bridgman??) and there is a two page spread on shoulders and collar bones that is almost as enlightening as seeing for the first time that a long skirt has legs under it. For instance there is a brief schematic of a woman's shoulders in3/4 view that shows that although "By the simple laws of perspective one would expect...." the collar bone nearest the viewer to be longer, the farther one is in fact longer. He demonstrates this counterintuitive result with "correct" and "incorrect" drawings in such a way that had me slapping my forehead.
As well as countless construction guides and perceptive anatomical simplifications, there are sections on more "literal" anatomy that are as good as I've ever seen in something so brief. (He shows six different kinds of kneecaps.) Think the best of Goldfinger distilled to a few pages.
The last eight pages are on clothing and wrinkles, and this alone is worth the cost of the book. In fact it's far better than any stand alone book on the subject I know of, but that's partly because all such books I know of are next to worthless.
There is considerable overlap with Loomis, and I think the two are roughly contemporary Hamm has a much better pelvis simplification than Loomis' two disks, and he a has a surprisingly useful two-trapezoid mannequin that although basically a stick figure, is so incisive that it looks professionally drawn. I wouldn't suggest Loomis or Hamm as a substitute for the other but rather would enthusiastically recommend both.
A note on the illustrations: most of them appear to have been done in lithographic crayon rather than charcoal or carbon pencil, because they're extremely clear for the time the book was first printed. They don't look as though they've been xeroxed multiple times as Bridgman's drawings do.
If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would probably be "concision". It's exactly 120 pages long and physically thinner than most magazines, but every time I thumb through it, it *feels* as though I've gone through a book several hundred pages long. The clarity of the schematic drawings means many can fit on one page without it looking confused or cluttered (many of the heads are only an inch-and-a-half high) and in my opinion there is exactly as much text as there should be. Almost all of it appears immediately under the relevant illustrations, in no more than two or three sentence paragraphs.
The closet thing I can come to a negative criticism is the dated, kitschy Rex Morgan MD style of some of the head illustrations, but that's pretty irrelevant even in the sections on hair.
I payed just under four dollars for this book used, and considering how much I got for how little, I don't think it would be hyperbole to say this just might be the best purchase I've ever made.