Another book I came across in ‘Science Fiction And Fantasy Artists Of The Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary’ by Jane Frank is ‘The Guide To Fantasy Art Techniques’ interviewed by Martyn Dean and text written by Chris Evans. It was released in 1984 and features their interviews and art samples from Jim Burns, Philip Castle, Chris Foss, Syd Mead, Ian Miller, Boris Vallejo and Patrick Woodroffe plus model-maker Martin Bower. You should recognise some if not all of their names and back in the mid-80s, at the peak of their careers. All certainly fan favourites then and even now.
The combination of art samples and technique tips makes this book useful to those who love art as well as those who want to improve their craft. You also see some preliminary sketches. Although the authors don’t identify it, I spotted a Jim Burns sketch for C.L. Moore’s ‘Northwest Smith’ because I recognised ‘Shambleau’ and own the paperback. Presumably, it hadn’t gone into release at the time this book was released.
Reading the techniques of preparation by Patrick Woodroffe should make you think when it comes to putting a canvas or masonite on an easel and slapping some paint on it.
Although I didn’t know the name Philip Castle, the description of his ‘A Clockwork Orange’ cinema poster and the 1980s billboard poster of a droopy-eared Spock before drinking a Heineken certain does. Shame that those two pieces aren’t shown but interesting seeing his other work and his love of incorporating aeroplanes into his work. The same also applies to Chris Foss although I do wonder how many of you will pick up his other books from that time period.
Of course, if you’ve never heard of Syd Mead then you certainly shouldn’t be reading here. Oddly, the biggest lesson from him is to ensure you get work from different places on a continuous basis so it one dries up, you have others to fall back on if you’re a professional artist.
The interview with Martin Bower is also the most informative about model-painting and after reading it, should make you ponder over using glossy paint spray on your models. The only slight problem I have with that is some models will need a gloss of some sort because the originals did have a glossy finish. Many years ago, I saw the actual 18 inch high android lady he shows a photo of here at a display in Bristol. For the TV and film fans, there’s a selection of photos from his workshop of models for ‘Space: 1999’, ‘Alien’ and ‘Outland’ amongst others.
Finally, there’s a look at Boris Vallejo’s work. Certainly, you would have seen his work here but in 1984, Paper Tiger was using a more matt glazed stiff paper which influences the paintings of his and the other artists here. Vallejo’s comment on adding red to black to darken it doesn’t surprise me with acrylics as, depending on dilution, can get a little washy. Likewise, yellow being whiter than white but that also depends on colour contrasts.
I was surprised at how much I had to say about this book. There is something for everyone in this book. Although out of print, there are some copies out there still and at reasonable prices. It also makes for a superb time capsule of art techniques at that time.
(pub: Arco Publishing/Paper Tiger, 1984. 111 page illustrated large hardback. Price: varies a lot. ISBN: 0-668-06233-9)