Any title like this is a bold claim and something of a hostage to fortune, but a quick flick through the pages reveals a pretty thorough cornucopia of subjects and techniques and a well-designed layout based on a series of 2-page spreads that allow you to see everything at a glance. Trudy Friend is an experienced author and this is an approach she has used to good effect in previous books, so you can fairly say that it’s tried and tested.
As a manual covering all media, subjects and techniques, it’s necessarily relatively superficial and there are inevitable gaps so, if you’re looking for something specific, you might find that it falls through one of them or that the coverage isn’t quite as detailed as you’d like.
The progression of the book is in four stages. After a brief introduction to the various media, what they do and how they’re used, you have basic mark-making, developing your skills, problems and solutions and composition. To an extent, these are devices rather than obvious divisions and this is a book that’s best used by simply opening it more or less at random and seeing whether what you’ve found takes your fancy. There’s a good variety of subjects covered, including landscapes and figures and some very sound advice on all of them. It’s fair to say that, even if you don’t connect with everything in the book, you’ll find more than enough to justify the purchase price and that the browsing approach will yield gems that will stand you in good stead at all times.