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I'm always surprised when I read "how to draw" books and find useful tips in them to improve my drawing skills. You may find this silly, but I rarely read these books. I tend to use only half of the reference— the visual half— to add details to my own work. But the written half is incredibly useful as well. It tells you what you might not have picked up from the pictures alone: how and why the image works.
Christopher Hart delivered a good guide. In this book, Hart demonstrates "how to draw original characters from simple templates." The text accompanying the images is concise, but pertinent. He points out how small changes can make a big impact on your image. And all throughout, these changes will have a bearing on the character you create. That was probably my favorite part. Redrawing a character to look the same through a series of poses, actions, and outfits is difficult, so I'll take any help I can get with that. This focus on creating characters and keeping their looks consistent through multiple images makes this guide a wonderful reference for fledgling comic book artists. However, I wouldn't refer to this as a "master" guide. The book is split into six parts: schoolgirls, schoolboys, preteens, charming villains, humor in anime, and fantasy characters. Of these six, the bulk of the content is in drawing schoolgirls.
I guess drawing girls is more fun than drawing boys?
Maybe? I have a lot of fun drawing girls and women in a manga style, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to include boys and men in my drawings. I just found it odd how many more examples were available on how you could radically change a character type/personality (with a quick-change of hair, clothes, or expression) for girls than there were for the boys. And the schoolgirl section was the best illustrated and most informative section of the book also, with the preteens chapter being a close second. Perhaps Christopher Hart just loves drawing schoolgirls and preteens more than anything.
Are you saying—?!
Nothing pervy, you perv! All I'm saying is that those sections of the book received the most amount of love.
When you say love...
I'm saying detailed descriptions, variations, and full-color images for certain chapters and not others. If you do anything creative, there are certain things that you prefer to do over others. Given the attention to detail on these, I would say that "charming villains" are not on Hart's list of favorite things to draw. There were only two types: both male, based on the same body type, and they weren't even done in color. They were boring. The fantasy section of the book was a little longer and contained color images, but little variation. Furthermore, those drawings were all female and they all had essentially the same facial expression.
Overall, I feel as though Hart's enthusiasm and passion extended to only the first half of the book— a little like my enthusiasm for this review. The second half was "serviceable," at best. With the exception of the villains section, I enjoyed the artwork, and the tips on keeping character consistency. Depending on where you're at in your drawing skills, you might find this useful. But it isn't a "master" guide, or anything close to a definitive one.
One last thing to note before I go: After puzzling (loudly and repeatedly to my husband) over why the style of the art varied as much as it did from one section to the next, he pointed something out to me. This was not all drawn by the same artist. There were multiple contributing artists, and I don't think Christopher Hart was even one of them, though he did write the book.
So there you have it! My opinion hasn't changed much, but my jokes make less sense now.
|Thanks a lot, Christopher Hart.|