This book falls into the same way of getting to me as Barbara Bradley’s book, it was suggested to me by a lecturer who also took Henry Yan’s classes before in the school she herself studied at, the same school Barbara Bradley taught at. If my memory is correct.
I quite liked this book, although with most figure drawing books/the concept of figure drawing, I feel like there should be some elaboration about the concept, I have my own opinions about that which I will elaborate later on in the review. This book is still helpful and insightful to those that want to do figure drawing. Very likely one of the top 5 figure drawing books to be fair.
So, in both my non-instructional and instructional art book reviews, I don’t really want to give a score/rating system to the books but have categories in which I feel are important for an artbook to succeed.
For non-instructional art books, like say artbooks of movies, games, etc. I have certain categories to access them, for instructional/how-to books I have other categories.
Art books do take up a lot of space and if you don’t have a lot of space, its best to buy only the best of the best or what you yourself like.
The categories for instructional books are: Overview, Inspiration, Ease of Access (Beginner, Intermediate, Expert), Usefulness, Summary.
Overview: General, short, introduction of the book.
Inspiration: Does the book give a spark to light the artistic flames of creation or whatever, does the book inspire/make you want to draw and create your own things yourself.
Ease of Access: Certain books are only helpful to certain levels of artists, by this I mean technical skill, some books won’t make sense to beginners, others will be telling what experts already know, so starting from Beginner, to Intermediate, to Expert. Which level, the book caters to.
Usefulness: How useful the book is, does the book help to solve the problem you bought the book for.
Summary: Whether you should buy this book or not.
And now onto the review~
Overview: Henry Yan’s Figure Drawing Techniques and Tips is a instructional figure drawing art book by Henry Yan, a lecturer who has had decades of experience teaching the art of figure drawing. He goes into the basics of how the medium should be handled, sharpened, etc. to how short poses (1 minute to 10 minutes) can be handled to how long poses can be handled (30 minutes to even 4 hours). He covers how to practice more efficiently, etc.
Inspiration: This is another rather cut and dry instructional artbook, the inspiring part of it would be seeing how figure drawing can be done to what extent and having that as a goal or a possibility, to strive towards. The page on how to practice more efficiently is probably the most inspirational to get you to start drawing more.
Ease of Access: I am on the fence of whether to say that this book is for pure beginners, it can be, however, I feel like its on the high end beginner to intermediate scale. As always, experts that need a refresher can also use this book, if they haven’t done figure drawing in a long while and want to get back into it.
Usefulness: There are useful step by step process of how Henry Yan does figure drawing that are well paced, they do not suddenly jump from the sketch to the finished product with no explanation, each step by step has explanations for what he is doing. He explains properly how traditional media should be handled and sharpened when doing figure drawing, with more lead exposed for broad shadow strokes. There are quite a few pages interspersed where its just finished work which is good as an example
Summary: This book is best accompanied with other books that go into figure drawing basics more. Perhaps like Micheal Hampton’s book which also goes into anatomy. This book doesn’t as much, it is purely focused on a observational drawing perspective.
In regards to, what I mentioned earlier, there is sometimes this approach of the atelier style for figure drawing or observational drawing to be as close to your mentor’s style/work as possible, this is to learn as much as possible before you break into your own way of observing.
So, you try to make your figure drawing your observations as close to your mentor as possible, to learn how to observe as accurately as possible. This results in a lot of students’ work from a learning atelier to turn out very similar to each other and that is considered acceptable as that is how an instructional atelier works.
However, it is best to always remember that, you shouldn’t purely copy how the art book works look like in your own observational work but also work towards your own observations and your own observational choices. What do you want to focus on, what do you want to leave out, how you want to handle the lighting, etc.
I would also note that we never ever had 4 hour pose drawing in our local schools and I wonder if its possible to have done so or is that not within our capacity for some reason I refer to that problem for illustrators here.