kittyocean: Hello there, I give this book an 8 out of 10! (8)
[personal profile] kittyocean
Title: MANGA for the beginner - Chibis
Original title: MANGA for the beginner - Chibis
Author: Christopher Hart
Language: English (I also owned the Dutch variant, but I donated that one to my sister XP)
Series: MANGA for the beginner
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): None
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Publisher: Watson Guptill
Year published: 2010
ISBN number: 9780823014880
Topic of the book: Drawing Chibis
Reason for reading: I wanted to get better at drawing Chibis
Recommended: Yes

Note:

I know quite some people really hate Christopher Hart/ his books. Please, keep an open mind and judge a book by its contents, not by the person who wrote it. My own opinion will be listed in this review as well.

Back cover text:

The back cover text could be considered a novel on its own. Apparently, the big font 'The Ultimate Guide to Creating Chibis' is not enough. I think the backside text is about 200-300 words. That's a lot.



Comments on the back cover text:

I know the back text is very important and needs to motivate people, but personally, I consider the text conceited. It gives a dozen of examples where Chibis appear and how wonderful Christopher Hart is.

I hold the policy that I barely or even never read the text he has written. More than once I read 'You must...' or 'Characters like that must have...'. I'm allergic to those 'commands'. If I hear 'You must...', I feel that the person is trying to limit my creativity. If I want a short haired princess, I should be allowed to! Not all princesses have long flowing hair with a crown! (It's a pet-peeve of mine, sorry ^_^')
This book only confirms that policy for me. Even if he has sold a zillion books, I just consider it boasting if you mention he “is the world's bestselling author of drawing and cartooning books” and that “his books set the standard for art instruction, both nationally and internationally”. There is little competition in that field anyway. Just stating his books are bestsellers is plenty for me. It doesn't have to be world-bestselling.

Do know, even though I hate the text, I have nothing against the man himself. I don't know the man, so I can't judge him. I see his products separately from him as a man. Plus, this is my opinion ^_^. Feel free to disagree! Also note that I STILL recommend this book!

First paragraph/page:

This is a big wall of text I won't copy.

Comments on the first paragraph:

I actually like this text a lot better than the text on the back. It actually states what Chibis are and what you will learn to draw in this book. It's also much kinder and instead of focusing on the author, it focuses on you, the reader. It motivates you and tells you that even though you might start out as a beginner, soon you will (with practice) be amazing!

Review:

Content:

There is a lot of text in the book, but also a lot of art. It also holds a nod to the current pop-culture. It features Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid). Okay, not really, but the Chibi girl has the same hair style and the same big bow-like thing on top of her head. If you know Kagamine Rin and see this girl on pages 47, 50 and 51, you probably see the likeness as well.

Anyway, back to the content. Most step-by-step lessons are based upon 4 steps (or less). While this is usually too little for a decent drawing... it actually works in this book! It could use more step-by-step's, but you can use the rest of the art for inspiration. The themes are also pretty varied. Some things are stereotype, but we have some unique things as well. I like the section of the Chibis and their monsters/animals. They have so much energy!

And yes, there is a Chibi Monster section as well. I saw a Chibi Monster book in the bookstore and those monsters were not Chibi. These are.

I do wished I knew who drew what. Some drawings are just adorable and I'd like to see more of that artist. Christopher Hart seemed to have contributed as well, but I have no idea what. I'd like to see that too, because I want to see how much his work changed ever since my first book of him (and trust me, I have a lot of his books!).

Writing style:

Even if the text is easy to understand, it's a LOT. I also noticed there's less “You must...”, “Princesses have...”, “It should...” than in previous books. I know those advices are well meant, but like said: I feel those words are a limitation to my creativity. So, I don't read the text and enjoy the art. That's what inspires me.

The books are often read by little children or young adults. So, if you state: “A princess has long flowing hair, a charming smile and a crown.” you set that as a standard (Note, this is just an example, it is not in this book!). As if it's wrong to do something else. Especially if you have the “Evil princess” further in the book. “Evil princesses have a scowl, daring clothes and gloves.” (Also not in this book. It's to make clear how I see things.).

Examples from the book:

“Samurai always have ponytails.” (I don't know if this is historically accurate. I don't consider the men on the images I found having ponytails. A lot have their hair tied up in a bun, but I saw no real long ponytail. Can't say the costume looks alike as well.)

“All female characters in the upper classes of the Middle Ages wore 'poufy' shoulders and elbow-length gloves.” (In defense: the author also states it was freezing inside the castles, so that makes sense.)

“The star in the wand's crystal ball is a necessary addition, because that makes the sphere look translucent.” (There are many other ways to show that.)

“Goths love to wear trench coats, boots and gloves – anything to shield them from the sunlight.” (I guess that means Gothic Lolita's are no Goths?)

“Mad scientists – even budding ones – always wear lab coats and glasses.” (Somehow this makes me feel that all mad scientists must have eye problems? Mad scientists can't have a clear vision? Or wear contacts? It would make more sense if something like this was added: The glasses protects his eyes from the toxic of his potions.)

I know these examples are only lines, but I tried to select the ones that could not be pulled out of context.

Art:

The art is beautiful. It is the reason why I bought this book. I really like the Chibi-drawings with the pastel look – like the harpist and fairy (like I drew below). There's a good use of colour, well selected fashion and the poses are less static than other books I've seen.
It does focus on Digital Colouring only. I think it could have used a Traditional Colouring as well. And on page 115... there's a glow coming from the ball... but the backside of the Chibi is lighter than the frontside, where the sphere is? Shouldn't it be darker on the backside as well?

Conclusion:

Despite the fact that I personally hate the text, I love this book. The steps have a high success rate and the designs are good examples. It's not only suitable for the beginner – a more experienced artist could use it as well. So, to be short; yes, I recommend it.

Rereadability:

Yes. It has plenty to inspire you or help you develop your skills. Like said, it's also suitable for the more experienced artist.


And look what I drew!



How to draw - Fairy by *kittyocean on deviantART

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