Reviewed by: Voxie
Released by: Impact Books
Publishing Country: USA
Author: E.J. Su
Age Rating: N/A
Page Count: 112
Being an artist who doesn't usually draw robots, Mechaforce has been more than just an eye-opener into the world of mecha. It has been an inspiring and friendly teacher, introducing the very basics from shading, lighting and perspective. To the more advanced steps into designing body parts and battle poses. All written in a style as to not shove it down your throat.
Some how-to-draw books tend to explain things without giving any foundational info. For the beginner artist, it can be too much, leaving little info to jump up from. Mechaforce however moves from the very basics to intermediate robot design, sectioning parts into small bites, each a simple two-page spread.
I really recommend this book not just for amateur artists, but also for professional artists who are looking to draw mecha as an alternative to what they usually do. Amateurs will find the pencilling, shading and perspective basics handy. Professional artists will appreciate the robot anatomy sections. Su goes in depth with each body part – head, arms, legs, feet, torso, hips, hands and fingers. He explains in a casual, friendly way how important it is to base robots on human structure - Why we should replace neck muscles with "hydraulics" and ball joints to the hip area. Experimentation is also encouraged, to look at real life machinery for design ideas.
We're then taken through popular styles of robots, from a top heavy block type, a lighter winged type, to a female and dragon types. Su goes into detailed steps of working from pencilled line to full-on colour, each pose divided into sections - Front view, three-quarter view, bird's eye view, worm's eye view and battle pose. My favourite is the dragon robot's bird's eye view pose! Indeed, the book really gives perspective a lot of room, which is a welcome move. Not only is perspective one of the trickier subjects for any artist to master, but robots aren't every day objects we can observe. And if that weren't enough, the end of the book goes briefly into scene composition as well.
Mechaforce has been an educational read, all neatly sectioned up so you can easily refer back to it again and again. I would've liked to see more insight on where Su gets his ideas for designing body parts (e.g. vehicles, factory machinery etc. maybe?). And a few of the images could've been made a little bigger - Perhaps a sectioned off zoom into the busier sketches (e.g. step 3 of the winged robot’s battle pose)? The colour palette used throughout the book was also a tad bit bland for my tastes. But those are just niggles. This is a good book for amateurs and professionals alike. I would no doubt refer back to it for perspective tips, and ultimately in getting my robot’s oils burning to a fiery start.