Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Get this book

I've read a lot of anatomy books, Bridgeman, Loomis, Hogarth, etc. but I think the Holy Grail just might be SECRETS OF DRAWING, a new book by fantasy and comics artist Mike Hoffman.

This is a slender and simply-written book full of easy-to-understand practical tips that are as eye-opening as they are essential. In addition, the drawings are undeniably solid, loaded with life and appeal. The illustrations highlight as clearly as possible each tip and the plain-spoken text reinforces the art as clearly and concisely as anything I have read. Many books contain either one or the other (as in good tips/mediocre art or great art/vague text)--this book is hits a bull's eye for both targets. I've taken many good figure drawing classes and learned much from instructors, but this book broke through decades of problem areas in figure drawing for me that no amount of practice or study has to date.

Quick gesture drawings have always come easily to me, but in fine-tuning an image I have often got lost or fouled up by innate misunderstanding of an inherent form or concept. Not even knowing exactly why makes it even harder to correct. This is the book that nailed some simple but universal "rules of thumb" for solving those errors. Though I am not an aficianado of comics, I looked up checked out the artist's website and highly recommend it. I'd call the book a must-buy and the price is highly affordable.


Kevin said...

Thanks Will, I checked it out on his webpage. Looks like a great addition to the others and clearer about a lot of things. He looks very Frazetta influenced by the stuff on his website. Great find.

mark kennedy said...

Thanks for the tip, Will, I will check it out.

Did you buy it from his ebay store or is it possible to find in bookstores?

Rock Band said...

I don't know, Will. I like the Walter Foster books myself... I had some Preston Blair ones, as I recall.

How was your trip?

Mike Gillett said...

How about the Walter Foster books? I had the Preston Blair ones... I saw one in an antique shop!

Weirdo said...

I want to check out this book. Do you think you could post a few pages? I would love to see some examples.

Josh Latta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

What comic book store did you find this at? Looks great.

Will Finn said...


I picked this up in a nifty comic store called EARTH 2, near my work. I think it's on Amazon and all the usual places as well.

For my money, Andrew Loomis wrote one of the best anatomy books in the 1940's that was still in print when I went to AIP. Our first year anatomy teacher Mr. Kouris swore by it, but I never got around to buying a copy until it was out of print and it cost a fortune. I think you can get it in German these days. The drawings are great but apart from the basics, the text doesn't explain how he got so good at what he did, apart from practice, practice, practice.

I wish there were more books like this Mike Hoffman one--the tips are really practical and simple. If he has any more tips up his sleeve, hopefully there will be a sequel.

Kevin said...

Thanks, I'll have to stop by that store and buy it. I agree about Loomis too. He was the man back in art school in Chicago. Ever see Loomis' originals over at Carter Sexton art supplies?

Good how to books are rare. It baffles me when people write so much how to without showing drawings.

Arturo said...

Will-- thanks for your kind words about my new book, I'm glad it's helpful!
I'm offering it through my website www.mikehoffman.com and through my ebay store hoffmaninternational, plus there are few sample pages up at www.comicspace.com/mikehoffman

I remember you mentioned Comics, did you know that when the Fleischer studio went under (after their "Gulliver's Travels" movie) many of their animators bailed into comics and began the very popular "Funny Animal" trend? Once of the best titles was "Ha Ha Comics" by Ken Hultgren, who later did a very good book on animal drawing.

Funny animals were a big influence on a generation of Underground cartoonists who grew up on them, notably Robert Crumb. Remember Fritz the Cat?

Some Funny Animal comics can always be found on eBay here: http://collectibles.listings.ebay.com/Golden-Age-1938-55_Funny-Animal_W0QQfromZR4QQsacatZ71QQsocmdZListingItemList

I missed 'em when the first came out, but it's never too late!


Will Finn said...

Hey Mike H--
Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Yes, indeed, many of those top NYC animators did go into (and moonlight) in funny animal comics, I used to have some Ken Hultgren ones--as you probably know Hultgren wrote "da book" on animal anatomy (serious and funny)--which is still in print and available at low cost. Like your book it's clear, no-nonsense and done by someone who has obviously mastered the subject.

Thanks for the links. Also Shane Glines CARTOON RETRO has a pretty generous selections of scans of these types of comics and more. It's a subscription site, but worth it. He puts up new stuff every day.

Enjoyed your post about the old kid's JACK & JILL magazine too. I think the cynicism in today's stuff is more a reflection of the -ahem- people in charge, than of the kids they are playing to. That's what I hope at least.

PCUnfunny said...

I'll definetly pick this one up ! Thanks for the reccomendation !