Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs is a 128-page art instruction book by Lee Hammond, featuring 29 step-by-step lessons and dozens of examples that will make you want to pick up your pencil and try your hand at drawing your own pets.
If you love animals and want to learn how to draw pet portraits, this book can help you hone your skills and make art that captures the spirit of each animal. The author, Lee Hammond, is a true animal lover which comes through in both her lessons and her drawings. This book is filled with drawings of Lee's own pets, and you can sense her affection for these animals, which makes learning from her even more fun.
In her intro, Lee writes: "This book isn't just about drawing animals. It is about animal "portraits" - capturing the soul and essence of the pet that is a member of your family, and preserving their memory forever through art."
Whether you want to draw pet portraits for your own pleasure or give them to others as special gifts, this book provides tips, techniques and instructions for drawing a variety of animals commonly kept as pets, including: dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs and mice. By the time you're done with this book, you might even feel confident enough to do pet portrait commissions!
Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs is organized into 10 chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. In this review I'll give you an inside peek at some of the lessons and artwork that you'll find in this book.
This chapter is a pep talk to get you primed and ready to dive into pet portrait drawing. Lee believes that she can teach anyone to draw, and with over 20 years experience as an art instructor, she knows what people are capable of once they learn the right techniques - even beginners! To prove her point, there are several examples of student work done before the course and afterwards, each with noticeable improvement.
Here's an example from one of her students:
Learn what tools you need to create quality drawings. Even though you don't need a ton of supplies to create realistic pet drawings, Lee explains what tools are necessary and why they're important. For instance, you'll learn what a "blending tortillion" is and how it's used.
In this chapter Lee also explains the five elements of shading, which is important in order to draw realistic forms that look solid and 3-dimensional. She describes and illustrates her blending technique, so you learn how to blend smoothly to achieve nice, even transitions from light to dark.
She also explains a graphing technique that helps you transfer the image from a photograph onto your drawing paper - a technique she recommends and uses throughout the book because it helps you get the proportions correct, which is also important to achieve a sense of realism.
The chapter ends with "Line Drawing Practice" so you can get the hang of the graphic technique. You'll finish the drawings later in the book.
This chapter focuses on how to capture the unique personality of each pet, so that your drawings convey the animal's emotions and expressions.
Lee starts with a lesson on drawing fur, and shows you the correct type of strokes to use when drawing long hair, short hair and light smooth fur. She also demonstrates how to layer strokes to create a realistic sense of fur, always encouraging you not to stop too soon, which many beginners have a tendency to do. When you stick with it and add enough layers and blending, you can create all types of believable fur.
This chapter contains mini-demonstrations that break down the step-by-step techniques to draw the eyes, nose, mouth and ears of both a cat and a dog. There are also mini-demos for drawing a mouse face and a rabbit face.
This chapter builds on the knowledge you gained from the previous chapter about drawing realistic fur. You'll learn how to draw wavy fur and curly fur.
There are step-by-step drawing lessons for drawing: a cat with short fur, a Yorkie with long fur, a poodle with curly fur, and a kitten with fluffy fur.
When you're done with this chapter, you'll be a fur expert!
This chapter starts with an overview of cat anatomy and how cats move their bodies, which is handy to know when drawing realistic cats. Lee helps you see the basic shapes and rounded contours, as well as markings on the cat's fur.
She also covers how to draw kittens, examples of different breeds, and portraying cats in action. You'll find step-by-step drawing lessons on how to draw a striped cat, a domestic shorthaired kitten, and a domestic longhaired cat.
You'll learn to see the basic shapes of a dog's body, which is angular and more boxy than a cat's form. Lee also covers how to draw puppies, which have more rounded heads and bellies than their adult counterparts. Finally, she shows you how to get creative with candid poses.
In this chapter you'll find step-by-step drawing demonstrations that show you how to draw a Labrador Retriever, a Bulldog, a Cocker Spaniel, a Boxer puppy and a Basset Hound.
This chapter focuses on our smaller furry friends: rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and more. Lee starts by showing you the basic shapes of a rodent or rabbit's body, which is generally round, curvy and smooth.
You'll find step-by-step drawing tutorials that show you go to draw a lop-eared rabbit and a guinea pig. There are mini-demos that show you how to draw a chinchilla and a baby bunny.
Lee shows you how to draw feathers realistically, which is different than drawing fur. She explains the general shape of feathers and their features that you need to capture to draw them realistically. You'll also learn how to draw the fluffy part of birds' chests and heads.
This chapter contains step-by-step drawing demos that show you how to draw a cockatiel and a macaw. Other examples she includes are canaries, geese and parakeets.
Here's an excerpt from Lee's section on how to draw realistic birds:
Now that you've learned how to draw furry or feathered friends, turn to this chapter to learn how to draw scaly, slithery friends! Lee shows example drawings of an iguana, gecko, bearded dragon, frog, snake, turtle, goldfish, betta fish and angelfish.
This chapter contains 3 step-by-step lessons that demonstrate how to draw an iguana, a turtle, and a cichlid (a large aggressive fish).
Here's the first part of Lee's lesson on how to draw an iguana:
The final chapter of Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs shares tips, ideas and examples of how to tell a story through your art. When your art tells a story, the result is more emotional and thought-provoking than a standard sketch. By looking at her examples you can gather ideas for poses and the types of candid snapshots you can take of your own pets that you can draw from.
I hope this review gives you a good idea of what you'll find in Lee Hammond's book, Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs. This high-quality art instruction book is laid out in a logical step-by-step manner, with each lesson and chapter building on what you learned previously. You can follow the book in order or you can skip around and do the lessons that attract you the most, but I'd recommend reading through the Intro and first 3 chapters so you get a solid grounding before diving into the step-by-step lessons.
Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs is an excellent instruction book for beginners who want to learn how to draw realistic pets from photographs. Lee Hammond's teaching method is easy to follow and her personality shines through in her writing as much as in her art.
Although this book focuses on pet portraits, you can also use the techniques to draw wild animals. Many of the techniques, such as graphing, blending, and layering can be used in any type of drawing you want to create, whether it's a human portrait or a still life.
If you have a limited budget, then Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs is ideal because the recommended supplies won't break the bank. If you're completely new to art then this book can help get you going by learning to draw with graphite (pencil). Then if you decide to expand into other media, the skills and techniques you'll learn here can be used in varying degrees; for instance, you could use the graphing technique to create an underdrawing for a painting.
All in all, Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs provides a solid foundation and excellent instruction. This book can get your started and lead the way, and thenit's up to you to devote time to learning the techniques and practicing as much as you can.
If you want to learn how to draw with anything other than graphite, then Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs is not for you because it focuses solely on graphite as a medium. If you want to draw with colored pencils or pastels, for example, then you're better off getting a book that focuses on that specific media.
If you're an intermediate or advanced artist, then you probably already know the techniques in this book. It's mainly geared towards beginners and does a good job of guiding newbies through the process of making realistic pet drawings.
Lee Hammond has over 20 years experience as an art instructor. She has authored over 15 art instruction books for North Light, demonstrating how to draw and paint realistically in media such as graphite, colored pencil, crayon and acrylics. Lee has also created several how-to art instruction videos for North Light.
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North Light publishes some really cool art instruction books, so be sure to check out their website where you can browse their full catalog!
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A complimentary copy of Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs was provided to me by North Light Books for this review, which is based on my honest assessment of the book. All images in this review are displayed with permission and are copyrighted by their respective owners.
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