Book Review: Foundations in Comic Book Art: Fundamental Tools and Techniques for Sequential Artists

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This instructional book on drawing comics by John Paul Lowe is more of a collection of tips and techniques rather than a structured course.

Lowe focuses on only certain aspect of comic book drawings, mainly the technical skills. It's not meant to be comprehensive but for each subject covered, there are lots of practical useful information shared.

There are eight chapters in the book and each one has several step-by-step practical hands-on exercises you can easily follow. Here are the 8 chapters:

1. Anyone Can Draw.
This introductory chapter talks about desire and discipline to improve. Throughout the book, Lowe's tone is very encouraging and maybe that's because he has been teaching for years and really knows what he's doing.

2. Learning to See
This chapter teaches the basics of drawing straight lines, seeing form and contour drawing.

3. Perspective Basics
The 1, 2 and 3 point perspectives are taught. The main highlight is the use of cubes as a foundation to design buildings, populate a room and creating other objects.

4. The Figure
This chapter is quite short and talks about foreshortening and drawing multiple figures in groups.

5. Visual Problem Solving
Here you'll learn about using thumbnails, photo reference, visual research, and turning a blue line sketch to ink.

6. Inking
There are lots of useful techniques in this section. It talks about the various nibs and tools available for inking. You'll be able to practice different ways to ink and hatch.

7. Advanced Inking Techniques
This interesting chapter looks at unconventional materials to create textures, masking, and alternative inking tools. It can be using dry brush for rough textures or using razer blades to cut out the white from inked areas.

8. Software Applications in Comic Book Art
The last chapter teaches you how to create a perspective grid in Photoshop and Manga Studio. There's also a section on how you can use Manga Studio to apply screentone patterns.

The great thing about the book are the exercises. Learning by following the exercises and drawing is faster than just reading text only. There are also many wonderful illustrated examples.

Overall, this book works well as a complimentary resource to other drawing books. It will not teach you how to draw, but it will point out things to take note of when creating comic pages, stuff like using proper perspective, trying different hatching methods, etc.

This book also reminds me of Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio which is another helpful book that talks about techniques and various aspect of drawing comics. Both are good books to get together for beginner comics artists.

Foundations in Comic Book Art: SCAD Creative Essentials (Fundamental Tools and Techniques for Sequential Artists) is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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