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Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer (book review)

June 23, 2021 | By | Reply More

Just what you need for a book on dragon art called ‘Dragon Art’ is a really big oblong book. After an introduction by artist John Howe, Graeme Aymer gives a history of dragons, significantly pointing out that different cultures see them as good or bad. Don’t be rude about the dragons in the orient as they are seen as benevolent. There are also samples from 52 artists, with references to some of the books they’ve done and their websites which will ensure some of you will see what else they’ve done.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
© Flame Tree Publishing, 2009

Like the other big artbooks from Flame Tree, you also get artists showing how they made some of their paintings but alas one of the other problems. Several pages discussing Frank Frazetta but nary any of this artwork. The same also applies to the various films referenced. Presumably, that might be down to copyright and cost but you would think this could have been resolved.

I was surprised by how many of the artists demonstrating their picture development was using Photoshop and only one using Painter. It would have made more sense to see other software used or even traditional oils and acrylics. Even so, there is a similar technique to all of them and something to learn from them, if only to know what dodge and burn do to lighten or darken a colour. Towards the end of the book several artists discuss the good and bad points of digital art. The best is not having any drying time to worry about, which applies to oils more than acrylics. The worse is keeping up with technology and ensuring earlier art pieces can still be read by latter technology. I did have a think on the latter one and suspect that some artists keep their art in the layered format and then also save as a BMP/JPG files. Hopefully, software manufacturers should at least keep file conversions and backward compatibility in mind.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
© Flame Tree Publishing, 2009

I did think there’s too much emphasis on Robert E Howard, Lovecraft and Tolkien but sure if that is for padding or simply because of their fantasy work. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books gets a few mentions but surely would have deserved more considering these are the most significant mention of dragons in a Science Fiction reality.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
© Flame Tree Publishing, 2009

What makes this book useful beyond art is it’s a reference guide to dragons across the world, making it a common mythology across mankind. Looking objectively with the information presented, dragons are really chimeras having characteristics of various species, although unlike Aymer, I draw short of comparison to dinosaurs where, at most, the nearest to shape are the underwater variety. Even so, the common characteristics must have stirred the imaginations.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
© Flame Tree Publishing, 2009

The discussion on dragon composition from various artists should give you plenty to think about in making your own designs convincing. In many respects, unless you reduce the number of limbs a dragon have, they are really six-limbed creatures and their bone and muscularisation should take that into account and, indeed, with any other creatures that inhabit their world.

Dragon Art by Graeme Aymer
© Flame Tree Publishing, 2009

This book is still relevant eleven years after its come out and still available in first hand copies for the artist and those who just love to look at dragons. A worthy edition to your dragon book collection.

GF Willmetts

June 2021

(pub: Flame Tree Publishing, 2009. 200 page illustrated large oblong hardback. Price: £20.00 (UK) $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-84786-300-3)

check out website: www.flametreepublishing.com

Category: Books, Culture, Illustration

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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