The Best Of Draw! Volume Three (book review)

November 27, 2021 | By | Reply More

Oddly, you’re going to take a second look when the indicia says this ‘Best Of Draw!’ is ‘Volume One’ not ‘Volume Three’. The material covered is from Draw! # 5-7, original issues that don’t appear on the market although this volume had only one printing. It’s also a little annoying when looking at the back of this book that there was also a reprint of the next three issues in a Volume Four, alas now sold out.

The interview with comicbook artist Mike Wieringo (1963-2007) about his life and art techniques, a couple years before his early death. The most significant thing is showing how he worked out his character designs and prepped his pages.

I can understand why Draw! # 5 sold out. Paul Rivoch spends considerable time in how to give dimension to a comicbook panel pointing out more than just perspective but general rules of composition to make the most of the space (sic). It’s a fascinating study although surprised they didn’t go back to this in future issues and other artists interpretations.

The Powers team shows how they put a page together from script to pencils to inks to lettering. I thought it was a bit of a bland page but it does give a lot of information.

Even better is Brett Blevins demonstrating how to draw expressive hands. This is often a failing of upcoming artists but is something that needs to be practiced to get right. I would also add you should really also get hold of Andrew Loomis’ book, ‘Drawing Heads And Hands’ if you want to get absolutely into the basics. I would also think there is a need to learn how to draw hands touching things. I’m always amazed how some artists can’t even draw using a door handle.

Paul Rivoch continues with looking at design and pushing on paying attention to what is around you, not to mention, applying your imagination and mind’s eye. The one thing cartoonists and comicbook illustrators have to do, although not gone into detail here, is drawing the same place continually from different angles and I think I would add make a floor plan, whether it’s for a room, building or city block so you have something to refer to. Such homework does speed things up. Bearing in mind, Rivoch’s article is a couple decades old, I suspect some of the 3D software might actually help some artists who see this as a weakness in their work. Even so, learn from this article as it’s a lesson in planning and design.

In contrast, cartoonist Bill Wray is a lot more crazy or mad (sic) but gives an insight into his life and how he developed his art skills and should give you some wry smiles and outlook into drawing for a living.

It only takes a few looks to recognise Celia Calle came from a background of fashion design. Long legs, long bodies and oddly shaped heads giving its own style. She also doesn’t come from a comic geek background, looking at artistic style more than story so it does give a different perspective. It does look like she has the same problem pros have alike in drawing or painting for themselves doesn’t work without deadlines. Although I only had a semi-pro status artwise, I still have a Hendrix painting in mid-stream still waiting on a canvas to realise it also affects me. An interesting interview.

Mike Manley’s feature on inking shows it is an art in itself and sometimes even remedies mistakes the penciller makes. Even 20 years back, the quality of pen nibs was deteriorating and, as I’ve always said, you would think companies making such equipment would think of professional requirements. That’s a lot harder to do with brushes but even old ones can be used for things like spotting blacks.

The interview with cartoonist Stephen DeStefano gives aspects of his life in animation and comicbooks. I’m less sure that the rise in computer graphics has reduced the quality of pen and brushes. I mean, you would think the companies would want to keep their clientele than push them away. More likely, equipment that doesn’t last that long means more will be bought.

Brett Blevins looks at how light sources apply to figures and panels are telling lessons. It’s actually chiaroscuro in all but name but does dictate what you see in an illustration. It’s rather telling seeing three illustrations from life, to simplified line to adding intense shadow that also gives depth.

Then we are back to Paul Rivoche on building design, inside and out, and functionability. I would add to his comments on research is to never let up on it because it will always be applied to other jobs and study architecture and machinery. One thing about this when you look at Kirby is his machinery was always outlandish but you always had a sense of it doing something and functionability.

The depth of this book is making it a long read and only one more issue to go.

Brett Blevins explores doing sketching for fun and the problems of doing work that you don’t get paid for. It made me think enough about exploring motivation for an article on the subject because I think it effects the amateur as much as the professional. Unlike some jobs, the artist invests mental as well as physical energy in an intense way. Blevins demonstrates here the need to invest time to improve skills by practice. I think here he shows it in different mediums might be the clue to keeping the practice away from the work tasks but both benefit from it.

The interview with caricaturist Zach Trenholm also explores the merits of keeping a picture morgue for reference. I would correct something about locating photographs in any Internet search engine. Ditto marking particular names will bring the number of choices down but the reason so many other photos pop up is because you haven’t gotten precise enough, as adding words associated with their profession or what they are famous or what you are looking for should narrow the options down. At the back of your mind, also remember other people have probably seen the same photos and you really do need a wider selection so getting things from as many different sources for your own photo morgue is essential.

The interview with comicbook artist Dan Brereton shows an interesting mix of layout and then getting family and friends to strike the poses to getting the figures right. Not that he can’t draw unaided but makes for an interesting work ethic.

Finally, we are back to Paul Rivoche showing the five grades of light on an object. This is one of the basics of learning how to draw dimensionally and often gets overlooked when it comes to texturing, more so in painting where it is so easy to follow the colour than to understand how the light does it to the object. Some useful lessons here.

I didn’t expect this volume would take so long to digest but although I know a lot of this stuff, it is always good to have a refresher course. If you’ve been picking up on the regular issues of ‘Draw!’ since I started reviewing them, then grab these volumes from TwoMorrows before they sell out.

GF Willmetts

November 2021

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2008. 253 page illustrated softcover. Price: $29.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-893905-91-7. Direct from them, you can get it for $12.00 (US))

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Category: Books, Illustration

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About UncleGeoff

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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