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Art Book ARC Reviews

How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students by Catherine V Holmes

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Publishing Date: July 27, 2017


How to Draw Cool Stuff shows simple step-by-step illustrations that make it easy for anyone to draw cool stuff with precision and confidence. These pages will guide you through the basic principles of illustration by concentrating on easy-to-learn shapes that build into complex drawings.

With the step-by-step guidelines provided, anything can become easy to draw. This book contains a series of fun, hands-on exercises that will help you see line, shape, space and other elements in everyday objects and turn them into detailed works of art in just a few simple steps.

The exercises in this book will help train your brain so you can visualize ordinary objects in a different manner, allowing you to see through the eyes of an artist.

From photorealistic faces to holiday themes and tattoo drawings, How to Draw Cool Stuff makes drawing easier than you would think and more fun than you ever imagined! Now is the time to learn how to draw the subjects and scenes you’ve always dreamt of drawing. How to Draw Cool Stuff is suitable for artists of any age benefiting everyone from teachers and students to self-learners and hobbyists.

How to Draw Cool Stuff will help you realize your artistic potential and expose you to the pure joy of drawing!

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this one! The step-by-step exercises are simple and easy to follow, with a wide variety of subjects sure to spark the imagination and truly impressive results. It would be excellent to use in schools as well as at home. Just flipping through it had me eager to pull out my pens and try some of the exercises, and I had a lot of “oh, duh! That’s how you draw that” moments.

I will definitely be trying out many of the exercises with my kiddo and in my own sketchbook. I would recommend this to anyone interested in improving their sketching, from beginners to more experienced artists. There’s something here for everyone.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Textures and Optical Illusions by Catherine V Holmes

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Publishing Date: July 27, 2017


“How to Draw Cool Stuff: Basics, Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions” is the second book in the How to Draw Cool Stuff series. Inside you will find simple illustrations that cover the necessities of drawing cool stuff.

Specific exercises are provided that offer step-by-step guidelines for drawing a variety of subjects. Each lesson starts with an easy-to-draw shape that will become the basic structure of the drawing. From there, each step adds elements to that structure, allowing the artist to build on their creation and make a more detailed image.

Starting with the basic forms, the artist is provided a guide to help see objects in terms of simplified shapes. Instructions for shading to add depth, contrast, character and movement to a drawing are then covered. The varieties of texture and pattern that can be included in an artwork offer another layer of interest and depth to a design. These elements are necessary to indicate the way something looks like it feels in a work (texture) or creating the repetition of shapes, lines or colors (patterns). Illustrated optical illusions involve images that are sensed and perceived to be different from what they really are, showing examples of how the mind and the eyes can play tricks on each other.

All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and an eraser and you are ready to draw cool stuff. Once the drawing is complete, it can be colored, shaded or designed in any way you like to make it original. Following these exercises is a great way to practice your craft and begin seeing things in terms of simple shapes within a complex object.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is an excellent companion to the How to Draw Cool Stuff: Drawing Guide For Teachers and Students. It again uses simple and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions for drawing a wide variety of subjects but this time includes detailed information on shading and texture.

I am always a bit hesitant about shading my drawings, but now I feel equipped to attempt it. I am definitely eager to pull out my sketchbook.

This book has a bit more written instruction and description, which is helpful in learning the different types of shading and texture covered in these examples.

Again I would recommend this to everyone from beginner to advanced artist, although I do recommend starting with the Drawing Guide in order to become comfortable with breaking down objects into shapes before getting into the more complicated shading.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light: Portraying Light Effects in On-Location Drawing and Painting by Katie Woodward


Publishing Date: December 28, 2021


The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light is an informative guide to heightening the impact of your artwork by capturing the look and subtleties of light in any scene.

In settings ranging from fields and mountains at daybreak to neon cityscapes at midnight, learn how to express light effects through color and value to improve and refine your drawings and paintings.

Artist and urban sketcher Katie Woodward offers strategies for:  
Selectively translating values for maximum effect
Using your sketchbook to experiment with the effects of natural as well as artificial light
Considering many options for visual solutions through work contributed by experienced urban sketchers 
Master the art of rendering light with The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light as your guide.

The Urban Sketching Handbook series offers location artists expert instruction on creative techniques, on-location tips and advice, and an abundance of visual inspiration. These handy references come in a compact, easy-to-carry format with an elastic band closure—perfect to toss in your backpack or artist’s tote.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was an excellent overview of the many ways light can affect the appearance and mood of a painting, especially a landscape painting. The text was informative and detailed, and the many examples really brought the lessons home. I feel like I learned SO MUCH that I now am itching to put into practice. Natural light at various times of day and night are covered, as well as artificial lights and lighting combinations. Also the many and varied types of shadow, reflections, textures, and light viewed through translucent objects.

I would recommend this to anyone with some painting experience who wishes to take their work to the next level by considering lighting. It’s an excellent resource.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

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