Timberdoodle sent me another book to review this week: How to Draw Almost Everything. I was curious to get a look at it, since so many of my children love art and have been drawing since they were big enough to hold a pencil.
To be honest, this title was not at all what I was expecting. As it is part of their Ninth Grade Curriculum Kit, I thought it would be a little more advanced. The drawings are broken down into step-by-step instructions, but the end results still look very simplistic and childlike, in my opinion.
This book was not a good fit for my ninth-grader (who happens to be unusually gifted when it comes to art), but fortunately, we have a lot of younger and less-experienced artists in this family who were more than willing to try it out, including 8-year-old Gabriel:
To gauge what kind of progress the children made using these step-wise tutorials, I had them draw a few things from memory first, using nothing but their imaginations.
Then I showed them the book version of the same objects and had them follow the directions to duplicate those drawings. Here are the side-by-side comparisons:
As you can see, there was quite a bit of detail in my 8-year-old’s drawings even before consulting the book, but the drawings he did using How to Draw Almost Everything look a little more three-dimensional and realistic. Wouldn’t you agree?
My six-year-old Abigail also got in on the action:
As you can see below, the details in her post-instruction drawings are more true-to-life. She went from doodling generic trees and flowers to drawing particular kinds, such as pines and morning glories:
And it didn’t take weeks of practice to see this much improvement, either. She completed all these before-and-after sketches in a single, ten-minute sitting.
I especially like Abby’s giraffe. When I asked her to draw one from memory, she made three attempts and was still dissatisfied with the results. But after following the steps in the book, there is no question about what animal she had sketched. She is as proud of this one as I am:
Even though I wouldn’t recommend this book for a serious, experienced art student, I definitely think it deserves its place in Timberdoodle’s catalog and can understand why they offer it. How to Draw Almost Everything is a great choice for a variety of students:
- Younger children who like to draw and want to improve their skills
- Beginning students who don’t know what to draw or where to start
- Reluctant learners who are convinced they have no talent for drawing
- Older, inexperienced students who’ve never really tried before
My husband falls into the last category, so I asked him to give one of the tutorials a try, as well. On the left you can see the truck he drew from memory, and on the right, the one he did following the guide:
Again, both sketches are pretty detailed, but the after shot is drawn with a little better perspective.
We plan to hang on to this book. I’m letting my 8- and 10-year-old keep it in their room for now. They like to draw and are at an age and skill level that would benefit from a little more guidance, but are probably not quite ready for the detailed portrait work my older girls enjoy.
I don’t plan to push How to Draw Almost Everything on my six-year-old, though, despite the impressive results above. I’m afraid she’ll get frustrated if I required her to do too many of the exercises. She gets lots of practice just drawing from life, and I don’t want to spoil her youthful enthusiasm by turning art into a school assignment just yet. If she asks to use the book, however, I’ll certainly let her do so — and she very well may, once she sees all the work her big brothers are churning out with it. 🙂
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