Fantasia – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Fantasia is illustrated by Nicholas F. Chandrawienata and published and kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Amulet Publishing. This book is one of the most talked about in the colouring groups on Facebook and has been one of the most difficult to get hold of after early US editions were printed with very disappointing paper quality, however, these issues have now been rectified and the book is produced to an extremely high standard and is readily available on Amazon US (details about International purchase at the bottom of the review above the photos). The book itself is 27.4 x 25.4cm, landscape orientation, paperback with flexible card covers with a fully coloured image from inside on the front. The book is spiral-bound on the left side and the pages are perforated but don’t come loose unless deliberately detached from the book. The 61 images are printed double-sided onto thick white paper, it’s not bright white but not off white either, it has a great amount of tooth (see photos below) and is ideal for layering and blending pencils and it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully; alcohol markers will bleed through and you should always test any pens including water-based markers in an inconspicuous area to ensure you don’t ruin any reverse images as everyone colours differently. The images are all contained to a single page, none of them are spreads. The illustrations are really varied in content and while the majority are of people including their faces, upper bodies and whole bodies, a number of them are quite random too and include Easter eggs, a dinosaur, dragons, koi carp, roses, snowflakes, skulls and all sorts more. The most iconic images from this book and the ones that really sell it and look most spectacular when coloured are the images of people and these truly are transformed with colour, whether you use realistic flesh tones or go all out with green or purple tones instead, these images look unbelievable! Nicholas is an extremely talented illustrator and his work really is perfect, it’s beautiful, and really detailed and due to him being from Indonesia, there is a real Asian influence on his work which we don’t often see in colouring books and is a really fresh thing to see and colour. His work really does have to be seen to be believed so do check out the images below so you can see some of the variety and wide-ranging content as well as the beauty of his drawings.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s so distracting and unusual and on one page you’re transported into prehistoric times where dinosaurs roamed the earth and on another you’re face to face with a mermaid, pirate, or even death. The illustrations are realistically drawn but much of the content is mythical or fantastical so there are no “correct” colour schemes and this book is definitely one to push you out of your comfort zone and get you trying new colour schemes and learning to colour flesh, fur or metal accurately. This book isn’t for the faint-hearted but if you’re brave you’ll really reap the rewards because it looks just incredible when coloured! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin but not spindly. The intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout each picture with most containing some large and some small spaces, for example a large open space of a face with much more detailed flowers around the edge; none of the spaces are particularly tiny apart from on the odd occasion so this book would be suitable for most levels of vision and fine motor control but do check the pictures of the pages below in order to ensure suitability. Three of the images have small text on them suggesting for you to add detail to a named section of the image which has been left uncharacteristically simple, these aren’t overly intrusive and you can always ignore the instructions like I did and just colour the image as it is. This book does mostly require a fairly high level of concentration but there are a few images that are made up of component parts which you could focus on when you’re feeling poorly and leave the full page portraits for day when you’re feeling better and up for a challenge. I really can’t rave about this book enough, it’s stunning and even though a lot of the content isn’t stuff I’d normally choose to colour, I can’t wait to work my way through every page in this book because the artwork is just so beautiful!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s absolutely gorgeous and a great challenge to get you out of your comfort zone, the paper is fantastic for pencil-lovers and the illustrations are incredible. It’s ideal for those with mental or physical health problems as it’s so distracting and isn’t ridiculously intricate so it’s accessible and if you’re prepared to sacrifice the reverse image, or you want to buy two copies so you don’t have to, then you can even remove your finished pieces and frame them to brighten up your darker days and remind yourself of all that you can achieve!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s currently available on Amazon US and for those of you in the UK and elsewhere don’t despair as they do ship to other countries though I’m not sure exactly where they do and don’t ship to. I tried checking out to my address in West Sussex, UK and they do allow it and including shipping the book costs just £17 or thereabouts which is a steal so do check it out! International group orders are often set up and run through a dedicated Facebook Group which can be found here and they also share their finished pages from the book so it’s a great place to start if you need inspiration!

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Coloured Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil. 

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2 comments

  1. Hi Lucy. Hope you’re doing well! I’ve been wishy washy on whether to get this book as I’m not a big fan of coloring people, so I’ve put it in and taken it out of my Amazon cart too many times to count. Your review, though, is great and makes me think I just need to put it in my Amazon cart and check out. You always add detail to your reviews, making a lot of books irresistible–well, except for those you can’t highly recommend. Lol. I generally stay away from those, as I often see/wonder about the same issues that you point out.

    A while back, I left a comment under your post of the pictures you had taken. I so enjoyed-and try to take to heart-the post you wrote in response. I really meant to comment then, but was having a health crisis that I’m only now recovering from. I feel bad that I did not comment and let you know just how wonderful that post was, but I was weak and felt so bad I just couldn’t, and as I got better,I would think “I need to do that” but forget. (Excuses, excuses, I know). You’re so right though. We all need to focus on the positives and not the negatives, and not be afraid to compliment someone else. I hope you’re still focusing on photography, your pictures were really good (I still adore the squirrel pictures!).

    Again, I hope you’re doing well. I always enjoy the site and the reviews, but today, especially was fun, as there were many books to discover from the reviews I missed out on seeing while ill. I hope you continue your blogs-both sides-as long as they interest you and you enjoy doing them!

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    1. Hi Tammy! It’s so great to hear from you! Firstly, I think you’ll love the book, I can’t colour people at all but I’m determined to learn because of this book and Hanna Karlzon’s, I’ve got to be able to colour them one day and them not look like peach blobs! There are lots of non-human pictures so even if you decide not to colour any people there’s still loads of content for you and the paper is SO nice! I really think you’ll like it. Ah yes, I’ve been posting negative reviews today, I’ve tried to remain objective and also point out which parts are my personal disappointments and which are general problems so you’ve got some nice juicy reviews to read at some point if you fancy. You’ve actually not missed a huge amount on the blogs, I’ve not posted anything mental health-y for ages because I was very poorly for a while and I couldn’t review for a month because I just couldn’t write with my anxiety being that bad and I barely did any colouring either, I finally learnt to actually look after myself a bit so I was quite proud of that because I’m normally dreadful for ignoring and just ploughing through but that wasn’t going to work this time and having a break meant I got stronger quicker. I’ve only posted 7 reviews this month and 4 of those have been today so I’ve definitely been slacking until now!

      I’m so sorry you’ve been so poorly. I never expect replies, I know lots of my readers have health problems so please don’t ever feel pressured to get back to me. I have a terrible memory and I either reply immediately like now or I don’t reply for literally months and then feel so guilty that I sometimes don’t reply at all because after 8 months it’s just embarrassing. I don’t like rushing replies though so if I’m not free at the time I put it off until I can dedicate time to it and then that never seems to materialise. I’m so so glad you liked the post though, your comment truly did inspire it and I just wrote it in a couple of hours that day because it just felt right and important and it got a lovely response so it obviously struck a chord with lots of other people. I am still doing plenty of photography, it’s quite hit and miss as we don’t have many birds about currently apart from a million sparrows, seagulls and pigeons but I’ve been taking lots of sunsets out of the back of my flat and when I’m getting out on walks I take hundreds of photos. I recently got 4 photobooks printed and I have links to them so people can see them online. I can post them here but please don’t feel you have to look through any let alone all of them, they each have 80 pages so they’re pretty long. A couple do have squirrel pictures in though as well as a lot of ducks, I’m a bit duck-obsessed it turns out! I hope the links will work for you, shout if they don’t. And I won’t be offended if you don’t want to look through them.

      As always, your comment has come at the perfect time. I’ve been quite down about blogging for a while because the craze is dying off and lots of people don’t read reviews anymore so it was so lovely to know that at least one person is still reading and finding them helpful. I’ve got a huge pile to get through as I got behind when I was poorly but I feel more invigorated now so thank you very much! I so hope that your health will continue to improve and that you’ll love Fantasia when it arrives, it was so different from what I’d expected because I’d only seen the female pictures from it so it was a bit of a surprise but I do really love it and its variety. Heaps of healing hugs! Lucy xxx
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