kittyocean: I give this book a 7 out of 10! (7)
[personal profile] kittyocean
Title: Fashion Design Studio – Learn to Draw Figures, Fashion, Hairstyles & More!
Original title: Fashion Design Studio – Learn to Draw Figures, Fashion, Hairstyles & More!
Author: Chris Hart
Language: English
Series: None
Reviews for other books in this series (up until now): MANGA for the beginner – Chibis
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Publisher: Sixth&Spring Books
Year published: Release date: Expected around the 26th of November 2013 (I got an early copy from Mr. Hart for a review)
ISBN number: 9781936096626
Topic of the book: How to draw
Reason for reading: Mr. Hart read my review about his book MANGA for the beginner – Chibis and asked me to review his upcoming book.
Recommended: Yes, for those who want to become fashion designers and don't know of the basics. If you already know the basics, this book might not hold many surprises.

Even though I was asked to review this book by the author himself, it will still be objective and honest. So, yes, I will point out things I like, dislike or miss in this book.

A fun fact that might interest you before reading is that during High School, my Art Teachers told me to quit drawing. I was, in their opinion, terrible and there was no future for me in Art. I am not exaggerating, that is what they told me. According to them, art included Still Lifes, landscapes, modern abstracts and never 'those cartoon-esque figures'. One of the Art Teachers had the decency to bring this mildly to me (the others were very blunt about it) and said that if I really wanted to continue art I might stand a tiny chance if I'd focus on Fashion Designing. I never went into Fashion Designing and continued those 'stupid cartoon figures' and I consider myself decent in terms of skill. I still have much left to learn, but I'm confident enough to see I'm far from terrible.

So, when Mr. Hart asked me to review his book, I remembered those High School days again. I consider it very ironic that the very first book someone asks me to review is about Fashion Designing....
And now onwards to the review!

Back cover text:

From Chris Hart, the world's best-selling author of how-to-draw books, comes Creative Girls draw: Fashion Design Studio, the ultimate guide to drawing for aspiring fashion designers. Inside you'll find all the tools you need to share your design ideas. Learn to draw the figure with the right proportions and poses, and how to adorn it with an array of garment, shoes, and accessories, as well as hair and make-up. Practice on the Draw It Yourself pages throughout the book, and find ideas for looks in the Style Files. With Chris Hart's help, you can bring your designs to life and your fashion dreams closer to reality!



Comments on the back cover text:

A pet-peeve from the previous book I reviewed is still present: 'the world's best-selling author of how-to-draw books'. I won’t go in deep to it why it’s a pet-peeve of mine. You can read that in the other review. To me, that line is unneeded, it doesn't add anything.
Also, the line ‘the ultimate guide’ sets a very high standard. To me 'ultimate guide' would mean you would only need this book and nothing else. Since that’s pretty much impossible, it’s a strange line to add. Then again, after reading this book, I can actually say it gets pretty close to ultimate. It does cover most of the basics, so it's the perfect starter-guide.
Other than that the back cover text does cover what's inside. Also, the practice-sheets get too little attention here, which is actually the thing that makes this book shine! How many how-to-draw books also include practice-sheets? If I look at my almost 3 meters high stack of how-to-draw books, I can tell you: there aren't many. This book is quite unique, in my eyes, because of those practice-sheets and that deserves more attention.

First paragraph/page:

Have you ever wanted to draw fashions? What about drawing trendy models in eye-catching outfits? Now you can do both. This book will show you how to draw fashion figures in the outfits that make them sparkle. If you've tried to draw from the photos in fashion magazines, you'll know that photographic reference material doesn't take you very far. It provides no foundation. And without that, it's difficult to improve.

(The second paragraph tells you about what this book will teach you, but the rule of this review-group is that we only mention the first paragraph, because that's the first thing people read after the back cover text. This is a shame, because the second paragraph is very motivating and energizing.)

Comments on the first paragraph:

While I agree with the author that photographic reference doesn't take you that far, I also believe it remains essential. Photographic references are the best way to see how clothes fold and which poses are possible. Not to mention which fashion actually looks good on humans, what is currently trendy, what is practical and what is not. However, I also agree with the author that those references alone are not enough. Photos don't teach you anything about anatomy, creativity and how to make your own drawn fashion designs. After all, a drawing is very different from a photo. So my opinion would be that you need both. You need instructions about how to draw and you also need to keep on gathering photos from magazines to help you improve.

Review:

Content:

The table of contents is very clearly laid out. If you only want to practice one thing, you can easily hop on to that page. The practice-sheets also stand out, so if you want to copy a page, you can find that page easily. And yes, please copy the page. Don't draw in books! In the copyright notice it says you are allowed to copy those pages, so please, make use of that permission! Also, this is worth a compliment: they specifically give you permission to copy those pages. I have never read that in a book before.

About the recommended supplies

The author mentions that painting and sculpting supplies can make a mess (page 5). This made me giggle, mainly because I'm into language lately as well (I blame a certain someone ;)). I never knew painting and sculpting supplies could make a mess. Mine just patiently wait till I get them again. All jokes aside, I know he means that it's easier to make a mess while painting or sculpting, it just made me giggle. Fun fact: I tend to be messier and more disorganized with my pencils and markers than I do with my painting supplies.

It's also surprising the author recommends masking/white-out fluids to get rid of the errors. It can be very handy, but it could ruin your work if you don't know how to handle it. I would have loved to get some instructions about that.

I'm pleased to see the author recommends markers, as I am a marker-nut, even though he doesn't mention which kind. I believe that throughout the book, the author used alcohol based markers, instead of water based markers. There's a huge difference between these two types and I myself recommend alcohol based markers. If someone wants to know why, I'll write a whole editorial about that later on, but it’s not relevant to the review about this book right now.

About the instructions

The page about proportions was an eye-opener for me. Drawing bodies in Fashion Style is very different from Manga, Fantasy or even Realistic Style. Those cannot be compared. You can mix it, get the best out of two/three worlds, but Fashion Style is still a different stream. Bodies in Fashion Style is about simplicity (the designs may be complicated), slimness and length. The author does mention plus-size, but in my eyes, that example is still pretty normal-size. I don't really blame the author – that's still the trend in Fashion Style. Though, I had hoped that the author would break the taboo and add more body types. I know this is covered to some extent in his other books, but I had hoped to see it used in this one as well, especially a real plus-size model. I still have difficulty in drawing plus-size people and there are very little books covering that subject. And from the books that do cover that subject, even less fashion-oriented books tend to dress their plus-size example fashionably.

So, if I could submit a suggestion, this would be it: please dedicate a decent section to plus-size people and matching/good looking fashion. I know being overweight is bad for your health, but those people do exist and they deserve love and attention too ^_^.

About half of the book is about different types of clothes, shoes and handbags and hats, but I am missing the jewelry or (sun)glasses. Especially glasses are a pain to draw and I could really use some times on that. So, if there would be a follow-up to this book, I hope it would focus more on small accessories. And even though the hats-section is only a few pages, I think I finally understand now how to draw those things.

And for those who worry they will never be able to draw a face: quite a few pages clearly show fashion design is about the fashion, not the face. The models sport their clothes with confidence and they don't even have a face. So even if you're not ready for drawing the face yet, you can still use this book for fashion designing.

Most instructions are step-by-step and 2 to 3 pages long. The author also uses a common technique: stick figures for the basic pose and then filling it up. The shapes the author uses are not always geometrical, making it sometimes tricky to work with if you're a first timer. Even though the shapes don't always make sense, they are shapes you can work with. Don't give up after the first try! The steps are 'small' enough to follow and new steps are clearly shown in blue or a thicker black. You can clearly see what you need to do next.

And again I will mention it, because this I really like about the book: the practice sheets. The figures are drawn in blue, so if you use a (gray) pencil, your art will clearly shine through. I was also told that black and white copiers don't always pick up blue, so if you manage to keep your art clean, you can copy your work from the practice sheet and the copy will hold only your own design, ready for colors. I do recommend copying the practice sheets in color first, though.

In the back of the book, you will find a list of art schools (USA only) and supply stores. I can see how this is very handy for those who live in the USA, so they knew where they can start. I do wonder, when they will translate this book to Dutch, will they keep the list? Look for Dutch art schools and art-supplies stores? Fun fact: One listed supply-store is called 'Utrecht Art Supplies', named after the Dutch city 'Utrecht', a town I live next to. I wonder if they also speak Dutch....

Writing style:

The writing style is very different from previous books. The author uses much less 'you must' or 'that type of character has', which I have read in other books. I must admit, I like the lack of these 'guided instructions'. So, that's already a big plus. At one point I did start to wonder why these types of instructions are not present in this book. The answer is quite apparent: this book is about creating clothes, not creating characters. There are no rules in designing fashion. There are rules about creating characters. Still, I hope this writing-style will be present in the author's future books. The writing style is clear, open, motivating and right for the target audience.

The instructions and tips are easy to follow, but the art and the instructions need each other. Without the instructions, the step-by-step instructions might be challenging for beginners. They might draw what they see, but not know why they would have to draw it like that. The author clearly explains what is what, so you get a basic lesson of anatomy as well. It's a good read.

Art:

The art is very different from what I'm used to. I have to keep in mind that Fashion Style is about simplicity, slimness (body-type) and length. If you keep that in mind, the art in the book is solid. The lines are a bit sketchy, which I like to see and the art looks well-founded. The author knows what he's doing and it shows. The lines are drawn with confidence.

On a personal note I have to admit that most of the art is not my cup of tea. Neither are the designs of the clothes. However, such a thing is a matter of taste and while I'm not fond of the art, I can say the art is good and representative. It sets a good example, the basic anatomy is present and clothes have natural looking folds and shades.

Conclusion:

I was very excited when I received this book. I had to put it away for a while, to help me get a more objective view.

I do think this book only covers the basics. If you have no idea where to start out, this is a book that can help you get on the road. I still recommend more books about anatomy and clothes, so that you understand better what you're doing. It's easier to simplify if you know what you're doing than if you're just winging it.

In the end, I do like the Fashion Style and want to dig deeper into it. Are there features I can incorporate into my own style? Or, could I learn a new style next to my usual style? So, in short: I liked the book and I recommend it, mostly for beginners.

Rereadability:

High, but in my case I will most likely look at the Style Files. I have no sense of fashion when it comes to modern style, since I more regularly design Medieval/Fantasy clothes. There are also a few interesting poses and hairstyles I'd like to try out. So you can expect more of this in the future!


Fashion Style versus My style by *kittyocean on deviantART - Join the Discussion!




Comment of the author on this review:

Chris Hart:
"It's a very fair review and shows balance and integrity.

Just a note... I'd like to explain that the change in the tone of my art instructions, from pedantic to more encouraging, is not just for this book. It's an evolution in my development as an author, just as the inclusion of plus size models is new (and, I might add, out of the ordinary for other how-to-draw fashion books). In fact, I had drawn more of them for the book, but not everything you submit to a publisher ends up getting in.

Take Care!

Chris"


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