Grant - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Science Fiction Art Techniques
John Grant and Ron Tiner
Running Press
Nonfiction, Art

DESCRIPTION: We've all marveled at slithering dragons, soaring pegasi, massive spaceships, and other works of wonder seen on book covers, movie posters, and the big and small screens, among other places. How in the world do artists come up with such brilliantly inventive works - and can you ever learn to do the same? This is an overview of the genre of sci-fi and fantasy art, touching on artistic media but focusing on the effective use of techniques such as Reflections, Anthropomorphism, Exaggeration, Implausible Structures, Hardware, and more.

REVIEW: Not so much a step-by-step instruction book as a source of inspiration and ideas, I find myself looking through it fairly frequently. It's interesting to read, with plenty of great finished examples illustrating the points and techniques mentioned. Each section also ends with a challenge for the reader/artist, exercises to help practice the concepts just discussed. The gallery at the end shows the techniques in action; while I didn't like all the art in the gallery, I could at least appreciate why each piece was included. There is a brief section on Erotica/Exotica art, not for glorification but because, as the authors state, sci-fi/fantasy artists are most likely going to be asked to produce that kind of art at some point in their careers. This is one of those books I find myself paging through again and again, not necessarily to do the exercises (I'm not only too far behind in my art skills to try, but I'm a notorious coward) but just to marvel at what wonders can be wrought by raw imagination and well-honed skill.

You might also enjoy:
Drawing & Painting Fantasy Landscapes & Cityscapes (Rob Alexander, Art - How to draw impossible settings)
The Art of Amy Brown (Amy Brown, Art - A collection of art)
Learn to Draw Like the Masters: Dragons (Eugene Caine, YA Art - Painting dragons using the styles of the old masters)
Finlay Cowan's art books (Finlay Cowan, Art - Developing and drawing fantastic beasts, beings, and worlds)
Perspective Drawing Handbook (Joseph D'Amelio, Art - Understanding and rendering artistic perspective)
Painting Dragons in Watercolor (Paul Bryn Davies, Art - Use watercolor to create beautiful dragons)
Anatomy for Fantasy Artists (Glenn Fabry, Art - How to stretch anatomy to fit standard fantasy characters)
The Art of Anastasia (Henry Deneroff, Art - The concept art and development of the animated movie)
Imaginative Realism (James Gurney, Art - Making the unreal appear real)
John Howe's Fantasy Art Workshop and Myth & Magic: The Art of John Howe (John Howe, Art - A collection of John Howe's imaginative works)
Christopher Hart's drawing books (Christopher Hart, YA/YA? Art - How to draw cartoon and manga images)
Fantasy Art Masters and More Fantasy Art Masters (Dick Jude, Art - A collection of fantasty and surreal artists)
Dreamscapes: Creating Magical Angel, Faery & Mermaid Worlds in Watercolor (Stephanie Pui-Mon Law, Art - Painting magical humanoids)
How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (Stan Lee and John Buscema, YA? Art - Drawing lessons from the comic art masters)
The Fantasy Illustrator's Technique Book (Gary A. Lippincott, Art - Lessons and tips from a working fantasy illustrator)
The North Light Artist's Guide to Materials and Techniques (Phil Metzger, Nonfiction - An overview of art media)
Freaks! How to Draw Fantastic Fantasy Creatures (Steve Miller, YA? Art - How to draw anthropomorphic animals and hybrids)
The Art of How to Train your Dragon (Tracy Miller-Zarneke, Art - The concept art of the 2010 Dreamworks animated movie)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe - Official Illustrated Movie Companion (Perry Moore, Nonfiction - Fantasy art concepts in action)
How to Draw Dragons Made Easy (Beren Neale, editor, Art - Fantasy artists demonstrate their techniques in creating dragons)
Creating Creatures of Fantasy and Imagination (Claudia Nice, Art - Creating fantasy beasts and beings with pen and ink with watercolor)
The Fantasy Art Techniques of Tim Hildebrandt (Jack E. Norton, Art - A collection of Hildebrandt's art, with notes on the artist's methods and techniques)
Dracopedia: A Guide to Drawing the Dragons of the World (William O'Connor, Art - Developing and drawing a variety of dragon species)
The DragonArt books (J. "NeonDragon" Peffer, YA? Art - How to draw dragons, fantasy characters, and other imaginary things)
How to Draw and Paint Fairies (Linda Ravenscroft, Art - Drawing fairies)
Watercolor Fairies (David Riché and Anna Franklin, Art - Painting fairies with watercolor)
The Lord of the Rings: The Art of the Fellowship of the Ring (Gary Russell, Nonfiction - The concept art and development of Peter Jackson's epic movie)
Fantastic Realms (V. Shane, YA? Art - Drawing fantasy worlds, characters, and creatures)
Drawing from your Imagination (Ron Tiner, Art - Developing creative imagination for artists)
Figure Drawing Without a Model (Ron Tiner, Art - Drawing figures from the imagination)
Drawing & Painting Fantasy Beasts (Kevin Walker, Art - Sketching and creating original fantasy beasts)
Michael Whelan's art books (Michael Whelan, Art - The famed genre artist's works, both professional and personal)

Return to Top of Page - Return to Book Review List

Concrete Evidence
(The Evidence series, Book 1)
Rachel Grant
Janus Publishing
Fiction, Romance/Suspense

DESCRIPTION: A year ago, trusting the wrong man ruined Erica Kesling's life. An underwater archaeologist desperate for money, ruined when her own mother stole her identity and racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, she foolishly signed on with the treasure hunter Jake Novak... and wound up blackballed on the West Coast for his artifact smuggling venture. Fortunately, the rumors haven't spread as far as the East Coast giant Talon & Drake - and it's here that she may finally have a chance to bring down Jake and clear her own name. Even better, she might bring down some of Jake's customers with him, in addition to doing important work for Talon's Menanichoch tribe. At least, that was the plan, before she got saddled with the world's laziest - and sexiest - intern, Lee Scott.
Lee's ties to the Talon family go way back. When Joseph Talon, Jr. suspected someone of using the company to smuggle artifacts out of war-torn Iraq, he called in a marker and sent Lee in to investigate, posing as a twenty-something playboy slacker. The name Erica Kesling is at the top of his suspect list, but the rot runs deep, and it's Lee's job to quietly root it out before the senior Joe Talon announces his run for presidency. A tall order, but nothing Lee can't handle, if he keeps his cool. The problem is, the moment he meets Erica, the job turns red hot.
Brought together by lies, bound by an unexpected and undeniable passion, how much betrayal can two hearts withstand?

REVIEW: This title promises danger, deceit, and sizzling passion, and it delivers in full. Erica and Lee get caught up in an intricate dance of half-truths, each unknowingly sharing a common goal as they try to ignore the sparks that fly whenever they're in the same room. Though both are wounded souls, they can and do stand on their own two feet, instead of the old idea of a fainting flower waiting to be swept up by a savior who solves all their problems. Most everyone in the cast turns out to have a hidden agenda, playing out in a tautly-written plot incorporating smuggling, money laundering, Native American history (and our country's shameful efforts to eradicate whole cultures), archaeological investigations, war crimes, and murder... not to mention bucketloads of sexual tension. Most everything ties together in a thrill- ride of an ending. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and wouldn't mind reading another title or two in the series, time and budget willing.

You might also enjoy:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie, YA Fiction - A modern Spokane Indian boy leaves the reservation for a better future)
The Wedding Trap (Adrienne Bell, Fiction - A woman blackmails a stranger into impersonating her imaginary boyfriend, not knowing he's a CIA agent trailing a dangerous traitor)
Wicked Games (Jessica Clare and Jill Myles, Fiction - On a reality game show, a writer is forced to team up with a hated rival)
Scoundrel for Hire (Adrienne deWolfe, Fiction - An 1800's silver mine heiress hires a roguish charmer to break up her father's engagement)
Kingdom of the Serpent's Eye (Malla Duncan, Fiction - Adventurer-for-hire Barry Philpot seeks a woman's lost father in the depths of the Amazon)
Treasure of the Jaguar Warrior - Mystery of the Mayan Calendar (Barbara Ivie Green, Fiction - A divorced woman finds a handsome ghost tied to a lost treasure and a world-ending Mayan curse)
Step Into My Parlor (Jan Hudson, Fiction - On the run from an evil stepbrother, a desperate socialite turns up in a Houston pawn shop)
Crown of Serpents (Michael Karpovage, Fiction - A half-Native American ex-Army historian clashes with a powerful tribal casino magnate seeking a magical artifact)
Surface Tension (Christine Kling, Fiction - A Florida salvage captain finds herself accused of murder)
Branded For You (Cheyenne McCray, Fiction - A divorced, insecure woman meets the Arizona cowboy of her dreams as her family faces financial ruin)
Trading in Danger (Elizabeth Moon, Fiction - The disgraced daughter of a trading dynasty is given a simple interstellar trade route... and winds up in a galactic powder keg)
Stealing Mr. Right (Tamara Morgan, Fiction - A jewel thief plots a heist while married to an FBI agent)
Evidence of Trust (Stacey Joy Netzel, Fiction - A heartbroken city girl meets a jaded ranger on a Colarado ranch during the pursuit of a poacher)
Almost Perfect (Julie Ortolon, Fiction - While struggling to overcome fears of success, an aspiring artist runs into an old flame in Santa Fe)
Time Treasure (Sheila Raye, Fiction - A woman struggling to save the family salvage business finds herself entangled with a centuries-old cursed sea captain, who trades leads on treasure wrecks for a chance to win her heart)
Ghost Ship (Deitlof Reiche, YA Fiction - Two kids discover a mystery linked to an old ship's figurehead)
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow (James Rollins, YA Fiction - The children of vanished archaeologists find themselves pulled into a lost world)
Native American History and Culture (Christopher Savio, Nonfiction - An examination of the origins, culture, and fate of America's native people)
Feel The Heat (Kathryn Shay, Fiction - A lady firefighter resists her attraction to a charming CEO she rescued from a blaze)
Someone Else's Fairytale (E. M. Tippetts, Fiction - A driven college student unexpectedly catches the eye of America's hottest star)
On Basilisk Station (David Weber, Fiction - A dishonored captain of an interstellar navy discovers a plot against her kingdom)
Leepike Ridge (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A river's current washes a boy into a hidden cave linked to an ancient secret and ruthless modern treasure hunters)

Return to Top of Page - Return to Book Review List

Return to Brightdreamer Books Home

Brightdreamer Books is created and maintained by TBW, a.k.a. "Brightdreamer."
E-mail: tbweber AT comcast DOT net. Remove spaces, replace AT with "@" and DOT with "." - please put "Brightdreamer Books" in the subject line, or your e-mail may be deleted as spam! Thank you!