Author Topic: Illuminated Letters Sketchbook - Sullivan  (Read 1841 times)

Offline tiffany.c.a

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Illuminated Letters Sketchbook - Sullivan
« on: April 28, 2017, 02:46:22 PM »
Illuminated Letters Sketchbook
-by Jane Sullivan

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As it is titled, this book is definitely a sketchbook. It is like keeping an art journal. I am enjoying using it.

I actually had no problem finding media that worked on the paper. At first I wasn't expecting watercolor/gouache to work well, but I was pleasantly surprised that the paper held up pretty well with gouache. Transparent watercolor also worked. Make sure not to use either too wet or the page will start to buckle. (Because of this consideration, it was not as easy for me to use the "float" technique for gouache on this paper as it would be on art paper.) Otherwise, it doesn't soak through. (I used Cotman student grade watercolors and W&N pro-grade gouache.)

Colored pencils of course work fine. I also used several types of pens and markers, such as gel pens, Pitt markers, Stabilo, Zig waterbased and waterproof markers, Itoya Calligraphy, Hybrid Technicas, and Microns with no or almost no bleed-through. Unfortunately, the W&N pigment watercolor marker I used bled through. Both sumi and Higgins Eternal with a nib worked with almost no feathering if any.

There is not too much hand-holding in this book. The author gives you a beginning point, a bit of structure, and then gives you space to experiment and create on your own.

There are 2-page spreads that present each letter. All of the pages are gridded like graph paper. This is helpful when trying to replicate her letter, trying to create a balanced letter of your own, or just to use as a writing line for calligraphy!

In the top left corner of the spread is a finished example of a letter - decorated and often in color. Then there are a few "snapshots" of the process of how she drew that letter -  meaning she provides an outline of the decorated letter for the reader to color in, and/or just the outline of the empty letter for you to both decorate and color. Eventually she takes the training wheels off and gives you completely blank spaces to do your own thing.

There are also brief examples of how to draw a few different leaves, butterflies, little animals, vine work, interlacing, Celtic knots, and mythical creatures. Each of these is "taught" or presented in the same way as the letters -- in steps with minimal words.

While there is not a lot of written instruction, this book is more about observation, a back and forth between noticing and trying. You can see the skeletal letter form that she begins with. You can look at her finished letter, and try it yourself, then look back at her letter, compare it to yours, and try again. Or, you can just observe hers to get the gist and try your own thing. I find looking at her color choices instructional as well. I can write notes in the open spaces around my attempts.

At the end of working through this book, I think I would feel quite a sense of accomplishment. I am acquiring knowledge and a journal full of practice and learning first-hand what works and what doesn't. I am working on my technique as I stretch my creativity.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 06:35:42 PM by Erica McPhee »

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Illuminated Letters Sketchbook - Sullivan
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 06:36:39 PM »
Thanks for posting this review! I have been enjoying this book for a couple of months. I was pleasantly surprised with all the great ideas and details featured.  ;D
Warm Regards,
Lettering & Design Artist
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Offline cejohnson

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Re: Illuminated Letters Sketchbook - Sullivan
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 10:00:47 AM »

This is a great find. I have always enjoyed illuminated lettering, but what I also liked when looking at this book are the pages showing how to draw interlacing (knotwork). I have a Book of Kells and love the Celtic knotwork and it was nice to see the interlacing section of this book provides some instruction on creating a couple of these.

"The expert at anything was once a beginner." - Helen Hayes