1/09/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Rockport Publishers. 224 page illustrated softcover with poster cover. Price: $30.00 (US), GBP20.00 (UK), $33.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-89253-675-7.
check out websites: www.rockpub.com and www.aurumpress.co.uk
‘Masters Of Science Fiction And Fantasy Art’ by Karen Haber is a great way to be introduced to twenty-eight artists who work within our genre. Even better, you get some gen as to how they work and odd snippet of advice that sinks in and a bonus seeing several of them showing how they created their pictures from sketches to full painting. Actually, for some of them here, they draw and paint and then complete digitally. Many of them favour Photoshop although one artist did confess that he didn’t want to be confined to one piece of software. There is a consensus that it is better to be good in all mediums than rely totally on one. Working digitally does mean it saves time waiting for paint to dry. One of the artists also confesses to using watercolour paper in case you wondered how they can add paint to a printer page. Personally, I’d be inclined to use paper or thin card which hasn’t got that glossy sheen myself.
In many respects, the actual art lessons are going to be of more use to the amateur who at least knows some of the art basics. For those just interested in the art itself, there’s more than enough here to keep your jaw dropping. The book cover can be opened out to reveal a montage of pictures from the book as well. There’s more than enough here for everyone with an interest in the genre to be more than happy.
It’s so tempting to point out the very pieces of advice that have sunk in. Some things, like scribbling a design in ballpoint, like artists Shaun Tan does is something I’ve always done. Not to mention keeping a library of clippings for reference. It’s always the things you take for granted or things you think you only do that tend to be commonplace in the artist community. If such things are new to you then you are going to find a lot of good advice here. Many of them reveal it can take a couple weeks to complete a painting. Then again, all the artists have websites where they also give advice and for any medium, you can never stop learning.
Many of the artists here commenting that they use light boxes and photocopy enlargement to transfer their line drawings onto more practical materials for printing. Just goes to show that even the pros can’t duplicate their own thumbnail sketches in getting what they had to build their paintings.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The book is divided into three sections: ‘Combined Traditional And Digital Tools’, ‘Digital Tools and Techniques’ and ‘Traditional Tools And Techniques’. In English, that’s mixed media, digital and well, traditional using paint. Some of the artists, like Jim Burns, Brom, Todd Lockwood, James Gurney, Charles Vess and Bob Eggleton, I’ve reviewed their books. Other names are less familiar but equally decorative. I suspect most of these do the covers in the States and less likely to come across in the UK. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be seen.
I’ve ensured a brief sampling is included with this review but picking four paintings from twenty-eight artists was pretty daunting as there is a lot of good work here. If you love artbooks in our genre, then you will really want this one on your shelf.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA