This item is not eligible for coupon offers.

The Fantasy Artroom

The Fantasy Artroom

by Aaron Pocock

Paperback(First Edition, First)

$9.97 $19.95 Save 50% Current price is $9.97, Original price is $19.95. You Save 50%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, July 24


"A wonderful addition to any beginning or intermediate artist's library, not only those interested in fantasy. It's thoughtful, detailed, and filled with explanations of vocabulary terms and drawing materials, both in describing what they are and how they’re used." — BECL Book Reviews
Do you love to create imaginative artwork? Would you like to add depth and richness to your creations? Could you use fresh inspiration? Here is the book that will help you brush up on your skills and add new tricks and techniques to your repertoire. Sketching, line art, watercolors, mixed media, composition, rendering methods ― The Fantasy Artroom is your all-in-one traveling companion into the world of fantasy art.
These step-by-step demonstrations offer easy-to-follow methods for drawing trees and landscapes; forming dwarves, witches, mermaids, centaurs, and other characters; and putting them all together into enchanting compositions. Introduce a new dimension to your drawing, line art, and watercolor images with this richly illustrated guide and its helpful exercises, tips, and suggestions.
"This book is magical!" — The Sheepish Reader 'n' Writer
"A well organized, beautiful, and instructional book. Readers that are interested in expanding their art skill, particularly in dealing with fantasy worlds and creatures, will find much of interest here." — Sharon the Librarian

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486801247
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 05/18/2016
Edition description: First Edition, First
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 410,612
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

English artist/illustrator Aaron Pocock resides in Brisbane, Australia, where he was chosen to illustrate the Australia Post commemorative stamp set "Mythical Creatures." His other work includes children's books, book covers, CD sleeves, and packaging art.

Read an Excerpt

The Fantasy Artroom

Book One Detail and Whimsy

By Aaron Pocock

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Aaron Pocock
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-80124-7



This is probably the most important chapter of all. This is where it all starts, where your art stands or falls.

Good drawing is the foundation upon which ALL of your art is built.

So, what is the difference between a sketch and a drawing? Essentially they're both the same thing, but they both have different reasons for being:

SKETCHING is most often a quick gestural drawing used to warm up the hand and mind, work out a composition, or to hone elements within the composition.

THE FINISHED DRAWING is far more than a sketch. It's taking everything you've worked out and creating an end product for a particular purpose. It usually involves more concentration and precision when it comes to the actual rendering.



A good selection of pencils for different applications is a must. I find solid graphite pencils are lovely for filling large areas, and they're capable of making thin strokes when sharpened.

Standard wood encased pencils. My favourite grades are HB, 2B and 4B (HB being the hardest and 4B being the softest).

Mechanical Pencils with a 0.5 lead. Fabulous for making tiny, feathery lines in detailed work. I also use them for precise sketching. I've been using these for years and thoroughly recommend them.

It's also worth trying Carpenter's pencils. The wide lead is fabulous for making thick marks and great for rapidly shading large areas; also brilliant for quick sketching, when details aren't necessary.


Here's what I use. Try them all out and have a play; see what works for you.

Photocopy paper is great for general sketching work and for finished line art. It's inexpensive, too. Go for the good quality stuff, though.

Illustration board is very smooth — not so great for sketching but ideal for detailed pen and ink work. It's more expensive than cartridge paper.

Rough watercolour paper is fabulous for quick, loose sketches.

Hot pressed watercolour paper is ideal for gallery-quality drawings, and takes ink well, too.


(And/Or, Things I wish I'd known Sooner)

* It's important to spend time 'looking.' Keep your eyes well and truly open; you'll be surprised what the mind takes in.

* Visualise! Before you begin a new piece of work, spend a minute or so 'seeing' the image in your mind in as much detail as you can muster.

* If you want to be an artist, a musician, or a brain surgeon, you have to want to be one. It's all down to the effort you put in. Half-hearted attempts do not guarantee results.

* Strive to put 'soul' into your work, dig deeper, don't rely solely upon technique; find YOUR unique voice, what makes you, you.

* Artist blocks are imaginary, plain and simple. If you find yourself 'down-in-the-dumps,' the root cause is sure to be something other than your art. If you go around saying, 'I have a block,' as sure as eggs is eggs, you'll create one. The masterpiece you're working on isn't happening? That 's OK, go off and sketch something! Loosen up and come back when you're feeling more refreshed.

* Nobody, understand ... NOBODY is a) 'Blessed' or b) 'Gifted' when it comes to art. Sure, people may have been born a certain type of person, more inclined to lean a certain way maybe. Finding ways to express yourself is a skill you have to learn, and being an artist is something you need to spend time working at. It doesn't just happen, Sit and learn, study all you can, then study some more — you can never learn too much.

* Practice! Practice! It's important to keep at it. There are no shortcuts to be had, it's all about mental dexterity, soul AND technique.

* Not happening with that medium you're using? Try another one!

* Sketch!!! In front of the telly, on that train, out in nature. It can only strengthen your work.

* Be confident. Can't do it yet? You will. Know this.

* Inject 'life' into your work. This can come from many sources, but it ultimately comes from your mind. Want to make that scene more interesting? More exciting? Vary the strokes, 'be' your character, add props that help the movement around the image, play with camera angles — Anything that'll put across what you're really trying to say.

* That blank sheet, there, in front of you. ... is YOUR playground, anything goes!

* To keep your mind from stagnating or wandering whilst you work, I thoroughly recommend playing a selection of your favourite music. Music is a 'mood' thing. Choose appropriately, i.e.: meditative music for dreamy images, or good rock stuff for more 'aggressive' pieces. I have a massive music database and often find myself reaching for certain bands or albums to help me into the right mood.


Simplify, simplify ... I'll be saying that a lot throughout this book. It's my goal to show you just how easy things are when you break them down to their simplest form. Much of what I'll be teaching will rely on what I call a 'Three-Step Process.'

Here it is:

1) Think of the idea.

2) Visualise it.

3) Bring it to life.

When we get down to the actual drawing, there's another Three-Step Process, which you'll find easy to follow.


1) Rough in the basic shape.

2) Gesture secondary elements.

3) Add details.

It's that simple! Remember, I'm here to show you how easy it is; you will be challenged from time to time, but I guarantee that if you follow these simple formulas, you'll make a great amount of progress in a short amount of time.

What are you waiting for? Grab your pencil and some paper!

Remember: Rome wasn't built in a day ... But a good drawing can be!


Sketchbooks are your playground. Anything goes! Develop, explore, work out those tricky areas of your drawings, learn how animals move.

In short:

sketch! sketch! sketch!

You'll be surprised at just how often sketches you made in that old sketchbook can inspire new works. Sketchbooks are also a fabulous way of measuring your artistic progress — which is very important.

I take great delight in looking over my old work as it shows just how much I've improved, AND what I still need to work on.


Every fantasy artist will at some point find the need for a good reference library, particularly if working in a realistic style.

Good reference can provide the artist with a wonderful starting point to great ideas or compositions; it can even help solve anatomy or lighting issues, but it should be stressed: Don't be a slave to the photographs.' Imagination is the key to good fantasy art, and strict reliance upon reference photos can produce very limited and uninspiring works — the opposite of what we're setting out to achieve here.


The following example should hopefully give you a good idea as to the importance of keeping a database of reference photos. I took this shot (along with many others) on a recent trip to a rainforest with my son. It's a good thing to always have a camera handy; you never know when the perfect photo opportunity will present itself!

So, what we're going to look at with this exercise is how to use a photograph from our files and turn it into a fantasy illustration.

Well, that's the plan.

Let's have a go, shall we?

Firstly, I recommend acquainting yourself with the creature. So a quick sketch or two to get to know it should help us to warp its features from a Lizard to a Dragon.

*Also, it might be worth mentioning that we could just as easily have used a crocodile or another type of lizard.

So, now we've made a couple of sketches.

Not worrying too much about a likeness here, and rather than working on a portrait of the lizard, we're more interested in bottling up some of that 'reptile' vibe, to carry it over into our dragon drawing.

Having sketched it, I'm really excited about exaggerating the curve of its neck and the way its chest is puffed out proudly. At this point, I know exactly how I expect my dragon to look; the next part is to get that out onto paper.

Here's what I'm talking about. The 'S' curve here is what I'm hoping to work with; I'll be exaggerating this a great deal. I still want to maintain that 'regal' bearing, but it needs to look like a dragon, not a lizard. How do we achieve that? The steps below should illustrate how I get from A to B.

So, this is what I came up with after a bit of a play with the designs: Four quite differentlooking dragons based on the reference photo. Note - the difference in width of the neck and the ear shapes. The face has stayed true to the photo; we've also kept that satisfying 'S'-shaped neck. Pick a favourite.

Mine's the last one.



Trees feature prominently in my art. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't in awe of these incredible beings.

Drawing trees is largely a process of only a few steps. Once you have these steps down pat, you'll be drawing them confidently and with gusto.

A tree can serve wonderfully as a backdrop in your compositions or, with a little imagination, as a character in its own right. Every tree has a story to tell; take advantage of this! Fantasy art is ALL about telling stories.

From slim, bendy trees that sway in the breeze to great, gnarly wizened old sentinels who stand for hundreds (even thousands) of years ... Give them life and let them breathe on the page.



Begin by gesturing the direction and the angle you intend your tree to lean.


Add branches and roots. KEEP IT SIMPLE FOR NOW.


Gesture in more branches and roots. Loosely introduce areas of foliage.


Move ahead with the details.


Details ALWAYS come last.

The Finished Sketch

Be sure to pay attention to the way you 'ground' your tree. A large tree like this should give the impression of being rooted in the earth — solid, able to stand against the elements. A tree such as this would surely have a thousand tales to tell; its strength is never in question.


There are tree types for just about any mood you wish to convey in your artwork. On the following page we've added a few examples to give you some ideas.

Remember to build your trees from the trunk outwards (as outlined in previous pages). Repetition is the best way to cement a working process; find a way that works best for you, then stick to it and build upon it.

Remember, trees are organic; make sure you keep the details random, i.e., branches and roots all different weights and sizes. Study trees in nature and base your drawings on what you see, but be sure to inject some character into them!


See how the tree above surrounds the text? Trees can be used effectively to frame important elements within your images — for example, imagine a castle in place of the text, or a hero, or heroine.


This is the kind of tree you'd find by the water's edge. The limbs are strong and grow outwards and upwards. Strong roots grow to help stabilise the tree as it grips into the moist soil. These trees are great fun to draw as long as you've studied how they grow.


A spooky tree, devoid of leaves and feeling very sorry for itself. The limbs hang downwards, giving a melancholy feeling. It has also been manipulated to give a vague humanoid shape, and a subtle hint of a face adds to the experience. This guy has 'issues'.


This tree belongs in just about any fantasy setting. Varied limbs and a good collection of roots would ensure it was happy in anything from an Elven forest to a spooky wood.


Here's a good example of different ways to draw foliage within a single illustration. Note how the details of the leaves are silhouetted in the background and become more detailed as they reach the foreground. It's best to choose the appropriate strokes early on.

***Remember, good planning reaps good results!***


Even if you take a stylised approach to drawing, the marks you make to convey foliage will keep your viewers interested.

fig. 1 This is a favourite of mine. A good multi-purpose gestural stroke. Easy to lay down over large areas and can be used in background and middle-ground sections of a drawing.

fig. 2 (See illustration.) Another effective way to convey groups of leaves. Definitely for mid and foreground subjects. You'd drive yourself nuts drawing millions of little leaves in the background.

fig. 3 Another favourite. Great for backgrounds with no heavy blacks present.

fig. 4 A classic multi-purpose way to render darks. This is a little more stylised and the image should support marks such as these.

fig. 5 Cross-hatching — One of the most used area fillers in the whole of pen and ink illustration land.

fig. 6 Directional strokes here. Another effective line style, great for backgrounds and grassy areas.

fig. 7 Definitely one for spiky, long foliage.

fig. 8 Simple marks to convey leaf shapes. Also great for cartoon or comic-style artwork.

fig 9 (Handled much the same way as fig. 8) Good for long foreground grass subjects or flowers.


What IS a dragon? Some would argue that it's an over-sized lizard, with wings of a bat. What about a Minotaur? Yes, it's a rather large man with the head of a bull. Could you draw Medusa without knowing how to draw a snake? Could you draw a mermaid without being able to visualise and render a fish tail?

These next few pages will show you just how important it is that you get some experience with drawing animals if you're to progress as a fantasy artist.

The examples above (and opposite) are sketches from my sketchbooks. I have page after page of drawings like these; not only are they useful as warming-up drawings, they're also perfect for understanding animal anatomy. Without the knowledge gained from these pages, the illustrations (see below, and following pages) wouldn't be anywhere near as accomplished. It's very important to try and retain as much of the animal's 'essence' as you can to be able to animate them convincingly with human characteristics.



One of my personal projects (and one that's very dear to me) is a graphic novel idea I'm working on called VALIANT. It follows the exploits of a mouse called Finn MacNiall and his pals. The story has no humans in it ... at all.

Learning to draw mice (and the other animal characters in the story) was a must. I made sketch after sketch after sketch to find a satisfactory design for Finn, and even now, he's still a work in progress. With each page, however, he's looking more like he should.

Taking the time to get to know your characters is very important. Even if it doesn't come out anywhere in the story, a back history must be well thought out; character traits should also be highly developed. Flesh your characters out as best you can; you'll be surprised at just how much easier it then becomes to draw them, and to tell their story.

There are no shortcuts. To make your animal characters convincing, you have to understand that particular animal, really get into the nuts and bolts of it. This guy's a mouse, which is, in reality, completely at odds with a brave, even 'regal' character. It's important to think from all angles, and equally important to come at your designs from every angle possible. Your work can only benefit from this.


Everything that was said on the previous page applies to your supporting characters. They require as much fleshing out as you can manage. Lifeless, two-dimensional characters will only serve to hold your work back. Push yourself, strive to do the very best you can. Here are a few more characters from the story.


Excerpted from The Fantasy Artroom by Aaron Pocock. Copyright © 2014 Aaron Pocock. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


About the Author, ix,
Author's Note, xi,
Sketching and Drawing, 4,
Inking, 52,
Watercolours, 96,
From One Artist to Another, 142,
Links, 147,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews