Wednesday, July 21, 2010

recommendation: "Drawing the Head and Figure" (1963 book)

Drawing the Head & Figure by Jack Hamm is my favourite art how-to and reference book. Though it's relatively old, it's the only such book I've found that best satisfies the art questions I encounter when drawing/painting. Whenever I'm stuck on something, this is where I turn first.

Its cover (I have the 1983 paperback reprint) says it's "A how-to handbook that makes drawing easy. ... Offers simplified techniques and scores of brand-new hints and helps. ... Step-by-step procedures. Hundreds of illustrations."

Yes, hundreds. And while it hardly makes drawing "easy" (drawing is never easy, c'mon now), it certainly does help when you can't figure out how a shoulder attaches from that angle or how lips look from that other angle. It's pretty retro/vintage/choose-your-dated-but-still-hip-term, with its chiseled menfolk and coiffed ladyfolk--but since we're not using this as a fashion reference, it's really quite charming.

The sections are (so you can see just how in-depth and fantastic this book truly is): Introduction to the Head, The Facial Features, The Hair, Head Patterns and Comparisons, Youth and Age, Fundamentals of the Figure, The Torso and the Figure, Principles of Figure Drawing, The Neck and Shoulders, The Arm, The Hand, The Leg, The Feet, and Clothing. In each, Hamm doesn't just go over the basics--he illustrates a lot of tricky things and describes how to tackle frequently problematic areas. The hundreds of illustrations are truly great: some are sketches, some focus on perspective or action, some show muscles or bones, and some are fully finished illustrations for comparison. His captions and explanations are clear and friendly.

So thanks, Mr Hamm. Saving the world from weirdly garbled proportions and unfortunate limb alignment disasters for almost fifty years!

1 comment:

  1. i love your sense of style...
    mmmm interesting!