Who doesn’t like some florals to accompany their calligraphy pieces? I certainly do! As always, I did my research, then bought two books to fill in the gaps of my knowledge: Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean and How to Draw Modern Florals by Alli Koch. I finally had the time to truly delve into the books last week, so here’s my in-depth 2 cents on why you should get both of them!
(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and purchase something, I make a small commission — but you still pay the same amount! I only put affiliate links on items I use and love.)
Wait, both of Botanical Line Drawing AND How to Draw Modern Florals?
Do you actually need two books on floral line drawings? Well, no. You could do one or the other, but the two books really complement each other very well! Lemme break down each book for you separately first though!
Book Review: Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean
Book: Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean
What’s in it?
As it says on the cover, “200 step-by-step flowers, leaves, cacti, succulents and other items found in nature” — like mushrooms, feathers, wildflowers, twigs, acorns and pine cones! That’s a load of things packed into one book!
The book is split into 4 easy categories: leaves, flowers, cacti & succulents, and more nature. Primarily, the focus is on leaves (30%) and florals (50%) — which makes sense ’cause Volume 2 covers cacti and succulents in greater detail, which I’ll review at a later date!
The sheer variety is one big check in the pro-column! There are nearly 100 different pictorial step-by-step instructions on how to draw flowers alone. And that’s not including the random wildflowers in the last section.
And the leaves! If you’re lazy to go out and observe (or Google) all the different types of leaves and flowers and plants out there in nature, this book does the work for you by putting together a huge variety of botanicals together for you to learn and then throw together into your own drawings.
Now let’s talk cons. I want to preface this by saying I can be a HUGE nerd for details. I give this book a solid 4 out of 5. There are just a few teeny tiny things that annoy me on a bad day. Y’know, those days when every. little thing. bugs you! So here goes:
1. The paper is too thin
You can very easily see the print of the back page through the paper. Normally, I can ignore this, but it’s a problem with this book because the shadow of the back page looks grey. Know what else is grey? Part of the illustrated instructions!
Each illustration is taught in step-by-step instructions. The part you’re supposed to draw at that step is in grey, while the parts you’ve already draw are black. The double grey makes it a bit confusing on the eye. You gotta take a closer look a bit sometimes.
2. Each illustration is always taught in 6 steps
There are 200 illustrations in this book! Obviously, some are more complicated than others. Fitting it all into 6 steps makes it easy to organise — you get a page per illustration and it all fits together easily. But from a learning perspective… I don’t fancy it too much.
There are some more complicated illustrations like the hydrangeas that could have done better with a more detailed breakdown, or even some written instructions. On the other hand, there were some illustrations that were pretty basic that frankly didn’t need 6 steps.
Why do I recommend this book then?
I typically pick it up for inspiration, when I need some abstract flowers or leaves in the background. There is a good variety here. There are also a lot more angles on the flowers — from the side, buds, etc. — that I use for inspiration.
In that sense, it’s a perfect complement to How to Draw Modern Florals, which I use for more ‘center-piece flowers’!
Book Review: How to Draw Modern Florals by Alli Koch
Book: How to Draw Modern Florals by Alli Koch
What’s in it?
Step-by-step instructions — pictorial and written — for 18 flowers and 5 cacti & succulent types, plus a bit on using the florals learnt to draw bouquets and wreaths.
The instructions are a major plus point here. I love good written instructions because they tell me exactly what to do and why I’m doing it. Alli’s instructions are great! My realistic drawings really suck, but thanks to this book, I’m getting my florals to look a bit more three-dimensional.
I also really like how she leaves extra instructions beyond the florals to provide room for me to explore drawing flowers from a different angle, and to use what I learnt to draw arrangements.
Of course, a big draw for me here is the presentation. This book is aesthetic goals. Gold spiral binding and corners? So much white? But honestly, presentation is only like 2% of my love for this book.
Again, quick reminder: I am a nit-picky little monster for detail! This book rates a 4.8 of 5 for me — which is pretty much as high as it gets. I rarely say 5 out of 5 because again. Nit-picking! Now let’s talk about cons.
1. The size is weird!
I love and adore the spiral binding on this book, but it sure isn’t standard size! My (current) bookshelf depth can fit up to A4 ring files, so the spiral binding juts out and I can’t slide the glass close over it 😪 If you’re getting the pretty spiral bound edition, measure your shelf first!
(Or you can always get a new shelf. That’s what I’m doing because I’m moving!)
2. The content on wildflowers and leaves is a bit sparse
What are modern florals without some wildflowers and leaves, I ask you? While this book does touch on that a bit, I wish it went into a bit more detail here! The corresponding leaves for each flower would have been nice too!
So I use Botanical Line Drawing to supplement that lack, and it makes me a happy girl all-round!
Working with both Botanical Line Drawing and Modern Florals
Using both lets me create some pretty neat compositions. I still draw inspiration from looking at florists on Instagram like Alli suggested in the introduction of How to Draw Modern Florals. My all-time favourite is local florist The Enchanted Tree (@theenchantedtreesg) but I always have an eye out for more — it does break up the monotony of watercolour and calligraphy on my feed 😉
Have you tried either book? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments!