Posted in Books, reviews

Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Manga Fantasy Creatures Illustrated.

I’m currently going through my old drawing books. This is one of those books that is completely useless and suffers from the manga craze of the early to mid-2000s.


The book does not suffer from other Complete Idiot’s Guide and the For Dummies books folly of giving out an overwhelming amount of information. There is a large variety of characters and designs given as well as notes on thes general hallmarks for a particular creature.


Pretty much everything else. There actually isn’t enough information on designing fantasy characters and the characters they do provide are so stereotypical that it borders on cringey. The general outlines of the characters and achieving a desired effect are not well explained. The book also does not adhere to its own title. While there are a lot of fantasy characters, there is also a smattering of sci-fi and general characters as well. Aliens and chibis are placed towards the back of the book as a clear example of padding the books length rather than talking about how to design original fantasy characters. The section that really pisses me off though is an animal sections that features regular, stylized animals. A hawk, squid, and bee are some of the first featured for that section and it never gets any better. Very disappointing.  Even when the book tries to give drawing instructions for abstract creatures like an earth element and water element, the designs are boring, cliche and laughably lazy.

Overall, I would really warn people away from this. While there’s a nice variety and this could be a nice intro to fantasy drawing for children and teens, the sketches aren’t broken down enough to be of any real benefit and younger people may get frustrated with the lack of direction. Steer clear.

Posted in Books

Book Review #1: 350 Tips

Time for my first ever book review on this blog! Today, we will be looking at 350 Knitting Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets, by Betty Barnden. This is the second edition of the book, and as of this post, the most current edition.

There is a lot of information in this book! Everything from yarn dying, to fiber content, to knitting techniques. It’s all here. My personal favorite was the information on pattern modification. I was about to start a new pattern and assumed that as long as the fiber weight was the same, the pattern would look close to the picture provided of the finished product. I hadn’t considered the way a yarn lays depending on what kind of yarn it is. Cotton is going to breathe more and lay flatter than wool.

There’s also an abundance of pictures in this book, full-color pictures of actual products, no illustrations. I’m a firm believer that for any visual art, instructions need to have a lot of pictures or contain a video (although this obviously wouldn’t be possible with a traditional book format). Barnden provides. Every section has pictures to go with it and everything is taken in a way that is really easy to see. The written instructions are clear as well. Within the scope of what’s provided everything is informative while also concise, so you won’t waste time sifting through pages of text trying to find what you’re looking for.

Every tip is numbered. This is especially helpful when some tips carry over to the next, there’s a logical progression within the tips that connect. There are also clearly delineated sections so if you don’t remember the number of the tip you were looking for, you’ll probably remember the section it was in. Not much of a words person? The sections are color coded, which I thought was a very nice touch.

350 Knit Tips 2

A great number of these “tips” aren’t what I would call tips. It’s like calling American cheese, cheese, I mean, it fits…I guess, but there’s something distinctly lacking there and I can’t help but hum “one of these things is not like the other” in my head. Plus, if I’m craving cheese it doesn’t really satisfy. I’m primarily referring the section that teaches you how to knit and purl in both English and continental styles. I mean, I guess it’s a tip, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for in this book. I can find that in pretty much any knitting book there is. What also really gets me about it is that it comes after a section talking about how to design a pattern. If I need instruction on the basics, anything about designing is going to be way over my head.

Another thing that isn’t great (although in this case to be expected), is that none of the information goes into particular detail. This book almost seems like a sampler of other books, which is actually kind of nice, but it doesn’t contain any “further reading” references that I’ve been accustomed to in other hobbies. It’s a nice book, but it isn’t the be all end all of knitting books, recommendations for other sources sectioned by topic would have been nice. I really wanted to know more about how to determine the best yarn swap when you want to use something different in a pattern. I got the basics, but I would have liked suggestions on more information of wool yarn vs cotton yarn etc.

Overall Opinion:
I think it would make a great gift for someone new to knitting. There’s little bits of information about a lot of different things, so it’s not very overwhelming; plus it also serves as a teaching book in some cases. For those more familiar with knitting, I’d say check it out from your local library and flip through it. There might be enough stuff you don’t know to justify buying it, but otherwise, you’d be better off getting more in-depth books are specific subjects.

If you want to buy the book, please click the link below!

350+ Knitting Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets: How to Be Better at What You Do

If you’d like to see if the book is at your local library, click here.