BBC TopGear ‘My Dad Had One of Those’ Book Review

One of the best ways to remember days gone by is by looking at old photographs. We all remember the past easier when we’re thumbing through the family photo albums. You can feel nostalgic once again with BBC’s TopGear book by Giles Chapman titled MY DAD HAD ONE OF THOSE.

This 140 page small hardback book is packed with actual photos of vintage cars dating from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Your sure to find your dad’s old car and sure to find the cars you loved as a child. My favorite is the Ford Mustang of the late 60’s and even the early 70’s.

See how the cars of yesterday did their best to keep up with changing needs of the community around them as you flip page by page. Station wagons, soft tops, and stereos where just some of the ways the car designers tried to handle our growing families, our energetic life styles and our desire to have rock and roll with us at every turn.

No matter what your family car was, it was somehow part of the family and cherished by dad. Late nights at the pier, family picnics in the park, Sunday drives to grandma’s house are all brought back to life with this clever little book about the classics in our driveways.

For those of you that enjoy vintage media material, you’ll also find this book a delight. See some of the original marketing photos for some of the vehicles you grew up in and reminisce about simpler times with mom and dad.

Creative Photo Book Ideas

Collecting and preserving photographs has been a favourite pastime with most people, young and old. Sometimes they get stuck with so many photos from various occasions and varying times in the past, they wonder how to put them all together coherently.

The most common and popular photo book themes include-

Baby Album – You could start your album with photos from various trimesters in your pregnancy and record your emotions. You could include ultrasounds and photos of the nursery too.

Family Holiday– Holiday pictures are best arranged chronologically, i.e. day-by-day. You could also theme them place- by-place, or you could simply put up your favourite pictures from your holidays and record what you liked most about them.

Graduation Day– You could make portrait portfolios of your friends and ask them to write something for you to give it the feel of a personalised slam book.

Wedding Album– A wedding is the most special and important day in a person’s life. A picture tells a thousand words and your wedding album could tell your whole love story. You could start with the ‘Proposal’ and go on to add your engagement photos, bridal shower photos, wedding photos and honeymoon photos.

But here some not so common ideas that could also be fun and entertaining:

1. Pets and Animals– Pets are part of family too and deserve an album unto them. Your pet album could include the day you brought your pet home and how you decided on a name for him/her. You could also make a portfolio of your pet.

2. Sports and Hobbies– Sports never fails to thrill and exhilarate its fanatics. You could start with a ‘Training Journal’ and go on to add photos of your teams, your uniforms, your coaches and your favourite cheers.

3. Photo Cook Book– A way to a man’s heart is his stomach, or so they say. So why not make an album to record that special dish you made for your loved one for the first time! You could also make an album of the first time your child was in the kitchen helping you or making something for you.

4. Family History Book– What better way to preserve your family heritage than a collection of photos creating your own family tree! You could go back as far as you would like and sometimes be amazed at how many people love you and care about you.

5. Road Trips– While on bikes, cars or hitchhiking on a truck, you will see many billboards, signboards and signals. Click them to create your own ‘Highway’ album.

These are just a few examples. Think wild and you could come up with more of your own!

Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures and Comic Portraits – A Book Review

If you’ve been to a street fair or amusement park lately, you may have seen a caricature artist in action. People stop to have their comic portraits drawn in a cartoon style, often with very large heads and tiny bodies doing something funny. If you’d like to learn how to draw these types of drawings, the book, Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures and Comic Portraits, by Harry Hamernik, can help.

Most books on how to draw caricatures are from famous artists who have done many celebrity portraits in the past. Artists like Dick Gautier and Lenn Redman are two of the better known ones. But their styles are a little dated, and you might be looking for something more applicable to modern style.

The book starts by discussing materials and supplies you will need, including pencils, paper, markers and color pencils. I like the instructions for a do-it-yourself lap easel, which can be made cheaply if you have very basic handy construction skills.

It then covers marker, pencil, and colored pencil techniques. These include how to not get fuzzy lines, varying your lines, working with value, and color blending. Then he shows how to color a portrait using pencils and even some computer coloring techniques.

He presents a specific process for drawing a portrait and encourages you to draw ten faces every day for twenty days in a row before trying to sketch someone. You need to know how to do the process of a caricature first, without getting stuck, before you can then add the difficulty of trying to make it look like someone.

The next section covers how to draw specific features. He gives several sample face shapes and examples of noses, eyes, hair, etc. There are multiple helpful hints and tips scattered throughout, such as this one about eyes: “A larger iris will make your subject look younger. Think Bambi.”

He also discusses and explains distance, anchor, and pivot points. These are key when drawing portraits, because the tiniest change in details can make your caricature look like the person or not. Drawing a likeness is extremely difficult.

The rest of the book contains two large sections, one for 3/4 view portraits, and one for profile views. These, like the section on face forward portraits, give lots of examples, tips, and tricks.

There is a great sampling of different facial types and a fair range of ages, although there are no older people at all. But there are some with glasses, a head bandana, jewelry, and facial hair, the sorts of things that can trip you up.

Overall, this is an excellent overview if you are wanting to learn how to draw in this style. Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures and Comic Portraits, by Harry Hamernik will get you started in the right direction.