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Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist (James Gurney Art) Paperback – 29 Oct 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; 1 edition (29 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0740785508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0740785504
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 1.5 x 26.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

More than an instruction book, this is a guide for fans of science fiction and fantasy.  (Sue Brettingen, Model Retailer)

About the Author

James Gurney's unique blending of fact and fantasy has won him worldwide critical acclaim. His work has been featured in one-man exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Maison d'Ailleurs Museum in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, and the U.S. embassies in Switzerland and Yemen. He lives with his wife Jeanette in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Parka HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Length: 0:24 Mins
If you are a regular reader of James Gurney's blog, Gurney Journey, you would expect nothing less. This book is as good as I expected. He dispenses his knowledge as freely as he does on his blog. Here's what he says about his own book from the introduction:

"This is not a book about figure drawing, anatomy, or perspective. It's not a step-by-step guide on how to draw dinosaurs. It's also not a recipe book for a particular paint technique, although all these topics are addressed in passing. What this book contains is a distillation of the time-tested methods that I've found to be most helpful for achieving realism in imaginative pictures."

If you haven't got the hint from the title, this book is about making your art real and believable. In every chapter, James Gurney shares with us what he learned when creating his paintings. There are topics on people, dinosaurs, architecture, vehicles, composition and his step-by-steps (not techniques but process). The tips he gives can be applied on other subjects as well.

The importance of research is emphasized and the amount of research he does really shows. While creating an illustration on ship wreckage for National Geographic, he talked to survivors to get an accurate account. He found out there's a drummer boy who used his drum as a float and drew that in. He also acted out the various poses of sailors in distress, rather than drawing them from imagination. The result is a painting that tells its story convincingly. The same goes for many of his other paintings.

Another interesting read is the story of him trying to design a Dinotopian fire engine. When he presented his concept art to a professional fire engine designer, it was critiqued to have form but not function.
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This is a fantastic book and will be a wonderful addition to anyones collection who is interested in developing fantasy art, or even just improving general drawing and design skills.

The information is broken down into manageable bitesized chapters, so you can read the whole book as a whole, or just dip in and out. The illustrations are lovely, and I love reading about how the artist develops ideas and gathers information.

The cover of this book does not do it justice, as it could put some artists off if they are not really into fantasy work, but there are some great illustrations, and the influence of some past masters are evident in some of the work.

The book is a good size and there is plenty to read and lots of information. The book is printed on good quality paper and is really good value for money. A breath of fresh air in the art book format. If you like fantasy art, or are interested in reading about how other artists work then buy this book, you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
I joined Mr.Gurney's blog having received this book. I am an illustration and print student and bought it as I thought it may be useful for a project on mythical beasts. I only got it yesterday, but so far it's looking like a really valuable resource, and seems to cover a lot of areas that will be really helpful in this and future projects. The book is thicker than I thought it would be, due to the usual standard of 'how to' art books. But this surpasses that group by far in my opinion. It feels nice to have it in my collection. Thank you JG.
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As a budding fantasy artist myself, this book is pretty much exactly what I needed to give me the motivation and techniques to improve my work. The book isn't so much a step-by-step guide to painting, more a general explanation of the methods and thought processes behind his work and the work of other great painters. As you might imagine, the book focuses on giving you a foundation for painting things that you can't directly reference, so it's a goldmine for fantasy/historical/concept artists; but the knowledge Gurney has will help anyone interested in painting/drawing, whether you're a digital or traditional painter.
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Format: Paperback
*Overview--Western vs. Eastern art techniques.
**Contents
***A question about technique
****Conclusion

*James Gurney, the creator of the fantasy series, Dinotopia, as well as a commercial artist for several Fortune 500 companies has created a blueprint for artists of any age and ability to follow in this book, Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist. This is a broad survey of Western/ Occidental Art and it's influence on the contemporary Western aesthetic. It is, indeed, a fresh look at Western art.

I've been very fortunate as of late to be able to get my hands on some priceless books on the subject of art. The first, Elemental Magic: The Classical Art of Special Effects Animation, is a look at illustrating natural elements and phenomena (water, fire, icebergs, shattered glass, pixie dust, i.e.) by capturing the movement or in author, Joseph Gilland's, words the "energy" of the object. This is the quintessential Oriental approach to Art.

Imaginative Realism, on the other hand, is an intimate conversation from a master artist to students of art about capturing art by the physical senses. In other words, "What do you see?" The question of what is better or what is the definition of Art, are not questions that either of these books attempt to answer nor are the authors particularly interested in engaging in a culturally-divisive debate.

As a fellow artist (illustrator, painter and now graphic artist), I find this book captivating.
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