The New Encyclopaedia of Watercolour Techniques || Diana Craig & Hazel Harrison

In an age when we’re all being encouraged to recycle, I suppose it’s inevitable that publishers start to raid their back catalogues in order to beef up their front lists. Usually, all this does is prove that, however good a book may have been in its day, unless it’s a consistent seller on its own, it’s usually best left to gather dust while the world moves on.

However, in the case of Search Press and the Encyclopaedia series (which started life with Headline when they were a young, niche publisher), a little – and surprisingly little, too – redesign work has freshened what was already a good idea up no end. What I was implying before was that you can’t breathe new life into a corpse. It’s surprising, though, what you can do with some minor surgery, a shot of botox and a new hair-do.

The basic layout here consists of three main sections: Tools And Materials, Techniques and Picture Making. The first two are pretty much self-explanatory, with things such as washes, drybrush and brushwork getting a double-page spread each with nice clear illustrations and extended captions that explain what you’re looking at. The final section continues in much the same vein, but gets into more general areas such as choosing a palette, the use of body colour and how to create textures. The aim throughout is not so much to create a linear course that you can follow from start to finish, but rather to give you reasonably detailed (but not exhaustive) coverage of the techniques that others books may just refer to. It’s something to have on the shelf for reference, but it’s also entertaining enough, through the extensive use of illustrations, to be worth simply leafing through from time to time to see what catches your eye and, hopefully, sticks in your mind.

Buy it on Amazon

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