I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard about Manga Cross Stitch by Helen McCarthy I had my reservations.
Although the idea of manga cross stitch sounded good in principle, I feared that this would be another prescriptive book that showed you how to do specific things in specific way, with little creative freedom. We’ve got enough of those already. I am really glad to say that I was completely wrong!
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Manga Cross Stitch provides you with the tools and knowledge to make convincing manga pieces of stitchery. Once you’ve read the book, you can take any of the pieces provided and mash them up to make any number of potential combinations. It’s a book that wants to show you the ropes and then tell you to go skipping.
Helen McCarthy is a lady who knows and loves her manga, and it is evident as you read the book. It starts off with a nicely succinct explanation of manga, anime and stitches and then breaks out into six chapters, each covering an aspect of this particular creative genre.
The chapters cover topics like Screentone and Visual Effects, Lettering, Cute Characters and Action, as well as the necessary chapter on materials and techniques. Each topic is covered in some depth and there are plenty of examples used to illustrate the learning. The design of the book works really well in balancing the excitement of manga with a well laid out manual to end up with a book that gives you plenty of ideas and the inspiration to go off and try them.
The examples that are provided throughout the book are terrific and reflect all the key aspects of the genre. Robots, cute creatures, samurai warriors, you name it, you’ll find a pattern (and a really good explanation of it in here). Once you decided what you want to create, you can download the pattern pieces from the disc provided with the book and go for it.
I really like this book. I like the fact that it approaches both subjects – manga and cross stitch – with respect and does a great job of honouring them. Big pictures, easy instruction and a thorough appreciation of the subject come together with style. It fulfils its objectives completely, and leaves the reader able to go off and create their own designs – and that I like. It empowers. Terrific!