Millie Marotta's Wildlife Wonders - Click through to see the written review, video flip through and images from inside the book

Millie Marotta’s Wildlife Wonders – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Wildlife Wonders is published by Batsford Books who very kindly sent me a review copy. This is the sixth book in Millie’s animal-centred adult colouring book series and this time it contains no new images and instead it’s a compilation of Millie and the colouring community’s favourite images from her first five books. It’s the same size and shape (25cm square) as her previous books, paperback, with flexible card covers with black and white line drawings that hint at some of the wonderful creatures within the pages and a few of the illustrations are coloured with gold foiling scattered across the cover and the title. The spine is a lilac colour which compliments the other spine colours really well and they look gorgeous on the shelf together (see photo below). The covers don’t have French flaps this time but the inside covers are a lovely teal colour with white line drawings of animals all over them (this isn’t colourable and is printed on quite glossy card). The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but it does mean that a little of some of the images is lost into it until it eases up with a bit of use. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, none of them are mirror images this time. The paper is bright white and lightly textured, it’s the same paper as the previous titles and doesn’t bleed but does shadow a little with water-based pens; pencils work beautifully and blend and shade really well.

The book starts with a two-page introduction from Millie herself where she explains her illustration choices. Following this are a whopping 120 pages of the best illustrations from each of her 5 previous titles. This book really does contain absolutely everything from the common to the most exotic, animals you’ll easily recognise and those you’ll never have seen before, there is a mixture of all sorts! Everything is included from pheasants to an octopus, snakes to butterflies, chameleons to bats, jellyfish to parrots, elephants to mushrooms, seahorses to peacocks, crabs, bees, frogs, moths, snails, owls, and even an axolotl. This time there are no plain images; in the previous books there were a few pairs of images where there would be a detailed version and a simpler one that you could add your own details to if you wish, some of the detailed versions are included but no simpler ones this time. There also isn’t a list at the back of the book detailing the creatures of each page so you will have to guess a bit I’m afraid. Some people have criticised Millie’s previous books as being bird-heavy, this book really doesn’t feel that way with 40 of the images depicting birds and the other two thirds showing all manner of other creatures. The images are really varied but definitely feel more heavily detailed than some of her earlier books and with fewer scenery pages. As always, I’ve gone a bit extreme with this review and spent hours trawling through this book and all of the others to discover how many pages from each book are included and the totals are as follows: Animal Kingdom – 24; Tropical Wonderland/World – 27; Wild Savannah – 21; Curious Creatures – 24; Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures – 24.

In terms of mental health, yet again, this book is fantastic. There is so much to look at, so much to discover, that it’s incredibly distracting and really focuses your mind on the illustrations themselves rather than any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The image content is totally absorbing and nature-based images are the best for relieving symptoms of mental illness. This book is very intricate, but don’t let that scare you, you can use pencils, fine-nibbed felt tips, fineliners and gel pens, all with great effects and most of the images aren’t so detailed that you’re put off or overwhelmed. Many of the patterns drawn onto the animals can be coloured over in blocks as well making them less intricate and giving your colouring texture and pattern rather than outlined spaces to colour, so the possibilities are endless. If you have vision problems or issues with fine motor control then you may struggle with this book but for any of the rest of you I’d suggest giving this book a go and persevering into a more intricate world. The natural scenes definitely create a sense of calm and this will be one of my go-to books when I really need to focus on something and be distracted. It’s detailed enough that you have to focus and concentrate and this lends itself wonderfully to drowning out any anxious or disturbing thoughts you may want to shift. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp. The images are wonderful, as always and it’s great to have a second opportunity to colour your favourites in a different colour scheme

I can’t praise this book highly enough, I love Millie’s work and this book is a stunning compilation of the best images from her previous books. The illustrations lend themselves to whatever colour scheme you fancy whether that be realistic, rainbow, monochrome, black and white, mixed media, or anything else you can dream up, it really is beautiful and it would make a perfect first book if you can’t or don’t want to pick a themed one.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wildlife Wonders
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marottas-Wildlife-Wonders-Millie-Marotta/9781849945134/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Review and Full Flip Through

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Pencils. A video tutorial for colouring the grasshopper can be found here.

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Johanna Basford 2019 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2019 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This page-a-day calendar arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic which keeps the keepsake box clean and free from damage. The keepsake box is made of thick ivory card which is covered all over (including the bottom) with a black-heavy flower and leaf design that almost looks like it is drawn in white rather than black. The pattern is most similar to designs from Enchanted Forest and the top and all four sides of the box have gold foiling accents. The box opens with a hinge-style (the lid remains attached at the top) with two pieces of black ribbon holding it open at a >90degree angle; the inside of the lid and the box are lined with black paper with white flower and foliage designs drawn in Johanna’s signature style; the box is fully colourable if you wish. A black ribbon allows easy access to lift out all of the loose calendar pages which aren’t bound in any way so it’s easy to pick out which ones to colour, move them around, leave them out to dry if using wet media and so on. The pages are the same size and format as any other page-a-day calendar, the illustration is on the left and takes up two thirds of the page and on the right at the top is a leafy-lettered title of the month and at the bottom is the date and day, above this in small text are written the important festivals and celebrations and the country they’re celebrated in; as with all others, Saturday and Sunday share a page so there are approximately 313 pages of colouring for you to complete over the year. The pages are pale cream (just like the 2018 edition) rather than bright white (they are less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Magical Jungle and Ivy and the Inky Butterfly; see photo below of the different paper colours), thin (slightly thicker than copier paper), and lightly textured, pencils don’t build up many layers on this paper but I’m sure those of you who are more talented than me will have more luck with this and create wonderful masterpieces; water-based pens do heavily shadow and may bleed through if you’re particularly heavy-handed but the images are printed single-sided so really you can use whatever mediums you like, these pages would be ideal for testing out new mediums or trialling colour schemes.

The illustrations themselves are all taken from Johanna Basford’s six currently published colouring books, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle, Johanna’s Christmas, and Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, I have carefully looked through all of the images and there are no new images, all are directly from the original books. Some of them are the whole page scaled down, others are sections of the page printed at the original size, others are zoomed in sections which are printed larger than the original so there is a really good mix of detailed sections, larger spaced illustrations to practice blending and shading on, and whole pages which you’ll need your finest of fineliners and sharpest of pencils to colour accurately. The lid is designed to display the current day’s page in but it will hold plenty more pages than this so you could easily place a month’s worth in there before having to move them under the proceeding days’ pages.

In terms of mental health, this page-a-day calendar is fantastic because it provides you with a manageable size of project to attempt each day, you could colour the page in a few minutes or really take your time to try out new techniques and spend much longer, it’s entirely up to you. You could colour the day’s page ahead of time or on the day itself, you could even spend the next few months colouring the whole thing ready to look at your beautiful work throughout the coming year, or even to gift to someone else (what a labour of love that would be and it would make an incredible present if you could bear to part with your work, perhaps you could start if off for them to finish?). The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copies of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The loose pages make it easy to access the page you need without having to move the whole block around all the time and it means you don’t have to worry at all about bleed through. At the end of the year you could even cut out all of the images and create collages, small framed pictures or gifts or even add them to cards or craft projects so this is a really versatile product that goes way beyond just being a calendar! There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this calendar and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This page-a-day calendar is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are often much higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this calendar if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order and there are no duplicates, a number of the calendar pages show parts of the same original image but these are all of different aspects of it, with varying size or depicting different areas (see images below) and this is by no means the majority of the pages, most are of entirely separate illustrations or aspects within them, they also don’t appear to duplicate the images used in the 2017 or 2018 edition of this calendar so those of you who already have that won’t be disappointed by duplicates. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are much quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration, they’re also fantastic for trying out new things without worrying about ruining a whole page in your books.

I would highly recommend this page-a-day calendar to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great size and format, ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s also great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the year it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them or even use them in craft projects and the box will make a wonderful keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this page-a-day colouring calendar, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2019 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johanna-Basford-2019-Coloring-Day-Day-Calendar-Johanna-Basford/9781449492434/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s images? Below are my reviews of her new colouring planner and wall calendar so you can be fully organised and colour to your heart’s content for the coming year!
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly 2019 Colouring Wall Calendar
Johanna Basford 2018-2019 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner

Video Review and Flip Through

The page below was coloured using Faber Castell Pitt Pens.

Johanna Basford 16 Month Weekly Colouring Planner 2018-19 Written Review, Photos, Video Review and Flip Through

Johanna Basford 2018-19 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2018-19 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This planner is the perfect combination of organisation and colouring with space to write plans, appointments and notes, whilst also having weeks and weeks of colouring for you to do too. This planner is paperback with flexible pale cream card covers which have a beautiful black-heavy floral and foliage design on the front and back with a white floral design drawn on black on the insides of the covers, the front cover has gold foiling accents and the front and back cover have removable brown card strips with the information about the planner and the barcode etc printed on them. The planner is spiral-bound and measures 21.6 x 19.6cm, the covers aren’t especially sturdy so I’d be careful about travelling with it much and you’ll want to keep it safe somewhere rather than stuffing it in a bag or it’ll get damaged very quickly. This isn’t the best planner I’ve seen in terms of features and organisation, but for the combination of colouring and organising, it’s perfect and strikes a really good balance. The planner runs for 16 months and starts from the 27th of August 2018 all the way to the 5th of January 2019. The planner is printed double-sided and starts with a one-page overview of the year 2019 and then the planner itself starts with an image on the left of each double-page spread from one of Johanna’s six colouring books, images from all six (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle, Johanna’s Christmas, and Ivy and the Inky Butterfly) are included, and the week’s days and dates with writing space for each on the right (this is in the same style as normal planners with added leafy accents and leafy lettering for the month title at the top). Each week runs from Monday to Sunday with equal space to write for each day, the dates are on the right and important festivals and bank holidays etc are written in small text on the left of the page, as well as the country it’s celebrated in. After the planner pages, which make up the vast majority of the book, there is a double-page spread with sections for each month of 2020 for you to add your advance plans to. Following this is a full page of 2018 dates and a full page of 2020 dates, followed by 5 lined pages where you can write notes (all with added leaf accents) and the final page is a colouring test page where you can test out your mediums to check for bleed through.

The paper this time is pale cream rather than bright white (it is the same paper as last time and it’s less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Ivy and the Inky Butterfly; see photo below of the different paper colours), lightly textured and medium thickness, sadly it does shadow a fair bit with water-based pens but it doesn’t bleed through; I’d strongly advise writing in pencil throughout or you’ll ruin the image on the reverse either with shadowing or indentation from ballpoint pens. Pencils work well on this paper so I’d suggest mostly colouring with pencils and using water-based pens if you don’t mind the shadowing showing through on the planner pages. A great selection of images from Johanna’s books are included with some being sections of original images at the original size and others being the whole page shrunk down to fit on the planner page so some of the illustrations are quite tricky to colour neatly but almost none look impossible as long as you use a good set of fineliners or sharp pencils. Because this is the third planner and the publisher has tried not to duplicate images it means that a number of my favourite images from her first few colouring books haven’t been included as they were in the first two planners, however, we’ve got new images from those as well as from the newest book, Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, and there are some lovely inclusions so there’s no disappointment to be had with this planner and it really is a great mix between organisation and colouring (two of my favourite things)!

In terms of mental health, this colouring planner is ideal. It gives you a manageable goal of colouring one page per week which could either be next week’s page so that it’s coloured ready for that week or this week’s page so you can colour as you plan. You could even colour it ahead if you’re quick but you’ll need to get a wriggle on! The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copy of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The spiral-binding makes it easy to access the whole page and none of the images go into the spine, it’s also ideal because once you’ve finished using the planner at the end of 2019, the pages are easy to remove for framing or gifting if you want to get more use out of your works of art. There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this planner and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This planner is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this planner if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order but a few have been cleverly chosen to fit celebrations like a heart for the week of Valentine’s Day and images from Johanna’s Christmas through December. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration.

I would highly recommend this colouring planner to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great combination of planner and colouring pages and the size and format is ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the 16 months it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available below:
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2018-19 16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Johanna-Basford-2018-2019-16-Month-Coloring-Weekly-Planner-Calendar-Johanna-Basford/9781449492441/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Ivy and the Inky Butterfly 2019 Wall Calendar and the 2019 Page-a-Day Calendar.

Video Review and Flip Through

The image below was coloured using Caran d’Ache Luminance Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly 2019 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly 2019 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the previous JB wall calendars. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her sixth colouring book, Ivy and the Inky Butterfly (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2018. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick pale cream paper which is good quality (it is less yellow than the Secret Garden book paper and more cream than the new ivory paper in Ivy and the Inky Butterfly; see photo below of the different paper colours) – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only some shadowing when using my darker fineliners. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed much larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils. The dragon image below was coloured with Derwent Inktense pencils, activated with water and I experienced no bleed-through and only minimal buckling when I used a bit too much water. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The much larger image size means it’s far more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. This time, there isn’t an inky treasure hunt. The book of Ivy and the Inky Butterfly is very significantly smaller than the calendar so the images have been increased a lot in size so the intricacy and detail levels are very much reduced. This is a bit of a shame for people who love Johanna’s work for its detail, but for those who prefer larger images and space to really go to town with blending and shading, it’s absolutely perfect and I think it’s my favourite calendar of Johanna’s to date! There is a really good variety of images, needing varying levels of concentration which can be used to keep you occupied and distracted when you’re feeling anxious or low, or requiring less focus if you need a more relaxing colouring experience. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because many require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is medium/thin throughout so there some leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly 2019 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-Inky-Butterfly-2019-Coloring-Wall-Calendar-Johanna-Basford/9781449492458/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Flip Through and Review

The magpie image below was coloured with Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils (my video tutorial showing how to ‘cheat’ at blending that I used throughout the image can be found here) and the dragon image was coloured with Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens – A Review and Video Tutorial

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens are created and kindly sent to me to review by Spectrum Noir. These pens are exactly what they state, brush pens containing coloured glitter pigments that can be used for colouring, crafting and anything in need of a bit of extra sparkle. The pens are available in 34 colours including a clear glitter one and can be purchased in a number of different themed and sized sets. The set I’m reviewing is one of the 12 pen sets in a carry case and mine is called Vintage Hues, there are three further themed 12 pen sets called Special Holiday Set Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer and the pens can also be purchased in grouped sets of 6 and 3 making it easier and more economical to replace used up pens when you need to though they’re sadly not available open stock currently. The pens have a completely black barrel and lid and arrive with a plastic yellow ring around the centre which has to be removed in order to activate the pens, this is a bit of a tricky process as seen in my video below but as you work through the pens it does get easier. The end of the lid and centre of each pen is coloured indicating the colour of the ink and states the colour name on one side and Spectrum Noir Sparkle on the other, these colours are fairly accurate at showing the ink colour but do test them on scrap paper or create a colour chart before diving into colouring with them. The ink flow takes a while to settle down and you do need to regularly give them a gentle shake to ensure that the ink is mixing with the glitter or you can end up with some sparkle-free areas. To begin with, the ink comes out quite quickly and is very wet and easy to saturate your colouring page so it’s best to start working on pages with thicker paper first. The pens need to be opened carefully, the lids are well-fitting and close firmly but this also means that the lids can be a little stiff occasionally, you need to ease them off rather than yanking them as this can cause ink spillage. The brush tips are made of nylon fibres and are a good shape and seem hard-wearing, sadly one of mine arrived damaged (see photo below) and a word of warning, if the brush tip becomes damaged it will cause huge leakage problems rendering the pen difficult or even impossible to use as the ink leaks when the lid is closed and gets all over where your hand holds the pen and stains your skin for a while so do be really careful not to damage the brush tips.

The ink is water-based with lots of slivery glitter inside, it’s translucent and can therefore be used over colouring pages with the lines showing through your colouring. I don’t have the clear glitter pen but have researched it and it can be used to colour over almost any medium adding sparkle to any colour you fancy, I hope to get my hands on one soon because it seems like a great idea and by far the most versatile of the pens in this range. The pens themselves are a similar design to water brushes with a nice chunky barrel that is comfy to use for extended periods of time. The end of the barrel is squared but the holding part is round so there are no corners to dig in or dent your hand or fingers so they’re very comfy to use and the brush tip is strong and flexible and allows you to vary your brush stroke thickness from very thin to thicker with different amounts of pressure applied. The ink is more like using paint than a traditional water-based felt-tip or marker pen, it’s very wet so you will need to use it sparingly, especially on thin paper and work quite quickly to spread the colour where you want it so it doesn’t pool in one area. When flowing correctly, the pens rarely bleed or shadow through normal to thicker paper but do test in an inconspicuous area so that you don’t ruin an image.

From what I’ve seen on the Spectrum Noir website, the colour range is pretty good and covers a wide range of bright, dark, pastel and metallic colours however, they’re often grouped in sets quite oddly making it a bit tricky to get hold of the most useful colours without needing to buy a large number of sets. I would recommend checking out all of the different purchasing options so that you can get the colours you want without having to purchase too many colours that you’re not so keen on or less likely to use. The colours in the set I was sent are lovely but they’re mostly very dark, there is no orange, bright green or pink but two very similar purples and two very similar mustardy yellows so I do feel the colour selection across the sets could be a little better thought out. Having said that, these pens are great for accents and special features in a colouring page and because of the price, it’s unlikely that you’d want to colour whole pages with them so you’d probably only want to use a couple of colours per page which then makes them more useful as you can tailor your colour schemes to fit the colour of sparkle pens that you have access to. One thing to note is that the glitter isn’t permanent and so you’ll need to be careful when colouring to make sure your hand won’t keep going over it and rubbing it off. The glitter is quite shiny, certainly not the sparkliest I’ve seen, that award has to go to the Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust Glitter Gel Pen, but this glitter is nicely shiny and very pretty, especially in the light.

The pens can be used alone to add sparkly coloured accents to pages or you can spice things up and use some slightly more advanced techniques which I’ve shown in the second video below. They can be blended together to create gradients or could be blended on a paint palette or other shiny surface (a tile or something plastic) to create a new shade which you could then paint onto your work with a paintbrush. You can also make the colours lighter by adding water to your work and washing out the pigment a bit. As far as I can tell, anything you could do with normal water-based markers or watercolour paints/pencils, you can do with these so the sky is the limit!

Overall, these are beautiful pens in a wide range of colours and they do add a lovely shimmer to your pages and are ideal for glittery accents. They are a considered purchase for most due to their price point and therefore I’d suggest getting a small set in colours that you’re most likely to use or possibly the 3-pen clear glitter set so that you can make any colouring glittery and get used to how the pens work before splurging on a larger set.

If you’d like to purchase a small or larger set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Spectrum Noir Sparkle Gitter Brush Pens
Crafter’s Companion – Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens

First Impressions and How to Activate the Pens on First Use

Techniques and Tips Tutorial

The images below were coloured using Spectrum Noir Sparkle Glitter Brush Pens and some were blended or faded with water.

Amazon UK Prime Day 2018 Colouring Deals

All of the links below are Affiliate Links which means I’ll earn a small commission if you buy through them which is at no extra cost to you but helps me to run my sites. You can read my Disclosure about this HERE. Happy Colouring!

It’s Prime Day again and for 36 hours Amazon are bringing us heaps and heaps of deals and that can mean only one thing, cheap colouring supplies! You will need to have an Amazon Prime subscription, or a trial, in order to access the deals and this post will be updated regularly throughout the period so that all of the colouring deals are in one place. If you’ve been emailed this post then please do click through to my site to see the updated list as I’ll be adding and removing items all day today and tomorrow so you don’t miss out!

Faber-Castell 120 Albrecht Durer Watercolour Pencils in Wooden Case

Shuttle Art 120 Unique Colour Gel Pens

Up to 30% off Faber Castell products including a fabulous price on the full set of 120 Polychromos pencils.

Faber Castell 60 Pitt Pastel Pencils

Queen of the Skies Cross Stitch Kit by Hanna Karlzon and The Folklore Company - Click through to read the review and see photos

Queen of the Skies Cross Stitch Kit – A Review

This kit was created and very kindly sent to me to review by The Folklore Company, who create fabulous embroidery and cross stitch kits. I’ve loved cross stitch since I was a child but haven’t done any in nearly 10 years but when I found out that The Folklore Company had teamed up with one of my favourite colouring book artists, Hanna Karlzon, I just knew I’d have to start up again! This design is available in two formats, the normal cross stitch format which is what I’m reviewing here or a tote bag with a special dissolvable plastic that allows you to sew on it as if it were aida fabric and then dissolve the plastic in water afterwards just leaving the stitches in place on the bag. I wish I’d asked to review that kit now because this design is beautiful and would look stunning on a bag!

The kit arrives well packed in a clear plastic packet and contains everything you need to get started apart from a small pair of scissors and an embroidery hoop, I’d personally recommend one that’s around 26cm in diameter, mine is this size and I haven’t had to move it once as the design fits within this space preventing lots of creasing and possible damage to stitching by having to move the hoop around whilst working. The kit contains Aida fabric, more than large enough to fit the design on and with plenty of space to fit whatever size hoop you have to hand, a needle (in a small plastic packet), 3 sheets of paper including the pattern and instructions, printed in colour and double-sided, and 10 different colour embroidery flosses. The instructions give clear guidelines for newbies as well as seasoned stitchers about where to begin, how to sew without using knots and handy tips about not getting show-through from dark threads and trailing colours when needed. The pattern is clear and printed just about large enough for those with most levels of visual acuity. I don’t know what everyone else’s technique whilst cross-stitching is but I always like to colour over the pattern when stitching to be sure that I know what I have and haven’t sewn which helps me avoid mistakes. I didn’t want to do this on the pattern itself so I photocopied it and have scribbled my way through that instead. The pattern is divided into 4 quarters each printed on a single piece of A4 though these are printed double-sided so unless you photocopy it, you can’t lay out the whole pattern at once and match it up. The pattern also doesn’t reach the edges of the paper which can make lining things up a little tricky, you certainly won’t want to swap quarters whilst tired or you’re likely to make mistakes. Each thread is allocated a symbol in the key and these are then shown on the pattern, all of these are well chosen and differ strongly from each other so you won’t get confused or accidentally misread the symbols and start sewing in the wrong colour. My only niggle with the symbols is the black square used for the dark grey thread as this is very difficult to colour over/around to indicate that I’ve sewn those areas and I do keep having to really study the pattern to check exactly what I have and haven’t done rather than being able to check with a glance like I’m able to with all of the other symbols and thread colours. This is a very minor criticism and will likely only affect people who cross-stitch in the same way as me. The only other difficulty is that the crossover sections on each page of the pattern aren’t totally clear, the lines for the edge of the diagram cross halfway through the symbols and these can be a little challenging to see and decipher but again, this is a minor issue and only affects the central crossing vertical and horizontal line so it is pretty minor in the grand scheme of the diagram and pattern.

All of the stitches in this pattern are full crosses, there are no quarter, half, or three-quarter cross stiches and no running/back stitch outlines either so the whole design is neatly made from full crosses which I personally prefer as I can never neatly sew partial cross stitches. The instructions suggest that you start in the very centre which is the middle of the bird and this is indeed where I started. It then suggests that you work through each quarter but I don’t work so well like that so I did the majority of the bird, then the outline of the top of the frame, then the bottom, then filled those in and then did the flowers outlining them first and then filling them in and finally finished off with the flower centres. There’s no right or wrong way of sewing, just make sure that you’ve centred the design correctly and that you double check your counting if you do separate sections to ensure that they will join up in the right places later. Having now finished the whole piece, I have a lot of thread left over so you’re given plenty of each one and don’t need to worry about running out. The darkest two colours were used by far the most and I don’t have a huge amount left but as long as you’re not very wasteful with them or trailing them across the design a lot, you definitely won’t run low on them and the others I’ve got loads left of.

In terms of mental health, cross stich generally is really good because you have to focus fully on the pattern to ensure you sew it correctly and the motion of sewing is very calming and therapeutic. This pattern is great for mental health because it’s a really good level of difficulty, it’s not so small that you can complete it in a day or two but it’s also not so big that you’ll get bored or feel like you’re not making progress. There are quite a lot of colour changes and not so many large blocks of the same colour but while this means you have to swap threads a fair bit, it also means that it keeps you interested and there isn’t lots of repetition. The colour choices are lovely and quite muted but not dull, they’re a great choice for aiding calm feelings and they’ll go nicely with lots of different décor if you want to frame and display it after you’ve finished. The design does require a pretty good level of concentration, especially the frame sections so you will need to sew on good days and those where your functioning is high. Alternatively, you could just sew for short periods of time to avoid making mistakes but still get your stitching fix. My anxiety disorders mean that I often struggle to concentrate for long periods of time and my vision is often affected which makes reading and following cross stitch patterns a real challenge, to combat this I tried to make sure not to sew when I was tired and to always sew in good light, either daylight or with a bright light near me and I double-checked all counting and regularly checked that what I’d sewn was correct with the pattern, as well as colouring over the pattern in pencil for every few stitches I’d done. This meant that I only made one mistake in the whole thing and that was just one stitch that no one would ever notice so I’m really pleased, this is the first time I’ve ever managed to do a whole project and not make a noticeable mistake!

If you photocopy the pattern before scribbling all over it like I did then it would be possible to reuse it in future and you could even change the colour scheme to create personalised projects that would match your own décor or favourite colours. Each colour only needs one skein of thread so it would be very easy to reuse the pattern and make heaps of beautiful birds if you wished. For those of you who are from the colouring community, you might be interested to know that this design isn’t an exact replica of one of Hanna’s drawings but rather a combination of two, both from a double-page spread in Magisk Gryning (Magical Dawn), her third colouring book and a photo of these can be found below. Before you ask, yes, I did spend ages trawling through all of her books to find it because I was almost certain I’d seen the image before!

Overall, I would highly recommend this cross stitch kit, it’s a beautiful design, lovely colours, and a great level of difficulty that’s not too simple or too challenging. I like it so much that I’m hoping to recreate it in future with a totally different colour scheme but for now, I’m hoping to frame this one and have it in pride of place in my flat, it’s a great reminder of what you can accomplish, even whilst very poorly. This kit would suit seasoned stitchers, as well as complete beginners who are up for a challenge!

If you’d like to purchase a kit, they’re available here: Queen of the Skies Cross Stitch Kit

Important – Please Read – GDPR Privacy Policy Info

Dear Readers,

Apologies for me sending this a second time, it wasn’t showing up correctly the first time.

You are receiving this post via email because you have signed up to follow my blog at some point. In accordance with the new GDPR laws affecting the data regulation of EU members’ I have done a number of things which are listed below. As far as I’m aware, I’m not legally allowed to email you all directly because that’s not what you signed up for, you signed up to be automatically sent my new blog posts by WordPress each time I upload one. Therefore, I’m doing my very best to comply with the new GDPR laws whilst not being able to actually get your active consent to keeping your email address. Please read the whole of this post.

  1. I have written a privacy policy which can be found HERE which clearly states what data of yours I have access to and how and where it’s stored as well as what I do with it. This policy also lists what third parties I use on my blog who may also have access to this data and suggests that you seek out their privacy policies too so that you’re aware of what data they’re collecting and storing.
  2. I have written this post which will be automatically emailed to all of my blog followers to inform you about these changes and what I’m doing to try to comply with the new law.
  3. By law I have to offer to remove your data if you wish and I would also like to remind you that if at any point you wish to stop following my blog you can do this by clicking the unsubscribe button at the bottom of every email you receive from my blog which will remove you from the mailing list for all of my upcoming posts.
  4. I want to reassure you that although all of these emails you’ll be receiving sound really scary as they’re talking about “data”, this can be anything as simple as your name or email address and isn’t always “sensitive data”. I’ve been unable to find a definition of sensitive data but as far as I’m aware, I don’t hold any for any of my blog followers. I want to reassure you that your data is held securely and only used for the purposes of being able to automatically send you an email each time I post a new blog, as well as recording basic statistics of locations of blog readers and what posts have been read and how many times, this data isn’t identifiable by me and isn’t attributed to single readers, I just get numbers and graphs of it all collated.
  5. Giveaway winners can be assured that as soon as their prize arrives with them and I’ve had this confirmed, all emails containing their postal address are deleted and that is the only place those details are kept so I keep that data for as short a time as possible. I checked my email account this week for any emails that had escaped my attention and all those containing winners’ addresses are permanently deleted. This policy will continue for any future giveaways.

Finally, a quick thank you to all of you who’ve followed my blog and who read my posts, it’s great to have you here and there will be more exciting posts to read in the near future!

Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps - Click through to read my review, see photos and watch my video flick through

Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps: Colour, Explore, Protect – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps is illustrated by Claire Scully of The Menagerie series, written by Jacopo Pasotti and published by Bergli Books, it is from my personal collection. This book has been created to highlight the plight of a number of endangered species of animals, plants and landmarks in the alps and a portion of the purchase price is donated to the World Wildlife Fund though sadly it doesn’t state how much from each book is donated. The book is expensive compared to most and therefore a considered purchase but I can honestly tell you that it’s worth the price. I’ve been umming and ahhing over purchasing it since it was published in November and I finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago and I truly love it. It’s absolutely huge at nearly 30cm square and it’s really thick due to the paper used. The book is paperback with flexible card covers with a beautiful wolf image on the front that is indicative of the content but not actually included inside the book. The spine is glue and string bound and very sturdy and durable, it’s a little tricky to get the book to lie flat due to it’s thickness but some careful pressure will help this. The 50 images of plants, animals and landscapes are all printed single-sided with information about each one on the opposite page written in English, German, French, and Italian. Each is numbered and named with a brief description of them, their habitat and the reason they’re endangered so you get to learn about each one as you colour it. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, it’s really nice to colour on with pencils, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and I’ve even used watercolour paints with a sparing amount of water with great success as you can see in the photos below so you can use any medium you fancy, even alcohol markers if you put protective sheets behind your work and don’t mind bleed-through onto the proceeding page’s information. The image content is mostly animals but also contains 9 images of plants and 4 images of landscapes. These illustrations range from insects including various beetles and butterflies to small mammals and birds including the dormouse and kingfisher all the way up to much larger mammals including wolves and bears. There are recognisable animals that you’ll already know about as well as much less known animals, beautiful images of plants showing them like wildlife guides do or in situ as well as a few landscape images of specific areas that are under threat. None of the images in this book are duplicated in any others, although a few of the animals have been previously illustrated in other books (e.g. bear, wolf, owl), all of this artwork is original so even if you have all of Claire’s books like I do, you won’t be getting repeats!

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s really absorbing and all of the images are nature-based which is inherently very calming. All of the illustrations are drawn in Claire’s beautiful signature style, this is very detailed and intricate but don’t be put off, you can always colour over the sections rather than within each one separately and this makes the images much easier to colour. The animals images are by far the most detailed, but the plant images are a fair bit less intricate with far fewer details so there is some range in these levels for your good and bad days. The line thickness is thin throughout, just like always with her art so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control but not perfect if you’re happy to colour over sections. The artwork is all very natural and really beautiful to look at, even uncoloured it’s just stunning and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit just poring over the pages. The pictures are huge and can take ages to colour if you wish so you can really take your time over them; many have natural stopping points for those with concentration issues who like to finish sections but on the whole these images do require a fair bit of concentration and focus. They look equally amazing coloured in realistic or outlandish colour schemes so you don’t need to feel restricted just because they’re drawn quite realistically. Because the images are printed single-sided, you can really branch out with using mediums you might otherwise struggle to use in books, the paper is really good quality and can take a lot more than most and you can easily use mixed media too with some really great effects and to top it all off, you could carefully remove your finished pages and frame them to gift or display if you wish. The images are beautiful and they really do transport you to the alps, you can practically feel the chill in the air and hear the ringing of cow bells and if you want to fully immerse yourself and gorge on Swiss chocolate whilst colouring then I’d highly recommend that too, it’s all part of the experience!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, the artwork is beautiful, the cause is really important and best of all the production quality of the book is really high so although it’s expensive, you’re still getting a lot of book for your money and not once have I regretted the cost. If you like Claire’s work then this book is an absolute must-have!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Treasured-Alps–Threatened-Alps/9783038690276/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Flick-Through

The image below was coloured with Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, and the metallic areas were coloured with Kuretake Gansai Tambi “Starry Colors” metallic watercolour paints using very fine brushes for the honeycomb.

Vilin San (Fairy's Dream) by Tomislav Tomic click through to read my review, see photos, see my video flip through and enter a giveaway for a copy!

Vilin San (Fairy’s Dream) – A Review and WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Vilin San is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Fokus, they have also sent me a second copy to give away and you can enter my Worldwide Giveaway until 23.59 GMT on the 31st of January by clicking this link and following the instructions. Vilin San is a Croatian book and the title translates to Fairy’s Dream, it’s illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, the illustrator of hugely popular Zemlja Snova (Dreamland) and the Dutch edition, Dromenvanger. This book sadly only has half the number of pages but it does come with an exciting added extra and is equally if not even more beautiful than Zemlja Snova. It arrives wrapped in plastic to keep it protected from damage and to keep all parts together (more on this later). The book itself is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers, (these are a little thinner and much bendier than Zemlja Snova’s covers) and two-third French flaps which open out to reveal a white line drawing on a blue/purple background, the cover shows a partially coloured image from inside the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and seems quite sturdy and durable and with a bit of work it’ll open up pretty flat, especially over time. The book only has 40 pages, Zemlja Snova had 84, oddly, it’s less than half the thickness, the publishers have said that the paper is identical in both books however it does seem a little whiter, especially than my original edition of Zemlja Snova (the one with the pages out of order) but paper stocks do visually differ sometimes and it does feel and behave the same way so I’m fairly confident in saying the paper is identical. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, water-based pens shadow heavily and may even bleed through so I’d steer clear of these and stick to watercolours with very sparing amounts of water and mostly pastels and pencils which work really well on this paper. The pages are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single (23) and double-page spreads (7 = 14 pages) and also contained is a loose 4 page fold-out poster which is the same size as 2 double-page spreads joined together end to end (see photos below). The images themselves are very similar to those found in Zemlja Snova so if you liked that book then you’ll love this one too, all of the artwork is original and new to this book though it feels familiar because of the content being similar. The illustrations contain fairies, dragons, mushrooms, butterflies, gnomes, birds, sea creatures, mice, palaces and more. The pages are all drawn as scenes and range from underwater scenes to dragons flying, fairies sleeping to hedgehogs being led through a mushroom-lined path, palace scenescapes to fantastical flying birds and so much more. Tomislav has created the drawings very considerately by leaving borders around many and those spanning a double-page having little content near the spine making it much easier to fully colour the page without any frustration of trying to access imagery in the book gutter. The illustrations are all very ornate and really beautiful to look at, this illustrator’s work really is some of the best in the world! For those who are wondering about the image order, there was an issue with 3 double-page spreads being split up in the first edition of Zemlja Snova, this has since been corrected in subsequent editions and I’m pleased to confirm that there are no issues with image order in Vilin San, all of the double-page spreads are matched up as they should be so there’s no need to worry.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for those with a good attention span. If you get overwhelmed by busy or intricate images then this won’t be for you but if you love immersive imagery that truly transports you to another place then look no further, this book is absolutely perfect. It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined 2 of our favourite things into one incredible book! The smaller number of pages means that it’s less daunting for those wanting to complete a whole book and the poster is great for those who like to work on a much larger project and display it afterwards as it would look fabulous framed once finished and it easily folds away to be tucked into the back of the book away from any damage which is really handy whilst you’re working on it! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin with some spindly thin details. The intricacy and detail levels remain very high throughout so you will certainly need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book if you’re wanting to colour within each outlined section though it won’t need to be quite so good if you’re wanting to colour over some areas and leave the lines underneath as texture. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! The illustrations are absolutely packed with detail and things to look at and notice, despite having Zemlja Snova for over a year now, I’m still noticing new things and spot things I’ve never seen before when looking at other people’s finished pages and I’m absolutely certain this will be the case with Vilin San too. The imagery is honestly spectacular, there aren’t many books I’m blown away by now but this one really is incredible, each image is a work of art, there are no filler pages, no random half-finished art, each page has clearly been painstakingly created and each will take hours if not days to complete. The pages in this book aren’t quick to finish but there are lots of natural stopping points within each image so that you still get a sense of accomplishment without managing to finish a page in one sitting and these all range in size from a tiny bird or gnome all the way up to a forest of trees or giant dragon so you can pick a project of the right size for each colouring session! I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a shame that it’s half the number of pages and even more of a shame that the price doesn’t reflect this and is the same as Zemlja Snova but those criticisms aside, the book and the artwork itself is truly perfect and gorgeous in every way. Tomislav’s artwork is some of the best I’ve ever seen and I really hope he’ll continue to make many more books because no matter how many times I flip through the same pages, I’m still as drawn in and transported as I was the first time I saw each illustration and that’s a really impressive feat!

If you’d like to purchase a copy then you can order it from the publisher’s site here. I would strongly advise against ordering from Etsy or third-party Amazon sellers because the prices there seem to be extortionate. The easiest and cheapest way of getting hold of a copy is to join a group order as this reduces the cost of shipping per book to a more reasonable level. I run a FB fan group for Tomislav’s work and there we also organise a lot of group orders to various countries worldwide including the UK, many other European countries, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, please do join the group if you’d like to sign up to one of these orders or just to share your coloured pages or look for inspiration, we’d love to have you!

Don’t forget, I’m currently running a Worldwide Giveaway for a copy of this book, to enter click here and follow the instructions before it closes at 23.59 GMT on the 31st of January.

Photos of the book can be found directly below the videos.

Unboxing, Flip Through and Review

Silent Flip Through

Mysterious Planets - Click through to see photos, video and read my written review.

Mysterious Planets Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mysterious Planets Coloring Book is illustrated by Ai Kohno and published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Press. This book is paperback with flexible card covers and a glossy paper dustjacket which can be removed to prevent damage or scuffing and reveals black line drawings of the planets from inside the book on the brown card covers. The book measures 25cm square and the images are printed double-sided. The spine is glue and string-bound making it durable and strong. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so some do enter the spine but the majority of the image can be reached once the spine has eased up a little. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed but does shadow a little with water-based pens though this is very minimal but do be careful; pencils work well on the paper and layer and blend well. The illustrations are separated into chapters which are each dedicated to a type of planet, there are 7 chapters in total, 6 different planets (Forests, Sea, Snow, Flowers, Sweets, and Magic) and the final chapter is back in the little girl’s bedroom. At the back of the book are 7 pages of illustrated letters printed with a pale peach background, all of which are fully colourable. The images contain all manner of things from forest scenes, animals, buildings, ocean scenes, realistic imagery, outlandish scenes, fish and sea creatures, a Christmas sleigh, snowflakes, vases of flowers, cupcakes, gingerbread houses, slices of pie, portraits, a dinner party, and one page is printed on vellum-style paper which is translucent and has a jewelled frame and crown printed on it that when laid on either side perfectly frames the left and right image of a goose and a girl which is very clever and extremely unique, I’ve never seen anything like this in a colouring book before.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, it’s not realistic or based on reality and so it offers a good level of escapism and is ideal for those who feel required to colour realistically because you can really go to town with your colours and use whatever scheme you fancy. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin, it’s not quite black and is more of a dark grey though it’s still very visible but contrasts a bit less than normal colouring books do. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little but mostly remain at a moderate level, none of the images are hugely intricate but they’re not full of large open spaces either, it’s a very good intermediate sort of level and therefore the book would suit those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. The content is lovely and very whimsical, older children would surely like it and it’s quite child-friendly but not childish. It would be a great book for those with a good imagination who like to have prompts for escapism, you can easily imagine yourself travelling to each of these planets and lands and this is sure to help you forget about your symptoms and feel just a little bit happier and calmer for a while. Books like this are great for reminding us of carefree days as children, it certainly reminded me of many happy times reading the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree stories and my particular favourite land there, The Land of Take What You Want and I would always imagine sweets and chocolates and all of my favourite things. There is space where you can add your own backgrounds and imagery if you wish but this is by no means compulsory and the images will certainly look finished without any additions besides colour.

Overall, this is a lovely book, the content is wide-ranging and interesting and ideal for both children and adult colourists. You can really go to town with outlandish colour schemes and let your imagination run wild.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mysterious Planets Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mysterious-Planets-Ai-Kohno/9781250117274/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

Gift Boxes to Colour and Make: A Year of Celebrations – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Gift Boxes to Colour and Make: A Year of Celebrations is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Nosy Crow Publishing. This book is unlike any other because it’s not a normal colouring book, each page is a gift box which can be removed and folded into a box to gift to friends and family, this is the third in the series with a Christmas-themed one available HERE and a Birds and Blossoms one HERE. The book itself is paperback with flexible card covers, it’s just under 30cm square and has a pale blue cover with splashes of pinks and dark blue, and gold foil accents. On the inside cover are diagrams and written instructions about how to remove and fold the boxes and on the back inside cover are three recipes so you can create edible treats to go in your boxes – Peppermint Chocolate Truffles, Gingerbread Men, and Coconut Macaroons. The spine is glue and string-bound making it durable but it’s also quite easy to press flat so that you can colour the whole box, or remove it via the perforations before colouring if you find that easier. Each of the 24 pages contains one double-sided box with different matching designs for each of the sides and the inside base and then a small repeating pattern on all of the other edges, there’s heaps to colour in on each one! The card is medium thickness, bright white and lightly textured so it’s perfect for pencils and water-based pens which didn’t bleed and only slightly shadowed with the darkest colours; alcohol markers will bleed so I’d avoid using these. The perforations are well-made and the parts do mostly come out easily, I would advise caution as a very small section of my actual box started splitting so you may prefer to use the perforations as a guide for scissors or just work slowly, a few of the parts have quite large perforations which do leave large bumps rather than smooth edges on the box but again, these could be tidied up with scissors if you wish. The boxes are individually designed and contain themed illustrations to celebrate various celebrations as well as some more generic designs that could be used for any sort of gift, the themes include – Valentine’s Day/Anniversary, Easter, male and female themed cards, birthday, and Christmas. The content is very wide ranging from cars to swans, snowmen to deer, balloons to cakes, kites to flowers, Christmas trees to shells, stars to boats and so much more, this is by far the widest ranging content of any of the three gift box books now published. The images are very cute and have a naïve quality to them which makes them look really charming and they’ll look lovely coloured by adults or children and gifted to others. At the back of the book is a page of gold foiled stickers each with lines on where you can write names to and from, and each with a small celebration-themed motif. The set is really well-made and thought out, this book is produced by the same publishing company who created the Colouring Books of Cards and Envelopes so you can be assured it’s good quality though the illustrations are created by a different artist (Eilidh Muldoon) from those (Rebecca Jones) and the other colouring gift box books (Sarah Walsh and Felicity French).

In terms of mental health, I think this book of gift boxes is pretty great because it offers up a project with a very clear purpose and end point, ideal for those of us who struggle to get motivated or see the point in things sometimes. Sharing is always good fun and when colouring these boxes you know you’ll be sharing the love with someone you care about and that’s a great thing to be able to do! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin. The intricacy and detail levels are pretty high with lots of small sections so these boxes will only really be suited to those of you with good vision and fine motor control. The boxes take ages to colour so you’re certainly getting lots of colouring hours for your money, however, each box consists of lots of small colourable parts which is ideal for any level of concentration or amount of symptoms, you can colour for 20 seconds doing just one or two flowers, or hours and hours doing the whole internal repeating pattern or somewhere in between. The images on the boxes are sure to get you in the mood for any celebration. These boxes will be perfect for sharing treats with family and friends and they can be filled with small gifts or sweets or chocolates and they’ll be the perfect packaging for anything handmade, the possibilities are endless!

Overall, I would highly recommend these colourable gift boxes, there’s loads to colour on each one and they’re sure to be received well, they give a wonderful personal touch to whatever gifts you decide to put inside them.

If you’d like to purchase a set, the book is available here:
Amazon UK – Gift Boxes to Colour and Make: A Year of Celebrations
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Gift-Boxes-Colour-and-Make-Year-of-Celebrations-Eilidh-Muldoon/9781788000093/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can find the other two gift box books here.

The box below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

Christmas Tree Time Lapse 2017

Christmas Tree Decorating Time Lapse 2017 – Video Post

As some of you know, I’m well known for my obsession with Christmas and in particular, Christmas decorations, my partner and I decorated the tree together this year and recorded a time lapse video of the process. Please do check us out building and decorating it at 64x speed, Merry Christmas!

Die Welt Unter Der Lupe zu Lande click through to read my review, see a video flick through and photos of inside

Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Lande (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Land) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Lande (The World Under the Magnifying Glass – Land) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Bastei Lübbe. This book is the sixth illustrated by Rita Berman, a highly talented German illustrator, she previously brought us the hugely successful and utterly beautiful series of season colouring books, reviewed by me here, and the first in this new series, Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Wasser. I had high hopes for this new book after the previous one was so utterly beautiful and I didn’t think that one could be beaten but I think I’ve fallen in love with this one just a little more because the content is so wonderfully wide-ranging and just a little more free because of the topic being land rather than water, it’s just exquisite. As with all of her books, I was absolutely blown away by its beauty, I can’t enthuse enough about it, it’s beautiful! It is identical in format to her previous books and therefore my review of each is the same, as are the mental health benefits, skip straight to the second paragraph about content and photos at the end to see what’s inside this title.

The book itself is slightly smaller than most at 20cm square, it’s paperback with a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover and a hole in the centre of the magnifying glass which gives a very clever 3D effect of looking at a bee printed on the inside of the full size French flaps. Both covers have fully illustrated French flaps with colour added to the external covers and the internal front flap but none add to the back one so it’s fully colourable with alcohol markers if you wish. The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s durable and strong and will ease up with use; many of the images are full page designs and therefore a number of them do reach or span the gutter however as the spine becomes more supple, you’ll be able to reach almost all areas of the page. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 72 pages of images, at the back of the book are three pages showing the book covers of the previous titles. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and lightly textured, water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow when I tested them but dark colours or colouring the same spot may cause shadowing so do ensure that you test them yourself in an inconspicuous area; coloured pencils blend and shade well. The images themselves are where these books really come into their own, there are similar style images in each of Rita’s books but they’re beautifully tailored to the specific theme of the title, previously seasons or underwater and this time land, and it’s very clear from looking through each book what it’s dedicated to.

The drawings are incredible, as with all of Rita’s books, each time I look through the book I see new things that I didn’t notice before. The content this time is even more varied and ranges from double-page spreads of forest scenes and cities within birds’ wings, to branches of acorn houses and desert cactus landscapes. There are small centralised images of cornflowers and poppies, larger single-page images of beetles, flamingos, birds’ nests and mouse houses and a few pages showing a scene on one page and a corresponding pattern on the other. There are so many different things pictured including foxes, hedgehogs, bees, flowers, deer, snails, rabbits, birds, butterflies, insects, beehives, leaves, fruit, elephants, lizards, monkeys, parrots, and so much more. The illustrations are all drawn quite realistically but each is filled with patterns and small sections to colour which really opens up the possibilities of how to colour them. The pages are filled with cute, whimsical and friendly-feeling images, none are intimidating, they just welcome you in to fill them with colour.

In terms of mental health, each of Rita’s books is just wonderful, the images are really natural and the content is very cute and packed with details so each time you flick through the book you notice more in the images. Because of how the illustrations are drawn, with mostly realistic outlines of obviously recognisable things but filled in with patterns and whimsical doodles, you can either colour the pages realistically, or in outlandish colour schemes and either will look totally fabulous as you’ll see from completed pages on social media. The line thickness is consistently variable throughout, each image is outlined in a medium/thin line with thin-lined details. The intricacy and detail level varies across the images from low-ish to very high, however, don’t despair if your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect, they don’t need to be, none of the parts are impossibly tiny to colour and many of the images can be simplified by colouring over the internal patterns rather than within them which instantly reduces the intricacy to a much lower level for almost all of the images. The size of the book is ideal because it’s smaller than most and therefore doesn’t require quite so much time to complete each page, the content varies from full double-page spreads depicting scenes to much smaller images so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or poor concentration as you can colour one object or group of objects on a bad day, or colour a full double-page spread when you’re feeling focused and well. There are also a number of pages that have large open spaces where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, this is by no means a necessity but the option is there if you want it. The illustrations create a wonderful sense of place and offer great escapism, they really transport you into Rita’s super cute world filled with charming animals and beautiful plants and away from any difficulties or symptoms you might be experiencing.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and all of the other titles by Rita, they complement each other beautifully and really transport you into a whimsical world. The pages offer a manageable project for any level of functioning and they are just gorgeous when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Lande
Amazon US – Die Welt unter der Lupe – Zu Lande
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Die-Welt-unter-der-Lupe—zu-Lande-Rita-Berman/9783404609482/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of Rita’s other books here.

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

Hem Ljuva Hem (Home Sweet Home) by Emelie Lidehall Oberg, click through to read my review, see a flick through and photos

Hem Ljuva Hem (Home Sweet Home) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Hem Ljuva Hem (Home Sweet Home) is illustrated by Emelie Lidehäll Öberg and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This book is only available in this format and is similar to the Swedish Artist’s Editions (Tavelboks), it measures 29.5x21cm (A4), it’s paperback with thick but flexible card covers which are white with green imagery from inside the book. The book has a green tape binding meaning the pages lie completely flat when the book is open and they can be removed for framing. The pages are made of thick cream card which is lightly textured and absolutely fabulous for using pencils on as they layer really well and blend seamlessly. Water-based pens also work really well on this card and don’t bleed through or sideways and there isn’t even a hint of shadowing either. The illustrations are all single-page designs and are printed single-sided so you can use whatever medium you fancy without worrying about bleed-through and mine didn’t even shadow when colouring the black sections of the image. The 20 illustrations are all posters, 19 contain text, 7 are written in Swedish, 12 are written in English, two of them include swearing (one English and one Swedish). The posters contain varying amounts of imagery and text with some just being beautifully drawn text and others just having a subtle message placed within a large colourable image. The phrases range from romantic to funny, exclamations to sayings, you can see them all in the images below. The illustrations also vary a lot from animals to flowers, objects to houses, scenes to collections and more, they are all drawn beautifully and are each packed with content so there’s loads to colour in each one. The posters would be ideal to remove and frame either for your own home or to give as gifts.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, I’m always a huge fan of books that offer a project that can be gifted or displayed because these are fantastic for showing us what we can achieve and for giving us a goal to work towards and afterwards, a reminder of what we can do. You could easily colour them to match the theme of a room or to stand out a look fabulous and I can’t wait to frame my finished page and brighten up my walls with it! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin but not spindly. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little within each image with most being fairly intricate but having a few places with larger open spaces, therefore this book would be ideal for most levels of vision and fine motor control. The content is pretty uplifting and positive and sure to make you smile or laugh, even on your worst days and it looks even more fabulous once you’ve filled it with colour! The images are all a manageable size and will take varying amounts of time to colour depending on what mediums you use and how much blending and shading you want to do but none are overwhelming or likely to require weeks of dedication! Most of them consist of lots of component parts so you can colour them in sections if you wish, particularly useful if you’re having a bad day.

Overall, this is a fab book, it’s filled with beautiful artwork just begging to be coloured and displayed and it’s sure to perk up even the most symptom-filled days. The card is ideal for all mediums and the posters lend themselves to all types of colouring styles.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here: https://www.printworksmarket.com/p/shop/books/all-books/hem-ljuva-hem-20-posters-to-color-and-frame.html

I run a fan group for the artwork of Emelie, please do join us and share your work.

The image below was coloured with Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils, Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and a black Sharpie.

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes) by Julia Woning

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen (Winter Colour Cards: 20 Postcards and Envelopes) are published and very kindly sent to me to review by BBNC Utigevers. They have also very kindly provided me with an extra set which I’m currently running a Worldwide Giveaway for on my FB page until 23.59 GMT on the 29th of November, and you can also win a copy of the Tiffany Glass Coloring Book, to enter please click here. This set of cards is illustrated by Julia Woning, a talented Dutch illustrator who’s previously published a number of books in the Netherlands. These cards arrive in a red card box with an image adapted from one of the cards on the front, this box is a little bit flimsy but does prevent the cards from getting damaged or lost. The box contains 20 cards, these are not greetings cards, they are square postcards that are single-sided with a design illustrated on the front, and text at the top on the back saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Dutch, along with the copyright information at the bottom. The 20 plain white envelopes fit the cards perfectly and will be ideal for giving or sending the cards to others. The cards are made of bright white, lightly textured, medium thickness card, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but will with alcohol markers so do be aware of this, pencils, especially oil-based ones or those with harder leads, are very difficult to colour with on this card and require a lot of patience as the lack of tooth makes it difficult to layer or blend, my Prismacolor Premiers worked pretty well but I really struggled with Holbeins which seemed to clump and not colour evenly. The images themselves are all drawn in Julia’s signature style which is often out of proportion with people having very large rounded bodies and very small faces with exaggerated features. The content is really varied but all is heavily winter and Christmas themed and include all sorts from snowflakes to Santa, robins to reindeer, candles to baubles, cocoa, to polar bears, stocking, angels and so much more, there is even a jumper-wearing elephant! Each picture is packed with imagery and many of them have spaces to write your own messages if you wish. Most of the cards contain scenes or snapshots of Christmas celebrations and each is different from the next from a woman drinking cocoa to Santa riding his sleigh, snowmen in a garden to a decorated Christmas tree and more. The cards are really beautiful and will be ideal for challenging yourself to try out new techniques including colouring skin, snow, shiny objects, glowing backgrounds and even glass. They’re all really beautiful and sure to spread some Christmas cheer whether you keep them yourself or gift them to others.

In terms of mental health, these cards offer a great, manageable project, they’re small enough not to be overwhelming, but large enough that they’re not coloured in seconds and you can take your time colouring each section without needing days to do so. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin. The intricacy and detail levels do vary across and within each card but mainly remain low to moderate so anyone with moderate vision or fine motor control will be able to enjoy these cards. You won’t need especially good concentration levels and will be able to colour these cards on good and bad days which is great! Colouring cards are a great project because not only do you get to enjoy colouring them, you can then send them to others and share the joy or even send them uncoloured to a friend who might need a little push to start colouring, they’re great for spreading some happiness and colouring love! The shape of them would make them ideal to frame if you wish, they could be a lovely added extra to your Christmas decorations or a really personal touch for your loved ones. They’re also the perfect project to start trying out some new colouring techniques without having to worry about ruining a whole page and you can use any medium you fancy because they’re single-sided.

Overall, I would highly recommend these colouring cards, they’re beautifully drawn and really varied in content and they’re a lot of fun to colour, you can try out new techniques or just enjoy getting in the festive spirit. These will appeal to colourist’s of all ages and be sure to get you feeling Christmassy!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re currently unavailable on the usual sites though they are listed there so do sign up for email alerts and they’ll tell you when they have them in stock, hopefully it’ll be soon!
Amazon UK – Winterkleurkaarten: 20 Ansichtkaarten & Enveloppen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Winterkleurkaarten-Julia-Woning/9789045321851/?a_aid=colouringitmom
BBNC (Publisher site with very reasonable International Shipping) – http://www.bbnc.nl/kleurboeken/julia-woning-winterkleurkaarten

I’m currently running a Worldwide Giveaway for a set of these cards on my FB page until 23.59 GMT on the 29th of November, and you can also win a copy of the Tiffany Glass Coloring Book, to enter please click here.

The card below was coloured with Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book is published by Rizzoli and illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Jessica Palmer. Jessica has also sent me a second copy in order to run a giveaway, this is currently running on my FB page and you can win a copy of this book and a set of 20 Winterkleurkaarten by Julia Woning; you have until midnight on the 29th of November 2017 to enter here. This book is a new format, design and style from what we’ve come to know for Jessica’s art in the Tangle book series but it is no less beautiful, it’s just different. The book itself is 23.1 x 25.4cm, paperback with flexible card covers and a partially coloured black and white design from inside the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and can be a little tricky to get completely flat but with perseverance this will become easier. The pages are a mixture of single-sided (25 images) and double-sided printing (42 images) and it seems quite random as to where these are placed, the images are also a mixture of single (63) and double-page spreads (4 comprising of 2 spreads) and many have black backgrounds (23 ish). The paper is bright white, lightly texture and medium thickness, it worked well with my Derwent Inktense Pencils and didn’t overly warp when activated with water and this didn’t shadow or bleed. Water-based pens don’t seem to bleed or shadow and pencils work well for blending and layering, alcohol markers can be used on the single-sided images as long as you place a protective sheet behind to catch any bleed-through. The images themselves are all inspired by Tiffany lamps and therefore have a real stained glass feel as they’re designed to have light displayed through them to show each section, therefore the images are mostly quite heavily lined with lots of sections making up each design. Each of the designs contains at least one dragonfly for you to find, sometimes these are the centre of the image and other times they’re hidden, they give a really cohesive feel to the book because even though each page is filled with different content, it’s still tied together with the Tiffany lamp and dragonfly theme. The designs vary a lot in size and content and Jessica explains in the introduction that she has deliberately created illustrations with much simpler designs for children or beginners and all different levels in between up to very complex detailed designs. There is a really good mixture of designs and pretty much all of them are heavily nature-inspired, just like the real Tiffany lamps. The images don’t contain actual lamps with fixtures and stands, they’re all designs inspired by lamps and therefore the artwork has been altered and adapted to fit a flat page rather than all of them being circular or curved which is nice.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, the natural images are great for calming you down and helping you zone out. The different levels of difficulty are ideal for those of us with fluctuating conditions because you can do simpler images on your worse days and more complex images on your better days when you can focus. The line thickness varies throughout and ranges from spindly thin to thick and mostly stays around the thin range. The intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from large open spaces to much smaller, finer details and again, it remains mostly around the quite detailed level and therefore you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to enjoy the majority of the images. The printing is ideal for those who like to use wet media or mixed media as you can colour the double-sided pages with pencil or carefully with water-based pens and the single-sided pages with watercolours, alcohol markers and paints if you wish. You can really challenge yourself to work on making the images look like sections of lamps with light shining through them if you wish or you can just colour them as normal colouring images, either option will look equally beautiful. The single-sided images could even be carefully removed from the book once coloured and framed or gifted if you wanted.

Overall, this is a lovely book, it’s not as niche as you might expect and the illustrations are all drawn in Jessica’s beautiful signature style and will look incredible once splashed with colour, whatever medium you fancy using!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tiffany-Glass-Coloring-Book/9780847860708/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Jessica has also sent me a second copy in order to run a giveaway, this is currently running on my FB page and you can win a copy of this book and a set of 20 Winterkleurkaarten by Julia Woning; you have until midnight on the 29th of November 2017 to enter here.

The image below was coloured with Derwent Inktense Pencils and activated with water.

Colorist's Special Effects - Click through to see photos and read my written review.

Colorist’s Special Effects: Colour Interior Version – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colorist’s Special Effects is illustrated, self-published and very kindly sent to me to review by Helen Elliston. This book is A4, paperback and is available in a greyscale or colour interior version (the greyscale version is cheaper and they both say on the front and on the online listings which they are, I’d personally recommend the colour version, I can’t imagine trying to follow the instructions without the colours there to see). The spine is glue-bound and seems pretty durable so far, the tutorials are printed double-sided and some of the practice sheets are printed single-sided but none of the content spans the spine so none of it is lost into it and all parts are accessible, it’s a little tricky to get the book to lie flat but this will ease up over time. The book is self-published through Createspace and therefore has standard medium/thin paper which is white and lightly textured, it’s not perfect for pencils or pens but it works fine and bearing in mind this is a techniques book, used to practice, it doesn’t need to be perfect to gain all of the knowledge you need to make your colouring pages really improve. The book begins with a contents page listing all of the techniques that you’ll learn within the book, they’re split into chapters of similar techniques so that you can work on a specific type of colouring at once if you wish. These chapters are Hair, Lips and Skin; Nature; 3D shapes and Objects; Gems; and Backgrounds. Within each of these chapters are a long list of specific techniques that can be used alone or in conjunction with each other, these include brown hair, metals, water droplets, faceted gems, woodgrain, pearls, fish scales, sunglasses, bubbles, 3D fabric and lots, lots more. The tutorials themselves are very clearly laid out with numbered diagrams all pictured in colour, each shows a coloured picture of the step you’re completing alongside short written instructions detailing what colour and where you’re using it. There is an absolute wealth of information in the book and Helen covers everything from simple techniques like a shiny fish all the way up to realistic eyes, hair and skin tones and everything in between. There are lots and lots of chances to practice and many of the practice pages are printed single-sided so that you can use any mediums you wish, there are multiple opportunities to attempt each technique so you don’t need to worry if you don’t perfect it first time. At the back of the book are a colour wheel that you can fill in yourself, lots of colour charts, first double-sided for use with pencils and then single-sided for use with wet media that might bleed through, these are all in four different shapes each with plenty of space to write down the colour/colours and brand that you’ve used for easy identification later. There is also a page of 12 signature cards, each with an image (2 of each design) that you can use a technique from the book on that can then be cut out and placed on pages instead of a watermark when photographing and sharing your work. There really is so much content that I can’t possibly talk about all of it here, every time I look through the book I find techniques that I’ve somehow not noticed before, there are loads of different skills to learn from colouring objects to scenes to backgrounds, you can use a huge variety of media and this book is probably the best techniques guide on the market because of the sheer breadth of coverage, it’s honestly astounding!

In terms of mental health, this book is hugely useful and very exciting but can be quite overwhelming and challenging too, this is in no way Helen’s fault and it isn’t a criticism of this specific book, it’s more something that I’ve really noticed for myself when using techniques books, it can be really tough to get started, to follow and to have the confidence to give it a go or apply to other things and this is very much the fault of our conditions and symptoms rather than the books themselves. All of this being said, Helen has made the instructions and diagrams as clear as possible, it can be quite overwhelming when first looking at the page but if you can focus just on the first instruction and slowly move your way through them then before you know it, you’ve coloured a whole object and it looks amazing! The techniques are mostly laid out in one of two ways, either, each colour is shown separately in each diagram and described in the instructions so that you know what order to place the layers, or each diagram is cumulative with colour showing each new layer on top of the previous ones, I personally prefer the first type as it’s much clearer and easier to focus on for anxious, over-stimulated eyes, others may well prefer the second type because it’s clearer what the whole thing should look like throughout each stage because the images mimic what you’re actually doing rather than just the one layer each step is focusing on. It was a clever move on Helen’s part to use both types of diagram and these are all created in paint to clearly show the layers and differences between colours with a colour photograph of Helen’s finished piece in pen or pencil at the end so that you know exactly what you’re working towards. The line thickness on the practice drawings is pretty consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary depending on what you’re learning to colour, almost none of it is particularly intricate or detailed because the techniques are very much about learning to blend, layer and build colour and 3D shape which usually requires a fair bit of space to work within so this book is definitely suitable for those with normal levels of vision and fine motor control.

All in all, I can’t praise this book highly enough, nor can I fully describe it without possibly writing dissertation length post about it, there is just so much content and it really is like an encyclopaedia of colouring techniques from small objects, people, and animals, all the way up to metal, and backgrounds. No matter what level of colourist you are, you’re sure to find something useful and inspirational to improve your colouring.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Colorist-s-Special-Effects—Color-Interior/9781546646594/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Helen has also just released a second book, Colorist’s Special Effects 2, I have just received a copy and will be reviewing it soon, suffice to say, it’s incredible and an absolute must-have so if you’d like to order a copy, you can purchase it here.
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects 2 

The images below were coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects is illustrated and written by Rachel Reinert and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Get Creative 6. This book is A4, paperback, with flexible card covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable. The content is printed double-sided throughout. The paper consists of two different types, the tutorial section is printed on glossy white paper and the colouring practice pages are printed on bright white, matt paper that is medium thickness and lightly textured. The book is split into two sections, tutorials for the first two thirds of the book and illustrations to practice your colouring techniques on for the last third. The information and tutorials are very comprehensive and cover a wide range of topics from colour theory and detailed descriptions of different colouring mediums to basic colouring techniques, ways to choose colours and use mediums in new and different ways, and then moves onto how to create artistic effects like blending, highlights, adding backgrounds, water droplets, auras/glows, a basic tutorial for colouring skin and hair (better ones can be found but this is a good start), crystals and lots more. Rachel uses different mediums for each technique so you’re sure to find one that you already own the tools to create and she names each colour she uses so you can match it either identically or by finding close matches within the mediums you already have. You can learn to use a huge number of mediums from coloured pencils to watercolour pencils and paints, alcohol markers, gel pens, pastels and mixed media. The colouring pages exactly match each technique so you can directly copy the instructions without having to first work out how to apply them to a different image. The colouring pages are perforated and can therefore be removed before colouring so that you’re not constantly having to flick to the tutorial and then to the page to colour, it also means you can copy them (for personal use) to print onto the paper of your choice so you can practice multiple times to really perfect each technique or to try out different mediums. The images are all very natural and mostly include plants and flowers. The techniques are all written in clear, plain language with any specialised terms explained so that anyone of any level will understand them. They are all illustrated with full colour photographs and laid out neatly and numbered so they’re very easy to follow. There are helpful tips written in coloured circles throughout the book so they’re easy to find and the contents page clearly lists all of the techniques and page numbers.

In terms of mental health, this book is great but you will need to be aware of a few things. The premise is ideal for perfectionists, you can learn all sorts of techniques that you’ve wondered about for ages and practice them in a dedicated space and build up your confidence before being let loose on your actual colouring pages, following written instructions means that you don’t have to keep pausing or rewinding a video if it’s going too fast for you and you can read all of the instructions before starting if you’re worried about making mistakes or if you don’t quite understand a section. Each technique is broken down into small sections with each focusing on one or two colours so they’re manageable to work on over time if you don’t want to complete a whole technique all at once. All of these are great positives and particularly good for those of us who like things to be perfect, realistic, and who struggle to follow videos. However, you will need good concentration, I don’t know about you but now that I’m ill I really struggle to read and concentrate for any length of time and therefore following instructions is extremely difficult for me. I often get easily overwhelmed by the sight of lists of things to do and find it very challenging to follow them. However, I have found that if you can possibly not skip ahead and just focus on each instruction one by one then it’s much more manageable and able to be followed because you’re just using one colour in one or two places at once before then moving onto the next. I have also found it helpful to read the whole technique a few times and study the accompanying pictures before starting to follow it. Many of the techniques can be mixed and matched and also swapped across mediums too so they’re far more versatile than you might first assume. The illustrations used to practice on are varying sizes with some pages containing a few smaller drawings and others containing one centralised image. None are huge and none are tiny, they’re all quite a middling size and very manageable to colour in one sitting if you wish and can concentrate on the techniques and instructions for long enough. The line thickness is pretty consistent and remains thin with some medium thickness sections or outlines. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from quite detailed to much less so, none of the images are hugely intricate because you have to be able to apply the techniques to each one and there’s not a lot you can do with very intricate images so these illustrations will suit most levels of vision and fine motor control apart from those who have particularly poor levels of either.

Overall, this is a great book that’s ideal for any level of colourist to learn something new from, the practice sheets are perforated which is ideal so you can see the instructions at the same time as colouring and also for making personal copies and the techniques are explained in clear, simple language with lots of colour photographs which add clarity. I’d highly recommend this book, it’s written in an interesting and accessible way and broken up into concise sections that are easy to navigate and roughly run in order of difficulty.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Workshop-Rachel-Reinert/9781942021575/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured with: Poppy – Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils; Leaf – Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and blended with Zest-It and a Blending Stump.

From Holland with Love - Click through to read my review, see photos of inside and watch a video flick through

From Holland With Love – A Review

From Holland With Love is illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg and is published by Pepper Books. This book is the sixth book published by Masja and her five previous titles were all variations of paisley-filled designs under the title of Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World). This sixth book is a little different and is more like a love letter, or love drawing if you will, from Masja to and about Holland. The book itself is 25.5cm square, it’s hardback this time with a beautiful glowing orange cover and a compilation image of various illustrations contained within the book in blue and white. The spine is glue and string bound and relatively difficult to get it to lie flat due to it being hardback. The pages are printed single-sided and are perforated meaning you don’t have to contend with the page gutter and try to colour into it and that you can remove the pages before or after colouring in order to frame or gift them. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, pencils blend and layer beautifully and water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed through, alcohol markers will bleed through so do put a protective sheet behind your work to protect the next page. The illustrations contain lots of typically Dutch objects and scenery from clogs to windmills, tulips to traditional dress and a bicycle amongst other beautiful floral patterns, drawings of women and some lovely birds. The imagery is really varied and far less paisley-filled than the previous titles but don’t despair if you love those, they don’t feel like they’re missing from this work and the illustrations are really lovely and very pretty. At the back of the book are three pages of images that can be cut out for projects, a page of card toppers, a page of social media tags where you can add your name instead of having to watermark your photos and a page including 2 small postcard style designs all of which are illustrated and colourable.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s not overwhelming to colour and has enough detail to be interesting and absorbing, without being overly complex or over-stimulating. The content is familiar, fun and cute and much of it could be coloured in any palette you choose and look equally fabulous. The line thickness is mostly consistent and remains thin with a few images drawn in a spindly thin line. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from very intricate on some of the postcard size images and social media tags to larger, more open spaces in some of the colouring pages and everything in between, you’ll need moderately good vision and fine motor control for the majority of the images and better levels for a few of the most intricate pages. A few of the pages will require a high level of concentration but many won’t need you to be at your best and require less focus so this is a good book for those of you with varying concentration levels. The pages also consist of varying amounts of content which means they take differing lengths of time to complete and there are natural stopping points if you just want to colour one section. These images would look really beautiful framed and this book would be an ideal gift for those who live in Holland, are from there, or who just love all things Dutch, it’s so representative and beautiful, I’m sure it would be a very well-received gift!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it’s beautiful for those who love all things Dutch and those just wanting to colour more of Masja’s gorgeous illustrations. The production quality is very high and the images are really lovely to colour.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to buy here:
Amazon UK – From Holland with Love
Masja’s Website – https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

The image below was coloured with a single Prismacolor Premier Pencil and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 - Click through to read my review, watch my flick through and see internal photos

Worldwide Giveaway and Review – Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 5

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 was illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg. Masja has very kindly sent me an extra copy of this title and part 4 and I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for them both over on my FB page, click here to enter by midnight GMT on the 11th of November. This book is the fifth in her series of books and my reviews of her other titles can be found HERE and she’s already created 2 more books with different titles since these. Part 5 ventures further afield than the first three books and takes us on an exotic journey through the Orient with Chinese and Japanese art and animals featured. The book itself is paperback, nearly 24.5cm square, with a gorgeous turquoise cover with beautiful gold foiled accents on a Chinese dragon image found inside the book. The spine of the book is glue-bound and therefore a little tricky to get it to lie flat unless you break the spine which could eventually lead to pages loosening, however the pages this time are perforated which is ideal if you want to remove them for colouring or framing. The images are printed single-sided this time and all of the images are therefore single page designs. The paper is white, thick (thicker than all of her previous books) and lightly textured, it provides a good surface for blending and shading pencils, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and alcohol markers will be fine to use as long as you pop some protective sheets behind your work. The content is all drawn in Masja’s signature paisley style so while the images are Oriental themed, they’re very similar to the previous books and existing fans of her work won’t be disappointed. The images contain all manner of things from Chinese dragons, koi carp, ornaments, mandalas, patterns, cranes, cherry blossom, ponds, and more. The illustrations are very floral and delicate and contain a mixture of scenes and patterns, full page designs and centralised images.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s very calming and absorbing without requiring too much concentration so it’s a great book for good and bad days. There’s a real variety in the amount of content on each page so you can easily choose a smaller, simpler design to focus on when you’re having a bad day, or a much more complex spread when you’re feeling well, none of the images are overwhelming as they’re all contained to one side so the book feels very accessible. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control but certainly not perfect. The intricacy and detail level varies a lot from larger open spaces to much smaller spaces where Masja has filled the creatures and designs with patterns though of course you can always colour over these small sections rather than within each one if you prefer to colour larger areas. There are plenty of spaces where you can create your own backgrounds or add your own imagery if you wish but this is by no means a requirement and the pages will look lovely regardless. Masja’s work is very soft and flowing, there aren’t any straight lines and this really helps to create a natural, calming world that you can escape into whilst colouring. The images have a great mixture of realism and imagination added to them so they look equally good coloured realistically or outlandishly and you could even mix the two throughout the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s already a fan of the series, and those who are intrigued and new to it, the images are lovely, very cohesive, and really natural and calming and they look beautiful once splashed with realistic or imaginative colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here: https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

I’m also currently running a giveaway for a UK resident to win a copy of this, and book 5 in the series. The competition runs until midnight GMT on the 11th of November and can be entered here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tips.