Coloured pencils lend themselves to detail work, but the processes involved can be off-putting for those new to the technique. I’m avoiding saying “beginner” because I think this is something it would be unwise to embark on without at least a moderate amount of skill in the first place. Try to run before you can walk and you’ll be discouraged by falling at the first hurdle, to mix a few metaphors.
This is, however, an eminently accessible book. A series of short, reasonably simple projects leads you gently in and it would possible to complete them in hours rather than days. The introductory sections also provide a solid grounding in technique and Amie will guide you patiently through some basic exercises that develop that all-important initial facility. No corners are cut here – for once, the reader can be glad of a bit of expansion before getting on to the main meat of the book.
The main demonstrations themselves are not progressive, so this is not a book you either need, or will want, to work through in order. Subjects include fur, feathers, eyes, lips, leaves, fruit and still life objects, each one adding a particular characteristic or technique. Some are quite small – an eye or an ear, for instance. Others are more involved, such as a cat’s face or a wrapped sweet, which involves some complicated shading that presents more challenges than you might initially think,
Although none of the projects is laboured, you are definitely not short-changed on the instruction, nor will you feel a lack of intervening steps. There is a fine balance between illustrating every mark and jumping too far ahead, with an entire section left in mid-air. It’s that patience I mentioned earlier, a sense of a teacher who allows you to work at your own pace, only appearing at your elbow when you need them.
As a primer in a very specific, but rewarding, technique, this isn’t just hard, but maybe impossible to beat.
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