First things first: I . . . LOVE . . . THIS . . . BOOK!

Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe is definitely in a league of its own. Let’s face it, there are tons of the “How to Draw” books out there right now. You know the ones I’m talking about. There are the Stan Lee versions, the ones by Jessica Abel and Matt Madde, and many, many more. I’m not saying that any of these are bad or that you can’t learn a lot from them. But what they lack, in my opinion, is simplicity. Take for instance the books by Abel and Madde. The first of their two books is 282 pages and is a wealth of information. I started going through that first book and got to page 65 before I got discouraged and gave it up. Their second book is similar and comes in at a whopping 318 pages. Needless to say I’ve not even started that one.

Lowe’s book is NOT one of these types of books: one that attempts to teach you everything you need to know in one (or two) massive books. Instead, Lowe’s book is surprisingly just what it says it is: a “foundations” book. It’s also a book that does not ask you to do a lot of reading, but rather a lot of doing. This is what I like to call “hands on” learning.

Let’s talk specifically about the book. It is divided into eight chapters. These include:

  1. Anyone Can Draw
  2. Learning to See
  3. Perspective Basics
  4. The Figure
  5. Visual Problem Solving
  6. Inking
  7. Advanced Inking Techniques
  8. Software Applications in Comic Book Art

The order of the chapters makes sense to me. The encouragement and practical advice given in the first chapter will inspire the reader to jump in and get started. As Lowe points out, there are two things you can’t do without “The Two D’s: Desire and Discipline” (2). If you have these, Lowe ensures you the rest is just hard work. The first chapter has one full-page of reading before throwing you into the practical side of learning . . . doing. You see plenty of examples of what certain techniques will get you, image on the left, and you see finished art work as well, image on the right.

Found-in-Comic-Book-Art_2 Found-in-Comic-Book-Art_1

Chapters two through eight follow the same form: lots and lots of practice exercises, examples, and finished artwork. When it comes to exercises, I’m sure we’ve all see those how-to books where the exercises are confusing and daunting, this is NOT that type of book. The tasks that Lowe gives the readers are straight forward and well explained, making it easy to pick up a pencil or other writing device and try them. Lowe also demonstrates how complicated images can be broken down into their simplest parts, and these are the parts we need to construct these images.

There are other aspects of this book that I also really appreciate. I love the fact that it discusses how much research is necessary before you ever pick up a pencil to draw. This is discussed in chapter five under “Visual Research.” Lowe explains that if a writer asks you to draw something from the 1920s, you will need to do your research on how things LOOKED in the 1920s. What did people wear, how did they look, what did cars look like, buildings, etc. THIS is a piece of true foundational advice. Even if you are drawing something for the current day, you need to observe and learn the same types of things. Excellent advice.

Other things I like about this book include the practical information Lowe gives on using Photo Shop, how Lowe covers the basic software techniques as well as the old school ones, and the suggestions he gives on materials he’s used and therefore might be useful to the reader. He also offers web sites to visit to enhance your drawing skills, and of the ones I visited, they were all free. Overall, this book is an excellent place to start if you are interested in the art of drawing comics.

Foundations in Comic Book Art can be purchased at Amazon, or your local book store.

Overall Score
92 %

An excellent book that truly does offer the reader the "foundations" of comic art. Lowe presents the material in an easy to follow form and does not waste a lot of time with making you "read."

Writing 90%
Examples 90%
Exercises 100%
Information 90%

About The Author

My name is Dianna, and I hail from the land of the lakes, aka Michigan. My full time job has me running a writing center, teaching writing classes (hopefully soon teaching a comics course), and doing all sorts of techy things, since that’s what I did in a previous life.

At this point in my life, comics are both my passion and my research. I am lucky in that I get to combine my passion into my everyday work. But here at Destroy the Cyborg I get to have fun and chat about what I'm reading. Feel free to chime in on my post, even if it's to tell my how dead wrong I got something.

Comments are closed.