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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Art Book Haul From This Week by J. Logan Carey

McKays Used Books & CDs

McKays Used Books & CDs

Here in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we’re lucky to have a huge used bookseller called McKays. It’s a fantastic place to sell the books, comics, CDs, records, electronics, and games that no longer “spark joy”.

Thanks, Marie Kondo.

The other day I rifled through their expansive art book collection and found some gems I thought I’d share. Gotta love getting some quality books at super affordable prices. These will be great to study from and pick up at any odd moment to get inspired.

Here’s what I got…

The Haul

The Haul

First of all, my wife blew my mind when she pulled 100 Tuesday Tips by Griz and Norm off the shelf that I had somehow completely missed. Griz and Norm are two Disney artists who teach drawing online through their popular series of Tuesday Tips they post for free online on Instagram and Twitter. This was amazing for several reasons. One, you can’t actually buy this book in stores, only direct from them. I’ve been wanting to for a while now, but just haven’t set aside the money. I’ve been following Griz and Norm for a long time and I love that they put out their work for free, but also sell printed copies. Well, this copy was criminally cheap. Couldn’t pass it up.

Also, since every copy comes right from the artists themselves, they’re signed…

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How cool is that? Prized member of my art library. I still can’t believe someone sold their copy, but their loss is my gain.

The drawing lessons in 100 Tuesday Tips are fantastic for learning lots of dynamic types of movement and character design that are vital in positions such as Animator for instance. Hey, I love learning all kinds of drawing techniques. You can’t learn too much, that’s not a thing. Learn all kinds of methods to do the thing you love.

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Lots of great design ideas throughout.

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The next find…

Typically I steer away from any books with “How to Draw something” in the title because usually they aren’t very good at teaching you to draw anything, they just show a few process shots of how established artists go from quick pencil sketches to highly-rendered finished pieces. They’re also usually overpriced for a thin amount of information. I made an exception for this cheap copy of How to Draw Zombies. If nothing else, it’s fun to look through. I do love zombies.

Also, it amuses me that this is put out by the same Walter Foster Publishing that put out those huge mid-century art books for learning everything from drawing to oil painting. I even have an old display sign (see above) from a Walter Foster book display.

There’s some very nice looking horror compositions in this one. Worth the price of admission, especially if you can pick up a used copy.

This next book is called Tolkien’s World. It’s a relatively thin book at 144 pages from the late 90’s, but it’s a very nice compilation of some of the best Tolkien-inspired artwork that came out before the movies. Indeed, many of the visuals from the movies were inspired or directly taken from the artwork seen in this book.

And it was $3, so pretty hard to say no to a nice clean copy that will be a great coffee table book if nothing else.

The book isn’t put out anymore, but it looks like you can get an equally cheap copy from lots of online sellers should you be interested.

Last, but not least was the weighty tome, The Art of Fallout 4.

Now, I am not a gamer (other than if you count mobile), but I’m a huge fan of the Fallout series. Fallout 4 looked like such an enticing post-apocalyptic world, I was very jealous of people who got to play it, but I was always more intrigued by the look and feel of the world itself. Luckily for people like myself, companies are compiling their concept and pre-production art for these kinds of projects in wonderful hardcover formats such as this.

Colored full page artwork galore in this book. It is a masterpiece of concept art and world design.

To me, it looks like they were able to compile almost every piece of concept art from Fallout 4. If you enjoy the post-apocalyptic genre, it is truly a thing to behold.

There are some amazing examples of different environmental effects on the same scene as show below…

These are examples of the different times of day and weather events one an experience in the game, but for an artist, it’s an invaluable resource for how to conceptualize different paths in your environmental art. Amazing stuff.

Even very early concept sketches are included in The Art of Fallout 4. These are some of the sketches I love to see the most, “napkin sketches” if you will. Such simple designs that evolved into a highly-rendered and immersive world. A delight to page through.

While I’m still trying to be good about acquiring too much “stuff” these days as I’ve made downsizing my continual goal, I will definitely keep used book stores in mind for the exceptional deals one can find on art books for reference and inspiration.

Have you gotten any art books lately that you love?

Books I Read In 2018 by J. Logan Carey

Steal Like An Artist is a fantastic book for creatives of all types. This was probably the third time I’ve read it as it’s a really short read and acts as a huge boost to my creativity.

Super highly recommended.

Art & Fear was a phenomenal deep dive into what it means to make art. It had a lot of poignant advice like not comparing yourself to others or being worried about copying other artists as you’re learning when we can’t even copy ourselves. Read the book for that to make sense.

Another idea in the book that resonated was about how your job as an artist is not necessarily to become the best ever or even exactly what you are aiming for, but to make art and understand the art you make and come to appreciate it.

The Worst Hard Time is a National Book Award Winning book about an era of American history that holds a lot of interest for me, the Dust Bowl and Great Depression era. I haven’t read many non-fiction / history books, but I am working on changing that as I get older. I think that’s a popular trend.

The book reads like a novel in a lot of ways, and you really get a feel for the people who lived through it. There are amazing stories of survival, hardship, and loss in here. It also sparked an idea for a graphic novel set in the Dust Bowl. Ugh, so many comic ideas…

H.P. Lovecraft is just simply one of my favorite storytellers of all time. His imagery and gothic sensibilities helped shape the genre of Horror as we know it. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories is one of those excellent Penguin Classics that is a great entry point into the world of Lovecraftian stories. Some of these stories I was rereading, some read for the first time, but I always enjoy them. I could read them over and over and over and do.

It’s been a few years since I’ve read The Fellowship of the Ring and I’m sorry to say I never really took my time with it (it was for a class on Tolkien and we had SO MANY books assigned to read) and I never got past it, something I’m remedying this year.

The Lord of the Rings is a classic and foundational for the Fantasy genre, which is one of my favorites so I decided I definitely had to read these this year. They’re a joy. I always find myself wanting to see what the world of Middle-Earth looked like in it’s zenith. Sometimes I feel like we’re always picking up in a story after practically everything has gone to pot. I guess stories about blissful utopias aren’t page-turners.

Steve Huston is one of the best figure drawing artists alive right now in my opinion so I definitely wanted to read Figure Drawing for Artists.

The ideas behind construction of anatomy are really helpful. I need to spend a lot more time just practicing what he presents in this book.

Hawthorne on Painting was highly recommended by a lot of artists so I figured I would check it out.

It’s less of chapter book then a collection of notes, lectures, and ideas of late artist by his wife. You might think reading a book about painting rather than just painting doesn’t work, but it was actually a great read. It’s more of a philosophy of painting book, but I think it would help a lot of people who are nervous to get into art. I enjoyed it.

I fucking love a good genre fiction anthology and I really love the entire post-apocalyptic genre so I’m pretty much a sucker for any anthology even tangentially related to it. How could I turn down an anthology based around animal tales of the end of the world?! Animals are way better than people.

Some genre anthologies can look intriguing and then the stories actually suck, but Tails of the Apocalypse was probably a better post-apocalyptic anthology then some others I’ve read, notably Wastelands and Wastelands 2 which looked promising, but both were disappointing. Tails was very enjoyable.

FINALLY I read the second book of The Lord of the Rings. I really liked The Two Towers, I love the dark imagery of it, the foreboding. Need to draw some more Gollum.

It has been a while since I kept going on the Dark Tower series. I have no idea what is going on, but they’re written wonderfully. Stephen King is just a master, what else can you say? The Waste Lands was probably my favorite so far. Can’t wait to plow through the next one.

I wanted to enjoy Dies the Fire. An epic post-apocalyptic saga that stretches across numerous books and is set in America? Hell yes. I could not have been more disappointed. I was kind of amazed considering how published the author is, having many novels to his name, but this one was like so fucking hard to get through. I have a hard time not finishing a book so I had to keep plodding.

There was so much nonsense about Wicca in it I could write my own book on it. Also, the End of the World scenario made no sense. Basically everything electronic stops working, which is fine, but then everything like internal combustion engines and gunpowder also stops working which means the basic fundamental rules of the universe changed for no reason. Ugh, just read the reviews on Goodreads to see what I mean.

I have really gotten into gothic stories as I’ve gotten older and realized that so many of the story tropes I love the most are gothic story tropes and I live in the South so picking up this anthology was pretty much a given. I’m not familiar with any of the authors and they look mostly to be self-published (hey, good for you guys), so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Dead Ends was an awesome anthology. Most of the stories were winners which is kind of rare in genre anthologies. Good stuff.

What can I say? Morbid things interest me. Does This Mean You’ll See Me Naked was a fascinating look into the funeral home business. And yeah, it’s kind of fascinating. We all pretend it doesn’t exist, but it’s everywhere. The author’s conservative political perspective crept in every now and again, but all in all it was a really good book.

Spoiler alert from the title: Yes, it does.

Another End of the World anthology. Yesterday’s Gone is a bit different in that the separate stories are all taking place in the same story from different character’s perspectives. It’s written kind of like now how a television show story would be, hence the “Season One” in the title. I didn’t really love it. Which is unfortunate because I bought the rest of the series already. Sigh.

Undead Worlds is a zombie short story anthology. There were some gems in here for fans of zombie fiction.

I almost read Deer Hunting With Jesus just to say that I was reading a book with that title. It cracked me up and is fun to say. It’s a book about a hometown guy come back from living in California most of his life to one of the American South’s many decomposing towns and conservative bulwarks. It’s kind of a guidebook to the thinking in that part of the country from the perspective of an insider. While it was written at the end of the Bush years, it could easily be written for the Trump years as well. I’m just sad the author has passed away, I would love his no bullshit take on what’s going on in the country now.

Hilarious, sad, and highly recommended, especially for more liberal people like myself, to understand the “other side”. Might not be a bad idea for the other side to read it too.

When The Power Is Gone is an end of the world scenario where all electricity gets killed, presumably by a foreign power or something. I really wanted to give it a try because it’s based in my home of Tennessee. I’ll say it was pretty good, for what it is.

What I find kind of odd is the larger genre this book fits into which are books about the collapse of modern society written from a very conservative political perspective where guess what…the conservatives are the ones who make it because they’re all doomsday prepping, nervous about foreign countries, and hoarding guns I guess. They’re kind of like revenge fantasies for conservatives to see themselves as the victors of a world gone to hell. Kind of a strange bar for winning if you ask me. Still, I do like a good doomsday story.

So that’s 17 books in total that I read in 2018. I always wish I read more, but I’m glad I read this much at least. I’ll shoot for more in 2019.

Expedition Art by J. Logan Carey

Let me tell you about a fantastic nonprofit organization I discovered called Expedition Art. They’re a group of well known artists and industry professionals who have teamed up to raise awareness for wildlife and nature conservation (two causes close to my heart) initiatives through art.

How frickin’ cool is that?

I learned about the organization listening to Bobby Chiu’s excellent Chiustream podcast. Here’s the video version below…

Their current project is a Kickstarter campaign for a GORGEOUS art book of critically endangered wildlife called: In-Danger Book: Artists United for Wildlife Conservation. As of this moment, they’re two weeks and a few grand off of their goal.

Here’s the video about it from their Kickstarter page…

The list of artists on this book is kind of mind-blowing, I highly recommend checking it out and supporting a worthy cause and art that could directly impact our world for the better.

Book Review: Sketching from the Imagination: Dark Arts by J. Logan Carey

I just recently discovered the Sketching from the Imagination series by independent book publisher, 3dtotal Publishing. They’re the very same publishing house that also puts out the excellent Character Design Quarterly series.

Sketching from the Imagination presents sketches or other artwork from fifty different artists from a variety of fields and focused on one particular genre of art. They include brief interviews with each artist where they discuss how they go about creating art, their techniques, their tools, and what they do to get inspired and stay motivated. I’ve gotten a couple of the books so far and I really love flipping through them to get inspired.

As soon as I saw a “Dark Arts” edition I knew I had to have it. That’s a style I absolutely adore and I need to create more dark art pieces in the future.

List of the fifty artists who contributed for this book…

There are several books out in the series including Fantasy, Characters, Sci-Fi, Creatures & Monsters, An Insight Into Creative Drawing, and Dark Arts.

I was already a big fan of the majority of the artists in the book, but I got to learn about some new artists I hadn’t run into yet.

A couple of my absolute favorites made an appearance such as E.M. Gist

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Abigail Larson, always fantastic…

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…and Ryan and Matthew Murray who are tattoo artists based in Salem, Massachusetts, but whose pieces absolutely fit the theme. It would be a dream to one day get a tattoo from them.

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Here’s a full flip-through courtesy of Parka Blogs, a very helpful YouTube channel that just flips through art books without any commentary. Super useful.

I’ve got a couple more books in the series to review in the future so check back for those. Thanks for stopping by.