"When it comes to adding armor to your female figures, my advice would be to go sparingly. The armour should be more implied than anything, as if you cover up her entire body with a thick suit of armour she will no longer have the necessary 'fantasy' appeal. Depending on the character, metal plated bras, wrist and shin protectors, and supplementary items such as shields are all that are required." --section titled "Less is More"
I love how there's not even a hint of irony to found here.
To call the oversexualized mid-to-late 00s' shiny-but-pulpy style of comic book art problematic is an understatement, to the point that Tom Fleming's how-to book is dated with a vengeance. Published during the height of the era of 80s-inspired softcore sleaze in comics, every page is filled with exaggerated pouts, shapely bodies, and enough skimpy outfits to make a stripper blush. Body diversity is nonexistent, and the author even points out from the very beginning that fantasy women are now liberated, powerful, dangerous... but always sensual. You better believe that Fleming delivers on the sensual part.
Despite of all that, it's a genuinely decent art book.
One of Fleming's clear advantages is that he's a fantastic (no pun intended) artist, and so he offers many legitimately great tips and techniques throughout the book, especially in regards to using reference photos. He also gives the reader a grounded history of "fantasy females" and how their image has changed over the last century, and thus he provides good explanations for the stylistic choices that permeate his art. There's a clear sense of sincerity and beauty in the book that's sometimes absent in the work of Fleming's contemporaries in the comicbook industry. The only real complaint I could make about the presentation of the book is that it frequently glosses over how to draw all the intricate details that Fleming excels at.
At any rate, it serves as a good reminder of why this type of faux-pulp artwork grew popular to begin with. When drawn correctly with the right amount of talent, the result is breathtaking.
I bought the book on an impulse six years ago with low expectations, but it's easily become of the most-used references in my collection, even when I'm not drawing sexy ladies. Recommended to any artist that doesn't mind putting their warriors and ninjas in bikini battle armor every now and then.