The Fundamentals of Illustration

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When a book is called The Fundamentals of Illustration, it’s safe to assume it will cover the basics, and British illustrator Lawrence Zeegen’s primer does that beautifully. Lush with imagery, intelligently organized, and—thanks to a sharp layout from creative consultancy Crush—easy on the eyes, the book provides a comprehensive overview of the discipline, from pencil drawing to presentation. Zeegen starts out neophytes with a potted history of illustration (it’s a little heavy on the album art) and works his way through process and materials to the composition of invoices. Beginning illustrators will appreciate a thoughtful chapter on brainstorming, accompanied by one artist’s sketches for a commissioned piece. And the section on self-promotion, wherein Zeegen offers concrete tips on website design and weighs the pros and cons of agency representation, will come as welcome assistance to the many right-brainers turning the pages.

Zeegen’s interviews with practicing illustrators also provide real-world insight, though his questions—“Give a brief outline of your intentions when making illustrations for this sector”—sometimes sound a bit rote. If Fundamentals has another fault, it’s that, even with its visual riches, it can come perilously close to being an Idiot’s Guide to Illustration. Does anyone really need to be told that the Google image search is a great way to research a drawing, or that metaphors are useful in conceptualizing a piece?

Considering the title, though, some erring on the side of readers’ ignorance is forgivable. And most of Zeegen’s readers will undoubtedly be grateful to have such a clear-sighted—and visually stimulating—guide to their newfound career.