Most books about animal painting tend to fall short when it comes to the practicalities of anatomy, texture and mark-making. Vic Bearcroft is sure-footed on these and covers details such as eyes and paws thoroughly. He is also particularly sound (and useful) on how to give skin and fur exactly the right texture. The main topics are cats, ungulates, bears, pachyderms and apes, as good a division as any and one which separates out quite different builds that have different requirements and approaches, to which Vic gives proper attention. You'll probably notice, though, that the author is better at animals than he is at backgrounds, which tend to be a trifle flat.-The Artist Whether you like this book is going to depend on whether or not you want to paint the zoo's stock-in-trade (the analogy is Vic's - he suggests zoos as the most practical way of seeing animals in real life). Assuming you do, this is a thoughtfully arranged book that groups its subjects into Big Cats, Bears, Pachyderms, etc. This makes a varied topic manageable and also means that creatures with broadly similar characteristics - body shapes, hair/fur and so on - are kept together. You could, I suppose, argue for geographic groupings, but this would suit the naturalist better than the artist. In each section, Vic deals with basic shapes and distinctive features, moving on to demonstrations that will show you how to paint a specific animal. Treatments and backgrounds vary, which gives you the chance both to highlight your subject and put it in its natural context. It's in the former that Vic is at his best as his landscapes have a habit of looking rather flat. I can't decide whether this is deliberate, though. It's possible that he is playing the backgrounds down so as to concentrate on the main subject, but it also has the effect of making the animals disappear into them, which is unfortunate. This is a bit of a quibble, as this is otherwise an excellent book and Vic is superb on both the modelling and the detail work that give his subjects life - the most important aspect of animal painting.-Artbookreview.net This is one of the best, most thorough and most easy to follow books on animal painting there has been in a long time.-SAA When the winner of the Endangered Species category of the BBC Wildlife Artist of The Year competition writes a book, it's worth taking notice. There's a nicely structured approach, too, so that you're introduced to materials in watercolour, acrylic and pastel, moving on to some basic techniques and then to features such as eyes, noses, skin and fur before you get to the full demonstrations. Most of the animals illustrated are ones you'd only find in exotic places or wildlife parks, and Vic helpfully includes advice on where to find them as well as how to work from photographs - which, to be honest, is probably the simplest approach. Vic is a master of his craft, but also a good and generous teacher and the book is full of helpful information that makes it one of the best guides to the subject that I've seen in a long time.-Paint Capturing the personality and movement of wild animals is hard. It needs a lot of practice and help to become really effective at this. Even trying to decide where to start can be difficult. This is an ideal book for someone seeking to learn the techniques, and is perfect for a beginner. It starts with instructions on how to draw the basic shapes, through to creating animals in any medium. There are six step by step projects covering animals such as tigers, wolves, and pandas. Lots of advice is provided on drawing and painting eyes, noses, paws, fur, hooves and horns. Notes are given enabling artists to draw a wide range of other animals including zebras, desert foxes, coyotes, elephants. Plenty of inspirational illustrations give ideas and examples of how to achieve a specific style. Definitely worth a place on any artist's bookshelf. It is a book which will be referred to time and time again.-Monstersandcritics.com Animals have been popular subjects for art since Palaeolithic times, and with people's current interest in wildlife they are more popular than ever. Here is how to go about putting some of them down on paper (or canvas). I never think there are enough books on this subject. Landscapes, seascapes, portraits, flowers but look for a good book on depicting fauna and the choice is a lot smaller. It is a huge topic, and this book, although it is good, can only brush the surface. A number of different media are used and examined: drawing materials, watercolors, acrylics and pastels as well as what you make your mark with them onto. These are discussed in the light of what they can offer the wildlife artist, including working on black paper and using a limited palette. There is a section on getting the best out of zoo trips and reference material, as well as one on how to break down a beastie into simple shapes to begin a drawing and composition. The rest of the book deals with groups of animals. Big cats, canids, great apes, ungulates, pachyderms and bears are all looked at. Each section shows how to paint or draw the various features unique to the species, and the fur maps are particularly useful. There is also a whole project to tackle in each section with the helpful steps with photographs Search Press is justifiably renowned for. Choose from a panda in a tree, a wolf in a snowy wood, walking tiger and others. The author's favorite animal is clearly the wolf (followed by the tiger) so expect more on these iconic species. All the beasties are the larger mammals rather than say, meerkats or crocodiles but there is plenty to work through that will stand an artist in good stead whatever creatures they decide to depict. A good grounding in this type of art suitable for improvers who want to branch out rather than total beginners to all art.-Myshelf.com
Vic Bearcroft is a self-taught professional wildlife and pet portrait artist, who specialises in pastel on velour, but also works in pencil, watercolour, coloured pencil, charcoal and acrylic media. Having spent part of his childhood in Kenya, Vic has been drawing animals since he could hold a pencil. Being passionate about wildlife in general, and particularly in wolves, Vic works with a large number of animal welfare and conservation organisations worldwide, donating prints, merchandise and funds.