1. Book Review: Beyond Art Fundamentals

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    Editor’s Note

    Building on the foundations set by the popular ‘Art Fundamentals’ book, ‘Beyond Art Fundamentals’ shows artists how to take their work a step beyond techniques and mechanics. A memorable, unique image requires more than just accurate anatomy and choosing the right tools, after all!

    This impressive volume offers in-depth guidance on conveying mood and emotion and improving your images’ storytelling through composition, character details, and atmosphere. Beyond Art Fundamentals is an ideal book both for hobbyists and new artists wanting to add extra depth to their work, as well as for skilled illustrators looking for a spark of new inspiration.

    The Book Review

    Beyond Art Fundamentals was released September this year by 3dtotal Publishing. It has 224 pages wrapped in a soft-touch paperback cover. The satin paper is slightly textured with a subtle sheen that works well for reading text and displaying images.

    The book has three main sections ‘Emotions’, ‘Cooperative project’ and ‘Gallery’. The Emotions section makes up the bulk of the book. Eighteen artists take you through their entire process using an emotion (such as anger, courage and envy) as a starting point. The Cooperative project section is a collaborative challenge with Julia Blattman and Zac Retz based on the theme of discovery. The two artists share their thoughts and give constructive feedback on each other’s piece. The Gallery section showcases the personal work of eight artists accompanied by a brief description of their thought processes.

    The introduction, written by Marisa Lewis, clearly lays out the book’s objective – which is to answer the question, what pushes a good image to become great? It asks artists to think beyond the fundamentals (composition and value) and the technical. Not to focus on the how, but the why. Even so, this book does include a lot of useful technical advice, but ultimately aims to teach you how to tell a story.

    Sometimes you make art that’s just pretty and you’ll notice it doesn’t get much attention. But throw in a little backstory or some elements that make us go deeper into the scene or character, and your audience will not just appreciate the piece but delight in it.
    – Andy Walsh

    The quote is from Andy Walsh, who was tasked with ‘Horror’. He created a chilling image avoiding obvious horror clichés, but including just enough visual cues to convey the narrative and leave viewers with an unsettling feeling. Kevin Hong aptly used a combination of traditional and digital processes to convey ‘Nostalgia’. To enhance the theme further, he used digital texture effects, recreating old printed materials. Ørjan Ruttenborg Svendsen’s ‘Courage’ tutorial was packed with great tips on how to use value for clarity and how to choose a colour palette using a gamut mask.

    One of the standout pieces is ‘Love’ by Eliza Ivanova. It depicts two figures back to back, passionately embracing negative space. It was pencilled traditionally, shaded with a tortillion and coloured digitally. It is a very powerful image, that retains all the energy of the original sketch, and leaves you wanting to know more.

    Throughout, all the artist iterate the importance of planning. Putting storytelling first they have a clear goal and aim for it. The technical tips for colour, composition and directing the viewers eyes are all there, but they are secondary. Though I feel not all final images reach the level of memorable and resonant that the introduction prepares you for, every single section has useful takeaways and titbits. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Beyond Art Fundamentals, I got a lot out of it and I believe many others will too.

    You can buy Beyond Art Fundamentals on Amazon and take a look inside the book here.

    Beyond Art Fundamentals
    3dtotal Publishing
    Paperback
    224 pages
    210mm x 297mm