GOING TO SCHOOL WITH JAMES GURNEY
One of the nice things about working at a publishing company is having the opportunity to get an advance look at books before they're released to the stores. So I was extremely happy when editor Dorothy O'Brien dropped by my office with an advance copy of James Gurney's new work, Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist.
Of course, readers of Spectrum are more than familiar with Jim's art: not only has he been presented with multiple awards through the years, but one of his paintings served as the cover to the the very first volume way back in 1994. A popular lecturer at art schools and museums, Jim has always been very generous when sharing his techniques and in encouraging other artists; his daily blog posts are incredibly popular with professionals and students alike.
Imaginative Realism is an engaging gathering of all of his tips and step-by-step techniques. Starting with an overview of fantastic-themed and story-driven art from the Renaissance to the golden Age of American illustration, the book proceeds to explain the importance of sketching, anatomy, and composition before exploring the fundamentals of believable world-building including archaeology, architecture, muscle structure of monsters and aliens, and fantastic engineering. Jim clearly discusses the importance of the marriage of imagination with research and reference in order to create works that are believable despite their fantastic subject matter – and he supports his discussions with page-after-page of superb paintings, including samples of his book covers, illustrations from Dinotopia, illustrations for National Geographic, and design work for toys and films. The book wraps with advice on careers in fantasy illustration – including video game and film concept art – along with references and resources.
This snippet of a video flip-through should serve as a quick taste of a book that every artist – and fan of fantastic art – will find invaluable. After reading Imaginative Realism, Cathy said, "This book makes me want to paint!" I think everyone will have the same reaction.
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