I spent my weekend reading a lot of books on theory of illustration and so on (and watching vlogs on YouTube, but shhhhh don’t tell!).
These books are pretty basic things, the Force book being something recommended (or condemned) time and time again while I was at SCAD. I’m already a 1/4 through it, and while the figure drawing is really interesting to look at, it really hasn’t done as promised and broken down the techniques Mattesi uses. But this might just be me not absorbing. I’m used to Loomis’ tutorial style, where he breaks down everything that he does in really simple terms.
Reading both Mattesi and Loomis at the same time has been an interesting comparison. They both are taking me back to basics, which is nice. While I enjoyed my classes at SCAD, some of my classes kind of glossed over what these books go into in depth– especially Loomis’ stuff. If you haven’t gone through a Andrew Loomis book, you really should–but don’t start with Creative Illustration (he even states this in the first lesson in the book). You need to start with Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, which will really open your eyes to the figure, even if you have spent years drawing the figure. Having already finished Figure Drawing…, and now reading Force is… well, interesting. Loomis has chats with the reader throughout the book, but something in the opening chat of Creative Illustration really grabbed me and I think it’s important to remind myself of this from time to time. Loomis writes:
“Beyond the technical rendering comes the dramatic interpretation. In the final analysis the illustrator is holding a mirror to life, and expressing his feelings about it. He may paint a pot of flowers beautifully, but it can by no stretch of the imagination be called an illustration. Illustration must encompass emotion, the life we live, the things we do, and how we feel… If we are to illustrate, we must create ideas. Illustration delves into psychology for basic appeals, to create idea that must reach into the personality of the reader, compelling definite responses.”
And maybe this is what I have been missing from my illustrations. I need to focus on this more, as well as injecting energy. So it’s back to basics for me for a little while. I’m doing the exercises in both books as they come up. Right now, I have to draw at least a dozen real life “rectangles” I see, to practice capturing natural design. Loomis says I can’t move further in the book until I do. Sheesh, he’s so strict!