on 12 October 2012
This is the second art instruction book that I have used by this author, ( the 1st one being Dreamscapes- create magical angel, faery and mermaid worlds in watercolour). She is a wonderful watercolour artist with a very feminine look to her fantasy artwork which makes a nice change in what is predominantly a male genre. The dreamscapes series caught my attention because it is one of a few fantasy art instruction books which demonstrate the watercolour media. Along with tips and demonstrations for designing and painting fantastical creatures and their environs it also offers watercolour techniques that can be applied to all sorts of imagery.
The 1st section is the materials and techniques section. This type of thing appears in many instruction books but as this book is about using watercolours all the techniques are based around this media.
I picked up a couple of good tips along the way, like which is the best pencil hardness to draw with if you want to over paint it in watercolour. Quite a few of the techniques here are slightly repetitive from her previous book but that does make it better for first time readers and it never hurts to remind oneself of certain techniques.
One demo I liked in particularly is a glazing demo in which you can create a very effective piece of work using just 3 colours.
The remainder of the book is divided into different types of fantasy environment which feature step by step instructions.
Waters- This section begins with a few pointers on drawing fish and then it jumps straight into a demo on how to paint koi. Not a very fantastical beast I know and there are a lot of demos featuring everyday creatures like owls and seahorses. I viewed this as more of a way to put your fantasy designs into a more believable setting then creating magical beasts.
The demonstrations are quite thorough though, it lists all equipment and colours of paint you will need and then step by step instructions on which colour to apply and where. I do feel it would have been better if the instructions also included how to draw the image you are to paint in the first place as a good paint job will still look bad on a poorly drawn pencil sketch.
The demos include painting things like eels, sea turtles and sea dragons.
Skies- This section begins with tips for drawing birds and goes into detail on wing structure and flight. I particularly liked the mini demo on painting owls eyes, the tips included in this could be applied to painting the eyes of all manner of creatures, you would just have to alter the shape and colours but I imagine the technique is essentially the same.
Demonstrations include painting a mourning dove, ravens, owls, peacocks and a phoenix.
The second half of the skies section looks at butterflies. It has some very useful tips for drawing butterflies in flight. Unfortunately there is only one butterfly demo, that of a butterfly kaleidoscope. This demo features many different styles of butterfly and I personally think that mini demos on individual butterflies would have been more use.
The final section is woods, which cats feature in very heavily. The other woodland creatures it features are foxes, horses Pegasus and dragons.
Although I enjoyed this book I do feel that there wasn't enough of the magical and fantasy creatures and maybe too much of the real world reference. Of course to create believable fantasy creatures you do need to look at reality, but there are other books that do this in more depth.
The presentation of the book is very good, following the format established in her earlier works. The artwork inside is very colourful and some of the artists finished pieces of work fill a few double page spreads throughout the book.
I remember when I bought the first Dreamscapes book, I found it so inspiring that I went out and bought a set of Cotman watercolours to try out the techniques, this book has inspired me to get them out again- which can only be a good thing.