How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions is the second book in the How to Draw Cool Stuff series from Catherine V. Holmes.  If you liked Catherine Holmes’ first book, How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students, then you’ll like this sequel even more.  Once again, Holmes opens with similar encouragement and general tips for students.  Slightly reworded and some saved/elaborated upon for an ending in this book rather than ending abruptly with a lesson, it also includes a table of contents whereas the first didn’t. The teacher-specific instructions aren’t as extensive; personally I think inserting the same instructions verbatim from the first book would be fine for continuity and a refresher.

Accommodating for multiple levels of understanding, How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions is written to engage advanced illustrators and artists alike to get into 3-D and optical illusions.  Whilst doing so, it also breaks down the process so that beginners can also grasp understanding and actually draw the really tricky stuff.  The book is structured like the first with each lesson containing the know, understand, do and vocabulary prior to actually drawing.  I think this works great for teachers and students alike.  If students understand the principles behind the lesson, they are more prepared for the actual mechanics of drawing.  Many will probably produce better, more skilled artwork with this background knowledge.

As the title suggests, this book covers shading, textures and optical illusions.  Lessons are new and not repetitive from the first book.  Shading lessons include flowers, ribbon, a pear, and a portrait.  Then some lessons are broken down into a line art drawing (studies simple shapes, curves, etc.) and their counterpart shaded version.  Other lessons include the skeleton, mandalas, a dreamcatcher, Zen Doodles, optical illusions, and “impossible objects” (M.C. Escher-esque geometrics).  Zen Doodles are basically zentangles, but covered briefly from a beginner standpoint.

The “cool stuff” section includes a chain link heart lock, hourglass, baseball cap, koi fish, t-Rex dino, self portrait with text, Rube Goldberg machine, sugar skulls and a human heart.  I personally love some of these drawings, which seem much more to my style of art I like than the first book.  The basics of the human head portrait are repeated, but not the detailed features like eyes and lips as in the first book of this series.  One thing I would’ve like to seen in here is an illustration showing how the placement of shading changes with the position of the light source.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions is a worthy sequel; even though the first book How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students is a very good book. However, the second book surpasses the first book in the respect that it not only accommodates almost every skill level, it’s different to every other instructional drawing guide out there because there’s something new to learn for everyone.  The book wraps up with encouraging tips such as the uniqueness of your own art and the rewards of creativity.  Whether you’re a young art student or an experienced artist (because of the unique styles that you just don’t find in other drawing books i.e. drawing optical illusions) everyone can still benefit from this book.

About the Author: Catherine V. Holmes is an art/ELA teacher and visual artist from historical Plymouth, Massachusetts. She studied at Boston University and at Bridgewater State College where she earned her BFA and MA in ED. She is currently working towards her second Master’s degree from the University of Scranton.

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How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Textures and Optical Illusions

“How to Draw Cool Stuff: Basics, Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions” is the second book in the How to Draw Cool Stuff series. Inside you will find simple illustrations that cover the necessities of drawing cool stuff. Specific exercises are provided that offer step-by-step guidelines for drawing a variety of subjects. Each lesson starts [...]

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