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105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which stimulates, educates and rewards its readers
"Keys to Drawing" by Bert Dodson is one of the first drawing books that I bought after I got back to doing art after a break of over 15 years. It opened my eyes, stimulated my enthusiasm for drawing again and provided me with some really excellent guidelines about what to think about when drawing.

My edition is a North Light Books paperback published in 1990...
Published on 18 May 2006 by Making a Mark

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Learning to draw
I found the title misleading. As a novice Ifound that the book did not teach me much. Not worth the price
Published 14 months ago by Alan Ridley


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105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book which stimulates, educates and rewards its readers, 18 May 2006
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
"Keys to Drawing" by Bert Dodson is one of the first drawing books that I bought after I got back to doing art after a break of over 15 years. It opened my eyes, stimulated my enthusiasm for drawing again and provided me with some really excellent guidelines about what to think about when drawing.

My edition is a North Light Books paperback published in 1990. Amazon indicates the current edition was updated in 2001 and, although I've not seen that I think it unlikely that it departs much from the sound advice provided in earlier editions.

I see the synopsis on Amazon says that it "Describes the drawing process, discusses proportions, light, depth, texture, pattern, design, and imagination, and tells how to evaluate one's work." And it does do all of those things - but it also does a lot more. He has 55 keys to drawing which are introduced as he goes through each of the topics in turn - and he provides lots of practical exercises to see how they can be applied.

It needs to be pointed out that this book is NOT a manual for how to draw in a hyper/photo realism manner - there are other books that do that.

What I like most about this book is it starts by encouraging people who want to develop their drawing to develop their own 'handwriting' for their drawing. Dodson explains:
* how we draw is as individual to us all as how we write.
* all artists combine freedom (intuitive, looser, sketchy drawing) and control (analytical, precise, careful drawing) in their work - they just do it differently
I just loved the idea that this author wanted me to be me - and not like him or somebody else. What's more in illustrating the different ways in which people draw he introduced me to a better understanding of how different master artists, such as Delacroix, Rembrandt, Matisse, Van Gogh, Degas, Morandi and Kollwitz approached their drawing. Consequently I began to understand an awful lot more about how drawing is done and why it looks as it does. What's more the images of their drawings in his book impressed me so much that they have stayed firmly lodged at the front of the drawing bit of my brain over the years.

One of the especially helpful bits about the book is that it encourages the development of self-evaluation right from the start. This means that the things one needs to think about when drawing become internalised that much quicker. It really helps the budding artist to become much more self-reliant and less dependent on others for insight into how they are doing.

This is a book that I can pick up and reread and dip into over and over again and never ever get bored. It's one of the best 'how to' books on drawing that I've ever read and I can highly recommend it to all of you who are:
* interested in the art of drawing,
* wanting to develop your own skill in self-evaluation and/or
* wanting to develop your own individual style of drawing.

(Update: 27th May 2006 Interestingly since first reviewing this book on my weblog I've also discovered a lot of fellow artists who own this book and also rate this book very highly as well)
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on drawing, 6 Nov 2011
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
Even after reading the wonderful reviews of this book I was not expecting as much as it actually delivered. This book has been rated alongside the Betty Edwards book as a book for the beginner or the unpractised returner. Now I know why.
It introduces points or keys that help the drawing process, offers projects to give practical experience of using them, summarises them at the end of each chapter and gives a checklist to review what you've done.
It covers all the basics such as techniques, choice of media, proportion, perspective, light and shade, texture, etc.
It introduces the styles of some very diverse practitioners such as Rembrandt, Matisse and Degas, and leaves you to experience their styles and develop your own without trying to influence you.
The drawings in the book are designed neither to impress nor to inspire but to illustrate and they do that. This is a very practical book that's easy to work through - it's not meant as a coffee table book to thumb through at leisure.
It's also strong enough that you can both read through and work through the book several times with accruing advantage.
Anyone who has been through the Betty Edwards book, or who hasn't got on with it, but is not ready for Kimon Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw (a tough years work plan for the serious art student) can profitably and happily turn to this book.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, insightful and effective, 26 Nov 2009
By 
Parka (Singapore) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
Length:: 0:28 Mins

Here's a pretty good book for anyone who's thinking of picking up drawing. Bert Dodson has written it in a crisp straightforward manner. The are 55 keys of drawing, introduced at a very comfortable pace. Alongside are 48 easy-to-follow lessons.

The examples are all sketches from Bert Dodson, his students and selected pieces old art masters. They are all pretty sketchy but this book isn't about techniques on realistic drawings. It's also not about specific technical rendering techniques, although some are briefly introduced.

This book is really about the approach to drawing, which aims at helping students tackle any subjects confidently.

The principles are very similar to The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence. I prefer this book as the lessons are shorter but effective, and the book can be picked up at anytime after reading for some inspiration.

This book is recommended to beginner artists.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant inspiration for realising your own personal style, 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
Now i'll just let you know, i'm quite the avid researcher when i plan on buying a specific product. I'm quite picky, and want to know exactly what the item is about and what other people think of it. Hopefully i'll big this book up enough for you to quit umm-ing and arrr-ing over it in the midst of other how-to-draw/get-your-art-mojo-back books.

This book coherently, and simply as possible, explains important steps to help you develop an understanding of what i call, 'routine drawing'.. the factors you should be thinking about when you're wanting to start a new art piece, or even just wanting to experiment. After the summaries of each step, that come with helpful example images, there's a mini-lesson that will help you understand the step even more, so long as you try it. When i wasn't happy with my attempt, i would re-do it on a fresh page until the technique became second nature. Topics included are: the drawing process; artist's handwriting; proportions; light; depth; texture; pattern; imagination.

Your knowledge of art or level of skill isn't being tested here at all. In fact, i studied art at school and college, and i'm pretty confident in saying i learnt more than both systems put together.. True story. Maybe it's because i was too busy being pretentious in my art studies and faking it, whilst this book really stripped me bare of that facade.

That's what i love about the book. Most of the drawings aren't hyper-realistic; that's not what this book is about. Most of the drawings are messy scribbles that promote thinking of logical form and structure BEFORE all the fancy styling you think will make the drawing unique.

If you want a extremely detailed step by step, hold yer hand sort of art book, this isn't it. However this book does help reinstate that creative spirit within you, whilst remaining sincere and down to earth in its tone. Dodson helps you realise what makes a drawing a drawing, and how you should nurture your own style as it emerges through the help of this book. So, yeah, i guess you could say i like this book. Heh.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Jan 2012
This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
This book is great fun to learn from. It is structured in a way that it can be used as a main curriculum with projects dotted throughout the book and questions at the end of each chapter. I use my brother as a subject while he plays video games for hours because he stays perfectly still.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite drawing book..., 2 July 2012
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This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
Clearly written, no waffle, assumes no experience yet credits the reader with intelligence, inspiring, packed with suggestions for exercises - this book is a gem.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice book, 12 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I started to learn to draw last year and got this book to help. It is a very helpful book with lots of information and projects to try.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
This is a great, easy to follow book. And would highly recommend it for all levels. It is a great book for beginners.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 18 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
I bought this book along with a few others on learning to draw, and this is my favourite. It's very clearly written with lots of examples and useful tips.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars christmas present, 31 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Keys to Drawing (Paperback)
would recomment this book . very informative on tips for drawing and helping to guide people through exams in art
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Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson
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