Fantasy Art Book Comparison – Watercolor Fairy Art & The Compendium of Fantasy Art Techniques

One of the unexpectedly lovely things about fantasy books (especially those aimed at a younger audience) is the art that can adorn their covers, and so often fill their pages. Illustrations of fantastical creatures and bizarre characters that spring straight from the artist’s imagination – but sometimes don’t look exactly how we might have imagined. Well, whether you are a novice, a hobbyist or a professional artist, here are two new books designed to let you create your own fantastical illustrations!

Watercolour Fairy Art, by Sara Burrier, is a rather lovely little book, gentle and whimsical. At first, I found the constant reference to rules off-putting. Art is as much about breaking rules as following them, and there is a difference between suggesting something may be the best place to start from, and stating it as the only way.

I have to admit, however, that once I was past my aversion to this, the book is lovely. Watercolour can be a very temperamental medium to work with, but all the fundamental techniques are covered here, from preparing the paper to masking, layering and texturizing the paint. Clear, simple instructions will guide even the most novice painter/drawer, and there is plenty of inspiration for those with more experience. Sara Burrier is clearly a talented illustrator, and the many examples of work by her and other artists are delightful.

Compendium of Fantasy Art TechniquesThe Compendium of Fantasy Art Techniques, by  Rob Alexander, Finlay Cowan & Kevin Walker is in a similar vein but darker, with less whimsy and more detail. There are also far, far fewer rules, which will make it appeal more strongly to those artists who are not starting from scratch but rather looking for inspiration. The book is divided into sections that include titles such as “Snow and Ice Beasts”, accompanied by gorgeous photographic spreads with reference ideas, and step-by-step artworks by other fantasy artists. It is also incredibly comprehensive (hinted at in the title, perhaps), covering everything from composition to colouring, anatomy to armour, architecture and landscapes. Absolutely gorgeous – definitely the perfect gift for any fantasy-loving artist!


Watercolour Fairy Art, by Sara Burrier and The Compendium of Fantasy Art Techniques, by Rob Alexander, Finlay Cowan & Kevin Walker are published by New Holland.

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Arielle is a avid reader, writer and music-geek in her final year of a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree. She loves all fiction but can’t seem to stay away from sci-fi and fantasy. She lives in Auckland with too many books and not enough shelves.

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