Book review: John Howe's Fantasy Art Workshop
One of my favorite place in Montreal is our Bibliothèque nationale. It’s all brand new as it’s been here since only 2006. It’s got 4 floors of all the books you can find in Quebec. (Or at least 99% of them, for sure!)
One book I’ve been waiting to get for a long time is John Howe’s Fantasy Art Workshop. But I finally got a grip on it!
As you can see, this version is the french one, but it is also available in english, of course.
If you are not too sure of who John Howe is, he is one of the main collaborator/illustrator for the Lord of the rings movie trilogy. Along with his comrade Alan Lee, they gave the trilogy it’s special look by illustrating scenes and inspiring Peter Jackson and his team. They were, litterally, the eyes of the movies.
But if you’re a LOTR trilogy geek like me, you probably know all theses details. :p
Now, on to the book:
A look in the studio of the artist.
Seriously, this is one book an illustrator don’t want to miss. It is not your usual “how to draw” book. Besides, the author do not believe in thoses kind of books when it comes to drawing. In his word,
John Howe’s writing is extremely insightful, intelligent and funny. Each part of the book cover different aspects of fantasy illustration. Wheter it is characters, scenery to the rendering of a shiny armor. (Because we all need a shiny armor in our illustration at least once in our lifetime.)
I always love sketches. And this one by Mr. Howe makes no exception to the rule.
Since there is so much important information, this is not a book to read in two days. I believe it takes quite awhile to assimilate all that’s been written.
At first, as you read it, you think you “get” what he means. But as time pass, what he wrote stays in your mind and make you think differently. This book is just like a good movie: it stays in your head!
Look at where he places his work: drawers! Drawing drawers.
I particulary enjoyed the “Creative processus” part where the author explains how to organize your workspace and where to find inspiration. He’s an advocate on having good ressources and references for art. He often has a camera with him to take pictures of things he likes and that he may include in a later piece.
There are a lot pieces of very interesting information like this, all throught the book. It’s little treasures and tips for the aspiring illustrator.
“Master Crow sat on a tree…”
A funny fact here, it amazed me that he never uses pencils sharpener but, instead, he uses a cutter. This way he is sure to get very sharpy pencils. (Note to self: Try this but also try not to cut yourself while doing it.)
If you didn’t know this already, I think it’s important to mention John Howe’s amazing website. You can have access to all of his great work online and he offer his fans a forum with lots of ressources and tips for them.
So, here’s some more information (and my personnal “star-rating”) if you’re interested in getting this amazing book:
I hope you’ll enjoy this great book as much as I did. And if you’re not an illustrator, do offer it to a friend who is. It really is that good.