Safari Tavelbok is illustrated by Emma Fällman and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This book is an artist’s edition but there is no original colouring book, the images are only currently published in this format. This is another beautiful Swedish offering which is currently only available from international websites (links below, directly above the photos). The book itself measures 29.5x21cm (A4), it’s paperback with thick but flexible card covers which are a beautiful pale blue colour with greyscale images from inside the book with gold foiled text on the front and back. The book has a pale pink 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 (my boyfriend thought I’d painted the page I coloured because the blending is so smooth). 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. The 20 illustrations are drawn in a really unique style, they’re greyscale, but where most greyscale books are photographs that have been turned black and white, these images are all hand drawn by Emma but she’s added lots of shading in different levels of grey so that you know exactly where the shading on each part should be, she’s also added texture to fur and feathers which is really handy! The images are all really natural with a quirky twist, most of them are of animals but they’re wearing scarves, jewellery, fancy collars and even floral headpieces. The remainder are of exotic plants, flowers, and fruits. The illustrations are truly breath-taking, I’m not a fan of greyscale ordinarily, but these images are stunning and fascinating to look at, they’re so lovely in fact that they’d look wonderful framed just as they are, though they really do come to life when you add colour to them.
In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the natural aspects of the imagery are really calming and grounding while the quirky aspects of the illustrations are quite energising and intriguing and give you plenty to look at which is a great distraction. It might just be me, but I really enjoyed just looking through the images and wondering why the animals were wearing jewellery or clothing and started imagining them in real life and what scenarios a flamingo might want to wear beads for. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin. The intricacy and detail level varies from whole flamingos to tiny leaves and everything in between, this also varies depending on how you want to colour the images e.g. whether you want to colour each scale on the snake separately, or colour over them and use them as texture underneath. You’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book as there are some very fiddly bits. This book would be ideal for beginner colourists who want to learn about blending and shading, it can be really tricky to work out where light and shade should be in an image but the greyscale nature of Emma’s illustrations takes out the guesswork and you simply colour the darkest grey parts in the darkest shades and the white areas in the lightest shade and blend them in between. You will need fairly good concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you won’t feel obliged to finish a whole page and can colour one banana, one leaf or a whole chameleon and then stop if your symptoms are plaguing you. I found that this book was great for escapism, I often struggle to concentrate for too long when using pencils to blend and shade but I managed to complete my giraffe in one sitting because once I started I was hooked. There is plenty of space on most of the pages to add your own drawings or backgrounds if you wish but this is totally optional, there are no written hints and the pages will look beautiful with or without added extras.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who like or want to try greyscale, those who want to learn to blend and shade, and those who love colouring natural images of plants and animals with an added bit of quirkiness. This is a really unusual book, different from anything else I’ve seen and the production is fantastic, making it ideal for users of any colouring medium and the artwork would look incredible framed as it is let alone with your own colour added!
If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available for International delivery at the following stores:
Pen Store – http://www.penstore.com/art-design/safari-tavelbok-artist-edition
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612930/safari-tavelbok-20-illustrationer-att-farglagga/
The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.