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5.0 out of 5 starsA serious go-to book for absolute beginners
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 August 2018
I am a portrait artist, among other things, and have variously bought, read, learned from and discarded many books on this subject. This one looked like yet another in a very long line of so-so attempts to teach the subject, but it soon became clear to me that it was a really excellent piece of work. I’d say it’s an obvious go-to one-stop-shop book for anyone who is an absolute beginner in portraiture. In that I include seasoned landscape artists who just can’t do faces (and there are many of those!)
The book is part guide, part sketch pad, with exercises for you to complete as you learn about each aspect of portraiture. It begins with materials, which author Spicer keeps simple and inexpensive by avoiding pastel and charcoal, putty erasers, fancy paper and easels. Using these basic materials, Spicer serves up a course focussed on straightforward sketching of the head and neck.
His approach is to look at the big shapes and landmarks of the head, before looking at lighting, shadows, planes and form. I have never seen a book on this subject so stuffed with pictures. Spicer shows you everything he is trying to convey, to the extent that there isn’t that much to read.
Showing beginners what a professional can do is a sure-fire way to alienate the beginner but, in the hundreds of examples he provides, Spicer keeps it very simple. He is an accomplished artist, but he never once terrifies the beginner with what he can really do. He explains the basics of anatomy, without veering into a Latin lesson, so the beginner is armed with important knowledge that will help him/her to create a portrait.
Overall, this is an impressive book. Spicer understands the problems every beginner faces with the face, and if you follow his process page by page, you will certainly learn plenty about drawing faces, and I have no doubt you could draw a very reasonable face by the end of it. Make no mistake though: portraiture is a skill that takes years to master. It took me two solid years at a specialist academy and 1800 sketches to master it, and in that time I probably made and fixed every mistake Spicer covers in this book. Actually, I wish I’d had this book when I started out. I would have got there a lot quicker.
I love the Jake Spicer guide books. They offer good advice on quality exercises and that is important when learning and practicing drawing techniques.
I have 3 in the range so far and highly recommend them to anyone just starting out learning to draw as they are very accessible. Even for someone like me who has studied at college and needs a refresher after a few years of not putting the time in.
Remember, the journey to better drawing is more enjoyable if you have fun with it and don't put yourself down for not improving fast enough. Good quality exercises and practice will help you out.
Great Book,read review first and pleased I purchased, well worth the money,only on page 34 at the moment but loving the fact you can copy picture and sketch it in the book,comes with elastic band so you can keep the page your on. Came very quick before due date.
I've bought a number of books on portrait drawing and have been unable to engage with them. I found by the time I finished reading the impulse to draw had left me. Jake Spicers book did the opposite, I liked the sections where you can actually draw in the book this will help when i revisit particular sections. I also worked alongside it with a sketchbook. Its laid out in easy to follow sections to work through. And yes, by the end of the book I can draw a reasonable likeness of a face. Its a great buy for the budding artist whatever their age.
I like this book but you have to be patient. Yes you may learn to draw a face by the end of this book but you can't just rush through it and learn it takes a lot of practice! I am artistic but have neve mastered faces and after doing this for a few hours I'm getting there.