The Anatomy Of Style: Figure Drawing Techniques by Patrick J. Jones (book review).

February 23, 2016 | By | Reply More

Anyone looking at my book collection would wonder why I have so many artbooks showing how to draw and paint and still get them when I can, even though as those who’ve seen my sketches and paintings know, I’m quite able in that department myself. I suspect, the same applies to other artists as well. We like artbooks showing the finished product but there is always something more out there to learn or reappraise or just savour. Art is one subject that you can never stop learning from and about and you do develop an insatiable desire to keep on looking.

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Patrick J. Jones describes his book, ‘The Anatomy Of Style’, as a combination of structure and gesture which gives style to how the human figure is drawn. From the breakdown of differences between the male and female shape, he then explores how the muscles give shape to the body using sample pages from his art classes in Australia. Jones was born in Ireland by the way at a time that tended to restrict artistic development and has also travelled extensively in his life. Interestingly, the only artist he quotes directly from is Andrew Loomis, which reiterates his influence on modern day artists. About the only significant thing Jones does differently is to encapsulate the head and neck in an oblong. When you consider the head is an ovoid in whatever position it’s in, I doubt if it’ll move significantly that this tubular position. The examination of the hands depends a lot more on how close you get to them when drawing and I suspect they are probably the most likely to get simplified. Seeing how Jones deals with the joints by making them more knobbly if applied just means using smaller circles, relative to the scale of the drawing to keep the same effect. I do tend to think most artists use their own hands as examples when drawing so maybe knobbly joints aren’t always so apparent.

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When Jones gets down to posture, I suddenly realised I wasn’t giving the indent on outside of the female thighs as much attention as I should have. Certainly it’s given me a sharper reminder of muscle interplay than I have been giving them. For those developing their artistic skills, always remember to draw what you see not what you think you should see. The same equally applies to colour, too.

Oddly, there is only a couple examples of how to hold erasers and shammy to clean or crimp texture on the paper. Although Jones describes this with charcoal and pencils, I would have felt that it might have been useful to show these in more detail as well. Although there’s a fair bet that most people buying this book will have at least nailed the rudimentary skill of holding the drawing implement on its side, I suspect the novice hoping to be inspired is just as likely to hold it like they do a pen throughout and not realise how this opens up line thickness.

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I’m less familiar with using charcoal than a conte pencil, mostly because I do too many finger blood tests to risk getting any dust ingrained but I can see some use for some of the techniques either way. If there’s no other lesson that you learn from this book is not to make each drawing too precious when seeking out lines or over-drawing on the same page.

A lot of it is reminders for me. I liked his comments about the position of the horizon line and double-checking the angles you can see things in. Oddly, Jones doesn’t mention how to fix charcoal or pastel pencils from smudging until the glossary. If I can add a comment, if you need a cheap alternative, use hairspray as it will act like a fixative.

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Even if you think you can draw well already, this book is worth investigating if only to check over how the muscles co-operate together in giving some dynamism. If you just love artbooks and how to variants, then this book will make you more than happy. It’ll be interesting to see if Jones can do a follow-up in how to apply style to inanimate objects and backgrounds.

GF Willmetts

February 2016

(pub: Kopero Press. 159 page illustrated large softcover. Price: £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-9576649-8-2)

check out websites: www.koreropress.com and www.pjartworks.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Illustration

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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