Review + giveaway: Learning to See

Learning to See series

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. If you’re ever concerned about drawing better, or seeing things better — help is at hand. Three new books from Princeton Architectural Press aims to do just that. The new series, aptly titled “Learning to See”, has three books — The Artist’s Eye, Drawing Techniques, and Figure Drawing.

Learning to See series
1. The Artist’s Eye
2. Drawing Techniques
3. Figure Drawing

Each book in the series is written by Peter Jenny, professor emeritus and chair of visual design at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland who has published numerous books on design and visual thinking. The Artist’s Eye, the first of the series shows you how to see and discover the world with fresh eyes; offering helpful suggestions, tips and hints. Through exercises that run from doodling to rubbing, from making cutouts to making sense and patterns in chaos — all the exercises serve to help you identify patterns from your surroundings. Learning to see in a myriad of ways is a great first step in helping you make sense of it all.

Learning to See series

Learning to See series

The second book in the series, Drawing Techniques encourages you to take what you’ve learnt in the first book and apply it to paper. Peter offers many helpful hints and suggestions that encourages the reader to look beyond merely replicating what you see. Instead, he showcases an arsenal of exercises that draws you in to deconstruct, listen and experiment using sensory elements to drive your mark-making process.

I was particularly taken in by the third book: Figure Drawing. With my hesitation of drawing human figures in totality, I’ve put some of the exercises to good use – scribbling and doodling my way into better understanding the human figure via abstractions, suggestions and metaphorical representations.

Learning to See series

Learning to See series

All three books have a few things in common: there’s a foreword by Peter in each of them, and each of the books have 22 chapters dedicated to the subject matter of each individual title. Most of the books are in black and white, with some color photos in between, and there’s lots of examples and images/photographs that serve to explain his points. At the end of each book (except for the first) there’s a handy list of notes for you to refer to, with goals and questions that inform the reason for each exercise.The books are all mini in size (about 4” x 6”) and can easily be slipped into your handbag or carried around to be read.

Learning to See series

I loved each book — the bulk of each is packed with images that serve to inspire new ways of seeing, drawing and interpreting. I’m still a little undecided about the small format though, as I would have preferred having a bit more of the book to devour. But at its smaller size, I can see how it can be a lot more portable. What I really like about the series is that it opens up so many possibilities to everyone who is looking to learn new ways of seeing things. Just like learning about basic design principles, Learning to See may be the equivalent for artists who are looking to unlock their potential, and reminds even those who are professionals that there are many more ways to wield that brush or to interpret an image.

You can purchase the whole collection over at Amazon.


PAPress giveaway

Princeton Architectural Press is one of our sponsors this month and they’re giving away ONE set of the Learning to See series to ONE lucky reader! You can enter by leaving a comment below anytime before 20th April 2012 and we’ll pick out a winner after!

UPDATE: The giveaway is international, and that means everyone from anywhere can have a go!

The giveaway has ended and the winner has been picked by – congratulations Laura (comment #156)! πŸ™‚ Thanks everyone for joining in!

163 Replies to “Review + giveaway: Learning to See”

  1. DJ says:

    Wow! Those books look great! Especially the figure drawing one. Very cool!

  2. Viktorija says:

    ohh! What a fantastic giveaway.)

  3. Sharon says:

    These books look terrific! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Julie VW says:

    Oh they look great!

  5. amy says:

    I’d love a set! Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. Kraggy says:

    They look great!

  7. Raquel says:

    These look fantastic. I’m re-learning to β€œsee” things again after a couple of years working as a designer for clients in terrible and uninspiring projects. Even if I don’t win, I’ll add the books to my Amazon β€œto buy at some moment” list. Saludos!

  8. Zahra says:

    Omg! That just looks too pretty. Thank you Princeton Architectural Press and Pikaland!

  9. Lawrence Ng says:

    Pick me pick me! Thanks!

  10. Liarns says:

    Oh, I’d very much like to win this giveaway. I’ve been drawing a lot these days, but I need to learn more since I’m just self-taught. I need this book! πŸ™‚ *crosses fingers

  11. Sharon says:


  12. would love love love this. so awesome x

  13. Raquel says:

    what a wonderful and promissing collection! i would absolutely love to read and practice all the exercises and suggestions in these books. im a art student myself so im always on the run to find and learn more about drawing, because there is never too much information. i would love to be the lucky one πŸ™‚

  14. Romy says:

    These books look really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Kristin Nohe says:

    These books look amazing!

  16. Grace says:

    These look wonderful. I’d love to win the collection and get some tips on drawing. Thanks for the chance!

  17. jamiepeeps says:

    You can never have enough portable wisdom about seeing the world. Looks like a must-have collection!

  18. Lise says:

    Wow, these books look so nice! I’m starting out with a drawing blog and a wacom and I am currently taking baby steps in drawing – so to me these books look more promising than sparknotes right before a literature exam!Thanks for the article ^^

  19. Merino says:

    I want these! Great gift. Thank you.

  20. What a great giveaway! I love drawing and I’m always looking for ways to improve. Thank you for the opportunity!

  21. ellen says:

    I could really use these! Thanks!

  22. Suzanna says:

    After years of art lessons, followed by years of limited art in my life, I am back to it taking a drawing class based around “drawing from the right side of the brain”. I would love to check out these books!

  23. Nadine says:

    thank you so much for the chance!

    I would love to win this and start doing art again (:

  24. Rebecca says:

    Aw, these look absolutely lovely! Both content-wise and layout/typography-wise. Would love to devour them and try out the pointers in there!

  25. Frida says:

    these books looks simply wonderful. i really hope i’ll win!

  26. Tamara says:

    These look so good! I really need to work on the “practice” part but sometimes it gets sooooo frustrating when drawings don’t turn out how you want them to.

  27. zeynep says:

    so sweet!

  28. anna says:

    very interesting, really would like to have them!

  29. Laura says:

    Would love to win them!

  30. melanie martin says:

    Oh how I love the dying art of creating physical books. To feel, to touch, to smell – to see. How doubly wonderful to learn of new DESIGN BOOKS. Oh learning to SEE again, Thank you for sharing the information. Mel

  31. Lizzy says:

    This is my first comment on this lovely blog, and this awesome giveaway has inspired me to speak out. I love this blog so much, and very much appreciate the inspiration I get from Pikaland! I re-read so many posts… thanks for doing what you do! Best – Lizzy!

  32. Zack says:

    Wow, looks like some really interesting ideas in there. Nice!

  33. Judith says:

    Can I join too!!!

  34. Saga says:

    I would love to get my hands on these!

  35. cheryl tenorio says:

    The artist’s eye is a MUST HAVE!!!

  36. Cathy Lane says:

    I love good “How to do art” books. I didn’t discover my artistic side until well after college and books have been my main way to learn.

  37. nancy lili g says:

    Ooh, these look so cool! Please sign me up.

  38. Rebecca says:

    I want I want! But putting them on my wish list just in case ;0).

  39. Annemarie says:

    Oh, maybe these will help in lessening my fear to draw again…

  40. Melissa says:

    If I don’t win these I might just go ahead and buy them!

  41. Maartje says:

    Cool, I’ll join too!

  42. Bea says:

    Aw. I’m in desperate need of these! Terrific give-away!

  43. Dermot says:

    My God, I’d love these books. Any help is always gratefully accepted.

  44. Oh Gosh how cool! What a great little giveaway… thank you!!!

  45. Petra says:

    These books look like they are a great inspiration. Thank you for the giveaway!
    [pick me, pick me] πŸ™‚

  46. Sarah Lynn says:

    Oh wow, fantastic giveaway!

  47. Helena says:

    Positive thinking: Someone has to win and it might as well be me.

  48. kim m cruz says:

    i know i could use these tips!

  49. Kim says:

    Me Me! Cute books.

  50. Gail says:


  51. Marchi says:

    Great review of the books. I would love to have this give-away!!!

  52. Jessa says:

    I would absolutely love these, I love art and these look like very intriguing books πŸ™‚

  53. Lauren says:

    Wow, these look like an excellent resource/inspiration-maker! I’d definitely be able to use them.

  54. Amy says:

    How cool!

  55. Li Ying says:

    Would love to win them!

  56. Joy says:

    I need these! πŸ™‚

  57. Elaine Benfatto says:

    These look wonderful! Thanks for the great review.

  58. Richard Hanks says:

    Yes please!

  59. Teresa says:

    I’d love to have that set! Great source of inspiration and information!

  60. waz says:

    oh please let it go to me, i really need books like these to improve πŸ˜€

  61. Tara says:

    I would love a set of these! I’m an art teacher and I think these would be great for lessons!

  62. Very interesting! πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing.

  63. Frank says:

    So, I guess whoever writes the most flattery wins? Hmmm. These books have been in my Amazon shopping cart since their news was released. I was just about to order them this week. But, I stumble across this bog entry through my RSS reader and lo and behold!

    I must say, the universe has aligned. Regardless, I live and teach art in Japan and shipping them to me is probably more expensive than others in the North American area. This results in me stating that I do enjoy the work you share on your site, and surely, the 180 middle school kids I teach surely would benefit more than 1 solitary person in their home with the books.

    But, as I will dry my students’ eyes, keep up the good work…and I’ll continue to hold my order on Amazon just in case.

    ; )

  64. Shelley says:

    I’ve been meaning to find more time to draw. These books may be just the inspiration I need to get going! Thanks for sharing.

  65. Sasha says:

    What a lovely set! I hope I can win…

  66. Me, oh me … need some new inspiration, a kick in the but, something to aspire for

  67. Aurora says:

    Awesome, crossed fingers

  68. Sara says:

    Goodness knows I could do with some drawing help/inspiration right now! ~ Sara

  69. Jesse says:

    These sound like just what I need right now – my drawing feels very stuck!

  70. Karina says:

    Hi, I love your blog! I’ve been following it for years! The 3 books look great. I am looking forward to be the lucky reader!!

  71. isa says:

    who wants them: moi! moi! moi!

  72. Sarah says:

    I used to draw all the time, but have found myself so preoccupied with work that I haven’t drawn much lately. These books are just the inspiration I need!

  73. imeroze says:

    Super set! I keep my fingers crossed…

  74. Wendy says:

    Once again an interesting and inspiring review…thanks!

  75. Courtney says:

    Just started life drawing again!

  76. Shradha says:

    I would like to be uber optimistic and thank my lucky stars in advance for getting the giveaway :]

    But really, reviews are immensely helpful. I got my finger’s crossed btw…..

  77. michele says:

    Oh, I would love these three books…thanks for the chance to win them!

  78. rachele says:

    ahh these books look amazing!

  79. nicole says:

    I’m intrigued! Love the cover designs.

  80. laura says:

    great idea! for my birthday they will be mine!

  81. jamie says:

    What a great give away! I would love the chance to win these books πŸ™‚

  82. eilis boyle says:

    Would LOVE these books!!! πŸ™‚

  83. Ronni Ann says:

    Fab giveaway. I want this! I want this! I’m an artist but also a teacher, so these books really caught my interest how this teacher has a unique way of teaching art. He seems to take all the fear out especially figure drawing, by playing or doodling. Would love the whole kit and kaboodle. πŸ™‚

  84. elissa says:

    Like many other commenters, I am an artist and a teacher and would love to have these books for reference and inspiration!

  85. Amy J says:

    Those books look incredible, especially the figure drawing one. That’d really help with the class I’m taking at the moment πŸ˜€

  86. Hannah says:

    What a great little series!

  87. Lauren K says:

    Oh my lanta, please. Let it be, Lord.

  88. KayleighBaby says:

    Gosh, I spent the best part of last month looking for a heads-up on drawing techniques…final year design student and increasingly worrying about pleasing employees, a good drawing book is literally like golddust! Lavvverly post!

  89. ringtales says:

    very nice books. i don’t know who lanta is but let it be me instead of she lord

  90. Awesome books! I just entered into the world of Art Education and would love to win the giveaway πŸ™‚

  91. serena frati says:

    Great, I would love to take a closer look to those books! Thanks Amy!

  92. Justyna says:

    Those look really interesting. I’m gathering books on this topic, now I’m on Arnheims ‘Visual Thinking’. That looks like a position to read next. And great blog by the way, got me out from creativity stuck I was in for a reaaally long time;) Keep up the good work:)

  93. Camille L. says:

    me me me πŸ™‚ I’d love to read those books.

  94. sebastian says:

    awesome. i stumbled upon these books a few days ago. thanks for the review.


  95. Just found your blog through an image search for Geninne Zlatkis – loving your style! Thought I’d see what’s up with this give-away. These books would be great for the classes I teach. Thanks!

  96. Kim Welling says:

    this would be a great gift to one of my student. They’re always worrying about ‘I can’t draw’!

  97. This is awesome! I’m an art & design student, I guess it’ll be an awesome set to have πŸ˜‰ Pick me !

  98. laura says:

    These look really handy πŸ™‚

  99. Andrea says:

    Would be really great to have them*

  100. Carli says:

    This is lovely! I would love to have these. πŸ™‚

  101. luiza says:

    Just what I need to help me in my year of learning to draw!

    (You can see my progress on my blog πŸ™‚ )

  102. Ersi Marina says:

    Oh, I certainly want that lot! Great giveaway, thanks :))

  103. MiKa Art says:

    Please enter my name to the giveaway!

    I hope you are feeling better. Take care!!

  104. Marisa says:

    These sound (and look) great! Going to have to check them out whether I win or not πŸ˜‰

  105. Hannah says:

    This would be very very very nice to have!

  106. Effie says:

    My birthday is the 21st so it would be an exciting and lovely birthday gift to win this.

  107. Donna D'Orio says:

    I see the pages of these books worn and thumb printed from use. I would pack them in my back pack, carry them everywhere. I have so much to learn…
    Thank You!

  108. Jenni Matthews says:

    I love the way these books have such fresh original drawings and mark making. I would love to own these books. Hours of education.

  109. christin says:

    i love to doodle and make designs…i think these books would help me tackle figures and objects found in daily life like my pug pickle!:)

  110. Cool!! Many thanks for the offer. πŸ˜‰

  111. Anita says:

    I would love to “see” in a new way!

  112. Kelli says:

    These could really come in handy. Working towards a path in Children’s Book Illustration and need to work on adding some life to my characters… All three of these books would be beneficial. Thanks for a great giveaway!!

  113. Corinne K. Avery says:

    Wow! These look like terrific little Art Books to help open up my Artistic Eyes to see more when I draw! I would love to get a hold of these books for myself! Thanks for offering them to some lucky person (hope it’s me!) <3

  114. Indu says:

    OOh! What a superb giveaway. Would love to have The artists eye. Am putting it on my list. Thanks for inspiring me every day, I look forward to the newsletter. <3

  115. Jen says:

    Lovely books! I wish the giveaway is open internationally!

  116. Suzanne says:

    I am blocked at the moment. For some strange reason it is just hard to begin. I have blank canvases and drawing books at home – ready and waiting. But it’s their blankness that I find intimidating. I think you may have hit the nail on the head with this review. I need to pick an art book and start doing exercises – and from that the beginning should happen despite myself πŸ™‚

    I also like what another reviewer has said above, you can never have too much information.

    In fact, there might be an idea in all this. Maybe other people (like me) would benefit from a book as guidance from the neverlands of being blocked. I sense a chronicle coming… maybe even from me? Look at that! My artist life is already juicier – just from the suggestion that I could actually begin..

  117. Verna says:

    Oooh! These books are just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for the opportunity.

  118. Leonie says:

    Fantastic, need a kick to get back into the studio.

  119. Leny says:

    These books look wonderful!Oooo I’d really like to win this!☻

  120. Malou says:

    Looks like really great books, I’d love to own them πŸ™‚

  121. Wonderful little series, the cover also look great!
    Wish own a series! Finger crossed…

    And thank you for that nice giveaway,

  122. I can surely use these!! I am entering!

  123. Amy says:

    Jen: The giveaway is open to everyone from anywhere! πŸ™‚

  124. Leda de la Cruz says:

    Wow! <fingers crossed!> πŸ™‚

  125. ikkinlala says:

    These look interesting!

  126. Laura says:

    Have always thought that I can draw… I just haven’t realized how to make my hand create what I see in my head. I think these books could really help! Filing them on my wishlist, but maybe I’ll win the giveaway instead!

  127. pris says:

    oh i’d love these! πŸ™‚

  128. Jessica says:

    Thanks for a great giveaway. These look like a fantastic series.

  129. Mary says:

    Ooohh I’d LOVE to have a look! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  130. Natalie says:

    great books! hi from brazil!

  131. sam says:

    Wonderful! These books look great.

  132. Elisa says:

    I would love a set – thank you!! πŸ˜€

  133. Ian says:

    These books look great! I’d love to have these as a resource when I start classes this fall for graphic design.

  134. Jess says:

    Ooooh lovely, thanks for the top giveaway.

  135. debbie ann says:

    these books sound great, I would love to win them.

  136. Anais van Manen says:

    I’ve never seen this book before, it actually looks really strong comparing to a lot of other learning books.
    Great for students!
    *I am one πŸ˜› *

  137. Eleni says:

    These books look amazing! Thanks for the chance to win.

  138. vivian choy edelson says:

    what a great offer – i’ve been making an effort lately to loosen up/simplify my drawing – to capture essence and freshness without overdoing it – thanks for the chance to get these books.

  139. Niki says:

    This is fantastic! And it seems so helpful!! It’s great that you have a giveaway of those!!

  140. Marsha says:

    Looking forward to getting my hands on these books!

  141. Erica says:

    These books look lovely. I would love to curl up with the set… and my pad and pencils.

  142. Aleka says:

    these look so interesting, I’d love a chance to win them πŸ™‚

  143. Michelle says:

    Beautiful set of books…<3

  144. Ashley says:

    interesting looking books! regardless of the giveaway, i’m going to have to add these to my ever-growing amazon book wishlist!

  145. Emily A says:

    Sounds lovely <3

  146. These look like something very useful for art students like me… Thanks for the giveaway!

  147. Luna says:

    Perfect! for my son, an architecture student : )

  148. Lubaska says:

    wow, I am not very talented but I think a lot about starting to draw or paint. This set would be great addition to my first artistic attempts. I hope I win!

  149. Dia says:

    I was actually looking for something similar. I’m in too!

  150. Amber says:

    very cool looking books!

  151. Clara says:

    please count my comment for Lubaska (#152) if at all possible. i have read those books a while back (in the horribly drab grey German edition) and they are perfect for beginners. πŸ™‚

  152. Laura says:

    These look great, I’ve bought a couple of books on your recommendation & never been disappointed!

  153. Thanks! I hope IΒ΄ll have luck.

  154. Denise F says:

    I want! I need these.. Hope good luck will be with me this time!! Thanks!

  155. Aidel.K says:

    I could use these to work on my drawing! Have a good weekend.

  156. Bill says:

    Sweet giveaway!

    I’d buy up all the Gemma Correll goodies I can. Love her work!

  157. Bill P says:

    Looks like a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  158. What a fantastic resource!

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