Still Incredible
February 22, 2022 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Stephen Biesty is an award-winning British illustrator famous for his bestselling "Incredible" series of engineering art books: Incredible Cross-Sections, Incredible Explosions, Incredible Body,  and many more. A master draftsman, Biesty does not use computers or even rulers in composing his intricate and imaginative drawings, relying on nothing more than pen and ink, watercolor, and a steady hand. Over the years, he's adapted his work to many other mediums, including pop-up books, educational games (video), interactive history sites, and animation. You can view much of his work in the zoomable galleries on his professional page, or click inside for a full listing of direct links to high-resolution, desktop-quality copies from his and other sites, including several with written commentary from collaborator Richard Platt [site, .mp3 chat].

From the official site:
Rescue Helicopter - Ocean Liner - Space Shuttle - Subway Station - Steam Train - Traction Engine - Gatehouse - Spanish Galleon

Exploded Views
Athenian Trireme - Colosseum - Venice - Temple of Amun-Ra - Tomb Worker's Village - Acropolis - Roman Forum - Sandstone Quarry - Merchant's House

Inside-out Views
Notre Dame Cathedral - Hagia Sophia - Sydney Opera House - Temple of Amun-Ra - St. Paul's Cathedral - Globe Theater - Empire State Building - Ancient Parthenon

Historical Panoramas
London Bridge, 1559 - Versailles, 1785 - Nonsuch Palace, 1559 - Bruges, 1480 - Empire State Bldg., 2000 - Valley of the Kings, 1425 BC - Euston Station, 1851 - German Castle, 1465

Vehicle and Expedition Cutaways
Magellan's Carrack - Airship Italia - Balloon Gondola - Irish Currach - Viking Ship construction - Chinese Treasure Ship - Caravanserai Inn - Columbus's Caravel

Castle Cutaways
Bodiam Castle, 1392 - Tower of London, 1533 - Krak des Chevalier, 1271 - Castel Sant'Angelo, 1527 - Osaka Castle, 1614 - Caernarfon Castle, 1320 - Chateau of Chambord, 1539

Commissioned work
Royal Opera House - Millennium Dome - Tower Bridge - Tower Bridge construction (animated)

Other: Vignettes and Portraits
From elsewhere (some with commentary):

Saturn V - Jumbo Jet - Chocolatemaking - U-Boat (nifty annotated version)- Man-O-War (2, 3, 4) - Bathroom montage

Human body cross-sections: The Body - The Brain - The Eye - The Skeleton

And if you like Biesty's style but want a more science-fictional bent, don't miss Incredible Cross-Sections of Star Wars (gallery; thumbnails are broken but work when clicked) -- same publisher, same style, different illustrators, all with commentary.
Examples: Millennium Falcon - Imperial Star Destroyer - Jabba's Palace and Sail Barge - Sandcrawler - AT-AT walker - 40 more
An extensive blog post on Leslie Ashwell Wood, the Eagle Comics illustrator who inspired Biesty's style.

[This updated and expanded post brought to you by #DoublesJubilee!]
posted by Rhaomi (8 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
The Man-o-war book is an excellent companion to the Aubrey / Maturin novels!
posted by sixswitch at 3:37 PM on February 22, 2022 [2 favorites]

These were some of our favourite books to read to our children. Lots of details for them to find. Well-researched and fascinating for adults. Recommended for all!
posted by mdoar at 3:52 PM on February 22, 2022 [1 favorite]


I loved these as a kid but has forgotten them. I spent hours poring over these. Thanks for such a substantial post!

For other people who like these, are there similar authors or books you’d recommend?
posted by punchtothehead at 3:59 PM on February 22, 2022 [4 favorites]

Athenian Trireme: fishermen beside it: "hey yer messing with our fvcking nets".
posted by ovvl at 5:21 PM on February 22, 2022

These are the BEST coffee table books - I picked up a copy of Incredible Cross-Sections a few years ago when I remembered it from my childhood and it remains an absolute delight.
posted by simonw at 10:04 PM on February 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're into this sort of thing, I recommend the /r/wimmelbilder/ subreddit.

> Wimmelbilder is a genre of pictures filled to the brim with people, animals, vehicles, monsters and all kinds of stuff! If it's a drawn picture with more things in it than you can count - it's most likely a wimmelbild. It comes from a German word "Wimmelbilderbuch" (translated as "teeming picture book") - it's the name of a genre of super detailed picture books like "Where's Waldo".
posted by AlSweigart at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

God I loved these so much as a kid. They are my go to gifts for friends children. What beautifully crafted art.
posted by Carillon at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

[ copy of this post, including all images]
posted by Rhaomi at 6:25 PM on February 27, 2022

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