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)! 🙂 Thanks everyone for joining in!


163 thoughts on “Review + giveaway: Learning to See

  1. These look fantastic. I’m re-learning to “see” 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 “to buy at some moment” list. Saludos!

  2. 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! 🙂 *crosses fingers

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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 ^^

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    ; )

  10. 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!!

  11. 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!

  12. 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…..

  13. 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. 🙂

  14. 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!

  15. 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:)

  16. 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!

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

  18. 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!:)

  19. 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!!

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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 🙂

    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..

  23. 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!

  24. 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 😛 *

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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. 🙂

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