Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Dreamscapes" by Stepanie Pui-Mun Law

Author: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Title: "Dreamscapes"
Publisher: Impact
Pages: 176

Fantasy has been ever present in the human life. From ancient lore and fairy tales to Dungeons and Dragons and movies, every human has had a brush with what lies beyond reality and is only reachable in our hearts and imagination. One of the strongest incarnations of fantasy comes in art. From gothic depictions to comic books, to sites like Deviant Art more and more portraits of fantasy emerge to captivate and submerge into a new world. One of the people responsible for this is Stephanie Pui Mun Law, a goddess with brushes and watercolor. I am a huge fan of her artwork and having the chance to read and review her book “Dreamscapes” has been an exclusive guide behind the scenes of real magic.

“Dreamscapes” is a guide to drawing with watercolor, but it is far more than that. Even though it’s 176 pages, “Dreamscapes” is four books in one. The first part introduces us with the basis of painting with watercolor. These include the differences and importance of brushes and what types of brushes and pencils are used in different situations from size to shape to how long they have been used. Stephanie does a quick 101 with colors, rubbing alcohol, masking fluid, watercolor paper and even shows some tricks with salt and plastic wrap for textures. A quick list of techniques is also available and also where and how to seek inspiration. Now that our artist has been geared for some serious painting action let us proceed to the main events.

Part Two of “Dreamscapes” is called “Faery Lands” and as you have probably guessed it’s about the fairies. Since fairies are embodiment of movement and nature, Stephanie takes us on a journey throughout different fairy species, how to emphasize on different features to portray the vast diversity of fairies, pixies and nature spirits. These include facial features and expressions, clothing and poses both on land and in the air. Once we have our desired fairy we go on to more complicated tasks such as different styles of wings, glowing effects and how the light should fall, how we can create magic wisps and how to handle different trees and environments for the fairies. Once all of the elements have been explained Stephanie helps further by giving a step by step sneak peek behind how she has composed some of her fairy art, giving full details along the way.

Following the same structure as part two, parts three and four present two more popular figures in fantasy: mermaids and angels. Part Three is called “Mermaid Worlds”, which stresses on the typical aspects of mermaids and creating the effect of actually being underwater. The most important thing about successfully creating a mermaid is the ability to meld a marine life form with a maiden; the first lesson you have to learn. Then come some tips on the implication of fins in modeling a mermaid and how to draw scales. Stephanie explains how hair can behave underwater, shows how a mermaid in movement should be portrayed and helps with the tricky jewelry mermaids like to be adorned with. The step by step combining of all elements introduces how the world above and below can meet and the tricky sea vapors.

“Angel Realms” is the last part and with it Stephanie covers one of the most favorite fantasy figures aka the beloved angel. As the book progresses the reader can feel how the level of skill increases greatly leaving the hardest part for last, because drawing and coloring angels involves serious confidence in one’s own skills to pull it off. Apart from the basis of learning to paint feathers, angel wings and their proportions, an artist has to know how to paint white, which is a lot more complicated than it sounds. Also the mentioned artist has to know how to draw robes realistically and know how they react to movement in the air. A real challenge and if accomplished a great step in one’s technique.

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law has done an exceptionally good job at penning down what makes her writing this special and how that one small lesson after another can create such ethereal visions on paper. Until you read closely and observe how many different materials, techniques and steps an artist has to undergo in a specific order to accomplish even the simplest painting, you can never really realize how much hard work has gone to bring beauty and imagination in our world so that others can enjoy it. My applause to Stephanie. I can whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone, even if they can’t paint, because it’s a journey into a whole new world.

© All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner. The artwork in this post has been used according to the rules listed by the artist herself or at least I think I have.


CaroleMcDonnell said...

WOW!!!!!! This looks totally fun and unique. A drawing book that uses dreamworlds to help us to draw. Very good review. -C

daydream said...

Yes, amazing, isn't it?? I love the art and the artist is simply amazing as well.

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