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Home | Books | Book Reviews | Book Review: Hell Beasts: How to Draw Grotesque Fantasy Creatures – Author Jim Pavelec

Book Review: Hell Beasts: How to Draw Grotesque Fantasy Creatures – Author Jim Pavelec

by Jim Pavelec
Published by Impact
Publication Date: 2007
Format: Color – 128 pages
Price: $19.99

Jim Pavelec is an amazing talent. And lucky for us, he has been kind enough to share with us his great techniques broken down step by step. You’ve seen these kind of books before but in most cases they are merely showcase illustration books with no evidence on how the artist achieved the end results. Though the intention here is 2 fold. An illustration book with details on how to achieve the finished products yourself. Or should I say inspire you to create!

Very simply, Jim starts with a gathering of tools inventory so you know exactly what you need to get started. There is also more than enough pics and notes that you should have no problem running out to your local art supply store. Then without further ado we are digging into hell beasts. I love the title as it suggests more imaginative beasts than the typical rendering of frankensteins , mummies or godzilla style monster making. With hell beasts we have legends, folklore and myths combined with the idea to render creatures based on pureimagination. Of course you have to walk before you can run. And Jim has elected to be our coach. He cites examples and technique on how to get started with tricks such as shape configurations, planning, perspective and shading techniques. Also for the purists who need the realism, Jim even goes over certain texture styles so you can make a choice on where your creature is based.

As we move forward, Jim has provided nice introductions to the variety of mythological beasts included with the art notes on sketching, coloring and texturizing. He is also quick to point out artist viewpoints such as birds eye and worm view to help give your characters the presence they deserve. Chapters are appropriately broken down into “Humanoid Monsters”, Reptiles & Aquatic Creatures”, Quadruples” and “Winged Beasts”. The end results are fascinating and beautifully horrific. In fact each characters starts with sketches and gesture lines to get you started. Then as the transformation takes place, Jim helps you along with several notes and suggestions on how to complete the designs.

My favorite portion is the small end chapter called “Inspiration”. Which is about 10 drawings, but each are uniquely original and highly imaginative. Some of the creatures you’ll discover along the way include “The Orobon”, “Kiyo”, “Leviathan”, The Hellhound” with several others. Suggestions on posing choices are mentioned so that your characters take on the pose or stance that helps sell the piece. All along, every monster has a reveal of its basic shapes to show you the proper breakdown. Detailed creatures like the “Dragon” may take a bit more practice but what awaits is a highly detailed fantasy drawing. In detail notes, Jim points to common animals that artists study to get a feel for the anatomy used as reference points..

Overall this is a unique book with instructions on unique drawings that surpass the norm and get you rolling forth in your artistic journeys.

In my opinion there really isn’t enough of these kind of books available to horror fans. So Jim has helped us budding sketch artisst get a little closer to heaven (or hell for that matter). This is must read for artists and horror artists. I’d also like to point out that many of the films you see today start as easily as this book and a piece of paper. The concept artists drive the vision and help mold the efforts of the film team to the final realization of on screen characters. So do yourself a favor if you have any interest in this business, pick yourself up a copy. It may make the difference between you getting a job and not. FX artists will also benefit from the fine art background training that Jim conveys.

A wonderful instruction book from the folks at Impact. In review I noticed they carry alot of other great reads. So if horror isn’t your shtick then you’ve got alternatives to pursue.

Available at Impact Books

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