Lines and Colors art blog

Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis
I’ve written before about my admiration for the classic instructional books by the early to mid 20th century American illustrator Andrew Loomis.

In particular I’ve enthusiastically reviewed two of the superb new editions from Titan Books of his too long out of print classics, Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth and Drawing the Head and Hands (links to my reviews).

My recommendation for the relevance for these volumes from the 1940’s and 1950’s to contemporary artists comes under two principles: “What’s old is new” (or fashionably retro) and “Some things are timeless.”

The latter, of course, is the primary qualification for Loomis’ teachings; they go to the heart of figure drawing, and in his signature work, Creative Illustration, he also goes to the heart of composition, line, tone, narrative imagery and creative idea generation.

The book, published in 1947, was aimed at professional illustrators; and while some of the advice about the nature of the business may be dated, some is not, and the principles of composing and creating illustrations in various media are essential and timeless.

Some may find Loomis’ style “old fashioned” — others, myself included, find it both timeless and wonderfully retro, as fresh as when he was working.

There is plenty of it to be seen in Creative Illustration. Loomis has packed it with instructional drawings, layout diagrams, sketches, process sequences, paintings and illustrations in diverse media. It’s a visual treat as well as a treasure of art instruction.

He even goes into his admiration for the work of the great American illustrator Howard Pyle, including some tone studies he made of Pyle’s works (above, 7th down).

Once again, Titan Books has gone beyond a respectful reproduction and brought us a beautiful edition of this classic work, from the facsimile cream-colored paper to the color reproductions to the crisp black and white and tone illustrations.

The images above are rough scans from an old edition and don’t by any means do the current volume justice. So far I’ve been unable to convince Titan to provide more in the way of previews. In lieu of that, see the reviews that include previews on Parka Blogs (including a video flip-through), Parka Blogs Flickr stream, Boing Boing and Wings Art.

Creative Illustration is a 300 page tome bursting at the seams with essentials of image creation and Andrew Loomis’ beautiful work, sage advice and straightforward instruction.


7 responses to “Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis”

  1. This was a real gold mine for me, as I wasn’t familiar with this particular Loomis book! I actually had some breakthroughs on tone and value which was pretty refreshing considering I’m an old guy. I was especially intrigued by his “tool” for devising compositions …. I haven’t gotten it to work yet, but I’ll keep re-reading.
    As always, a great post- thanks!

  2. Everything in life has a “peak” and then a slow or rapid decline, or at the very least a sustainability by means of repeating the very best examples…no matter how far back you have to reach. Representational Art is no different. The turn of the 20th century (including a few decades in either direction) is considered by many to be the peak or “golden age” of representational art. This was a time when knowledge and facility came together under a social climate of optimism and hard work that produced the best works of art that we still reverence today. Loomis’ instructional books are based on the same principals from 100 years+ ago, so you’re absolutely right; it is timeless, and in my opinion, optimal in principals that cannot be improved upon with age.

  3. This book was long out of print and unaffordable, so it’s good to see it available again. Creative Illustration talks about line, tone, and composition, but it also addresses the topic of painting and color (esp. planes, edges, tones, color harmony, etc) better than most of the other instructional work of its time, including even the great Famous Artist’s School instructional binders.

    Loomis’s text is great, too. It went through a lot of drafts, and it’s really concise, practical, and encouraging.

  4. Thanks. I just added Creative Illustration to my amazon wish list. I look forward to reading it.

  5. Great review, and thank you for the link back. I can’t recommend these books enough. This is just the sort of education my school didn’t provide (it’s amazing how little basic drawing skills are taught in schools) so I made a point of seeking these out. So glad that they’re now easily available.

  6. Ah! I remember learning anatomy from his book. Thank you for sharing this.