The Victorian Hawk Dragon has currently reviewed the following:
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures
When it comes to finding out about Mythical Creatures, this is my favourite book to read:
I like the fact that I can watch a fantasy film, or read a fantasy novel - then (usually) consult this book, for the background/history of the mythical creature (that I was interested in). Its entries are organised alphabetically - which saves time, when you know the name of the mythical creature (that you wish to lookup). With the reading of numerous entries, I have realised that mythical creatures originate from many places, and that several countries will often share, the same belief (in a particular creature). For example: some are found in the beliefs of ancient cultures (such as the American Indians), some are found in a different time (such as the belief that humans, could at one time, converse with the animals), some are found in nature (such as the belief that monsters are responsible for the shaping of the Earth/Weather) and some are found in specific locations (such as the side of a mountain - or a secluded loch). Three adventure-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are: Dragons (a wealth of information on - I especially liked the descriptions for Japan/China, together with the connections to strength, power and treasure), Elves (with several different views of) and Trolls (who are usually bad news - for adventurers/travellers). Two dark-fantasy entries that I enjoyed reading are Vampires (present throughout time and culture) and Werewolves (who have an interesting connection with ancient battles and warriors). The book also has entries for many lesser-known/local mythical creatures, a good example being the Great Horned Serpent (who was/is believed to help keep the waters of the Great Lakes calm). I like the fact that some entries also cross-over with others, for example: both Dragons and Elves have connections with Will-o'-the-wisps (where such lights were perceived as being gifts from them). I also like the fact that the book considers the mythical properties of animals that we live with today (such as Cats and Dogs). Overall: This is a book that I enjoy consulting - but can find it hard to put down! I think part of this is due to the paper that it's made from - it just feels somewhat magical (especially with its inviting/oldish smell). For the most part, this book is text-based, but that doesn't seem to matter - as I find images come easily (from my imagination). At almost seven hundred pages, it's quite good to pick a random page and put your feet up!
When it comes to finding out about Fairies, this is my favourite book to read:
I like the approach that this book takes when categorising fairies - as it splits them based upon elements (water, air, fire and earth) together with locations (house/hearth, flower and tree). I like the fact that this book takes an in-depth look at the Realms of the Fairies. For example, I enjoyed reading about the Fairy Cities that are believed to be associated with each of the elements: with my favourite cities/descriptions being for the City of Air (Gorias) and the City of Earth (Falias). The book also considers normal aspects of everyday life (with regard to fairies), such as: food and drink (especially if it's found), clothes (including colour meanings) and music/language (whereby fairy music may help to inspire human music, songs and poems). This book has also answered an important question for me: I've often encountered Fairy Rings (when I've been out on my travels), but it wasn't until I read this book that I'd considered the possibility that this is simply where fairies love to dance! I'm not so keen on the idea that some people have disappeared within Fairy Rings (even if that was just a tale). Three fairy entries I enjoyed reading are: Ningyo (a Japanese Water Fairy - who can take the form of a turtle), The Gwargedd Annwn (a Welsh Water Fairy - who has links with King Arthur) and The Green Man (the face you may see in the bark of a tree - or the leaves of a shrub). Overall: this is a very good book that provides a tonne of information on fairies, which has also been, lovingly illustrated. The book also suggests ways in which you could become closer to fairies (if you wish): through meditation, the casting of a spell, and/or the celebration/marking of a Fairy Festival (such as Beltane).
Dragonart - How to Draw Fantastic Dragons and Fantasy Creatures
My favourite fantasy drawing book is:
I like the fact that this book has taught me how to draw dragons: as dragons are my favourite mythical creature! I loved the tutorial on Western Dragons, which I find to be much more warlike than their cousins: the Eastern Dragons. The stick figure takes a different format within this book, although it still makes use of the same basic shapes that I have encountered when drawing humans. Dragons feature many components, and this book breaks these down into several tutorials/showcases: dragon heads, dragon limbs, paws, claws, wings, dragon bodies, horns, frills, fins, scales, tails and feathers. Even so, it takes a while to draw a dragon (either Western or Eastern), because dragons are typically big! I find the tutorials easy to follow and enjoy seeing the dragons build from basic shapes. The book generally contains tips on colour, as opposed to how to colour your dragons. This hasn't bothered me too much, as I have managed to colour my dragons using both colour pencil and oils (although I did find the colour wheel tips quite useful). The remainder of the book covers the drawing of many other mythical creatures, with my favourites being: Griffins, Unicorns and Sea Serpents. Overall: an amazing book that can help you spend many an evening honing your dragon drawing skills.
Fantasy art does not have to be just about fantasy characters, it can also be about fantasy landscapes, perhaps with no characters at all! This is the approach that's (mostly) taken by:
I like the fact that this book starts by considering the range of mediums that are available to the fantasy artist: pencils and ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, oil paint and digital. Of these, my two favourites are oil painting and digital. This book then considers the techniques that can be used to bring your fantasy landscapes to life. I especially like the tips on Value, Light and Shadow, Colour Theory, Perspective and Weather and Time of Day. Your artwork can then gain even more realism, when the book draws your attention to the elements of fantasy landscapes, such as: skies, clouds, mountains, caves, forests, trees, foliage, sand, snow, water and reflections. My favourite part of the book has to be the tutorials. Before reading these, Id never really appreciated the fact that its possible to use a rough sketch as the basis for your digital artwork! Some of my favourite tutorials are: Ancient City, Forest City and Forest Setting. Overall: I think that this is an amazing book that can help you enhance the overall quality of your fantasy artwork. At the very least, it can help 'take you to places' when you view its gallery!
Fantasy Characters - How to Draw Fantastic Beings and Incredible Creatures
Another good fantasy drawing book that I like is:
The first part of this book is concerned with the techniques for drawing humans. The stick figure is again the basis for this, however the book also highlights techniques for facial proportions and facial features. I like the techniques section on hair - as this is one area that is often overlooked by such books (in my opinion). I have always found the drawing of hands and feet difficult: this book has helped me with that! The remainder of the book shows you how to draw humans from fairyland, legend and night. Some of my favourites are: Fairy, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Mermaid, Angel, Kitsune, Vampire and Werewolf. I also love the way the book drops in information when you need it. For example, the fairy tutorial is backed up by tutorials on fairy wings and ruffles/ribbons. Overall: a very good book that's lovingly illustrated and armed with the information you need to help you create a range of fantasy characters for your chosen fantasy genres.
An important part of visualizing your Fantasy Artwork is considering the poses that your Fantasy Characters are in. This is where a book like this comes in really handy:
I like the fact that this book makes use of four female models (of varying ages), who have posed for the camera in a variety of dynamic/action poses with just one aim: to help you bring attitude and realism to the characters in your artwork. The poses are intended as a starting point, where-by the artist should draw from them as opposed to tracing from them - as this will help to make their artwork even more unique! Some of my favourite poses are: punching, swords, cape, battle and blasts (as in lightening from your fingertips!). Another feature of this book that I like is the inclusion of various art demos: which show you how to make use of the various poses to create your final artwork. Overall: I believe that this book can help save you time, especially if your struggling to find the perfect pose for your female warrior, witch or superhero.
Its worth having a copy of this fantasy drawing book just for the artwork that's in it, let alone the actual drawing tips and advice:
I like the fact that the book contains a tonne of information, yet still manages to lay it out in a meaningful way. Even the introduction section manages to cover: paper types, pencil types, pastel types, pen/ink types, brush types and paint types, together with Setting up a Workspace and Working Digitally. The book highlights the fact that visualizing is one of the most important tools that a fantasy artist can have! You must know the type of characters and scenes you want in your artwork through rough sketches, before you consider doing any fine detail work. The book also illustrates the fact that stick figures and geometric shapes are the order of the day, allowing any artist to use simplicity as their tool for helping to create complex figures and scenes. Its also good to see information on both one-point and two-point perspective: with a decent example for a building interior and a female figure. The book also considers various techniques, with one of my favourites being Design and Layout. For example, is your scene vertical and horizontal or emphasis at side? Overall: I feel that this is an inspiring book, that can help you take your artwork to the next level.
I'm really impressed by this (fantasy) drawing book:
I like the fact that the book breaks everything down: it starts by considering the stick figure, followed by the stick figure in action. Then it's into basic shapes (such as squares, triangles and circles) for building up the basic human shape. It then considers finer details: faces, eyes, mouths, hands and feet. At this point, you are up to page 20 (out of 143). The rest of the book is where the real magic happens! Tutorials on drawing a large range of characters: Dwarves, Elves, Kings, Orcs, Queens, Warriors, Witches and Wizards. There's even a section on scenery, so that your characters are not just standing by themselves. The book concludes with some tips on colouring (when using markers, inks or watercolours). In short: an impressive title that can help you increase your drawing abilities.