Books: How to Draw Black People (updated)

Kickstarters I Have Known and Loved #3

It is very good to be able to look out into the world and see yourself reflected back.

As a writer and cartoonist, I want to be able to portray and ultimately connect with all sorts of people. I have been noticing that all my people drawings tend to look like Generic White People, just as my trees tend to look like Generic Maple Trees. I have to remember to explicitly make things look different, to match the variety of people (and trees) I actually see on the street. But how to do that?

A week or so ago, I stumbled across a very interesting Kickstarter. 

Malikali Shabazz is putting together Volume 2 of their series, “How to Draw Black People”.

I looked over the website. The artwork is stunning. When I saw a series of smiling faces, beautiful Black faces, with bigger and bigger grins, I was hooked. I had to find out more.

I bought the PDF of Volume 1.

I was expecting, well, a drawing manual. What I got was so much more. The book starts off with a discussion of stereotypes and where they came from, then moves on to aspects of character creation. As a writer, this kind of design advice is gold. Only after Chapter 4 do we start to see actual drawing: anatomy and colouring and how to do hair.
And everything is illustrated with exquisite drawings

The detail and quality of the artwork reminds me in some ways of Joumana Medlej’s works. I have Joumana’s book “Drawing People”, which is sitting next to me. Joumana goes into great detail in drawing the various “ethnotypes” of people in the world.

But for Black people, Malikali Shabazz takes it up to eleven. For example, Volume 1 has advice on colouring and lighting skin of all hues, going into details like Photoshop layers and lighting angles, to yield something far beyond simple cartoon images. The results are the kind of finely-detailed and shaded drawings that show up in professional illustrations and comics. I so strongly want to put drawings of this quality into my own works.

And now there is a Volume 2 on the way.

Malikali is running a Kickstarter to get support to produce Volume 2. As soon as I saw this, I signed up.

Alas, there are only a few days left for the Kickstarter. I hope enough people sign up to push it over the top; the project really deserves it.

More info:

Update: Alas, the Kickstarter didn’t succeed. BUT… How To Draw Black People Volume 2 is available on the Shabazz Arts website!