John Howe is one of the world's most renowned fantasy artists, best known for his 20 year stint as an artist on the Tolkien list, and his work as Conceptual Designer alongside Alan Lee on the Lord of the Rings movies. He is an active member of the worldwide fantasy art community, and holds regular exhibitions and lectures on his work around the world. John lives in Switzerland. www.john-howe.com
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
John Howe Fantasy Drawing Workshop: A Drawing Course in 10 Step-by-Step ProjectsDec 24 2009
Laurence A. Clark
- Published on Amazon.com
In the nature of "fairness" and "disclosure," I really like John Howe and his work, and because my opinion of him and his book is somewhat biased, I simply can't be impartial; but I didn't purchase it as a "Fanboy Art of," and if that's what you're looking for from it, look elsewhere because its title clearly states its purpose, "John Howe Fantasy Drawing Workshop: A Drawing Course In 10 Step-By-Step Projects. I purchased this book after I read the inside cover flap, which has John Howe's purpose statement for his writing it:
`Drawing allows you to move between two worlds, the physical and the imagined, with fantasy subjects as your stepping stones. I confess to being a serial sketcher. Without sketching, sketching and more sketching, I would not be able to create the work that I do.
`This book has been created in the hope of closing the gap between those who draw and paint professionally and those for whom it is an aspiration but perhaps not a reality... or not just yet.
`But will this book teach you to draw ten fantasy characters? Possibly, even probably, but I hope it will do much more than that. I hope simply that it will help you unlock the freedom of hand and eye that can lead you further; because with that freedom, there will not just be ten, or even ten times ten, but infinite themes and ideas that appear at the tip of your pencil.'
To me this is not a "beginner-how-to," although it would certainly do better that most if you're new to drawing/sketching; it's more for "advanced beginners" through to "professional artists" who are interested in improving their entire "drawing process." After a brief overview of sketching versus drawing ("What really differentiates drawing and sketching, then, is not so much technique as intent"), the "student" is introduced to drawing materials and techniques. Personally, I think any artist of any level can improve or refine their techniques when they study how other artists (especially accomplished artists) use their respective tools, even for such seemingly basic things as sharpening a pencil and its usage, and here John Howe does a fine job.
Notwithstanding the other outstanding elements of this book, to me its true value remains with the clearly illustrated "step-by-step" project approach that John Howe uses to teach his drawing process. You'll be familiar with it if you've ever followed and possibly completed a project through any of the more useful "how-to" special interest magazines (automotive, crochet, etc) that use large clear pictures accompanied by minimal, non-invasive, concise text where necessary and not the inverse (large blocks of text that often incongruently refer to some tiny blurry figure, picture, or graph on a separate page). In lieu of attending an actual John Howe workshop or viewing an over-the-artist's-shoulder instructional DVD, this book functions quite well as a "next best thing."
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Drawing Workshop bookMarch 26 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I originally bought this book to help give me some ideas on what to draw that were fantasy-like in nature. I am an artist myself, but I've had several years where I was too busy with life to even draw. I wanted to get back into the swing of things and I thought that this book would be a good start. I am a fan of John Howe's work as well, so that certainly went into consideration when purchasing the book.
The book itself goes through the basics of what tools you should use and how to get references to draw from so that your illustrations/drawings look more realistic. That's pretty basic in most drawing books. From there, it goes through start to finish of some general fantasy drawings from John Howe. They are nothing fantastic, but I don't consider that to be a con. I didn't buy the book to be a coffee table art book - I bought it to give me some ideas on what to draw and get practicing again. It definitely serves its purpose for that! Some of the basics include drawing Merlin and another one is a dragon. He shows some references on what gave him inspiration for each of these. From there you can choose to use his references or gather some of your own. What I like about it personally is that I can start with what he has and then draw it again and again using my own references and building on it until it's something that I'm really happy with. Sure, you can always look online for ideas and inspiration in what to draw, but for about $16 it's really a great price and you get to see how he starts with something really basic and adds more and more details and the thought process that goes behind each drawing. It's like having a class on fantasy drawing and you have your own assignments to do, but you don't have to physically go to class!
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Book PurchaseJan. 20 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Book was in outstanding condition, arrived ahead of schedule, very pleased with this purchase. My daughter (15) loves the book and has been using it to assist with drawings of elves and dragons.
7 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Sketches only, and some average figuresNov. 12 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm a big fan of John Howe, as far as Fantasy artists go I think his work is unrivalled. Even people who think they are very gifted at drawing, pencilling, painting have to admit when coming across his work that he is a giant in the field. His sense of atmosphere and nuance is pitch perfect. And I can't draw anything decent myself which only serves to increase admiration.
Having said that, I don't like this one as much as "John Howe Fantasy art", which was published in 2007. This one is clearly more of how-to draw than the other one, but John Fantasy art" ( this one can be distinguished because it is called John Howe Fantasy Drawing workshop) is much prettier because it includes colour. That one has lovely paintings as well as sketch work, but it also shows the complete picture, fully coloured. This new book doesn't do that, it shows you step by step what he does ( as if you could actually draw like that even if told flat out how it works, which is not Howe's fault of course), but it is only sketches, and that disappointed me. In addition, some of the figures just don't seem right to me. Howe's Dragons have never worked for me, nor has his Balrog, and both are featured here, as well an Orc that seems more like a knight, a feminine looking Lancelot and a downright poor final sketch of Thor and a Giant (I've seen that one done much better by the recent Marvel comic artists). The only one I really like is his Merlin, which looks excellent, and I'd love to see Howe colour that one and finish it. Would love that on my wall.
Conclusion: more of a how-to book than "John Howe Fantasy art" but certainly not as beautiful to look at as that one is. Coincidentally I also just bought "Lost Worlds" which John Howe just released, a 96 page hardcover in which he provides the paintings for lost worlds of our mythology as well as real world history, and does the text. This is all in colour and very beautifully done.