Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Creature Garden: An Illustrator's Guide to Beautiful Beasts & Fictional Fauna

The Creature Garden: An Illustrator's Guide to Beautiful Beasts & Fictional Fauna is a tutorial art book from husband & wife team Zanna and Harry Goldhawk. Published by Quarto - Rock Point with a release date of 29 May, 2018, it's full colour 120 pages and available in hardbound format.

One thing that struck me straightaway about the book is its exuberance.  Both prose and illustrations are humour filled and supportive, encouraging shy artists to try different techniques and challenge the way they see things in order to improve their art.

The authors also show different basic techniques and materials for following their tutorials (including digital painting).  The emphasis is on not following the lessons slavishly but finding methods which work for the individual.  I also really loved that Zanna (who apparently wrote the text) talks honestly and encouragingly about her own learning process and growth as an artist.

The book starts by introducing materials and techniques and the different effects they can produce. The intro and tutorial chapters take up about 8% of the page content.

The lion's share of the book (~85%) is taken up with the illustrated drawing pages and tutorials for specific animals.  I like that a lot of them are painted in gouache/chalk on a black background.  The contrast makes it easier to see the techniques and provides a good counterpoint to the pages done in  colour on a white background.  There's even a comprehensive chapter for fantastic creatures including mermaids, griffons, dragons, hippogriffs and pegasi.

There are also detailed botanical drawings throughout the book to provide scale and setting to the animal drawings.  Toward the back of the book, botanical and plant subjects get their own chapter with a good explanation selecting and drawing plants to provide mood and environmental context. 

Really lively and fun book, accessible and encouragingly written. Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Annie,

    I see that you reviewed the book Pathways (Valdemar) before. I have written a book that is similar to that. Would you be willing to let me provide you with a copy of the book in hopes that you would consider reviewing my book as well?

    My name is Charles D. Shell, and the book I want to send is titled Blood Calls. You can find a link to it here. (

    I can provide it to you as whatever digital file you wish. It’s up to you.

    Of course, I understand that you are under no obligation to review my book, and if you do review it, all I ask is that you leave an honest review. I am simply looking for the opportunity to have you consider it.

    Thank you. I look forward to your response.


    Charles D. Shell