Let me start off by saying that I am not an artist.
When I first agreed to review How To Draw Star Wars, it brought me back to middle school. I remember using “how to draw” books to try to draw anime characters in cool fighting poses, attempting to learn to do figure drawing using the circles and lines. While I’m sure learning that way is effective for some people, I’ve never been extremely artistic and these methods were just too advanced for 12-year-old me to get a handle on. And I haven’t really leveled up my illustration skills since then either. So when I imagined myself drawing Star Wars characters for this review, I absolutely thought that it would consist of hilariously bad drawings that I would graciously allow all of WWAC’s readers to laugh at, because I’m more secure with myself now than when I was 12 and I can handle strangers making fun of my bad drawings.
How To Draw Star Wars
corekiyo (illustrator), Akira Hirano (art direction), Mayuko Hirao (translator, editor), Pooja Menon (editor), Akiko Mikado (illustrator), Noriaki Sakabe (editor), Francesca Truman (design), Yumiko Yokota (photography)
January 12, 2021
Now here comes my bold claim: with How To Draw Star Wars as my guide, I found that was not the case. That’s right, I’m saying my drawings are not bad. (For the most part, at least.) And I think the credit for that goes to this book.
How To Draw Star Wars is structured into sections by difficulty level—padawans, Jedi knights and Jedi masters. (Cute!) The padawan section is the biggest by far, easily half of the entire book, which makes it great for kids. And for me, because for the most part only the padawan section was my speed. It includes five different art styles to try, which are all easy enough to be approachable, but still vary in detail and complexity. So you get to pick and choose which drawings appeal the most to you—I love the comic style art, but don’t care for the doodle style, for instance—and feel like they’re within your skill level.
But even though some are more detailed than others, I found pretty much all the padawan drawings to be accessible and easy enough to follow that I was willing to at least try them. The book does a good job of breaking the images down into simple shapes and then guiding you in what order to assemble them. The steps are easily digestible—even when the final drawings didn’t look “easy” to me, each individual step was relatively easy, and then before I knew it, I had done the entire drawing and it had never become so difficult that it had me frustrated.
But they’re also not all so easy that there was no room for me to improve. (Because, okay, I have at least a couple drawings for our readers to laugh at.) I definitely found robots easier to draw than people, probably because getting the proportions slightly off on people is more off-putting than with robots. I expected masks to be easier to draw than faces, but actually I ended up finding masks quite tough. There’s something about the symmetrical curves that I struggled with. (I took a little more time and did some erasing on the Stormtroopers, and I was reasonably happy with how they came out, but I let my first attempt stand with these drawings of Vader and well… they’re a little bit doofy.)
But that brings up another credit to the instructions in this book—my drawings always seemed to come out a little better than I expected them to while they were in progress. Even when I thought they were shaping up to be a failure, they always clearly shaped up to be the character I intended and “a little bit doofy” was really the worst that any of them turned out. This is a silly rendition of Darth Vader, not an unrecognizable one by any means.
After a number of successful “padawan” level drawings, I didn’t feel a huge urge to graduate into the higher difficulty sections of the book. I tried just a couple “Jedi knight” level drawings that seemed particularly easy or in my comfort zone, and in fairness, my “ewok riding an AT-ST” did come out excellent. But this is what makes the way the book is sectioned off so great. There’s enough meat in the padawan section to keep a younger kid or a novice artist occupied for quite a while, but there’s always harder stuff to try for slightly more experienced artists or novices who have built up their confidence over time and want a challenge. Overall, it’s definitely targeted at inexperienced artists, which I think is great. There are lots of resources for people who are more serious about art, so it’s great to see something that will empower beginners rather than frustrate them.
Honestly, I didn’t really expect to produce any drawings that I was proud to show my friends, so feeling good about my artistic ability was a pleasant surprise! It makes me wish I had this book when I was a kid—I think I would have been just as capable of following these instructions in middle school and man, would I have been hype at that age to feel this good about my little drawings. My school notebooks and folders would have been covered in Star Wars art and imagining kids who are that age now using this book to do exactly that really puts a smile on my face.