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Richard Bell "wildlife illustrator" (West Yorkshire)
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Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color
Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color
by Felix Scheinberger
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refresher, 7 Jun 2014
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This made perfect holiday reading, a short refresher course in watercolour and one that I'll dip into again.
It's almost exclusively pen and ink and watercolour, punkish and streetwise, rather than the wistful rural tradition of Cotman and Beatrix Potter but the techniques and the way colours behave are still the same and Scheinberger goes through them briskly and thoroughly.
Worth reading if you think you might be getting set in your ways with watercolour because, whether you agree or disagree with Scheinberger's conclusions, it does make you consider every aspect of watercolours that you can think of and several that probably never occurred to you. For instance I like the way he champions indigo and Naples yellow; colours which have apparent disadvantages that he suggests can be turned to your advantage. Must try them.
As an illustrator, I like the way he touches on page design, developing ideas and the question of 'how much is your picture worth?'
As for the urban element, he can't quite convince me that I'd enjoy painting a prefab block of apartments in Romania more than an old farm Provence, but I can see what he's getting at.


Fujifilm Finepix S6800 ( 16.2 MP,30 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )
Fujifilm Finepix S6800 ( 16.2 MP,30 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )
Offered by Super Deals Bay
Price: 120.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for wildlife, shame about the photographer, 18 Feb 2014
I've enjoyed using the 30x zoom and the macro for bird, flower and insect photography. The lens makes it a rather chunky camera but the hand grip makes it easy to hold.
I've found the exposure compensation button useful for difficult lighting situations, such as photographing against the light, but as I get more into photography, I'm realising that I'd like more choice of apertures which would be useful for throwing the background out of focus in, for instance, a wild flower shot. As I understand it, this camera has only two aperture settings and you're expected to change exposure time and ISO speed to get the shot you're after.
I'm not good with little dials and when I'm trying to rotate the function dial to change a setting I can accidentally press it and end up selecting a function, such as macro or timer, instead. To be honest, I need more practise at this.
I've taken hundreds if not thousands of photographs with it over the last six to eight months and usually I can remember to;
'1. take off the lens cap, 2. turn on the camera'.
It sounds simple and if I get this wrong the camera reminds me to switch off, remove the lens cap and switch on again.
But in one in a thousand shots I get distracted - for instance on one occasion I was on a boat photographing seabirds, quite a chaotic situation - and I try to take off the lens cap at the same time as I'm turning on the camera.
I have now ruined three FinePix S6800 cameras this way. There's nothing you can do such as taking the batteries out and running through the set up again. The online manual only gives the option to return the camera for repair.
FujiFilm were very understanding when I explained what had happened and to date I've had two replacement cameras via my local retailer who suggested on the second occasion that I should take out their no quibble replacement insurance.
So it's now time to go for a refund. I don't trust myself not to repeat the mistake so I'm looking for a camera that can do all that the S6800 can do - I couldn't go back to not having that poweerful zoom - but which has an automatic lens cap so that I can't get confused.
Love the camera but it requires a careful and methodical photographer!
UPDATE
I was just demonstrating the problem to a friend and as I turned the camera off the lens came to life again and retracted.
Always worth trying the switch it on then off again routine just one more time!
I'm pleased to be going back to using this camera.


Building Your Book for Kindle
Building Your Book for Kindle
Price: 0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful guidance, 16 April 2013
The clear, concise step by step advice makes me feel confident in taking some of my print publications into kindle format.


Publishing with iBooks Author
Publishing with iBooks Author
Price: 0.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Next step, 16 April 2013
I've been self-publishing non-fiction for 15 years so I found Publishing with iBooks Author a clear and thorough guide to taking the next step and getting some of my titles into the iBooks store.
Anyone who is familiar with producing books using Microsoft Publisher, InDesign or Serif PagePlus will find iBooks Author reassuringly familiar but entering into a contract with Apple seems a bit mysterious and perhaps a bit unnerving so I found the description of this process particularly useful.


Manga Studio EX 4 (Mac/PC CD)
Manga Studio EX 4 (Mac/PC CD)
Offered by Digitalville UK
Price: 29.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How ever did I manage without this program?, 15 Aug 2012
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Don't be put off, as I was by the name Manga Studio; this isn't just for Manga artists. If you've been in the situation that I was in a few years ago with 10 pages of comic strips - about 100 panels, yipes! - to draw before a fast-approaching deadline then I think you'll appreciate the simple things it does like helping you in ruling panels and placing word balloons.
If like me you go back to the days of Letraset rub on screen tones you'll appreciate the 3000 screen tones available. And of course you can use them as many times as you like without having to buy another sheet.
I'm not sure how much I'm going to use the 3D objects. For figures this is a bit like having one of those articulated wooden lay figures that you can move about to get the pose you're after. You can then drop it into your page as reference for your drawing (or apply effects and use the 3D object directly, but I like to draw everything in my strips). You can also import 2D photographs and artwork and manipulate them to suit the effect and printing method that you're after.
I felt that it was worth going for the EX version rather than the Debut. I didn't want to be working on a project and suddenly discover that I would really like access to one of the extra features such as exporting as a TIFF, facing pages layouts, saving your own word balloon as a material or vector layers (As a Photoshop user, I've never drawn in vector lines but I feel that it's worth trying).
I think that it's best not to think of Manga Studio as a program that's trying to push you into a certain style of drawing but as a box of tools, many of which you're probably never going to use, which can help take some of the donkey work out of creating your own artwork. That artwork doesn't just have to be comic strips; I can see a use for it, for example, in the picture maps that I produce to illustrate my walks books.


Manga Studio For Dummies
Manga Studio For Dummies
by Doug Hills
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A good place to start, 15 Aug 2012
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Manga Studio does so much to make life easier for the comic artist that it can be a bit bewildering understanding what the possibilities are. I found Manga Studio for Dummies a more accessible starting point than the 400 page PDF manual that comes with the program, thorough as that seems to be.
Hope it won't be too long before there's a new edition to cover version 4 but I'd still recommend this edition to anyone who is just starting out. Until then there are a series of pithy YouTube videos by the author Doug Hills that will fill you in on what's new.
The 5th Wave Rich Tennant cartoons at the start of each chapter are a useful reminder that Manga Studio isn't just for Manga artists; you can fo course use it to speed up your workflow in superheroes comics or the kind of things that I do, historical information strips and picture maps (along the lines of Lord of the Rings maps) to illustrate guided walks.


David Attenborough's First Life: A Journey Back in Time with Matt Kaplan
David Attenborough's First Life: A Journey Back in Time with Matt Kaplan
by Matt Kaplan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes me want to see the film again, 17 Feb 2011
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It was great to see the Burgess Shale fossils and others coming to life in the television series but if you've seen the programmes and you'd now like an in depth and accessible discussion of the discoveries and the thinking that went into those impressive reconstructions it's definitely worth reading this book. It works well as a 21st century prequel to 'Life on Earth' as there have been so many discoveries since that landmark series - but I think that they've slightly over-emphasised the connection with David Attenborough who provides some thoughtful linking sections. However Matt Kaplan's text is worth reading in it's own right and the reconstructions and evocative photographs of remote fossil sites are suitably sumptuous. Having learned more of the background to the story, I'm ready to watch the television series again.
Richard Fortey appears in the book, as he did in the film, in the section on Moroccan trilobites - there's an astonishing variety of trilobite fossils in Morocco - and if you enjoy this book you might also like Fortey's 'Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution'.
Andrew Parker's 'In the Blink of an Eye' covers the same 'big bang' of evolution but with a different emphasis.


How To Set Up An Online Business 2nd edition MagBook
How To Set Up An Online Business 2nd edition MagBook
by Kevin Partner and PC Pro
Edition: Paperback

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Springclean your Online Business, 19 Jan 2011
My website - I publish my own walks & local interest books - has been bumbling along for over a decade now and is in urgent need of a springclean, so I couldn't resist this step by step guide when I spotted it in Smiths; it's full of useful advice, updates to my decade-old html habits, insight, humour and common sense.

It's exactly what I needed at this stage. When the author describes some of the pitfalls of turning something you love doing into a business I found myself thinking 'Hmm, I'm afraid that's me!' It's given me an opportunity to see my business as a customer might, or as business advisor might see it (I'd soon be laughed back down the staircase if I ever had to explain my business plan to the `Dragon's Den' team). Reading this has made me re-examine my habitual way of running the business and has taken me through aspects that I'd never got around to giving some thought to.

As a Yorkshireman, I would take some convincing that Google Adwords could benefit me but I'm glad of the attempt here to describe its Byzantine workings. It's the cornerstone of the plan suggested in this guide but although the price per click might be reasonable, a potential cost of 5 per completed sale makes no sense to me selling booklets that are mostly under a fiver. But, thanks to this guide, I've a good idea what it's all about and I could come back to it in the future.

There are suggestions for stacks of stuff here that you can incorporate into your website for free. I'd never come across WordPress but I've now got that online and it's a great deal quicker for the blog section of my site than the old version of DreamWeaver I regularly use, plus I'm gradually realising how useful all the extras, notably the comments, can be in engaging an audience and assessing reaction to ideas.

I need to riffle back through the guide and make myself a `to do' list including Amazon marketplace, eBay shop, Google stats, page design etc. I enjoyed doing the VIA Signature Strengths questionnaire, suggested at the start of the guide; that gave me a bit of a boost but I'm still not convinced by the author's advice that what every online businessman really needs is a little West Highland Terrier!
But this guide really hit the spot for me, so it's earned its 5 star rating.


Chris Packham's Nature Handbook
Chris Packham's Nature Handbook
by Chris Packham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual refresher course in natural history, 20 Oct 2010
'Real wildlife . . . will enrich your life', says Packham in his introduction; he tells us that he'd 'rather spend ten minutes watching a woodlouse or ladybird in the palm of [his] hand than ten minutes watching a tiger on TV.'
The book is full of simple - and a few more ambitious - suggestions for getting out and seeing the natural world all around you and, as it's so easy to forget, above you. Even in the middle of a city you can usually find a patch of sky but in woodland too, it's always worth looking up at the tree canopy.
While the natural world is so accessible to most of us, whatever our level of expertise and wherever we live, Packham (and, here, his team of writers) always refuses to 'dumb down' when describing its workings. For example, he never uses the term 'mini-beasts' to describe invertebrates to children. As he says, you have to wonder why we shy away from teaching children a proper naturalist's vocabulary when they so easily and ably enjoy the names of dinosaurs.
The book encourages you to take a fresh look at any habitat you find yourself in, starting with the sky and home and going as far afield as the chapperal and tropical rainforest. I might never get to visit the latter but this attractive book makes me I realise how lucky I am to be within 2 hours drive of examples of a huge variety of habitats on coasts, hills, heaths, lakes, rivers and streams. The book is fresh-looking, colourful and delightfully designed - Dorling Kindersley at its best - and it's been a timely inspiration for me.
Nature Handbook emphasises, not that I needed much persuasion, that my enthusiasm for taking my sketchbook wherever I go has to be based primarily in the natural world. So many times when I'm in the city I find myself drawing some mundane subject like the salt and pepper pot on a cafe table, which I've drawn a hundred times before.
As this book convincingly points out, you're never going to get that with the natural world, especially if you make a point of exploring the wide variety of habitats available to most of us within easy access of home. There's always something extraordinary and unfamiliar to draw. Just riffle through the Nature Handbook - or like me, read it cover to cover, as a refresher course in natural history - and you'll get the hang of what to look for wherever you are.


Using Microsoft Publisher 2010
Using Microsoft Publisher 2010
by Brien Posey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.19

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Basics (and some surprising extras) in Black and White, 2 Oct 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I haven't followed up the online extras of videos and podcasts but the book itself stands on its own as a comprehensive but not at all intimidating introduction to the essentials and some of the surprising extras of the program. I've used previous versions of Publisher for years so it was reassuring to be reminded that the basics remain the same but there are improved ways - to me the ribbon is an improvement - of doing them.
What did I learn from the book that I wouldn't have learnt from just continuing in the way I've always done things on Publisher? I'd never come across the design checker, that should be useful, nor had I come across the equation editor, which I guess that I won't ever use, but at least I know where it is if I ever do. The closing chapters on how you can use Publisher to design a website and for mail merge projects are fascinating and make me want to give them a try. For instance, if you send out e-mail newsletters, there's a way to send them out individually rather than as a carbon copy to an address list. Must try that.
I find that Brien Posey's personal approach to the subject as an occasional rather than a professional graphic designer is appropriate for Publisher. I use the program for designing booklets - my main work - but it's a program that aims to cater for anyone who needs to drop in to design and print the occasional poster, leaflet etc, so heavy-handed industry standard professionalism wouldn't have been an appropriate starting point for 'Using Microsoft Publisher'.
The only reason that the book just fails - and it only just fails - to get 5 stars in my review is that there's a lot of useful discussion about colour selection and colour printing but the screen shots are all in black and white.


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