Book Review: Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

The cover of Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis, Published by Titan Books

Originally published in 1947 this classic course in illustration by Andrew Loomis has surely helped countless artists over the years to reach their potential. Andrew Loomis was an american commercial illustrator, who produced illustrations mainly for books and magazines over his lifetime from 1892-1959.

Aimed at intermediate level artists, the book is aimed at those who are striving to to become a professional illustrator. It covers every aspect of creative illustration including use of line, tone, colour and how to tell a story with your illustration, before going on to talk about fields of illustration including advertising and finally giving some direction of how to continue with practising these skills. The examples are clear and there are so many good examples and ideas to work from. This book is an invaluable reference for any aspiring illustrator an even professional illustrators can learn from this book.

The book itself is a large size, hard back spanning over 300 pages and featuring twenty two pages of full colour illustrations. The colour illustrations are very impressive to look at and would look good on the coffee table. Even someone who isn’t an artist themselves would enjoy just looking at the pictures.

The book is a true classic, but due to it’s age it is out of date in a few areas, as a result of this it does not offer a truly complete course for the modern illustrator. A section about the use stock photos from the internet would be more relevant to todays artist than the advice of shooting your own reference photos or collecting clippings from magazines. Information about how the industry works is also out dated and the book pre-dates the the time when using photography became the most popular way to produce an advertisement. The style of illustration presented here is also no longer in fashion and only Loomis’ signature realistic style of illustration is presented.

Although most points about the fundamentals of illustration are still very relevant there is obviously no mention of digital illustration here. If you are purely a digital illustrator you will get a lot from this book, but the sections about techniques and mediums might not interest you.

All things considered ‘Creative Illustration’ is one of my favourite books of all time. I like to produce studies of the illustrations presented here and I would re-read the book over and over again. Loomis’ illustrations are jaw dropping and every time I open it up I can find some inspiration or learn something new.

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