Category: News / Exhibitions
  1. 30

    Jul 2015

    Book Review ~ The One and Only Colouring Book series

    by
    one-and-only-colouring-book-01 one-and-only-colouring-book-02 one-and-only-colouring-book-03 one-and-only-colouring-book-04 one-and-only-colouring-book-05 one-and-only-colouring-book-06

    In little over a year, adult colouring books have made a monumental impact across the publishing world. You need only to take a look at Amazon’s Best Sellers Book list to garner how popular they have become. Various titles are sprinkled all over the top 10 list and beyond. They have well past their craze phase and transitioned to a staple in everyday culture.

    However, colouring books for grown-ups is not a new concept. Ruth Heller, a children’s author and graphic artist produced many colouring books aimed at children and adults alike throughout the 1970s up until 2000. I also remember a rather tongue-and-cheek Gangsta Rap Coloring Book, which came out in 2004 to favourable reactions. So what has changed? Why is adult colouring books now a ‘thing’?

    Well, I had the opportunity to find out for myself. Phoenix Yard Books are publishers of The One and Only Colouring Book series. They currently have five books in the series and I sat down with two of them, The One and Only Mandala Colouring Book and The Second One and Only Colouring Book for Adults. Both books have inspiring full-colour glossy covers. The interior pages are thick lightly textured paper, around 200gsm. The images are not printed in solid black, rather they vary from mid to dark grey. I am not sure why this is, perhaps grey is more calming than black, however, it is something that stood out to me.

    The Mandala Colouring Book is, as you would expect, a collection circular Hinduism and Buddhism patterns. Many of the illustrations are very intricate with tiny details and appear to be drawn completely freehand. Colouring Book for Adults has a variety of subjects, mostly floral, but some abstract shapes and even a page of people, which appealed more to my representational sensibilities.

    Colouring in has never been my strongest suit, staying within the lines was off the table from the get-go, but none of which hindered my experience. once you get started, you can very easily lose yourself. On first glance many of the images are daunting, I found myself dotting around the book, only colouring in the sections of the illustrations, then moving on to another page. Which is completely fine, you can always come back to an image at a later date.

    I tested the books by using colour pencils, fibre tip pens and promarkers. Not being able to remember the last time I used colour pencils or felt tips I naturally felt more comfortable and grown-up using the promarkers. They glide across the page and left the most consistent solid colour behind. Their only downside is that the bleed, a lot. You pretty much kill the reverse of the page using them. Which may not be a sacrifice most people are willing to make.

    Spending about an hour of my day with these books, I can easily see their appeal. They do a great job of zoning you out and really punch that nostalgia button. Though I didn’t actually feel like a kid again, I’m pretty sure looking at my face would have said otherwise. I had to regularly bite my lip to stop my tongue from sticking out. I would highly recommend having a timer nearby as you can quickly become engrossed by the process and lose track of time.

    To address my opening question, why is adult colouring books now a ‘thing’? Some could argue, it’s their therapeutic qualities, helping you to switch off and de-stress in an evermore onerous world. But stress, like colouring books, have been commonplace in modern city life for over a century, so adult colouring books could have quite easily been just as popular in the 1980s, but yet they weren’t.

    I believe the answer is we are experiencing a second Arts and Crafts movement. Just as the first was a reaction to industrialisation, we are seeing a strong response to digitisation. Just as the first Arts and Crafts movement had strong floral motifs, it stands to reason that much of the imagery in these books are inspired by nature.

    Independent magazine publishing is proof of people’s reaction towards digitisation. Looking at its resurgence and growth in the last couple years emphasises the demand for a vessel of culture that is more tangible than the glowing screen of a tablet. For many years now there has also been numerous authors and practitioners, such as Matthew Crawford, Richard Sennet and Jonathan Openshaw, crying out about the virtues of craftmanship in the modern age. It would seem the populous are finally catching up.

    Our fingers are itching to do more than just tap. Colouring books are the open door for grown-ups to enter the world of craft without the hindrance of facing a blank page. Adult colouring books let our hands run free. They reinforce, one does not need to be a creative to be creative.

  2. 9

    Jul 2015

    Book Review ~ Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi

    by
    sketching-from-the-imagination-sci-fi-01 sketching-from-the-imagination-sci-fi-02 sketching-from-the-imagination-sci-fi-03 sketching-from-the-imagination-sci-fi-04 sketching-from-the-imagination-sci-fi-05

    Editors Note:

    In Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi, 50 talented traditional and digital artists showcase their sketches, share their inspirations, and explain their approaches to drawing sci-fi art. From doodles of robots and aliens, to concept designs for spaceships and speculative life-forms, Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi is a visually stunning collection packed with useful tips and creative insights – an invaluable resource that will inspire artists of all abilities.

    The Book Review:

    Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi is the third installment from 3DTotal’s Sketching from the Imagination series. You can read our review of the previous edition, Sketching from the Imagination: Fantasy. As with the previous editions, the format remains a chunky square paperback showcasing the work of 50 illustrators from around the world. The subject ranges from re-imagined worlds, landscapes, monsters, aliens, robots, and mechs. There is also a host of futuristic and otherworldly characters.

    All images are accompanied by words from the artist, giving you more insight into their thoughts and process. As well as all the tips, one thing that really stands out in this edition is the reoccurring words of encouragement, such as this gem,

    Do not feel guilty because you’ve taken a break (because you need it!) or because you’re slow. Nobody works at the same rhythm. When you feel bored about practicing, just look into new things or activities.

    Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi has a spectrum of styles and I’m sure each reader will have their own favourites. The illustrators that stood out to me were Jerel Dye, Josan Gonzalez, Anaïs Maamar, Veronique Meignaud, Jakub Rebelka, Nick Sumida, and Brad Wright. I could probably go on, but I’ll stop the list there. Sketching from the Imagination: Sci-fi is a great addition to the series that is sure to introduce you to many new illustrators.

    Currently 3DTotal is running a very fitting kickstarter campaign called, How to Keep a Sketch Journey. Which combines visual inspiration, tutorials and high-quality stationary to get amateurs and professionals alike sketching more. The Monsieur soft leather cover sketch journal is sure to make you the envy of all your sketching buddies. 

  3. 25

    Mar 2015

    15 Webcomics You Really Should Read

    by
    15-webcomics

    There is no shortage of “must read webcomics” lists, both The Mary Sue and io9 have excellent lists. However, sometimes too much of a good thing is…actually a good thing!

    This list is based on webcomics that I have enjoyed or am currently enjoying. Undoubtedly there is always going to be some crossover with the many other lists out there, which is usually a good indication that you should read it already. With that said, I have also included some webcomics that don’t often make these types of lists. Seasoned Loungers may recognise quite a few of the names, as many illustrators on the list have been featured previously.

    In no particular order, here is the Illustrator’s Lounge’s list of 15 Webcomics You Really Should Read:

    1. His Face All Red
    Emily Carroll regularly puts out short webcomics, with her most recent being the creepy horror, All Along the Wall. One of my favourites, however, still has to be His Face All Red, which was released in 2010. Last year Emily Carroll published a collection of five of her most chilling tales in a the book, Through the Woods.

    2. Sarah and the Seed
    Ryan Andrews is another illustrator who has released multiple short webcomics. It is very hard to choose a favourite, I settled on Sarah and the Seed, but Our Bloodstained Roof is definitely a close second.

    3. Spera Comic
    The fantasy world of Spera, created and written by Josh Tierney invites artists from around the world to collaborate to each tell a small part of a greater story. The story so far has featured over 40 artist including Afu Chan and Timothy Weaver. The ongoing main Spera story has been collected into hardcover books, with three volumes currently released.

    4. Tiny Kitten Teeth
    The Tiny Kitten Teeth is a beautiful hand painted comic by Becky Dreistadt & Frank Gibson. It features a charismatic cat named Mewsli, which we follow in a world of vibrant and surreal adventures.

    5. Nimona
    Nimona is the fantastic medieval tale of the villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart and his spunky sidekick, Nimona. Created by Noelle Stevenson, who is currently writing for the Lumberjanes comic and Wander Over Yonder animation. You can read the first three chapters online, and read the story in its entirety in the HarperTeen collected verion.

    6. Delilah Dirk
    The stunning artwork of Tony Cliff really brings the characters of Delilah Dirk and her sidekick, Selim, to life as they travel around early 19th century Constantinople. You can read the first two volumes online now, which concludes in the First Second published book, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. Tony Cliff is currently working on the follow-up wich is set to be an even bigger visual feast.

    7. Skull Chaser
    Jake Parker is no stranger to delightful children-friendly comics, as proven with his contributions to the Flight Anthologies and his character, Missile Mouse. Skull Chaser marks Jake Parker’s first webcomic, and with issue one already under his belt, it is shaping up to be an action-packed sci-fi tale.

    8. As the Crow Flies
    As the Crow Flies is the touching tale by Melanie Gillman. Illustrated entirely with colour pencils, it began life in 2012 and is still ongoing, with updates usually falling on Mondays and Fridays.

    9. Sin Titulo
    Cameron Stewart is the current co-writer of Batgirl and artist of Fight Club 2 comics, but way back in 2007 he started a compelling mystery webcomic called Sin Titulo. It was completed in 2012, and compiled into a book and published by Dark Horse in 2013.

    10. Battlepug
    Winner of the Eisner, Harvey and Shel Dorf Award for best webcomic, Battlepug is Mike Norton’s Conan-inspired oddball action-adventure. Originally created to back up the creation of Norton’s t-shirt design, the webcomic spawned a life of it’s own, and has recently concluded volume 4. Our hero, The Warrior, fueled by revenge rides around on a gigantic talking pug battling monsters and mages. Exactly, what’s not to love.

    11. Axe Cop
    I do believe that most people have heard of the incredibly popular Axe cop webcomic. Its success has birthed toys, t-shirts, card games and even a TV Show on Fox. Created and drawn by Ethan Nicolle, it is based on the musings of his 5-year-old brother, Malachai.

    12. Table Titans
    Updated every Thursdays, Kurtz started Table Titans in 2014 as a spinoff of PvP. The creative team consists of Scott Kurtz writing and illustrating, the incredible Steve Hamaker (of Bone fame) as colourist, and Brian Hurtt doing the breakdowns.

    13. The Abominable Charles Christopher
    Starting way back in 2007, The Abominable Charles Christopher is sensitively illustrated by Karl Kerschl. It follows our protagonist, a sasquatch called Charles Christopher, and the lives of his forest friends. The story so far has also been collected in two volume, both in soft cover and strokable faux suede hardcover, which you can find in Karl Kerschl’s store.

    14. Twilight Monk
    I have been a fan of Trent Kaniuga ever since his Creed days, so it is no surprise that I am loving his current series Twilight Monk. It started in 2010, with the intentions of being a video game, it has so far concluded two books. Kaniuga is constantly expanding the Twilight Monk universe and is now working on an illustrated novel called The Man and The Moonkin.

    15. Green Monk
    From one monk to another, Green Monk concludes our lists. Starting late last year, the bi-weekly webcomic follows the adventures of the lone monk Alexey armed with a magical grass-blade. It is the continuation of Brandon Dayton graphic novel, of the same name. The webcomic artwork and storytelling is a big step up from the original graphic novel, which makes for some stunning illustration.

  4. 19

    Feb 2015

    Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends

    by
    sargent-01 sargent-02

    Last week saw the launch of the National Portrait Gallery’s new major exhibition, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. This exhibition focuses on John Singer Sargent’s more personal and experimental paintings. Portraits of prominent actors, writers and musicians of the day. Many of whom were his close friends, including sculptor Auguste Rodin, artists Claude Monet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

    This major exhibition of over seventy portraits spans Sargent’s time in London, Paris, Boston and New York as well as his travels in the Italian and English countryside. Important loans from galleries and private collections in Europe and America make this an unmissable opportunity to discover the artist’s most daring, personal and distinctive portraits.

    As an extra treat, throughout the exhibition’s run, it will be accompanied by a range of events including lectures and life drawing.

    Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends is on now and will be concluding on the 25th of May. This is without doubt a must-see exhibition. I highly recommend, if you can, that you make time to go see it.

    Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends
    National Portrait Gallery
    12 February – 25 May 2015
    Tickets
    Full price £16 (with donation)
    Full price £14.50 (without donation)
    Student offer
    Every Tuesday during the exhibition Students can see the exhibition for £13.50 (£12 without donation).
  5. 9

    Dec 2014

    Book Review ~ 3DTotal’s Sketch Workshop

    by
    sketch-workshop-01 sketch-workshop-02 sketch-workshop-03 sketch-workshop-04 sketch-workshop-05 sketch-workshop-06 sketch-workshop-07

    When 3DTotal offered the Illustrator’s Lounge an opportunity to review their Sketch Workshop series I jumped at the chance. I first heard about it through their exceedingly successful Kickstarter campaign. My intrigued was peaked, how would they tackle explaining some rather complex and layered subject matters to a novice?

    Expecting to receive one or two of the workbooks, when I opened the parcel to find the entire Sketch Workshop bundle, there was a genuine gasp of joy. It included the leather-style folder, all five workbooks, and a set of drawl-inducing drawing tools, including five Koh-I-Noor graphite pencils. It is a very attractive set, which I sat staring at for a while, before it suddenly dawned on me that I may need some help if I planned on doing a review of this set any justice.

    I decided to recruit the help of my 8-year-old cousin, (appropriately named) Arty. Definitely younger than the demographic that these workbooks are aimed for, but I was interested to see how accessible the tutorials are. I know that Arty already has an interest in illustration and has an attention span that could rival mine. So I knew it would not be too laborious to ask him to sit down for an hour or so and work through some of the pages with me.

    I thought that Robot & Spaceships and Creatures workbooks would be best, as I know that Arty has a love of cars, and as you can’t really draw “creatures” wrong, can you? When I arrived workbooks in hand and told Arty that today we will be drawing together, he got really excited. When I pulled out the stationary he got even more excited, which is an indication of a future artist if there ever was one.

    Given the choice of the two workbooks, Arty decided to go for Creatures. So I opened it up to a tutorial which looked the simplest. I showed him the page and explained what we would be drawing, then I read all the instructions to him, to which he responded “Wow, that’s hard”. I laughed and then tried to simplify the instructions a bit for him. He chose his pencils and got started.

    Interestingly I had already given the Anatomy workbook a go a few days earlier, and my initial reaction was very similar to Arty’s. I am a competent illustrator and there was not anything in the Anatomy workbook that I would particularly struggle drawing, but yet I found some of the tutorials intimidating. A combination of a beautifully rendered sketch accompanied with instructions that neglected to explain the basics just threw me off. All workbooks have multiple tutors, so this scenario is not case for all tasks, but it is a common theme across the workbooks.

    An example that came up when drawing with Arty was that he did not understanding the 3D aspect of the jaw and stuck to drawing the front row of teeth. I sketched a cylinder to help explain how he should think of a jaw and he quickly understood adapted his drawing to show back teeth. After an hour of drawing, Arty had filled a couple pages of A4 paper with a few pretty impressive creature teeth and dinosaur eyes. That was sadly as far as his attention span went. He then proceeded to shape the putty rubber into a rocket and throw it around the room. However, working alongside Arty’s helped me better gauge whom these workbooks are best suited to.

    It is sadly a tad advanced for an 8-year-old (specifically Arty). I felt the tutorials were a bit too specific for my own needs, but I will probably give Robots & Spaceships and Cityscapes another go, as I have always found this area of technical drawing difficult. So ruling out the novice and the seasoned illustrator (ahem) I would say that these books best suit intermediate artist, those who have a good grasps of the basics, understand construction well, and have just starting to push their art into a direction.

    Which brings me to the strength of the Sketch Workshop. It does a great job of encouraging the artist to really think. If you are drawing a creature, is it dangerous? If so where will their jaw hinge? If it is a robot, what fuel does it use? After you have really thought about the physicality of the drawing you are asked to consider lighting, so that you can render your drawing as realistic as possible too. These are definitely areas which can get left behind when learning to draw, so there is obvious merit in their approach.

    All in all, if I had the Sketch Workshop when I was in Secondary School it would likely be one of my most prized possessions. It is beautifully presented and impossible not to get excited about. I will surely be wrapping the bundle up and gifting it to Arty for Christmas, and just like a Christmas jumper, hope he grows into it.

    Try Sketch Workshops for FREE!

    3DTotal is currently giving away a free sample chapter of the Robots & Spaceships Sketch Workshop on their site. Check it out here.

    Sketch Workshop Bundle
    3DTotal Publishing
    Includes:
    The Sketch Workshop leather-style folder
    5 Workbooks (Anatomy, Characters, Creatures, Robots & Spaceships, Cityscapes)
    A set of drawing tools (graphite pencils, sketching pens, a putty rubber and dual pencil sharpener)
Back to Top