About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comparing Two Editions

Drawing for Dummies
by Brenda Hoddinott
Wiley Publishing (2003), Edition: 1,
Paperback, 360 pages
Rated 4 stars of 5 possible


Drawing For Dummies
by Jamie Combs and Brenda Hoddinott
illustrations by the authors and
Kensuke Okabayashi, Barbara Frake, Mick Gow, and Rosemary Sidaway
Wiley Publishing (2011), Edition: 2,
Paperback, 384 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

Comparing Two Editions

Drawing for Dummies was first published 8 long years ago, but the core concepts of learning to draw haven't changed; in fact, those concepts have remained steadfast for centuries.  So why an updated edition? Wiley publishing must have seen the chance to sell more books.  I usually settle for owning just a single edition of any book... but this time, I was attracted for some reason to the updated edition, and bought it, despite the fact that my first edition is perfectly servicable.

Over the years, I have learned that knowing where to find certain information is easier than trying to memorize everything.  My copies of the both editions of Drawing for Dummies are extensively bookmarked, both for reference sections and project instructions. After skimming through the second edition,  I'm seeing much difference between the two editions. In the following paragraphs, I'll try to put my thoughts in some kind of coherent order. Those who don't like long reviews might want to skip to the final paragraph of the Notable Differences section of this one for a more succinct but less detailed consensus.

The First Edition

Originally written and fully illustrated by Brenda Hoddinott, the first edition of Drawing for Dummies was published in 2003. It contains many drawing projects, as any good book on drawing will. The projects are scattered throughout the book, each project emphasizing one or sometimes more of the core concepts of learning to draw. The concepts of one project are built upon by the next, so drawing your way through the book is a good approach if you don't know anything about drawing.

Many of Brenda's drawing projects are cartoonish, and thus fun to draw, as well as making the book entertaining to read. The projects are explicitly explained so that even someone who knows nothing about drawing can follow her instructions and learn something along the way.  There's also an extensive and informative section on drawing people, for those interested in portrats or caracatures. Along the way, the reader encounters much reference material to which he or she may wish to return time and time again. 

The Second Edition

The second edition of Drawing for Dummies was mostly written by Jamie Combs. Jamie did not just rehash what Brenda Hoddinott wrote 8 years ago, she brings her own voice to the book, retaining a small portion of Brenda's text and illustrations from the first edition. However, Jamie has nearly written the whole book over again and including some of her own illustrations as well as art from four other illustrators. While many of the same concepts are explained again, the point of view is very different.

More theory (and thus more reference material), and fewer projects for an artist to try his/her hand at sketching are included in the second edition. The projects that are included in this edition are mostly different than those contained in the first edition; however one of Brenda Hoddinott's best explanations from the first edition - planning a composition - has been retained.

Notable Differences

Both editions contain a section on drawing people, however, Jamie Combs has heavily condensed that section and instead of using Brenda Hoddinott's excellent drawings from the first edition, has substituted illustrations by Kensuke Okabayashi. In exchange for this condensation, Jamie Combs has expanded the section on perspective, better explaining that very key concept than Brenda Hoddinott did. Brenda Hoddinott's cartoon drawings have all been replaced by the non-cartoonish work or other artists, making the second edition to appear as a much more serious work than the first... and consequently not nearly as much fun to read. Jamie's version of this book also contains a chapter on digital drawing, a subject that was not included in the first edition.

So, now anyone who has read this far is probably wondering which edition of this book I prefer. I'll have to say that the first edition is my favorite, hands down, but that I also think the second edition is a worthy effort. If you can afford both versions of this book, I think you'll benefit from having them. I feel that the differences are extensive enough that the second edition should have been given a different title and be considered a work of it's own rather than merely a revision of the first edition.


For artists looking for more in-depth explanations of concepts, and more art theory to go with the projects, the second edition is for you. On the other hand, if you like a laid-back style and cartoonish projects, then hunt down a copy of the first edition.  This review has been simultaneously published on Dragon Views, LibraryThing, Amazon.com and other sites deemed appropriate by the reviewer.

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