Looking for a photo reference book to help strengthen your skills as an artist? Then check this review of Colossal Collection of Action Poses!
Colossal Collection of Action Poses, compiled by Buddy Scalera and published through Impact Books, is a photo reference and educational book that will quickly become a bible for any artist looking to become a professional in the comic book industry. Not only does this book contain a host of photo references (1200 poses), but it also provides insight into the craft by some of the biggest names in the industry. These names include Billy Tucci (Shi), Greg Land (Sojourn), and JG Jones (Wanted). I will say, however, this is not a book for the novice artist. Some concepts, such as "workable fixative" and "controlling the reader's eye", may be too advanced for the artist just starting out. On the other hand, I am not an artist, which may explain my lack of familiarity with this terminology. I believe that this is really the book for those artists who are on the cusp of professionalism, and primarily need refining and harnessing to get to the next level. For those artists, this book delivers in spades.
For instance, Matt Haley goes into great detail how to draw "The Body in Motion". Mr. Haley begins with the simple, which is selecting the proper action pose, and gradually builds to the more complex aspects of drawing such as the way to hold a pencil to achieve the desired outcome. He states, "If you hold the pencil, as if you were writing, you'll get very little movement at the tip of the pencil... at this early stage... hold the pencil like a stick..." (89). Eventually Mr. Haley discusses the Z-pattern, which is meant to direct the eye. Also contained is a discussion by Thom Zhahler, describing the movement of a figure. Each of these detailed descriptions has photo, and sketch references so that the promising artist can trace their work, and visually see what the writer is explaining. Since many artists are visual learners, the use of photos and sketches is essential to their learning.
And, as previously stated, there are photos... lots of them. Just about any type of position you can think of is modeled by an actual person. Everything from scared, flying and undressing has a page with numerous photos that showcase a different angle/perspective that an artist can draw inspiration from. There are at least eight different photos that exhibit ways in which a person can be shown choking someone. You need a photo showing a woman applying make-up? This book's got it. Actually it has eleven of them. Each action shot has a description of how to translate that particular type of pose into a professional drawing. Two other important aspects of drawing included in this book are what type of pencil or utensil is needed to achieve a desired effect, and a discussion of lighting sources. Like I said, this book is essential.
But this book should not only be of interest to the artist. The comic book writer will learn a lot from reading this book. I think it is important for a writer to understand how an artist goes about completing a page. It gives the artist an idea of what can and cannot be done successfully on the page. It may also give writers new ways of thinking about how they describe the page they want the artist to draw. How many writers really consider lighting? This book also may help a writer think of how to position a character in their descriptions. It's not always easy for a writer to visualize how someone should be positioned in a panel. Now they have photo references too, to help them describe a panel.
All in all, Colossal Collection of Action Poses is essential. Great use of photos. Great choice of artists, who act as mentors in their detailed descriptions. Successfully done!
Written or Contributed by: Jeff Haas, Outhouse Contributor