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Book Review: Fairies Art Studio by David Riche

# Genre: Nonfiction, Art
# Hardcover: 128 pages
# Publisher: Watson-Guptill
# Publication Date: March 2, 2010
# ISBN-10: 0823016439
# ISBN-13: 978-0823016433
# Author Website: David Riche

In Fairies Art Studio by David Riche, everyone from a total newbie to experienced users can use the pre-drawn line art to create colorful, fantastical fairies in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

First, the basics. The book is a short, simply written how-to guide on using the accompanying CD. Most experienced users of Photoshop may find this of little interest, as it is fairly basic, but even my own wife, a former yearbook teacher and frequent user of Photoshop, was highly intrigued by the book and its easy to follow guide for things like using layering, coloring and shading. The instructions are short, concise, and contain little jargon to confuse or distract. Each explanation is accompanied by a relevant image, all of them of the same fairies you can modify using the files on the CD.

The CD itself contains three folders, one for images of actual fae, one for their accessories, and a final one for the backgrounds in which the fairies you create can play. All of the files are ,psd – designed for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or any other program able to work with that extension. I was using Photoshop Elements 5 when I created my fairy, and had little trouble working with either the files or the directions.

The introduction reads like many of the books about fairies commonly found on the discount shelves of bookstores. The author seems to believe in the realities of fairies. But other than mention that “believing is seeing!” and talk of “sacred experiences from my personal journey” there is no more mention of belief in the fae in the rest of the book, only the cold, hard facts of how to take the line drawings given to you and adding colorful life.

I followed the step-by step instructions carefully, and the result was this:

Dragonborn Fairie by John Ottinger III

Dragonborn Fairie by John Ottinger III

As you can see, it is fairly easy to create a fae from the material on the CD. All the line drawing has been done for you, and all that is left to do is give the drawing life by first choosing the combination of head, torso, legs, and clothing plus accessories and then adding color and shading. I did not go all the way through the shading instructions – so my image does not have the dimensionality that is possible using this guide which a quick browse of the book makes clear can be really excellently done with a modicum of effort.

The latter half of the book is mostly devoted to showcasing the ways that the different layers and images can be combined to create different fairies, and then how they can work with the backgrounds provided. Again, all of the line drawing is already complete if you use the CD, and so it is extremely easy to come up with your own unique fae by using the layering, coloring and shading to preference. Fairies Art Studio is paint-by-number for the digital age, but all artists start somewhere, and learning the basics of Photoshop in this way was fast and simple.

Fairies Art Studio is an excellent Photoshop teaching tool that makes the basics easy to grasp and is a lot of fun to do. I highly recommend it for the beginner who wants to learn some of the basics of Photoshop in a manner not filled with jargon. Intermediate users may get a kick out of modifying the original line art to suit their own needs and inclinations. Using Fairies Art Studio by David Riche is a really fun way to spend a morning.