Monday, April 26, 2010

:REVIEW: Pencil Lines: The Sketch Book for Scrapbookers by Anna Bowkis

I've been a long time fan of using sketches when scrapbooking and am a frequent visitor to the Pencil Lines blog when I'm in the mood for a little sketch inspiration.

So I was pretty excited that the founder of Pencil Lines, Anna Bowkis, was publishing a book!

Pencil Lines: The Sketch Book for Scrapbookers is a great resource for anyone who already follows their blog or just loves using sketches when scrapbooking.

The book measures 6.25 x 9.5" and has a spiral binding which is great for laying it out flat on your scrap table.

In the Introduction, Anna covers the basics of why using sketches can be a wonderful starting point for a variety of reasons and then breaks the contents of the book into 7 chapters.

Chapter 1 - Anatomy of a Sketch
For those that might not be that familiar with using sketches, this short section is a great resource.

Chapter 2 - How to Use a Sketch
Again, this section breaks down the sketch and shows just how versatile they can be.

After these two introductory chapters, we're really getting to the good stuff for those that are a little more accustomed to using sketches. Each spread starts with a sketch followed by multiple samples from various scrap artists. The following chapters really showcase how flexible sketches can be. They can be flipped, rotated, stretched or condensed to serve a multitude of layouts. It also becomes clear quite quickly that just because you might be starting with a sketch doesn't mean that you'll end up with anything less than unique.

Chapter 3 - The Classic
This section features 23 12 x 12 sketches. Each sketch includes 2-3 samples (most have 3).

Chapter 4 - The American
I'd never heard it referred to this before, but that's probably because I am American. :-) (The author of this book is from the UK.) However, she's referring to layouts created on a standard letter size base - 8 1/2 x 11. There are 6 sketches included in this section. Again, they all have multiple sample layouts. Also, Bowkis wants to make sure that die-hard 12 x 12 scrappers don't skip this chapter by including several examples showing how these sketches can be 'stretched' to a 12 x 12 canvas. Actually, for one of the sketches, all three samples are 12 x 12 layouts.

Chapter 5 - Fancy Schmancy
This section focuses on sketches that are anything but square, but feature lots of fun shapes and decorative edges. There are 5 sketches with 3 sample layouts each.

Chapter 6 - Double Take
This section includes 6 sketches for double page spreads for those of us that enjoy working with a larger canvas and/or have a lot of pictures to tell a story.

Chapter 7 - Details
This chapter reflects back on 6 outstanding techniques used on layouts in the book, shows a detail shot and offers basic instructions for replicating the look.

At the end, there is a Guests section which includes bios of each of the 11 contributions in addition to the author. Each bio includes the address of that contributor's blog, so if you find a few new scrap idols while perusing the book, it's easy to find them online for further inspiration.

There is also an index that lists off the pages on which you'll find sketches for 1 photo, 2 photos, etc. in case you need one for a specific number.

At the very back of the book, there are also four pages of blank templates for you to create your own sketches. There are six 12 x 12, three 12 x 12 double, six 8 1/2 x 11 vertical and six 8 1/2 x 11 horizontal templates just waiting for you to sketch upon.

Now...before I end this review, there is one more thing that I have to address. Does the author have some important and helpful insights to share when it comes to the use of sketches in scrapbooking? Are the sketches well-designed and versatile? Are the same layouts beautiful, creative and in a vast variety of styles?

To each question I would answer in a resounding "YES!"

However, I do have one beef with this book. (I'll warn you now...this is where the big, mean English teacher in me comes out!)

The grammar and format of the editorial content in this book leave A LOT to be desired.

There are run-on sentences, incorrect capitalization, misspelled words (and I'm not referring to the Brit's love of the letter 'u'), missing spaces between words and sentences and extra ones between others.

In terms of format, inconsistency abounds. There are line breaks between some paragraphs, but not others, and there are places where the content runs over the page number. There was one page where the content seems to run right off the edge of the page!

Overall, I get the feeling that the editorial content of the book was put together in a huge rush and the proofing stage was skipped altogether.

As a side note, typos are certainly forgivable. I know that I am guilty of them here on this blog. However, it's just the sheer number and variety of them in this small book that makes them so glaring to me.

Again, the visual inspiration in the book is amazing, but this is just something that as an ex-English teacher really rubs me the wrong way.

Does this mean that you shouldn't buy the book? Not really. I have a feeling that the grammar and format issue might not bother many as much as it does me and, after all, Bowkis hasn't marketed the book as a lesson in English grammar. :-)

So that's it...I'm done with my little rant...and I DO believe that you'll find some great design inspiration in this book!

Do you have this book? What did you think? What was your favorite or least favorite section?
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