The lessons inside “By Hand & Eye” cannot be learned by reading alone, any more than you can learn to cut dovetails from a book.
You must put pencil to paper so the book’s ideas about proportion will become physical things on the page before you. Then the ideas will be in your fingers – not just your mind. When I was editing “By Hand & Eye,” I had to perform these exercises to gain entrance into the heads of Jim Tolpin, George Walker and the pre-Industrial artisans. (Many of the exercises were done at a bar in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, which generated a lot of odd looks from fellow passengers.)
It was well-worth doing and has absolutely made me a better designer.
This week we had a reader who was struggling with the first drawing exercise in the book called “Making a Visual Scale.” In that exercise, you are asked to make seven rectangles using a compass, straightedge and pencil. Tolpin and Walker are purposely a little obtuse about the process to make the rectangles because it’s important that you make a small mental leap yourself.
To help the reader, George offered a small nudge on his blog yesterday in this entry. If you have been struggling with this exercise (or skipped it – naughty, naughty), here’s the chance to wake up your inner eye this Saturday. Give it a cup of coffee.
For those of you who don’t own the book, here are the four pages from the book in pdf format so you can try it yourself.
If you like this sort of thing, you are going to be thrilled by an upcoming and inexpensive workbook from Tolpin and Walker. The workbook answers this question: Can you learn design from a cartoon dog? More details to come.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. “By Hand & Eye” is back in stock in the Lost Art Press store after we sold out of the last printing.