The last time I mentioned the crazy outlet mall bookstore on the Oregon Coast, I also mentioned it was closing. Rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated, apparently, because one year later I went back and it was still there. It was a good thing, too. There are few better sources for easy article fodder. Look what I found on the "6 for $10" rack: the secrets of the Triforce!

Back when I was the age they were targeted at, I used to regard "How To Draw" books as some kind of conspiracy by the artist community to discourage people from entering the industry and taking their jobs. The awkward, time-consuming way they tell me to draw has never been the way I've drawn, nor the way I've seen any professional draw. Whenever I watched behind-the-scenes specials showing animators at work, they had their characters down in about a minute. They did not spend hours carefully drawing a bunch of little balls, outline around them, fill in the details, and then use up half a Pink Pearl erasing all that mess.

Don't trust the how-to videos that you see as DVD extras for animated shows. "Peter Shin Draws Stewie" takes ten minutes. Shin must draw about six hundred Stewies a day; he knows some shortcuts he didn't tell you about.

How To Draw The Legend of Zelda advises you not to "grip your pencil like a Lizalfos grasping a sword for battle! Drawing should be fun and relaxing." Easy for you to say, book. These things are typically overwrought with instruction and the result was always frustration. I tried a couple of how-to-draw books as a kid but they were only good for one angry summer afternoon. I can't speak for everyone, but I learn a lot faster when I figure things out myself.

Oddly, the first character the book teaches you how to draw is Kaepora Gaebora. This might possibly be because he isn't composed of many shapes and would be an easy starter. The name "Ron Zalme" on the cover rang a bell that didn't become clearer until hours later: Ron illustrated every comic that ever ran in "Kid City" magazine; that's right. There was also a series of embarrassing Oreo ads about a family called "The Dunckins" that never bore Ron's signature, yet was unmistakably his style.

I don't know how familiar Ron was with the Zelda series, but I'm guessing he took a crash course. That's not a Deku Scrub, that's Link as a Deku Scrub. What will I do if I want to draw a real Deku Scrub? I'd have to learn how for real!

This one would just drive me nuts. It'd be much easier to draw if I skipped all the crazy steps and went straight to #4. I'm reminded of when Yakko Warner sang about multiplication.

"Seven times three is 21, which as you know is just two tens plus one and so we put the one right here and we carry the two up top to the tenths place right next door and we put it on top of the number four which is really four tenths that we multiply times three in the ones place and that's why we now have twelve which we add to the two--fourteen."

Then Yakko turned to the camera and said, with one of the most evil grins I've ever seen on him:

"See how easy that was??"

It was a grin that said, "Ha ha, I just made one of the simplest operations in all of mathematics sound like HELL! Enjoy your academic lives, kids!"

I don't know what would drive him to do something like that, but Yakko was usually much more helpful. "Yakko's World" has saved many a student's life in geography class. "Multiplication" is a song that serves the opposite purpose. Square One Television this was not.

The point is that you can make anything sound harder than it is by overexplaining it. I often learn how to use new software programs by diving in and fooling around with them; then later on I look in the bookstore's software help section to see how I was actually supposed to learn how. I pick up the ten-pound manual, leaf through it and think, "Wow, I didn't know it was supposed to be this complicated."

The book boasted at the beginning that you could make your own Zelda comics with enough practice and a copy of the book. It'd be awfully hard, though. These aren't model sheets. They aren't teaching how to draw Link, they're teaching how to draw this exact drawing of Link. What if you want him to turn around? There's no pose for his backside!

And if you wanted him in a fight, this is the only stance he could take. There's so much they're not telling you. For one thing, heads are not shaped like circles. If you draw a circle for a head and then try later to convert it into two downward slopes with a rounded point at the bottom, it'll never look right.

Ganon's not in the book; Link will have to settle for stabbing King Dodongo. Leaving out Ganon is a pretty huge oversight, but Zelda fans didn't make this; otherwise that Deku Scrub mix-up wouldn't have occurred.

"The Goron is ready to dance!" If you had instructions to make a Goron dance, that is.
But you can only have them sit and look to the left.

To sum it up: how-to-draw books shouldn't be taken seriously. ESPECIALLY the mountainful of "How To Draw Manga" books cluttering the landscape. Most of those are written by people who know little about manga other than it sells. If you really want to learn how to draw, take a class taught by a professional. The best course of action is to master drawing realistically; from there you can work backward and draw any crazy cartoony design you can think of. THEN is the time to start drawing manga.

Surround yourself with good influences. Make a Deviantart account and surf around the area until you find artists that impress you; then bookmark them and study their techniques. Learn to think three-dimensionally when sketching something, and spend a lot of time studying the human figure because there are so many little parts in it that it's a tricky thing to get proportioned right. You have to develop a natural feel for things like that, which means you'll have to make lots and lots of sucky drawings. As someone once said, "You have ten thousand bad drawings in you, and the sooner you get them all out, the sooner you can get to the good ones."

Once you become an art master, you can make your own how-to-draw book and start fleecing kids yourself!