Successful Drawing is a book by Andrew Loomis for artists looking to expand their drawing skills in the tricky areas of perspective and shading.
Loomis’ previous books are great but I always felt these two subjects were lacking in those other books by him that I’ve read.
Thankfully Loomis hasn’t forsaken us and has(hopefully) given us a guide to become perspective and shading masters!
- Format: Digital, Hardcover
- Author: Andrew Loomis
- Publisher: Titan Books
- Edition: 1st Edition(Reprint)
- Original Published: 1951
- Edition Published: 2012
- Page Number: 160 pages
- Book Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 12.4 in
- Languages: English
- ISBN-10: 0857687611
- ISBN-13: 978-0857687616
Like with most of Loomis’ books, Successful Drawing is not a step-by-step guide on drawing.
However, Loomis covers most common mistakes that artists make when using perspective. It almost felt like he was getting these out of the way so he could get on to the good stuff.
That’s fine though, in my opinion. You have as much time to practice each concept as you want so if you want to go over this first section a few more times to make sure you’ve got it down you’re free to do so.
Out of all the books by Loomis that I’ve reviewed, I would definitely say this is the most “technical” out of all of them.
I think you can tell by the pictures, but there’s almost a “blueprint” quality to the illustrations in Successful Drawing.
They may seem a bit intimidating but Loomis always includes little notes and clarifications that help make sense out of all of the lines and rectangles.
This book serves well as a reference book like with other books by Loomis, but if you’re looking for something with more of a “teaching” approach, Perspective Made Easy by Ernest R. Norling may be a book worth looking into.
Another thing worth mentioning is that some of the knowledge learned in Loomis’ Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth is brought back and expanded upon to include drawing the human figure in perspective.
This is a tricky subject to tackle but using the references given and building on what I had learned earlier in the book, it turned out to be easier than expected!
While this book was originally intended for people going into fields like cartooning or illustration, I could definitely see this being useful for animators as well.
The second half of Successful Drawing covers the principles of shading.
It’s actually really interesting when you realize that shading can be used to help give the illusion of perspective in your drawings.
Combining the illusion of something being “in front” or “behind” that shading brings with a correct positioning in perspective can give your drawing a whole new level of life and depth.
When demonstrating shading on a sphere, Loomis gives the example of the human head.
As you can see in the illustrations above, combining a good knowledge of the structure of the head(cough Drawing the Head and Hands cough) with shading, can result in a very satisfying drawing.
I’m not sure if you can see the caption on the page in the picture above, but it says that Loomis used no model when coming up with that face.
This just proves that a good framework of anatomical knowledge is really useful because it will increase your productivity as well as the quality of your drawings.
The manikin makes a return to show us the basics of shading the human figure.
This technique worked for me when I was getting into figure drawing and it worked even better when tackling shading.
Once you know the basic muscle groups and the shading techniques shown in this book, I was able to finally give my figures those rock-hard abs they deserved instead of the noodle-arms they were sporting before.
Successful Drawing is a book that gives artists yet another reference goldmine to play around with.
While this book is not a step-by-step guide, Loomis does walk through common mistakes people make when trying to use perspective in their drawings.
This may be Loomis’ most “technical” book, in the sense that all the illustrations have an almost “blueprint” feel to them. But then again, if there is a “technical” side of drawing, perspective would probably fit in there somewhere.
You may to look into Perspective Made Easy by Ernest R. Norling if you want more of a how-to on perspective rather than just references.
The second half of Successful Drawing focuses on shading but also shading in relation to perspective.
Loomis uses a head to demonstrate how perspective, shading and an understanding of human anatomy come together to create a great drawing.
The manikin used in other books by Loomis also makes a return to demonstrate shading on the human figure. Like always this is a great visual reference and helps simplify what would otherwise be a complex figure.
Successful Drawing is a reference book on perspective and shading that I know will be in my library for a long time. Just make sure you’re comfortable with mainly references and tips!