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A difficult presentation is still worth the effort. My drawings have jumped in dimension after studying this book. I have applied the big ideas of gesture, tube structure and the two value system. These three ideas have moved my drawings into more dynamic three dimensional images. My use of core shadow separating the light and dark planes has increased the depth in my drawings. This one new skill is worth the price of the book.
I have also applied a number of observations such as the "whistle notch", a method of noting the eye socket from the side and 3/4 back position. I now also use the "sail" head schema for the layout of the head for side views. This head layout is the most direct that I have seen and has the advantage of easily providing a correct placement of the ear. (Michael Hampton's "Figure Drawing Design and Invention" has another useful schema for drawing the head.)
Unfortunately reading this text is frustrating. The book needed a strong editor. Many of the examples seem obscure because they are difficult to connect with the drawings. Moreover, most of the diagrams are apparently made on a computer screen, give the effect of following a mathematical proof while the text itself is colloquial and seems to have been recorded from a live lecture. Terms such as "wiggly digits" p.158 and "wobbly surface variations" p. 39 are among those not explained. The frequent use of pronouns such as "this" make the presentation hard to follow. Editing would have replaced these pronouns with nouns improving reader comprehension.
Frequently the labels on the drawings are difficult to connect with the text. In one place the labels are completely left out of the diagram. On page 178 the letters mentioned in the text do not label the drawing making the discussion very hard to follow. Other times the discussion is not followed by a summation drawing. For example, the presentation of perspective of the human form p. 59-65 goes on for seven pages of careful description and diagrams but the summation drawing is of a giant Roman column not of a human figure.
A figure similar as the one at the very beginning of the discussion of perspective, page 62, could have been used as a summation drawing for the section. A figure drawn with wrapping lines would have shown the depth that he was describing making it clear to the reader how to apply the theory to an actual figure drawing. At key points such this he misses the obviously necessary explanation.
The book is worth studying because it presents some drawing ideas that I have not found anywhere else. How disappointing that the lack of strong editing makes important ideas unclear.
Most books of this type provide some useful information for the student of drawing and this one is no different in that respect.
I found Steve Huston's book to be somewhat quirky in approach; some topics are dealt with fairly well (I found some of the information on tone useful) but there are a few gaps in instruction which will stump beginners (the three-quarter view of the head, for example - a difficult topic to describe and not altogether clearly explained here). It is a well-illustrated volume with a lot of diagrammatic drawings and finished examples by the author together with master drawings/paintings for the student to analyse, copy or emulate. I found it moderately helpful, but I'm an experienced professional – my interest in this book was to provide examples and ideas for my own drawing class; I'm not convinced that this book alone will provide adequate instruction to students who don't have the support of a class or tutor.
It is certainly a volume that is worth having; used in conjunction with other instruction books or with access to an art class it could prove useful, but I'd be wary of recommending it as one's only guide to figure drawing. 3 ½ Stars.
A good starter book for students or a self-learner who wants to learn figure/life drawing. It covers a lot of ground and gives exercises that will cement certain key ideas. Steve Hudson's writing style is also very readable and you can dip into this without being too bogged down in overly elaborate language - something that some learning material in this field fall into all too readily. The only down side to this accessibility is that it's a little light on detail and explanation at times, and could do with more relevant illustrations or diagrams in places as well.
I would still recommend this if you have a more thorough book along side it however. This is a decent companion book for something larger with more diagrams and technical detail. My personal recommendation for that would be Complete Guide to Life Drawing You can probably bump this up to 4 stars if bought with something more detailed. It's definitely a good choice for someone who's never touched the subject before or a student.
I had high hopes for this book. Well known amazing artist and good reviews. The drawings are nice, and I guess the writing is interesting in a way, but I found it often difficult to understand what he's trying to convey. I was hoping for techniques and tips, but perhaps my drawing is just not advanced enough to grasp what Mr Huston is trying to teach. I'm sure it's a great book if you've been to his classes and already know how to draw.
Not as good as his Video class and process on finishing a drawing does not provided in the book. Explained a bit about perspective but obvious is not the best explanation. Kinda out of expectation, but finished artworks are amazing still.