Friday 4 May 2018

Book Review: Creative Marker Art & Beyond

I'm finishing my Book Week with a lovely crafty book: Creative Marker Art and Beyond: inspiring tips, techniques, and projects for creating vibrant artwork in marker, by Lee Foster-Wilson of Bonbi Forest.


A couple of years ago Lee took part in the 100 Day Project, setting herself the challenge of doing a marker pen drawing a day, picking the pens at random to force herself to try new colour combinations and make the most of her pen stash.

During the project she learned loads about working with markers and totally fell in love with them as a medium... and now she's written a book to share her top tips and get us all inspired to get doodling.


The book starts with a quick introduction to the different types of marker pens available (permanent markers, paint markers, metallic markers, brush markers, and more), the basics of colour theory and some useful drawing techniques like crosshatching and stippling.

The rest of the book is made up of Creativity Prompts (e.g. drawing from nature), Marker Exercises (e.g. simplifying your sketches to create stylised motifs), and Step-by-Step Projects (e.g. decorating rocks with your drawings). This mix makes the book part creative workbook with ideas to spark your creativity and blank pages for you to get doodling straight away, and part how-to guide with projects that you can either recreate or use as inspiration for your own makes.


There are ten sections in the book, each with a creativity prompt, marker exercise and step-by-step project - some loosely connected, some directly following on from each other (for example, in one section you try hand lettering, then try out ideas for embellished lettering, then decorate a notebook using lettering to create a personalised design).

As you work through the book you'll learn lots of different ways to use markers, including some fab ideas for using markers which are drying out and starting to fade (which you'd normally just throw away). The project ideas are also all lovely, and are great examples of the versatility of markers and the many different surfaces you can decorate them.


I would have liked a bit more detail in some of the step-by-step tutorials, as there are a couple of points where the instructions are not as clear as they could be. For example, there's a fabric banner project where you need "primed fabric in a banner shape of your choice" but it's not explained how you're supposed to "prime" your fabric, or with what.

I also would have loved a section with patterns and motifs to trace, so we could recreate the projects show in the book exactly - because they're a lot nicer than most of my doodles!

It's also worth noting that to make the projects in the book you will need quite a wide range of different markers (standard permanent markers, fine liners for detail, brush markers for layering colours, and paint markers for drawing on glass and rocks) as the different types of pens write on different surfaces and behave in different ways. You could use a lot of the drawing techniques to get doodling with a basic pack of markers, but many of the cool project ideas do require fancier pens.

I think you would almost definitely want to buy more pens after buying this book, though! Lee's enthusiasm for markers is pretty infectious and she's done a great job of showing how versatile they can be, and how many lovely things you can draw and make with them.

If you want a detailed book of drawing techniques, or a book with patterns where you can make the exact project shown in the book then this is not the book for you. However, if you've got a neglected pack of markers in a drawer somewhere (or you've always been tempted by those big packs of different colours you get in stationery shops but never knew what do with them) and want to flex your creative muscles a bit and get doodling, then this book could be the start of your very own love affair with marker art.

Creative Marker Art and Beyond: inspiring tips, techniques, and projects for creating vibrant artwork in marker is published by Walter Foster Publishing. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other websites and bookshops.

I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers. Please note that the Amazon and Book Depository links in this blog post are affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase I get a tiny percentage for the referral. It doesn't cost you anything and it helps support my blog.

P.S. The Mandalas to Embroider giveaway ends on 10th May, have you entered yet?

P.P.S. Visit my book reviews archive for a look at lots more crafty books!


Anonymous said...

I love doodling with markers but the ordinary kind. This book already had my interest but unfortunately when you move away from run of the mill markers you get into the really expensive kind - prohibitively so in some cases, especially as they are just going to be for a bit of 'fun'. So while I love drawing with my basic markers, if I need to fork out lots of money on special markers before I get to draw on rocks (which is something that I think I would love to do and that picture in the book is so cute), then it's probably not going to happen.

Art supplies are very expensive and the appeal of markers is that they are not but if that is not really what this book uses then I won't be buying it. Also many books are written by US authors using supplies that need to be imported over here, making them difficult to get hold of and really expensive. I will say though that drawing with WHSmith markers is very much a fun and enjoyable thing but because of streakiness you get when using them to colour in big areas I tend just to draw with them. Alcohol markers like Copic avoid this I know. However, I do't like alcohol markers because of their extra toxicity, smelliness and the fact that they won't wash out, as well as their expense - Copic markers are several pounds each and my degree of ability just doesn't warrant that for a decent range of colours when I get lots of coloured pencils or paints for much less and with a limited budget that matters to me. It does seem to me that the book isn't really talking much about common or garden markers or 'felt tips' as we know them. I would love a book that really did just that.


Bugs and Fishes said...

Sara - Thanks for your comment! I love ordinary felt tips, too, I'm sure there are lots of art/drawing books out there which use felt tips :)