To start off, this isn't the typical type of book I review on here. This was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts with a focus on photography, though I've always been jealous of my fellow students showing me up in our drawing classes.
I have so much respect for artists who can see and render every tiny detail, I am sadly not one of them. I thought perhaps this book could give me some insight, help me cheat my way into better drawing skills... What I learned, however, is I still have much to learn.
I like this guy from the beginning, he's upfront and honest and knows what he's talking about and no, my professors never had an answer as to what 'the rules' are either. In my opinion there are no rules. Art is what the artist says it is, but also what the viewer says. It exists on multiple levels and planes of thought and the question of 'is that art?' will forever be argued and disagreed upon.
Mark Crilley in The Realism Challenge goes back to the basics of art, bringing artists a cheat sheet, a 'how to' step by step guide on how to produce realistic drawings and illustrations following his own personal techniques.
When I was attending a Fine Arts program, in our drawing classes we were required to produce details completely in pencil with basic cross hatching that in all honesty is never used in illustrations and in no way looks realistic.
Crilley takes you beyond the classroom basics and propels your skills forward into mixed media techniques that will make your work come to life.
The idea of using black colored pencil for shadows rather than a darker shade of pencil lead is new to me, as well as using watercolor for base coloring techniques.
These techniques are first and foremost Crilley's chosen methods and clearly they work. The Realism Challenge is definitely a challenge, it takes years of practice and trial and error to find what works for you as an artist, this book is simply a good guide to get you going in the right direction.
Throughout the book, Crilley is training you to look closer and notice the subtle and unnoticeable. It's a good technique, once you start noticing the details, they can never be unseen and the challenges he provides are more than enough to keep you busy. There are dozens of surface types and textures covered in the book and if you pay attention to his side notes, there are great tips and lessons to be learned.
I did hope he would get into why he chooses to use watercolor at certain times, to get into more of the technical aspect of his chosen mediums, but I suppose that's something the reader will have to figure out for themselves.
As a guide in hyper realism, The Realism Challenge is a great step by step introduction into realistic drawing. Ultimately, it's up to the artist to practice and perfect, and if you're truly interested in producing more realistic work, The Realism Challenge will help get you there.
As for me, I'll stick to photography.
As a sidenote, I had actually planned on taking the Realism Challenge and producing a realistic drawing to post with my review, but my fractured wrist kind of decided that one for me. When I get around to the challenge I'll see about posting finished products on here.
I was given this book to review by Bloging for Books.