Monday, October 10, 2011

Books for the Artistically Inclined

I read books. A lot of books. Back in the days when roughhousing on the playground was considered normal (and not considered grounds for legal action), I was more often than not sitting somewhere with a book in my hands. I'm still convinced that books taught me everything I know, so I thought I would honor my beloved mentors and do a blog about a few of my favorite how-to-draws.
If the word "how-to-draw" didn't make you scream and run for cover, then please read on. Clearly this blog is for you.

Title: Creating Characters with Personality (by Tom Bancroft)

Who should read it: Casual artists, illustrators, comic book/graphic novel artists, animators.

Why is it awesome?:

I won't lie to you, this book is possibly one of my favorite art books of all time. It has something for every level of artist, which makes it a great read for just about anyone. It focuses on character creation, dipping into topics like the psychology of shapes, different styles to try, basic anatomy, etc. But for those crazy artists who don't like to focus on just character, it also dips into backgrounds, animals, monsters, weapons, vehicles, and some color theory.

For those of us who require structured learning, Creating Characters with Personality also includes a chapter by chapter assignment that you can do in order to test out your no doubt boundless new skills. And while you do that you can take a look at the guest artist designs for the assignments, featuring people like the creator of Foxtrot (one of my favorite comic strips).

If you are a skeptic and you doubt the amazingness contained between the paper covers, how about a little story to convince you to take a second look? Once upon a time there was a person who didn't like to draw anything more than doodles who accidentally picked up this book. To her surprise, she loved it, and found that drawing was actually something that she was interested in and could do. She bought a copy, because she loved it so much. And since this person isn't me, I was glad that she bought a copy so that she would stop taking mine. The end. :)

Title: Framed Ink (by Marcos Mateu-Mestre)

Who should read it: Intermediate and Advanced artists, Illustrators, comic book/graphic novel artists, animators, filmmakers.

Why is it awesome?:

Have you ever wondered what separated the truly fantastic art from the average every day drawing? Well let me tell you, this book might give you a few hints. Framed Ink takes an in depth look at exactly what makes a good composition and a good story flow. From explaining the effect that different perspectives will have to discussing lighting to delving into character design, this book is a solid little masterpiece for every level of illustrator. Even film will find it useful, since it goes through shot set-up and how to use the environment to your advantage.

Honestly, it would be very difficult to give you a good cross section of the information that this book covers. It covers so much that it's crazy! Just like me, so I guess that it fits quite well into my bookcase.

In all seriousness, though, check it out. While it doesn't have color pictures (I know, I know) it does have a plethora of fantastic illustrative drawings. However, I would be somewhat hesitant to recommend this to new artists, just because these are more advanced illustration concepts and it might confuse someone who might still be learning the basics. But if you think you're up to the challenge, give it a read. You won't regret it (and you can always use markers on the book if the lack of color devastates you THAT much...)

Title: The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics (by Klaus Janson)

Who should read it: Casual and Advanced artists, comic book/graphic novel artists, Illustrators.

Why is it awesome?:

You should buy this because it is a product of DC. That is all.

Well, that argument might work for some people (like DC fans), but for those of you who need more incentive... This book is part of a series of DC Guides, which cover topics ranging from scripting comics to digital workflow (depending on your interests). I myself only own two, Pencilling and Digitally Drawing, but I would like to own more because each book covers a large spectrum of information with little overlap between books.

With this book in particular you get information on: Human anatomy and character design, perspective, paneling techniques, story flow, setting up your scenes, what effects will come from different perspective views, and, best of all, lots and LOTS of sample comic cover art and pages (featuring the DC mascots, Batman and Superman). If the comic pages don't persuade you, I don't really know what will.

Again, no color, but you do get plenty of lovely black and white illustration-quality art. And I think every level of artists would probably be able to pull some good information from this book. Now if only it could give you superpowers, too...

Title: How to Draw Manga: Ultimate Manga Lessons (Volume 3 and 5, by Hikaru Hayashi)

Who should read it: Casual artists, comic book/graphic novel artists, animators.

Why is it awesome?:

I'm sure that quite a few of you may have at least heard of the Manga How to Draw series. This is a spin-off series that is made to be pocket sized (perfect for an artist-on-the-go). I own two, volume 3 (Drawing Sensational Characters), and volume 5 (The Basics of Portraying Action), and I love them both. Because they focus on such specific topics, they are allowed to go into great detail about designing characters and putting dynamic movement into each drawing (respectively, of course).
I'm not really sure what else I can say about these, aside from the fact that they're nice and portable and they have lots of pretty pictures to look at.

And there you have it, folks! My favorite How-to-Draws of all time (until I find ones that I like even better). I impart the knowledge that these books are awesome to you, in hopes that you wield this knowledge wisely and grow as an artist. I hope you check them out, and maybe, just maybe, they'll give you superpowers. You know, if DC has figured out how to do that with their books yet.
Because that would be awesome.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Artwork: The Final Frontier

On a note that is pretty much completely unrelated to this post:  I love Star Trek. Because it's awesome. And because it gave me a phobia of wearing red shirts.  :)

Now that I have THAT out of my system...  I thought that since this is basically an art blog, I should put some artwork up here.  So I searched high and low, digging through ancient piles of sketches and jpegs to find something to start my artwork off with on this blog. And after much consideration, I decided that I'd better start with some older work, most of which hasn't seen the light of day since 2009.  So, without further ado, I introduce you to... HIGH SCHOOL ART! (dun dun DUN!)

Still Life, Graphite Pencil
Likely the only still life I've ever enjoyed doing, because it was a summer assignment that the teacher had no control over. :)

Still Life, Oil Paint
Essentially the first (and pretty much the last) painting I've ever made in my life. Maybe someday I'll try paint again...

Fish (clever title, no?), Colored Pencil/Sharpie
This is part of a set of themed artworks I did. These were mostly experimental, and often contained mixed media (sharpie being one of the most common mediums).

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that this isn't one of my better pictures. It was after this that I realized that I don't like chalk very much. However, I like the inked portions, so I thought I'd put it up here anyway. (Also, it isn't as clear as I would have liked, so I'll just tell you what's in this picture: The top soldiers are plastic army men. The further down you go, the more realistic they get.) This is part of the themed pictures.

Ship in a Bottle, Oil Pastel
This is also one of the themed pictures. It's also pretty big, in real life. (All of these pictures are 12x24 inches or bigger in reality, even though you can't tell from these photos)

Well, there you go. This art blog now officially has art on it! I have a lot more high school art that I can put up here, but I think that I'll save that for another day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Insert Clever First Post Title Here

Hello there, viewing audience of probably none!

I'm Shanay, the seemingly quiet and timid individual that many people don't notice due to lack of presence. I say "seemingly", because lurking beneath my unassuming and partially normal exterior is the mind of a crazy person. How crazy? Well, as crazy as I need to be to make sense of this insanely chaotic world.

Or maybe I'm insane because I fancy myself an artist. I think it's some kind of requirement to be somewhat lacking in the sanity department in order to be a good artist. Not that I think that I'm all that great, mind you. I have a way to go before I get skilled enough to consider myself a "good artist".

However, I'm still at least a mediocre artist with a delusion of grandeur. Aren't we all, in a way? And because I can claim that artistic delusion, I've created this blog to share my art, old and new. And while I'm at it, I might as well throw in some opinions and musings that I fancy to be relevent to other people. Who knows, maybe my posts will somehow change the lives of millions worldwide! Or maybe I'll have an audience of me to read my posts. Either way, I'll keep myself entertained. :)