Author Topic: Discount bookshop bargains.  (Read 7981 times)

Offline Ninja_Butler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
Discount bookshop bargains.
« on: August 18, 2012, 05:51:09 PM BST GMT »
My local branch of "The Works" is proving to be a treasure trove lately, I found several books about comic book style art.

If you don't have a copy already, you might be interested in "Hi Yah! How to draw fantastic martial arts comics". It's a drawing guide but it's full of interesting fantasy-art characters in various action poses plus some useful illustrations showing anatomy, weapons and clothing. And the price, £3!




I also bought these for a grand total of just £19 (including Hi Yah)
Draw Fight Scenes Like A Pro.
Drawing From The Imagination.
How To Draw Fantasy Art.
The Anatomy & Figure Artist's Handbook.

« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 06:09:03 PM BST GMT by Ninja_Butler »

Offline Vermis

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2012, 02:55:23 PM BST GMT »
Eeeeeh...  I don't like to rain on your parade (I know the feeling of stumbling across a bargain!  I think it's the old Scottish blood), but 'How To Draw Comics!/Fantasy!/Manga!' books tend to be attempts to divert schoolkids' pocket money by not-very-good artists, rather than more serious teaching or training.  The fact that the first book is titled 'Hi Yah!' (!!!) and the cover art seems pretty much influenced by the Rob Liefeld style, sets off alarms in my head.

To be generous, it may depend on what you personally take from them, consciously or unconsciously.  In the case of Hi Yah!: maybe the poses, rather than thighs longer and thicker than the torso. (What is Uberman - part grasshopper?)  Since you already have it, I'd strongly recommend tempering it with better anatomical references, and other martial arts references.

I tried looking up the other books, but Drawing From The Imagination and How To Draw Fantasy Art just brought up too many generalised and random google results.  (I hope they aren't any of the Scholastic books I noticed!)  The author of Draw Fight Scenes Like a Pro seems legit.
For the last, I got results for The Anatomy and Figure Drawing Artist's Handbook.  By Vivian Foster?  Seems like the kind of relatively inoffensive 'art handbook' that you see on bookshop shelves. (including remaindered bookshop shelves. :P)  There are a couple of good, bad, and middling reviews online.

I'll take a look in the local Works this week, anyway.

Offline Ninja_Butler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2012, 03:25:48 PM BST GMT »
I thought exactly the same thing, I completely ignored those books a dozen times because the cover art is so "for twelve-year olds". But then I started flicking through them and lo and behold there are tons of good quality ink-lined illustrations. Granted they're not going to be a great deal of use to the experts but for me these pictures are useful because the shapes are very clearly defined.

Here's one -  to me this a picture I could work directly from.




Offline Ninja_Butler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 03:34:53 PM BST GMT »
I thought exactly the same thing, I completely ignored those books a dozen times because the cover art is so "for twelve-year olds". But then I started flicking through them and lo and behold there are tons of good quality ink-lined illustrations. Granted they're not going to be a great deal of use to the experts but for me these pictures are useful because the shapes are very clearly defined.

Here's one -  to me this a picture I could work directly from.




Oh, and you're right about the proportions but it's explained in one book (it might have been in the same one, I can't remember) that in comic books style art, heroes and superheros are drawn with deliberately skewed proportions. Useful to know if you're sculpting something in the Games Workshop style (not that I like bobble heads and half-ton handguns).

Offline moonmin82

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 781
    • CMON Profile
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 06:09:19 PM BST GMT »
Looks worth a punt to me :-)

Offline InternalClock

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 101
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 08:56:46 PM BST GMT »
I always pop into The Works if I'm in town for exactly this kind of thing. Its like a cheap source image haven. I have found books on anything from tanks to chickens

Offline Ninja_Butler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 09:07:21 PM BST GMT »
TBH I think 90% of the books discount shops like The Works sell are only good for pulp or propping up table legs but every now and again they have some good stuff sneaked into the mix.

Offline Vermis

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2012, 10:39:45 PM BST GMT »
I had a look at most of the books in The Works yesterday (couldn't see the Anatomy Handbook) and me two conflicting viewpoints deepened a lot.  There are quite a few poses in some of the books that you could well use, but the art (and art instruction) is shockingly bad in places.

With Hi Yah! in particular, all the contributing artists are firmly in the '90's Dark Age, Rob Liefeld style.  Steve Miller's own style - what I take to be his, because it shows up the most - is awful.  Unbelievably long legs I mentioned, but also lats so huge and bulging that they look like a hump in 3/4 view; triceps that bulge out to a point; odd facial proportions that include giant slab-fronted chins... Not good!  I had a look for him online: His gallery at Comic Art Fans (his own site that that he updates and uploads to himself, from the looks of things) has a scant handful of pinups and covers to his own books.  That's about it.  The only other Steve Miller info I can find might be a different person - a sketchcard artist with a different (but still terrible) style.  I think it's the same as ConceptArt members say of one Christopher Hart: he's not a professional artist, he's a professional how-to-draw book author.

I'm also a bit dismayed to see Brett Booth's name there, because he's fairly well known and liked for his dinosaur art (a field where accuracy is cherished above everything else - sometimes even realism); but his odd proportions speak for themselves.

Two of the other books, by Jeff Johnson (fight scenes) and Steve Beaumont (fantasy art), seem better, simply because the authors are better artists - to a point.  Beaumont in particular seems overly preoccupied with showing his style of smudging and erasing his fairly messy pencil shading.  Which doesn't really add much depth to some of his tutorial results, anyway.  Johnson's is better still because it's less focused on the old 'just look at my clever drawings!' style of how-to-draw books, and he brings in some fellow comic artists to offer other examples, styles and viewpoints.

All three books fall fairly flat on explaining the fundamentals, particularly a fairly important component of all three subjects: the human figure.  There's the typical flat, overexaggerated, and incomplete muscle diagram with little-to-no explanation, tucked in near the front of the book.  Miller has a female diagram next to to the male, which is no great shakes considering how strangely shaped they both are.  It gets worse over the page when he shows how to draw male and female children: the same stretched limbs, pinched torsos and balloon-muscles as the adults, but on a skinnier frame and with a huge head.  It's particularly grotesque, even for this specific niche style of comic art, and if I was feeling especially grumpy today I'd say that was reason enough to chuck the book.
Beaumont's book (Or was it Miller's?  The Steves are running together into one horrific mass in my head) has an extra bit about posing and drawing heads and faces, which is noble, but again some of the proportions are just about off.  Mouths too low, eye sockets a bit skewed, little things that add up.  It seems cribbed from one of Burne Hogarth's books, only not as good.  And given some of Hogarth's wonky heads, that's saying something.
Johnson has an extra skeleton.  Whee!  One small, roughly-reproduced drawing of a skeleton.  And right above it, in the last line of a paragraph, he says something along the lines of 'copy these skeletons until you get to know the human form'.  And a couple of pages after his musculature model sheets, he actually has good, realistic (if equally small and blurry) muscle diagrams.  But these aren't for demonstrating musculature, oh no.  They're for showing where pressure points are.  Facepalm.

The lack of anatomy is carried over into their specific examples and tutorials.  There's an odd tendency to start a pose with a stick-and-egg figure (all well and good) and for some reason then flesh it out as a wooden mannequin.  As opposed to, y'know, putting muscles on it.  That step's neatly skipped over (and with Beaumont, so is the first) so they can go quickly to the fully-fleshed figure, and onto the real meat of the book: superficial paraphernalia and gewgaws.  They're like Glenn Fabry's book in that regard: barbarians should look mean!  And carry an axe!  And here's how to draw wikkid-bad spiky tattoos in painstaking detail over anatomy that we barely bothered with.  (Okay, I'm being a bit too harsh here.  This kind of focus on style over substance does irritate me, but I'll concede that there may be people out there who don't have a grounding in pop culture tropes and archetypes.  Lost amazonian tribes, maybe.)
Beaumont's fantasy book has one example that sticks out in my mind.  At the start of a winged 'bad girl' tute, he devotes a line to say 'gather up your references for the wings', and shows a couple of pretty good photos of a crow and crow's wing.  Good, clear and detailed, even as tiny thumbnails just illustrating his point.  He then goes on to draw this girl with wings that look like a pair of feather dusters.  It kind of clashes with the way his various female tutes look vaguely like too-slavish copies of pin-up photos.
Johnson's fight scene book isn't so bad, because like I say, he devotes space to styles of martial arts and how to pace and pose comic fights, rather than more step-by-steps.  The problem is, the fighting styles aren't explained too well.  Various styles and sub-styles get a line or two, handwaving some simple generalisations about their history and practise, and maybe one drawing of one point of one move.  I have only an inkling more knowledge about jeet kune do or kung fu than I did before, which still leaves me hovering just above nil.  To be fair he says that to explain the details of many styles would be beyond this book, but it does leave me wondering what exactly is the remit of a book about drawing martial arts?
That's the general theme here.  There are a couple of mentions in the books about looking elsewhere for info, references and details - which is a good thing IMO, but it raises the question of what these books bring to the table, that binds it all together?

Ron Tiner isn't a name I've heard of, let alone seen held aloft; but a quick flick through his book Drawing From The Imagination shows - to my eyes at least - that he owns all three of the previous books.  Blindfolded, with one hand tied behind his back.  He's more skilled and accomplished, and the blurb backs it up: 40 years experience as a professional artist and teacher.  Despite the title, and unlike the two Steves, he lives less in his own little world with it's own little laws of physics, biology and art, and brings everything back to observation of the real world.  And his style is a little like Mike Ploog's, so I'm just a tad biased.  Ninja, if there's one of these Works books I've seen that you should pay more attention to, I'll get down on my knees and beg it to be this one.

But then I started flicking through them and lo and behold there are tons of good quality ink-lined illustrations. Granted they're not going to be a great deal of use to the experts but for me these pictures are useful because the shapes are very clearly defined.

Here's one -  to me this a picture I could work directly from.

The printing of the lines might be good quality but that doesn't necessarily carry over to the shapes the lines are drawn in. ;)

It looks like one of Brett Booth's contributions - same style and thin, scratchy line.  When I flicked through the book I saw this and one or two others, and could barely believe my eyes.  I made a snarky comment about thighs longer than the torso, but these were examples of thighs longer, wider and much more massive than the torso!  It's not right.  It's just not right.  It's so not right it deserves capitals: It's Not Right.

Quote
Oh, and you're right about the proportions but it's explained in one book (it might have been in the same one, I can't remember) that in comic books style art, heroes and superheros are drawn with deliberately skewed proportions.

From the guy who's never drawn a comic, and with his 'style' and influences... :P

Not say superheros have never been drawn that way, and not just in the '90's.  And the specific overskewed '90's style is still hovering around, but it belongs back then.  It's a relic, a blip.  It's derided and despised in many places, and that's just by comic readers.

Quote
Useful to know if you're sculpting something in the Games Workshop style (not that I like bobble heads and half-ton handguns).

'Heroic' 28mm isn't quite the same as 'Superheroic', though. :P  Superheros are drawn with long limbs and tiny heads to make them look larger than life.  Heroic minis are sculpted with shorter limbs and large heads, ostensibly to bulk the minis for casting and make the identifiable human features (face, hands, etc.) more recognisable.  Or whatever other moon-logic.  Not important right now.
My real point is that it's better to base your study on real anatomy, proportions etc.  As and when you learn those fundamentals, you'll be better informed as to what to skew into your own personal style, or to fit with a commissioner's desired style.  Much more than if you've trained yourself in a single distinctive style and try to port over to another, or work towards greater realism.  You'll have to work backwards, 'unlearn what you have learned' as the little green master says, to get onto the right route.
You learn solely from another person's art and style, you use the same skews and make the same mistakes without realising why they're skewed or how they're mistakes, and you layer your own over them too.  Like a photocopy of a photocopy.  You learn from '90's comic art and style - which is what I think Steve Miller learned from - the results may be too horrible to contemplate.

That's the thing.  I dunno, Ninja.  I said before that I didn't like to pop up and criticise your purchases, and I still don't.  I don't like the feeling that I'm probably insulting your intelligence, either.  It looks like you've got a handle on the books, on what's goofy and what's not.  But I've been banging on with the 'learn from reality' mantra before I started this forum, and sneered at the Rob Liefeld look before that.  I don't mean to criticise your choices, but I can't honestly reply with a cheery 'kewl!' and pass by without criticising the books themselves, not with the disadvantages I see that could trip up other learners.  Not when there are better and more deserving books from deserving sellers. ;)

Now, with all that said...

Quote
I always pop into The Works if I'm in town for exactly this kind of thing. Its like a cheap source image haven. I have found books on anything from tanks to chickens

... I do like a good nose around remaindered bookshops myself.  Over the years I've stumbled across some good animal books with big, glossy photos (emphasis on photos ;)) - crocs, elephants, wolves, birds of prey and a bunch about horses, among other things.  Also books on celtic art, 'age of chivalry', and I even got a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War in The Works a few weeks ago.  Just a pity it was more about wars and campaigning than individual battles. :P  And the blurb!  The edition I got assured the reader they could learn to ruthlessly manipulate people and situations in corporate business, sports, personal relationships...  Creepy.
But I digress.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2012, 11:03:21 PM BST GMT by Vermis »

Offline Ninja_Butler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2012, 11:11:24 PM BST GMT »
Hi Vermis. Wow, you hate some of those books! Oh well, I can't fault your critique. :-D

I can't remember for the life of me why but I knew the name Ron Tinner as a concept artist for "Mighty Max" (there's a page in Drawing From The Imagination showing some early MM sketches), I used to love that show - I watched a LOT of cartoons (and still do if I'm honest). Maybe that's why I like those books - the stylized cartoony sort of style.


BTW, hopefully some time this week I'll have a couple of WIP miniatures worth showing, nothing special and they're still in the "underpinning" stage,  but I have finally learned how to get my proportions about right and keep the miniatures in correct scale - god it is SO easy to start on a 28mm sculpt and end up with a hulking 35mm scale mini.

« Last Edit: August 25, 2012, 12:10:29 AM BST GMT by Ninja_Butler »

Offline Andrew May

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1330
Re: Discount bookshop bargains.
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2012, 11:55:57 PM BST GMT »
Quote from: Vermis
moon-logic

:D