John Howe Fantasy Art Workshop Book
Fantasy Art Workshop By John Howe
John Howe, the popular fantasy artist who brought a lot of the concepts to life in the movie trilogies of Lord Of The Rings together with Alan Lee and other talented artists has had a range of books out in the past, one I reviewed awhile back Forging Dragons was a very focused book on dragons and the concepts behind them with art by John Howe himself.
Johns art is very precise at times and very realistic in tone and variety and also very inspiring to look at and this book gives a lot more insight into the creative process and more specifically John Howe's creative process techniques.
The book itself is broken into five main chapters.
The Creative Process- This chapter examines narratives, themes and inspiration as well as using reference material and how to organize it to use for your drawings. Also there is a section on creating your work environment so that it is tidy and well organized and also how to store your artwork so that it stays protected.
Materials And Techniques- Drawing materials and tools including ink and paints and a little section on drawing whilst your out and about outside. Johns way of working is as personal as yours, so don't feel you have to become him and that's what John actually references himself in the book as creating art is about finding your own way of working, but the hints at his working experiences are useful nonetheless.
Beings- This is a section that is very interesting with a look at fantasy creatures with some really inspiring images, sketches and paintings with 3 case studies which show the techniques and what is possible are welcome, especially from a well renowned fantasy artist.
Backdrops - Landscapes, buildings and interesting backgrounds with 3 further case studies exploring the use of the backdrop in paintings and art and how it relates to the main story of the art.
Working In Fantasy - A chapter about John's experiences and insights into the working career world of being a top illustrator with useful tips to think about when deciding on entering the competitive world of being an illustration professional.
The rest of the book, there is an afterword by another top fantasy artist Alan Lee who also joined John when doing masses of concept work for the Lord Of The Rings and the usual indexes, credits and acknowledgements.
So what's the verdict on the book?, well the book is a stunning look at John Howe's art with some brilliant sketches throughout and some very insightful comments from John himself as he knows what he's talking about. For the book being a how to draw fantasy art, well it is more of an inspirational tool and that's what John intended as he says in his introduction at the beginning of the book as he detests the drawing of circles and shapes to create figures and scenes.
I found the book to be great and a book that I could happily flick through when I needed a bit of inspiration and to learn of a great artists way of working not to mimic the artist, but just to get into that frame of mind I suppose. When confronted with that blank piece of paper like any artist the key is to try and be inspired anyway you can, stimulated by others work that is similar to yours.
Of course there are some images that I've seen before in other books, but thankfully there are new images created just for the book and all of the artwork is presented in a logical manner that flows quite well from each instructed chapter which doesn't really feel like an instructional drawing book. More of a how to be inspired book instead. Highly recommended!