Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains
November 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Using just two graphite pencils, two types of erasers, drawing paper, and this book, you can Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains.

After a brief look at tools and techniques, the book dives into a step-by-step approach of drawing eleven Star Wars villains. Here is a complete list of those shown:

  • Darth Maul
  • General Grevious
  • Count Dooku
  • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
  • Darth Vader
  • Bib Fortuna
  • Jabba the Hutt
  • Boba Fett
  • Kylo Ren
  • Captain Phasma
  • Supreme Leader Snoke

There are also closer looks at how to draw lightsabers and trooper helmets, drawing faces behind masks, and the differences between Boba and Jango Fett. How I wish I had read the helmet section before buying my then-teenage daughter a Storm Trooper helmet online. When it arrived, she started crying and shouted that it was a clone warrior helmet. I said but look it has the mouth scoops. I now know that it was a Phase II clone helmet. At the time, I was thinking of the Phase I clone helmet. Heavy sigh…

The steps for each drawing start with simple circles and gradually add details and texture until the finished picture emerges. There are excellent details about how to make fabrics look worn and achieve the right texture depending on the type of material. It also shows the reader how to draw leather and metallic parts accurately.

Learn to Draw Star Wars Villains is a great gift choice for the artist or Star Wars fan in your life. It doesn’t assume any pre-existing level of drawing skill. For younger artists, copying the rough outline would also work. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Walter Foster, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Willful Child: the Search for Spark
November 28th, 2018 by diane92345

If you think the show The Orville doesn’t take its homage far enough, you will enjoy Willful Child: The Search for Spark.

Captain Haddrick of the starship Willful Child is a conceited and not too smart wannabe ladies’ man. His crew consists of various stereotypes. He also has an incredibly sarcastic incorporeal AI named Tammy constantly haranguing him. His only outlet is frivolously killing entire alien races. When one, from an alien bar on a suspiciously familiar desert planet, decides to get revenge using free porn and cute cat videos, Captain Haddrick and, mostly, the female dog lovers of his crew have to fight back.

Willful Child: The Search for Spark is an over-the-top spoof of the extremely positive Star Trek and somewhat grim Star Wars worldviews. The mash-up works. Somewhere between all the jokes, homages to individual scenes, and pure human stupidity is an interesting plot. While this can be read as a standalone, I think it would be less confusing at the beginning if I had read either of the two previous books. 3 stars for those new to the series like me.

Thanks to Tor Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Strategy Strikes Back
April 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Military strategies compared to Star Wars are the theme of the 28 essays within Strategy Strikes Back. Focusing on both past warfare and the wars to come, it is comprehensively researched and annotated.

I have to say that only reviewers will have the patience to read a foreword, a preface and an introduction all in one book. You can probably skip all three though I’m going to quote the Introduction later. The remaining book is split into four sections: Society and War, Preparation for War, Waging a War, and Assessment of War. There is also an epilogue.

I selected this book solely because of one of its authors, Max Brooks. I adored his World War Z book (not so much the movie though the visuals were awesome—who can forget the zombies climbing the city’s walls). Unfortunately, he only pens the introduction and first essay. However, he included some profound thoughts on why an average person should care about military strategy. As he states “to be blunt, war impacts everyone […] from the language we speak to the land we live in to the god we choose or don’t choose to worship.” Using Star Wars as an easily understood analogy was another co-writer’s idea he actually used when tasked with training South Koreans in military strategy.

The essays vary widely in style. Some read like dissertations, others like pop culture fandom. Most are written in third person. One is written in first person by the “esteemed historian of the Galactic Civil War”, who I assume is fictional.

There are a few errors within. Saying that Leia caused woman to be taken more seriously in leadership roles may be arguably true. Saying that she influenced Wonder Woman is absurd when she predates Leia by more than three decades in comics. In contrast, some things that sound unbelievable are actually true like the chapter note referencing Wookieepedia, which is the actual name of the Star Wars wiki.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Strategy Strikes Back. But it isn’t for everyone, readers should be familiar with Star Wars but not too familiar or the duplicate descriptions of battle scenes will become tiresome. I enjoyed the essays that included less Star Wars and more current or future war strategies and weapons. How is the clone army’s swarm mindset being replicated with US military drones? How did the Soviets and US militaries spend millions exploring Jedi mind tricks like Anakin’s floating fruit over a banquet table? Yes, more please. Some other essays droned on and on like the classic military strategy texts described by Max Brooks in the Introduction as “total snoozefests”. So difficult to rate, this book is. (You knew I had to do it somewhere in this review). For Star War nerds (you know who you are) or war fanciers, 5 stars. For all others, 3 stars. So 4 stars overall.

Thanks to the publisher, University of Nebraska/Potomac Books, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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