I might spend most of my life online but I do love books and, thanks to the guys at Design Originals who have sent me over a review copy of Suzanne McNeill's FloraBunda Style, I have a new one to share with you all today. I've not been paid for this review but I do use affiliate links on my blog and there are some in this blog post.
According to the press release, FloraBunda represents the 'next generation' of Zentangle. Now I come to this book not really knowing much about Zentangle, I know of it, of course, you can't work in this industry and not know of it, but I've not yet been bitten by the Zentangle bug. However, I am a happy doodler! I love drawing flora and fauna and I'm always looking to extend my doodle repertoire because we doodlers can often get stuck in the same patterns. So I was keen to give FloraBunda Style a go and give someone else's doodle style a try.
The first thing I noticed about FloraBunda is that as well as being a source of inspiration for both your drawing and for off-the-page project work, it is also a workbook and you are actively encouraged to draw in the book itself. *Shriek* I'm almost sucked through the screen from your collective sharp intakes of breath! I know! Well, I suppose if you are used to the adult colouring books then you are well versed in drawing and colouring in books.
The book is designed for you to draw in and the paper is smooth, slightly toothed, very, very slightly off-white and is described in the 'How to Use This Book' section as 'a high-quality artist paper'. Oh boy, you are going to want me to scribble in my lovely book now aren't you? Just to prove it? *Sigh* OK then, as it is for you, I will do it.
Key to the mark makers I used:
1. Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Black, Copic Spica Lavender, Crayola PRO Pink
2. Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen Gold
3. Staedtler all point pen Blue, Sakura Glaze Gel Pen blue, Copic Spica Orange
4. Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Black, Winsor and Newton watercolour red
5. ZIG Art and Graphic Twin green, ZIG BrusH2O water brush
6. Winsor and Newton watercolour
7. Derwent Inktense Fuchsia pencil
8. PrismaColor pencils Mulberry, Greyed Lavender, Terricotta
10. ZIG Cocoiro Letter Pen
I would not suggest using alcohol-based pens such as Sharpies, Copics, Promarkers and the like as these will just bleed through the paper.
The water wrinkles the paper a little so you will only want to use it lightly and don't saturate the paper, otherwise it holds up quite well with the water.
Explore FloraBunda Style
The book is around 21.7 cm x 27.9 cm in size and paperback. I thought the binding was quite clever as it allows you to open the book wide without breaking the spine, but even so it is hard to get the book really flat and you might need to hold it down when drawing in it.
The book is made up of six free-flowing sections: What is FloraBunda? Getting Started, Tools, The Designs, Design Index and the Index.
The What is FloraBunda? section introduces the idea and gives you a little about Suzanne McNeill, then the Getting Started section briefly talks about drawing the designs and has a little bit of colour theory. This is followed by the Tools section, which talks about pens and colouring tools with example pictures to illustrate the looks you can get with each.
There is not a lot of information on brands – there are few pen brands talked about but not really much on what type of watercolour or colouring pencil to use or techniques for using them. But then too much technical information might be a bit off-putting for a newbie and I think the aim of the book is more inspiration to get people into using these things.
The main bulk of the book is of course the designs and there are lots and lots of inspiration for different flower and foliage drawings. As you work through the book, you will see that on each page there are both simple designs and then inspiration for more complex work and inter-spaced between them are ideas on how to take the ideas into craft pieces such as mug decoration, stitching, home décor, wood burning, jewellery to name just a few. The craft projects do not have photo steps but pictures of the final piece accompanied with a written step by step and I think they are more there for 'look what you can do with these designs' than 'this is how you do it'.
Before you get to the Design Index, which has a pictorial list of all the elements drawn in the book, there are a few lettering and alphabet designs and ideas, which are very useful, and there are some simple and more elaborate lettering ideas. The final page is the book index plus a bit more about the author.
What I love about this book
- It is full of some really lovely flora and fauna inspiration for your drawing/doodling and illustrative work.
- There are some great project ideas to take the drawing into 3D project work.
- Some lovely lettering inspiration too.
- The project photography is contemporary.
- After the initial *zoinks* I don't want to spoil the book by drawing in it, I actually liked that there was space next to the various designs to have a go.
- It's a great way to relax with not having to think too much.
- You can colour in all of the designs in the book.
What I'm not so keen on about this book
- It's that fine line between practising someone else's style and developing your own style. There isn't really a lot in the book about developing your own style. But then I don't think these kind of books are really for people who want to develop their own style.
- Even though I started coming around to the whole writing in the book thing, I will still stick to my sketch pad thanks!
- Some of the products used might not be listed in enough detail for a complete newbie to crafting.
Who Is FloraBunda Style For?
I think that FloraBunda Style would be perfect for someone who loves the adult colouring books but wants to take it to the next level and start creating their own designs to colour in but isn't really sure how. This is a great way to get started in building up drawing confidence.
Where To Buy
You can find FloraBunda by Suzanne McNeill in Amazon.uk where it is current retailing at £12.99 or Amazon.com ($15.28) as well as other popular bookshops, where you might actually find it cheaper so shop around.
Have you got this book? What do you think of it or other books by Suzanne McNeill? I would love to know so do leave me a comment.