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The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition [Paperback]

Anthony Ryder
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1999
Many of us want to learn “how to draw.” But as artist Anthony Ryder explains, it’s much more important to learn what to draw. In other words, to observe and draw what we actually see, rather than what we think we see. When it comes to drawing the human figure, this means letting go of learned ideas and expectation of what the figure should look like. It means carefully observing the interplay of form and light, shape and line, that combine to create the actual appearance of human form. In The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing, amateur and experienced artists alike are guided toward this new way of seeing and drawing the figure with a three-step drawing method.

The book’s progressive course starts with the block-in, an exercise in seeing and establishing the figure’s shape. It then build to the contour, a refined line drawing that represents the figure’s silhouette. The last step is tonal work on the inside of the contour, when light and shadow are shaped to create the illusion of form. Separate chapters explore topics critical to the method: gesture, which expresses a sense of living energy to the figure; light, which largely determines how we see the model; and form, which conveys the figure’s volume and mass. Examples, step-by-steps, and special “tips” offer helpful hints and practical guidance throughout.

Lavishly illustrated with the author’s stunning artwork, The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing combines solid instruction with thoughtful meditations on the art of drawing, to both instruct and inspire artists of all levels.

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The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective On the Classical Tradition + Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier + Classical Drawing Atelier: A Complete Course in Traditional Studio Practice
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About the Author

Anthony J. Ryder studied at the Art Students League of New York, the New York Academy of Art, and the École Albert Defois in France with oil painter Ted Seth Jacobs. He began his teaching career at the New York Academy in 1985, and has taught at the Art Students League and in various locations in the United States and France. His paintings and drawings are in many private collections. Mr. Ryder lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
LEARNING TO DRAW is like learning a new language. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful people, beautiful pictures. Jan. 28 2002
If you are looking for an introductory book to ease you into being a whiz in life class, this is not it.
The techniques described are time-consuming and require a steady eye and hand - not something the average beginner has a lot of, with five or twenty minute poses and a wobbly easel.
But if you can get a model to hold the same pose for hours, possibly over several sessions, and you have some experience in figure drawing, then you may find this book extremely valuable.
Anthony Ryder talks the reader through the techniques, step by detailed step, aiming for understanding rather than slavish repetition. His method is logical and elegant, and if understood and practised, may result in some extremely good drawings.
Don't expect overnight success, however - there is a lot that is required before you can even start with this book. You'll need to know basic techniques with your media, be able to judge angles and proportions, have a good understanding of anatomy, and probably be able to handle a model in adopting the same pose session after session.
There is a good reason why most of the drawings in this book are of reclining models. Standing poses simply cannot be held for the amount of time it takes to achieve the same results. You'll need at least half an hour just to achieve the basic outline, probably more.
But having said all of the above, I must now state that this book is proof positive that Ryder's techniques work, are reproducible and can result in images of stunning beauty.
You still have to select a model and a pose, and this is another basic skill required, but Ryder is obviously a master at this, and the book is filled with drawings of the nude that are simply breathtaking in their beauty. Model, pose, arrangement and execution are all perfect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in depth study of figure drawing Feb. 16 2003
This book is loaded with information that goes beyond just drawing the human figure. As a trained Medical Illustrator I have had the unique priveldge of dissecting the human body and studying its contents and movements for over thirty years. I have yet to come across a collection of thoughts and instructions as complete as those contained between the covers of this book. Mr Ryder has a way of breaking down the approach to drawing the human figure that keeps the construction of the whole, or the parts, together at all times.
The book is sectioned into three areas of awareness, the Block-In, the Contour aand Drawing on the Inside. Each section builds on the other. The drawing examples are very well presented. I have found myself reading pages two and three times in order to make sure that I fully comprehend what is being described. Repeated reading has nothing to do with the way the material is presented; I just want to make sure I comprehend every word of what he is presenting. What he has to say is very important and worth taking the time to read.
I then actually put the techniques to work in my sketch book. The results are outstanding. Throughout my career I have wondered off into areas of artistic adventures that have altered my focal point as an artist. I have discovered that there are missing links in my training. Mr Ryders approach has helped restore that focus. I strongly feel that this book should on the shelf of any artist interested in drawing the figure or portraits.
As with any book, the words are only as good as the reader is willing to put them to use. Mr Ryder has done a wonderful job of organizing his thoughts and feelings about drawing the human figure. You will not be disappointed in adding this book to your collection.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice coffee table book; not a good guide July 31 2002
By whatevs
I'll admit that Anthony Ryder's drawings are beautiful. They're a fine example of what years of practice in the art of figure drawing can accomplish. However, as a reference for those looking for practical techniques to improve their own figurative skills, this book is useless. It's more of a catalog of the artist's work than a guide to drawing the figure. Ryder reveals through his text that he has his own, EXTREMELY particular technique, one that demands inhuman amounts of patience and stamina (he said himself that he can spend weeks working on one figure) and eyeball-splitting attention to detail with millions of tiny pencil marks. This is fine for Ryder, but not necessarily for everyone else. Follow his techniques, and you end up producing drawings that look like they were done by Anthony Ryder, not yourself. Think of an art professor who posts one of his or her drawings on the wall, explains to the class exactly how it was produced (whether with stippling, smudge sticks, etc), and tells everyone to draw the exact same thing in the exact same manner. What do you get? Well, duh, you get a couple dozen drawings that are pretty much the same.
Ryder's technique ain't easy to follow, either. His method of boxing in the thin air around the figure and layering inward, somehow coming up with a finished, correct drawing, is difficult, if not impossible to follow. Again, the author himself states that the technique is hard to learn. By the time I got through tearing my hair out trying to copy it, I just set the book aside and went back to the way I was drawing figures before. I followed my own methods, and the only thing I got was better.
And I guess that's the key to learning how to draw the figure.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Lacking Depth, Dissapointing
I was excited about this one prior to receiving it, however to my disappointment, it is highly lacking illustrations on steps taken by the author to achieve a desired effect. Read more
Published 6 months ago by RMG
4.0 out of 5 stars Pour épater la galerie
Des images léchées. Des rendus à couper le souffle. Des dessins irréprochables. Mais... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2005 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Hack art instruction at a rip-off price
"The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Tradition" by Anthony Ryder 1999,
List price $24. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by Bruce Bain
4.0 out of 5 stars It does a body good ;-)
As other reviewers have said, this is a good to excellent book for those with some experience in drawing. The works presented, the methods, and the explanations are fine. Read more
Published on April 4 2004 by KaLeo
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for shading guidance
I bought this book a few weeks ago. Agree that this book is not for beginners looking for "formulas. Read more
Published on March 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars a good book on figure drawing techniques using pencil
Tony Ryder is perhaps one of the most talented American artists in Modern Realism. His oil paintings of figures, portraits, and still life are brilliant, but he is also a skilled... Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2003 by green_bamboo
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners but my best book so far!
I have studied numerous drawing books and by far this book I have owned. I often reread and reference it to inspire me, and i can honestly say my work has improved immensely. Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by roger
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 STARS PLUS!! The beginning of the journey...
I am a guy who has been drawing all his life, but has never gone to an art class or drawing session. I've bought books from Bridgman, Hogarth, Rubins, Tiner, and now Ryder. Read more
Published on April 11 2003 by W. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny!
I began learning figure drawing last autumn using the constructive, anatomical approach. My main references were Bridgman and Peck. Read more
Published on March 31 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Draw Without It
I love The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Tradition by Anthony Ryder. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2003 by "chekinnard"
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