Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review: Style School Vol. 1

Hello Rococo Flow Readers!!

So wow… there are definitely some apologies deserved here. It’s been over a month since the last update and even that wasn’t much. Things have been inexplicably busy, busy, busy. However, Rococo Flow would like to apologize to the artists who have been waiting ever so patiently to see their interviews published, and to the many others who are still waiting to hear back from us. Not to mention, the readers who’ve been waiting to see some new stuff.

As always, thank you to those who’ve sent e-mails of encouragement and sent recommendations our way. We’ll do our best to feature the variety of artists out there.

Rococo Flow is NOT FINISHED yet and we’re not giving up at all. There may be period of stand still but this is just the beginning!!!

We would also love to give a great big shout out to ebeelove for creating a syndicated feed for the site. This should be handy for those of you with livejournals who want to read the site from your friend page. It can be accessed here.

Last but not least here’s a book review to tide you over, done by the wonderful ~Sophia.

Review: Style School v. 1

In the last decade, the popularity of manga, anime and Japanese pop culture has, for better or worse, increased exponentially. Along with the introduction of new artists and art forms came the inevitable market frenzy to capitalize on it. “How to Draw Manga” books have taken over the art shelves in bookstores around the country. While it is good practice to consult an instructional book when you wish to learn something, the plethora of books by people who have never before drawn in the anime-manga style can simply makes one’s eyes bleed. Luckily there are some decent instructional books out there and have found one worthy of attention!

Style School (vol. 1) is an instructional illustration book straight from the source of the anime-manga world: Japan. Published by Dark Horse this fall, it is a paperback with 144 glossy color pages and the following synopsis courtesy of

Japan's leading manga illustration instructional guide (titled SS Magazine in Japan) comes to America! Learn the techniques of Japan's top manga and anime artists in Style School, showing step-by-step methods to help today's up-and-coming illustrators master the use of pen, brush, paint, marker, screen tones, computer modeling and other tricks of the trade. Gain insight into the weapons of choice of today's top creators, especially those brands and tools that are so hard to find outside Japan. See for the first time the eye-popping art of tomorrow's manga and anime stars, page after gorgeous page of spectacular visual imagination. And find out how to submit your work to be considered for publication in upcoming issues of SS Magazine in Japan! (Source)

Don’t let the stereotypical big eyed girl-boy and cutesy robot cover fool you, the first couple of pages of the book are taken by 6 two page spreads, each with their own distinct style. Style School focuses on coloring illustrations broken down into the following sections:

• Style School How-To : Color
• Sky School
• Special Stage: Color
• Style School How-To: Black & White
• Sea School
• Special Stage: Black & White
• After School

The first instructional section, Style School How-To, is all about color. The different mediums covered in this section are markers, colored inks, watercolors, acrylics, 2D & 3D software, and a comparison of different coloring materials. The second instructional section is all about black & white. The techniques included creating using technical pen and screentones.

The instructional pieces have a good balance between images and text. They include the basic instructions along with tips and comments from the artist. The comprehensive instructions help newbies experiment with different mediums even if they don’t have any previous experience with it, but at the same time, the variety of techniques and artists features provide even experienced artists with a new perspectives and techniques.

One great example is instructional piece by Imperial Boy. The finished piece looks completely 2D, but a glimpse into Imperial Boy’s creation process reveals that he actually uses 3D modeling to build up the environment of his works. The experimentation section is especially detailed in that it not only provides an example of how a certain medium would look like but also a picture of the exact tool and brand that was used. My main critique is that the websites of the featured artists are nowhere to be found in the book. This is especially annoying since the majority of the artists are not English speakers and are not easily found on websites like Deviantart.

Sky School and Sea School include submissions from the general public in color and black & white respectively. The quality of the art ranges from those by the artists whose art is featured in the instruction section to those by 14 year olds who don’t have the skills to match what they see in their mind. Fortunately, the editors have made sure to size each image accordingly so that the more interesting ones are bigger.

The Special Stages of the book include art by featured artists. The art in this section vary more greatly in style and include short comics and combinations of text and art. The After School section is, not surprisingly, one long commercial for Dark Horse for their upcoming publications.

Overall I would suggest everyone to take a look at this book. The wide variety of artistic styles and mediums featured provides a great way for an artist to experiment and expand.
The book itself, is also a great piece of eye candy and with a list price of just $14.95, you’d only need to give up your Starbucks coffee for three days. Amazon also offers a couple of used copies for less than $10.


Style School at Amazon
Style School at Dark Horse

1 comment:

ebeelove said...

Your welcome! :)

Thanks for the book review... I'm personally interested in manga-style illustration and coloring with markers so this book seems like a really good buy! I'll check it out!