If you’re of a particular age, you will remember those massive but thin A3-sized Walter Foster published artbooks. Like me, you probably still own them as they are a handy read through and at a size that is probably at a similar scale to what you might draw or paint.
The current batch of Walter Foster Publishing books are a little smaller but with many more pages and cover similar subjects from pencils to water-colour to acrylic and oil. There are also a few of these books that fall under our remit that I shall be reviewing over the next few months for the artistically inclined. Case in point here is ‘How To Draw Steampunk’, drawn/painted by Bob Berry and written by Joey Marsocci and Allison Deblasio.
You aren’t thrown in the deep end because you are shown the tools you need, although gouache are mentioned further in, and what they do. Although digital art is included, it tends to focus on Corel Photoshop as if it’s the only graphics art software out there. If you do want to pursue this avenue, you might find Corel Paintshop a decent enough substitute and infinitely cheaper and uses similar commands. In some respects, going digital for steampunk effect does seem a little like sacrilege so you might prefer to stick to use paper or canvas, which has been around a lot longer and still kind of popular.
There is a need for some knowledge of drawing shapes but if you can turn a circle, triangle and square into a sphere, pyramid and cube and some patience, you should be able to turn out something akin to what is shown here as Bob Berry builds up pictures of various steampunk artefacts, reminding you that ornate and complex is a requirement, hence my comment on patience. Like Berry, I would stress that you need to use good quality paper to get the best results. If you can afford Bristol board, it’s worth experimenting with and allows for an eraser without damaging the paper as I’ve recently found out.
I’m a bit puzzled with steampunk films that ‘Metropolis’ (1927) doesn’t get a mention amongst the steampunk films.
Likewise, reflecting after reading the book, I do have to wonder on why such a strong accent on pencilling with so much detail. There is only one full painting of a street scene and just for variety, doing a human figure that way would have shown other possibilities. Berry covers all the main types of technology, transport, people and places that it might leave some of you pondering what you can do next. On the other hand, if you need a guide to inspire or copy for costume play, this might be a good choice. I should point out that another of the Walter Foster books coming up for review deals with cos play, so you might find this book a useful complement. After all, if you can draw it, you might be able to make a model of it.
The key thing to remember is the steampunk selling point is intricate detail and not using electricity to power anything. Steam and pressure are the effective energy making mechanisms which makes anything a tad over-sized. It would also help if you aren’t an absolute beginner when it comes to drawing or painting but, if you are, Walter Foster has other books at reasonable prices that can fill in gaps in your artistic education. If you just like looking and marvelling at such books, then you’ll be just as happy.
(pub: Walter Foster Publishing/Quarto. 128 page very large softcover. Price: £12.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $24.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-60058-240-0)