Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Color and Light by James Gurney

If you have been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I have no art background. I am nearly entirely self-taught; I learn by experimen-tation and by reading books. I like to share the books I have and find helpful with the hope of helping other artists.

James Gurney is the creator of Dinotopia and author of the blog Gurney Journey. I was drawn to this book because of the cover and the incredible reviews it has gotten on Well, guess what? There's a reason it has nothing but perfect five-star reviews. This book is incredible. It really has all the information on color and light that you ever really need. Let me give a quick run-down of the contents: sources of light (8 subsections, 2 pages each); light direction and shadows (13); elements of color (7); paint (9); color relationships (5); more about paint, including color schemes (6); visual perception (7); surfaces (10); atmospheric effects (17); changing light (2); resources (5).

The chapters that I found most useful were, frankly, all of them except the ones on paint (since I don't use paint). The atmospheric effects section was particularly insightful, including such topics as sunbeams, cloud shadows, fog, sky color, water transparency, and atmospheric perspective. The subsections on gamut mapping were also quite practicable. Not only does Gurney describe the different effects (in all chapters), but he demonstrates with his own paintings, many plein air, and he also explains in what circumstances you might use a particular sort of lighting (e.g. what kind of mood you want to convey).

All in all, if I could only keep one art book from my collection, it would have to be this one.

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