Reviews

Book Review: A Guide to Drawing by J. Logan Carey

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For my next book review, we’re going to look at A Guide to Drawing (Fifth Edition), by Daniel M. Mendelowitz and Duane A. Wakeham.

This book is a lot more dense than your typical “How to Draw” books. In fact, it’s actually a textbook taught in college art classes.

I never went to art school, but I’ve always wanted to go beyond simple drawing books and use what a real art school student would use so I did some online searching and found the University of Missouri’s Drawing I syllabus posted helpfully online by Art Professor, Lampo Leong, PhD. Thanks, Professor!

The syllabus has a list of textbooks for the class and while they were probably all brand new at the time of the class and cost the students a pretty penny, I found them easily on eBay and Amazon for a few bucks each. Another benefit of the survey style learning I’m doing.

The syllabus suggests getting the sixth edition of the book, but having been a college student myself, I know there’s probably fuck all difference between the fifth and sixth editions, and the fifth was cheaper.

Unsurprisingly, there is currently an EIGHTH EDITION of this textbook (they discovered new ways to draw, y’all) and as of this post, the best used price on Amazon was $65, to buy it outright is $137, or you can RENT IT (lawd) for $22. The fifth edition cost me $4.


The chapter subjects are as follows:

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  • The Nature of Drawing

  • Experiencing Drawing

  • Beginner’s Media

  • Learning to See

  • Copying and Sketching

  • Line

  • Value

  • Texture

  • Composition

  • Perspective

  • Dry Media

  • Wet Media

  • Still Life

  • Landscape

  • Figure Drawing

  • Portraiture

  • Illustration

  • Expressive Drawing


The book is an excellent place to start a serious study of drawing. It’s foundational, but challenging. At over 300 pages in fairly small print, there is a LOT of densely packed information here. Probably one of the most valuable parts of the book is scattered throughout each chapter in the form of drawing assignments the book calls “Projects.”

Each chapter has many Projects and every one of them are incredibly helpful practice exercises. If you want to improve, DO NOT SKIP THE PROJECTS. That goes for any instructional art book now that I’m thinking about it. At over 300 pages, 17 chapters, and typically ten or so projects per chapter, A Guide to Drawing has kept me busy for the past several months. As I went through the projects I often felt as though I was really in a college class and doing assigned homework. It’s one of those things where it’s not necessarily a ton of fun, but the end result is you really learn the material. It made me appreciate the sentiment I often hear from art school graduates; that they often felt like they were plodding through meaningless work instead of all the fun projects they envisioned creating, but left school feeling as though they really learned the fundamentals of how to create art. I think that’s one of the benefits of using a book like this as opposed to a more general one.

And also, it was $4.

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Many, if not most of the projects had me practicing ideas and concepts I probably never would have on my own. Ideas like abstraction, composition, value, and perspective. The maybe, not-so-fun, parts of art that you have to get a grasp on if you want to create your best work.

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Another helpful addition to the book are the Sketchbook Activities. These are not singular exercises, but overarching ideas to take into your drawing studies in the future. Things to keep in the back of your mind to keep thinking critically about how and what you are creating.

One of the aspects of this book that I found most helpful was its focus on basic concepts, sketches, and rough drawings. There’s nothing more intimidating than picking up an instructional art book filled with fully rendered, finished pieces. This book is full of rough sketches from some of the masters of art, historical and modern. It helps you see that every artist begins somewhere and every piece of art begins as something simple and approachable.

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Having spent several months reading every chapter and attempting every project, no matter how unappealing they seemed, I think A Guide to Drawing was tremendously educational and I’m really glad I took the time to go through it. I highly recommend it for artists looking to build their skill of the fundamental concepts of drawing. Even artists that have been drawing for a while can benefit from the concepts and projects within. Plus, if you pick up a used copy, it’s just so darn affordable for the wealth of information it contains. I can see myself keeping it next to my desk and referring to its concepts for a long time to come. A wonderful book.

Procreate Brush Review: Space Noise by J. Logan Carey

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If there’s one simple way to give your illustrations some depth and character, it’s a noise brush. They can take a flat and boring image and turn into into something really unique. Now, there’s one solitary noise brush in the Procreate default brushes called Noise Brush (it’s in the Touchups menu). It’s not bad, but it is nice to have some options.

Enter the Space Noise Procreate Brush Set…dun dun DUNNNNNN, available on Gumroad.

Can I say just how much I love Gumroad? I LOVE GUMROAD.

These are five excellent noise brushes made by Justas Galaburda of Iconuptopia, a site where he teaches icon design. For a sample of Justas’ work, check out his Instagram where his icon designs have a HUGE following. I’d sell a finger for numbers like this. Okay maybe not a finger, a toe perhaps, don’t need all of those anyway.

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The Space Noise brush set is made up of five excellent noise brushes, the different styles of which you can see above.

Can I just say how much I appreciate a simple brush set with well titled brushes? These names stick in my brain a lot better than other brush sets where they might be titled ThisBrushPro and ThatBrushPro V.2 and ThemsBrushPro SUPER V.2. I’m probably going need to start naming other brushes myself based on what I use them for so I can remember them.

Anyway…

Here’s a quick piece I did below with the Space Noise set. I’ve been looking at a lot of Eyvind Earle concept art for Sleeping Beauty lately so it probably shows in what I ended up with.

The Space Noise brush set is currently available for $9.99 for early purchasers until March 4th where they’ll go up to $14.99. All buyers get any future updates absolutely FREE. Such is the magic of Gumroad.

Check them out and show me what you’ve come up with using them by sending me a Tweet!

Book Review: Marc Davis, Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man by J. Logan Carey

Time for another art book review!

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I’ll be totally honest, after we got back from our Disney World honeymoon, I went a little nuts. I bought a whole slew of Disney art books because I was so inspired by the whole world of entertainment created and built on art. I never even really thought I was much of a Disney guy, but there’s a lot of really fun concepts amidst all the fluff and shiny colors.

For the first book in my Disney library, let’s talk about Marc Davis: Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man (amazon link).

The book itself is a nice oversized hardcover book with lots of illustrations to look at. The late Davis was an artist at Disney that had a very flexible aptitude in being able to work on animation, concept art, character design, story, and helped design many of the most recognizable attractions in Disneyland as well. This was a rarity as most of the artists focused their talents on one particular area.

The book tells of Davis’ life and how much art played a central role. He was painting early in his life, always sketching, taught art, learned animation, created concept art, kept visual journals of his and his wife’s travels around the world, and also left his mark on fine art with a focus on painting later in life. His story was incredibly inspiring for me. The man just loved to make art, loved to draw, and never quit. There are pages of sketches from football games he watched on television, everything was a worthy subject for his drawing. Something I’ve tried to keep in the forefront of my mind as I always seem to be asking myself, “what should I draw?”.

Some of his work I loved the most were his concept pieces for attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion as you can see below. To think that some of these scenes that are interwoven with the American psyche were born from the imagination of one man is incredible. As the book is pretty cheap (currently $12.99) I can definitely recommend picking it up for your own library if you want to see more of the concept work behind the famous rides of Disney parks around the world.

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