In my desire to improve the landscape illustrations of my Johnny Bullet Web comic, I recently purchased several books about landscape and tree illustrations. I have also found drawing landscapes and trees quite invigorating. A landscape architect friend also gave me a lot of feedback on my natural scenes illustrations recently. There is room to improve the previous work that I have done.
I bought Denis John-Naylor’s Drawing Trees because he was trained as a natural illustrator. That means that he understands the biological construction of trees not just how to render their artistic qualities. John-Naylor is also the author of several related books. Because his series is recently published, I naively assumed that it improved on the work of classics of the genre. It does not. Comic book artists looking for a good reference book on trees should look elsewhere. This book was a disappointment.
There is little information about the construction of trees and leaves. The author focuses more on shading, textures, light and dark. There is no explanation of the different types of trees and how to construct their shapes effectively. John-Naylor offers nothing about drawing shrubs at the foot of trunks. There is nothing about drawing a group of trees from a distance. The author also assumes that readers will use pencil or ballpoint pen like him. He offers no insights about using other media. I do not question John-Naylor's talent and expertise. He is a great natural illustrator. I enjoyed the illustrations in Drawing Trees. However, he did not share much of his knowledge with readers in his book. Jack Hamm's Drawing Scenery: Landscape and seascape was much more useful about the topics that were missing from John-Naylor's book while focusing on a much wider topic. This is doubly disappointing as the author's book was released in 2014. John-Naylor and his publisher should be aware of the literature on tree illustration and should have surpassed what is out there, or filled an important gap. Drawing Trees does neither.