How to Draw and Paint Fantasy Architecture by Rob Alexander

11 Jan

Architecture; everyone is fascinated by it. Would the towering walls of Hogwarts in Harry Potter be quite so enchanting if they weren’t so full of crevices, concealing mysteries and magic? Would Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette be anywhere near as beautiful had it not been filmed in the intricately embellished Palace of Versailles? Can architecture explain copious amounts about a story or situation without even an ounce of additional context?

I would argue so. When reading, watching or exploring, it is inevitable that to truly engage in a story you need to be lost in its world. For this reason, architecture is fundamental in creating an atmosphere and contributes heavily to our perceptions of a new place. Rob Alexander is a fellow that would undoubtedly agree with my opinion, and has dedicated a book to the art of creating fantasy architecture as a stand-alone feature that can enrich a tale.

In How to Draw and Paint Fantasy Architecture, Rob Alexander attempts both to enlighten his readers about some of his favourite styles of architecture, such as Gothic, Romanesque and Modern and Futurist architecture, and proceeds to tell them how to achieve these visuals within their art. Not only does he outline what the features of great architecture are but he also ponders why they exist and therefore invites artists to consider the reason behind their drawings. In explaining conventions of other architectural styles he also gives additional insight to those who are familiar of other components of the periods; for example, his Gothic explanation helped me to further understand the Victorian Gothic novels that I study in my English Literature degree.

Rob Alexander is an illustrator and conceptual artist and has received awards such as the Chelsey Award from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. At the beginning of the book, he says that it is one for the fantasy and science fiction artist in particular. As someone that isn’t a science fiction artist, I enjoyed it because it didn’t assume that I had levels of knowledge in any area of its expertise; everything suggested is explained in a way that encompasses all questions without sounding patronising. A particular notion that I took with me was one that he made about colour and time. Colour, he says, sets the tone of a piece, but not because the colour is significant, because the time of day that it signifies is significant. It’s true – a haunted house is going to seem spookier at night, isn’t it? Things so simple as these are spelled out in order to ensure that attention to detail is fine, and after telling you what is best to do he even gives his own opinions on which products on the market – from paint brushes to computers – will serve you best in achieving your goals.

If you are an artist, an architect, or merely someone who likes to observe either of the aforementioned, this book is definitely for you.

A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10

How to Draw and Paint Fantasy Architecture is published by Search Press and available for £12.99. They’ve also got lots of similar titles for those who are creative or artistic – click here to view their latest catalogue. Their other authors include the likes of Cath Kidston.

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