The beautiful aid of books

I just finished reading Anthony Ryder’s The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing.

Anthony Ryder's The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing

Anthony Ryder's The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing

First, it’s a really good book on the techniques of figure drawing. I found the materials section to be very helpful as I have been wondering which papers to try out of the millions of options that seem to exist. I also like his first step in capturing the form. He builds, what he calls, an envelope. 4-6 lines that meet, forming angles, at the peek points of a pose. I also like his block-in explanation. He then builds the contour and begins working the inside, which is the inside of the “shell” created by the contour. He spends quite a bit of time talking about the various aspects of shading the figure, which I liked as well.

What I didn’t like was the lack of interest in using any aid in creating proportions. Ryder mysteriously builds his proportions based on intersections and relationships between lines/forms of the model. This part I found confusing.  Maybe a second or third read would clarify this point for me, but I think we may not share a fundamental perspective here. I also distrust this method of building the form because of the evidence of incorrect proportions in a few of his drawings. One in particular is found on page 46. The model’s left foot is ginormous. Maybe she was stung by a bee during the drawing, or maybe she has some unfortunate foot swelling issue, but the foot clearly ‘looks’ too large. I have a feeling that careful proportional measuring would have resolved this.

Another thing I am not fond of with his method is leaving the contour line on the drawings. This is only a personal opinion though so should be taken as such. In Harold Speed’s book on drawing he talks about line drawing and mass drawing. Ryder does both of these two masterfully, but I don’t think that Speed would want them in the same drawing. They are two almost opposing situations. We see an apparent outline to a thing when we view it, but it’s not really there. We feel the form when we look at it, and that is really there. Like I said, it’s a personal thing.

I also wish he had more examples of the works in progress using his method. He draws the envelope, block-in, and contour as overlays onto completed drawings. This is handy, but I really would have liked to see him build multiple drawings, photographing the stages as he did them. Added to those photos could be times so we know how long it takes someone of his calibre to accomplish a task. I think this would be helpful as most students move too quickly through the stages and miss many details which then are next to impossible to correct later. There is, however,  one example of a work in progress in the back of the book, but it lacks the envelope and the smaller steps with dialogue on how he solved the issues as they came up.

All in all I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is wanting to learn or improve their figure drawing. It’s not a “complete” guide in my opinion as I don’t think any book could be a complete guide as it lacks the ability to respond to the need for clarification, which I experienced while reading this book. If you don’t have this book already, you can purchase it HERE.



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5 Responses to “The beautiful aid of books”

  1. Noreen Says:

    Summer’s over. Just thought I’d point that out. *grin*

  2. haroldfeddersen Says:

    That’s funny Noreen, I get the hint.


  3. artist P.M.S.D. Anuradha Says:

    Nice Book, If u have it by me, I think Is that only one my dream

  4. Big Savings Plans Says:

    I gotta bookmark this site it seems very useful handy

  5. klaas Says:

    it’s been a while since any body posted so I thought i wake this site up,ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE!!

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