Fantasy Art Masters by Dick Jude (book review).

Some books are full of surprises and ‘Fantasy Art Masters’ by Dick Jude that came out in 1999 and recently located is loaded with them. He has ten SF/fantasy artists, giving a brief resume of their histories up to that time and then they describe how they created some of their masterpieces and you see everything from their original sketches to the end product.

The artists are: Alan Lee, Don Maitz, John Howe, Brom, Jim Burns, Rick Berry, Chris Moore, Steve Stone, Fred Gambino and Dave McKean. Artists on anyone’s list to have a better look at, more so as some of them have also included unpublished material at the time.

The book is divided into three sections, ‘Hairy Sticks And Pigments’ for traditional painting with Alan Lee, Don Maitz and John Howe, the transitory ‘Paintbrush To Pixel’ as artists were switching over in mediums with Brom, Jim Burns, Rick Berry and Chris Moore, and then ‘The Digital Realm’, whose artists worked solely that way with Steve Stone, Fred Gambino and Dave McKean. Bear in mind this is over 20 years ago, showing how these changes happened. Indeed, other than Photoshop, a lot of the software, like ‘Alias Sketch’ they were using at the time. I did look up ‘Alias Sketch’ and found it is now an aspect of the very expensive ‘AutoCAD’.

Jim Burns appears in the second section and it was a surprise to learn he doesn’t regard himself good at figurework and depends on his daughters and other models posing for him. A good reminder for all you novice artists out there that if you have problem areas in your artwork, look for solutions to get around it. From the looks of things, one of the reasons why Burns was switching to but not entirely giving up on painting was because it reduced putting airbrush spray in the air and a lot of cleaning and drying times to get the work done.

Oh one important reason for you to buy this book is if you’re ‘A Game Of Thrones’ fan is he shows how he did the original cover for the first book.

I’ve discussed several of the artists about quite recently in conjunction with their own books, some of whose art is also shown here. Even if I hadn’t come across them before, there’s a fair bet I would be perusing them to see what they’ve done since this book came out. The bonus here is them explaining how they did them and how they were adjusting to digital art. I should point out that although the book title is ‘Fantasy Art’, much of it is Science Fiction, proof that you shouldn’t judge an artbook by its cover.

You should be able to get a decent copy of this book although, after so long, I don’t think there are an infinite number of copies out there.

GF Willmetts

September 2021

(pub: Watson-Guptill Publications/HarperCollins 1999, 144 page oblong softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for about £ 8.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-8230-1636-6)

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