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ARC Reviews: Art Books Read in Fall 2022

How to Draw Hairstyles for Manga by Studio Hard Deluxe

Publication Date: November 8, 2022


From bed head to battle hair, the way you style your manga character’s hair can make or break their look. In this guide, discover hundreds of styles to transform your sketches into amazing illustrations.

How to Draw Hairstyles for Manga includes:

Detailed information on how hair influences characters and scenes, how it grows and moves, common male and female hairstyles, and more!

Step-by-step instruction for sectioning and drawing hair to achieve more realistic looks. Plus, learn tips and tricks for taking styles up a notch.

600+ illustrations showing hundreds of hairstyles from multiple angles. From French braids and ponytails to defying gravity with underwater looks and epic battle scene styles, this book has it all!
With step-by-step guidance and hundreds of sample illustrations, this is your must-have guide to drawing hairstyles for your manga characters. What are you waiting for? Grab your supplies and get started drawing with style!

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is an excellent and very useful guide to drawing various lengths and styles of hair. I learned a LOT, and found the discussion of combining hair and movement especially useful.

The book discusses accurate representation of hairstyles, shadows, combining style with movement, emotion, and personality, wet hair, windblown hair, and power stances.

It includes just about every hairstyle you could want — if you don’t want to include Black hair. While it is specifically for manga, it still seems like an oversight to not include any Black hairstyles.

Each style is clearly illustrated in black and white and has a short text explanation of what is happening and why it is drawn that way as well as a step-by step guide to guide the reader in recreating that style.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Quarto Publishing Group, and Rockport Publishers for providing an e-arc for review.

Satisfying Stitches by Hope Brasfield

Publication Date: November 15, 2022


Discover the creative satisfaction and stress-relieving benefits of embroidery while stitching fun, modern, vibrant designs such as flowers, plants, animals, landscapes, and celestial scenes.

Beginning a new creative pursuit can be intimidating, but Satisfying Stitches takes all the guesswork and fear out of getting started with techniques designed to boost confidence and provide relaxation. This easy-to-follow, photo-illustrated guide includes a review of the basic and inexpensive supplies needed to get started, foundational techniques, and step-by-step instructions for creating a variety of stitches. As your skills and confidence grow, you will find that stitches that may look advanced are quite simple, and you’ll be able to easily add dimension and texture to your designs.

The exclusive embroidery designs include a wide variety of motifs and patterns, such as houseplants, florals, mushrooms, butterflies, fish, landscapes, and sunsets, in a variety of color palettes. The projects are divided into three levels to match your confidence, skill level, and time.

While most beginner books don’t go beyond a couple of easy stitches, Satisfying Stitches takes the opposite approach, incorporating stitches that pack a big “wow” factor but are quite easy, such as fern stitch, wheatear stitch, thistle flowers, and woven wheel roses. Author Hope Brasfield offers tons of encouragement to beginners and beyond. You’ll learn to embrace imperfection, slow down, and enjoy the process.

You will also discover, as Hope did, that embroidery offers much more than a creative outlet. Focusing on something that requires imagination, handwork, and concentration can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Satisfying Stitches features:
A wide range of attractive embroidery stitches that can be used to create any embroidery designs
18 original embroidery designs for popular motifs
Detailed step-by-step instructions with clear photographs
Troubleshooting tips and tricks throughout the book

So much more than pretty patterns, Satisfying Stitches offers an exciting opportunity to gain new skills, become a more confident creative, ditch the smart phone, and de-stress.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a really good beginner embroidery book. I found the information on different stitches incredibly useful as there were many I did not know. There are photos included with the step-by-step instructions that makes it easy to understand what to do.

I wasn’t terribly interested in the designs – they’re not really my style and they’re a lot simpler than the designs I usually use. However, a few of the designs were cute or offered a different way to think about technique. I am excited to employ my knew knowledge in my own designs.

The beginning information was perhaps more useful for those completely new to embroidery, such as how to use basic embroidery tools and the many reminders that embroidery isn’t supposed to be perfect. The designs included emphasize that principle – they are solely nature themed (plants, fruits, flowers, skies) and lead naturally to the ‘nature isn’t perfect so your embroidery doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be perfect’ theme.

I would definitely recommend it for those who are new to embroidery but want to learn or those like me who have been dabbling in creating our own designs for years but lack knowledge of some of the more useful stitches.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an early copy for review.

July Art Book ARC Reviews

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers by Manushree Mishra, Brilliant Inks by Anna Sokolova, and Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds by Beth Hoyes

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers by Manushree Mishra

Publication Date: July 5, 2022


Explore the basics of color theory and color mixing, and then apply your new skills to create your own beautiful floral watercolor paintings, step by colorful step.

Color theory and color mixing are essential topics for all artists to know, and Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowers covers both in an easy-to-follow way with simple, actionable steps that any artist can do. Learn how to:
Mix paint colors
Avoid “dirty” mixes (those that look too brown, for example)
Create your own color wheel
Create neutral colors and pastels
Mix vintage colors
And much more
This book is ideal for all skill levels and ages, and while it focuses on watercolor, the same tips and techniques can be applied to other media as well, including acrylic, oil, and gouache.

Once you’re familiar with color theory and feel comfortable creating your own color mixes, dive into the step-by-step painting projects. Each project is done in the style seen on the author’s popular Instagram account (@thewhimsicalcreative) and features beautiful, romantic florals painted in watercolor. Learn how to paint floral wreaths, bouquets, and different types of leaves and plants.

Contemporary Color Theory: Watercolor Flowerscombines the essential topics of color theory and color mixing with watercolor painting projects for a comprehensive book that’s perfect for beginning and aspiring artists.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This has a LOT of great information on color theory and color mixing. Not just your standard primary/secondary/tertiary colors, but how to create a variety of color palettes and mix exactly the colors you want. A lot of the information was new to me and I will definitely refer back to it. I also found the example color palettes and pieces using those palettes very useful and eye-opening.

There are also instructions for creating various leaves and petals with different brushstrokes and angles and several example projects of various arrangements of flowers and leaves in a variety of color palettes discussed earlier in the book. While most of these weren’t particularly of interest to me, there were some that I would definitely like to try.

I am new to watercolor and to be honest it tends to baffle me, but I look forward to experimenting further using these exercises as a guide. I also look forward to using the color theory and color mixing examples in some of my other preferred media.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Walter Foster Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

Brilliant Inks by Anna Sokolova

Publication Date: July 5, 2022


Discover a world filled with vibrant color and creative possibilities as you explore an array of painting, drawing, printing, and lettering techniques and styles using vivid colors of artist’s ink.

In Brilliant Inks, artist, illustrator, and top Skillshare teacher Anna Sokolova shares her own unique methods that get the most out of this versatile medium. With her guidance, create beginner-friendly florals and foliage, animals, still lifes, figures and portraits, and hand lettering.

Learn about the various types of inks and the best tools and surfaces to use with them. Then, try basic techniques such as color mixing, creating visual texture, negative painting, and splattering.

Work with a variety of brushes, dip pens, and droppers to get different looks, and see how adding common household supplies such as salt and bleach can create the most amazing effects.

Use these methods in lessons designed to improve skills and boost confidence. Be inspired to make projects such as a bracelet, paper art dolls, a tote bag, and a decorated book. Full instructions and templates make projects fun and stress free.

This incredible material offers so much that’s waiting to be discovered:
Vivid monotypes made in minutes using a combination of painting and printmaking methods
Custom palettes created with unique blended colors
Watercolor-like translucent washes and opaque silhouettes
Techniques for creating beautiful motifs using simple brushstrokes and patterns.
Begin your colorful journey today with Brilliant Inks and see how far your creativity can go!

Perfect for all skill levels, the books in the Art for Modern Makers series take a fun, practical approach to learning about and working with paints and other art mediums to create beautiful DIY projects and crafts.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book showcased a variety of techniques for working with inks, but especially highlighted ways to simplify a piece while still retaining the essence of the subject. This is a very useful skill, especially when working small and with delicate media. It also stressed the importance of color palettes and ways to combine color most effectively in an ink piece.

I wasn’t terribly interested in recreating most of the projects, but they did inspire me to think of other uses for each technique – many of which I had previously been unfamiliar with – so I definitely feel like it was a useful book for me.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds by Beth Hoyes

Publication Date: July 12, 2022


Learn to create a variety of birds following the newest embroidery trend: thread painting.

Through a collection of 12 detailed, full-color patterns, aspiring and established embroidery artists will discover how to employ the art of thread painting to create a range of popular birds and waterfowl from around the world, including North America, the Amazon rain forest, and Europe.

Thread painting is the name for using single strands of embroidery floss to create lifelike images with beautifully blended gradients of color and detail. Fortunately, the process is not as hard as it sounds! After learning a bit about how to create gradients and blend colors, anyone can create incredible embroidered masterpieces.
 Embroidery Made Easy: Beautiful Birds includes:
A primer on embroidery materials, setup, and thread painting techniques
Patterns that indicate where each color should go and when the gradients should begin
For each project, step-by-step instructions and reference images of the finished piece
Perfect for needlepoint artists of all skill levels, there is no better time to learn how to create beautiful birds in embroidery.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The birds showcased in this book are beautiful and very colorful. I greatly enjoyed looking at the photos of each completed thread painting and the progress photos, and I feel like I could get a decent sense of how to recreate them using my prior embroidery experience, though I have no experience in thread painting.

However, I found the diagrams and some of the written instructions hopelessly complicated and found that my eyes glazed over while reading through / about them and I learned very little from them. This could be due at least partly to my learning style, however.

I think this book would be best for those with a decent amount of embroidery experience under their belt and not those who are complete beginners.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Walter Foster Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

Art Book ARC Reviews

How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students by Catherine V Holmes

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Publishing Date: July 27, 2017


How to Draw Cool Stuff shows simple step-by-step illustrations that make it easy for anyone to draw cool stuff with precision and confidence. These pages will guide you through the basic principles of illustration by concentrating on easy-to-learn shapes that build into complex drawings.

With the step-by-step guidelines provided, anything can become easy to draw. This book contains a series of fun, hands-on exercises that will help you see line, shape, space and other elements in everyday objects and turn them into detailed works of art in just a few simple steps.

The exercises in this book will help train your brain so you can visualize ordinary objects in a different manner, allowing you to see through the eyes of an artist.

From photorealistic faces to holiday themes and tattoo drawings, How to Draw Cool Stuff makes drawing easier than you would think and more fun than you ever imagined! Now is the time to learn how to draw the subjects and scenes you’ve always dreamt of drawing. How to Draw Cool Stuff is suitable for artists of any age benefiting everyone from teachers and students to self-learners and hobbyists.

How to Draw Cool Stuff will help you realize your artistic potential and expose you to the pure joy of drawing!

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this one! The step-by-step exercises are simple and easy to follow, with a wide variety of subjects sure to spark the imagination and truly impressive results. It would be excellent to use in schools as well as at home. Just flipping through it had me eager to pull out my pens and try some of the exercises, and I had a lot of “oh, duh! That’s how you draw that” moments.

I will definitely be trying out many of the exercises with my kiddo and in my own sketchbook. I would recommend this to anyone interested in improving their sketching, from beginners to more experienced artists. There’s something here for everyone.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Shading, Textures and Optical Illusions by Catherine V Holmes

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Publishing Date: July 27, 2017


“How to Draw Cool Stuff: Basics, Shading, Texture, Pattern and Optical Illusions” is the second book in the How to Draw Cool Stuff series. Inside you will find simple illustrations that cover the necessities of drawing cool stuff.

Specific exercises are provided that offer step-by-step guidelines for drawing a variety of subjects. Each lesson starts with an easy-to-draw shape that will become the basic structure of the drawing. From there, each step adds elements to that structure, allowing the artist to build on their creation and make a more detailed image.

Starting with the basic forms, the artist is provided a guide to help see objects in terms of simplified shapes. Instructions for shading to add depth, contrast, character and movement to a drawing are then covered. The varieties of texture and pattern that can be included in an artwork offer another layer of interest and depth to a design. These elements are necessary to indicate the way something looks like it feels in a work (texture) or creating the repetition of shapes, lines or colors (patterns). Illustrated optical illusions involve images that are sensed and perceived to be different from what they really are, showing examples of how the mind and the eyes can play tricks on each other.

All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and an eraser and you are ready to draw cool stuff. Once the drawing is complete, it can be colored, shaded or designed in any way you like to make it original. Following these exercises is a great way to practice your craft and begin seeing things in terms of simple shapes within a complex object.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is an excellent companion to the How to Draw Cool Stuff: Drawing Guide For Teachers and Students. It again uses simple and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions for drawing a wide variety of subjects but this time includes detailed information on shading and texture.

I am always a bit hesitant about shading my drawings, but now I feel equipped to attempt it. I am definitely eager to pull out my sketchbook.

This book has a bit more written instruction and description, which is helpful in learning the different types of shading and texture covered in these examples.

Again I would recommend this to everyone from beginner to advanced artist, although I do recommend starting with the Drawing Guide in order to become comfortable with breaking down objects into shapes before getting into the more complicated shading.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for providing an e-arc for review.

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light: Portraying Light Effects in On-Location Drawing and Painting by Katie Woodward


Publishing Date: December 28, 2021


The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light is an informative guide to heightening the impact of your artwork by capturing the look and subtleties of light in any scene.

In settings ranging from fields and mountains at daybreak to neon cityscapes at midnight, learn how to express light effects through color and value to improve and refine your drawings and paintings.

Artist and urban sketcher Katie Woodward offers strategies for:  
Selectively translating values for maximum effect
Using your sketchbook to experiment with the effects of natural as well as artificial light
Considering many options for visual solutions through work contributed by experienced urban sketchers 
Master the art of rendering light with The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Light as your guide.

The Urban Sketching Handbook series offers location artists expert instruction on creative techniques, on-location tips and advice, and an abundance of visual inspiration. These handy references come in a compact, easy-to-carry format with an elastic band closure—perfect to toss in your backpack or artist’s tote.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was an excellent overview of the many ways light can affect the appearance and mood of a painting, especially a landscape painting. The text was informative and detailed, and the many examples really brought the lessons home. I feel like I learned SO MUCH that I now am itching to put into practice. Natural light at various times of day and night are covered, as well as artificial lights and lighting combinations. Also the many and varied types of shadow, reflections, textures, and light viewed through translucent objects.

I would recommend this to anyone with some painting experience who wishes to take their work to the next level by considering lighting. It’s an excellent resource.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Creative Acrylics by Carla Co Chua

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Publishing Date: February 1, 2022


Discover how easy, satisfying, and fun it is to create with acrylic paints and mediums in Creative Acrylics.

Acrylics are one of the most versatile, affordable, and accessible art mediums, and you’ll learn all the tips, tricks, and techniques for blending colors and building texture, plus excellent instruction on how to paint a range of different subjects.

Confused about which types of paints to use, and how to use them? Creative Acrylics cuts through the clutter and offers clear fundamentals for working with a variety of paints and mediums to produce beautiful results. Acrylic paint is water-soluble, dries quickly, and is forgiving, making it perfect for those starting out. Begin your acrylic painting journey with an expert who will guide you through enjoyable techniques and projects as you build confidence and ramp up your skills.

Step-by-step techniques, lessons, and projects cover a wide range of styles and genres, including color mixing, brushwork, glazing, and how to paint easy florals, still lifes, landscapes, and animals. Take your new skills even further and paint on different surfaces to create an apron, painted shells, a paintbrush rest, clay pot, and more.

In Creative Acrylics you’ll find:
How to set up your workspace to make painting more enjoyable
A guide to the different types of acrylic paint

Basic techniques such as understanding color and value, and how to add texture and other effects using paint and mediums

Lessons and projects that build skills: creating still lifes, florals, landscapes and skies, and painting on fabric, wood, shells, clay, and more
With all these ideas and inspiration, your acrylic painting journey can begin today!

Perfect for all skill levels, the books in the Art for Modern Makers series take a fun, practical approach to learning about and working with paints and other art mediums to create beautiful DIY projects and crafts.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This book was more of a beginners book than I was expecting or hoping for. I was also expecting more discussion of acrylic mediums, from the title and description, and there was hardly any except one brief mention.

I was already familiar with all the basic lessons presented here, but if I were completely new to painting then I can see how they might be useful.

The projects also didn’t spark my interest at all. The style was too rough with not enough detail, and the subject matter was uninspiring. The pictures were not clear enough to follow the steps easily.

I also found the instructions to be lacking with too much glossed over if it were truly aimed at beginners. I think this book would be frustrating for painters at any level, with it being either too basic for those with any familiarity with painting or leaving out too many vital bits of information to introduce complete beginners to painting.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Get Messy Art by Caylee Grey

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Publishing Date: December 14, 2021


Getting messy is the best part of creating! Get Messy Art gives you the freedom, inspiration, and ideas to experiment and play with art techniques and projects to create perfectly imperfect art.

We’re always told that play and experimentation is the foundation of growing as an artist. But where do you start? Where to find new techniques to try? How do you bring them all together? Get Messy Art has all the guidance, instruction, and inspiration you need. Based on the popular online class and community website Get Messy Art, this book brings together tons of creative art techniques and projects, including painting with watercolor and acrylic, mark-making, drawing with markers and pen and ink, sketching faces, and much more.

The fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll also learn how to make your own art journals and trendy junk journals—easy handmade books to work in that are personalized and one of a kind.

In Get Messy Art you’ll discover:
A welcoming environment that encourages play and experimentation, to help you become the artist you always wanted to be.
How to use no-rules, no-stress art techniques as a creative outlet to express feelings.

Actionable inspiration that will keep you going, even when motivation is scarce.
Fresh techniques that will show you innovative ways to use low-cost supplies such as paint and mediums, stencils, pens, and paper.

Easy background techniques that will get you started and banish fear of the blank page.
The satisfaction of making your own unique journals using simple methods.
Ultimately, art is all about creating for the sake of creating. It’s powerful, it’s cathartic, it’s messy—and it’s all yours. It’s time to get messy!

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was an intriguing and inspiring selection of ideas for an art journal. The accompanying text didn’t really do anything for me — it was too vague, repetitive and “motivational” in the specific way that I find annoying. However the ideas for art spreads were inspiring and made me itch to try some of them for myself. I’ve never tried art journaling but I think I may have to give it a try to see if it gets me back into the creative flow.

I also really appreciated the materials list at the beginning of each spread. I now have a nice list of things to get at my art store and experiment with.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quarry Books for providing an e-arc for review.