Marco Fine Pencils

Art Therapy: Buddhism – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Art Therapy: Buddhism: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation is one of the very popular Art Therapy series titles and is an absolute must-have if you’re a Buddhist, want to know more about Buddhism or want to practice Mindfulness – a practice that is a staple to Buddhism and increasingly becoming a very effective treatment for mental illness. This book includes everything you’d expect, images of lotus flowers, Buddha, zen ponds with fish, endless knots, and all sorts of other typically Buddhist symbolism and imagery (as someone who knows relatively little about Buddhism I checked on Google for what counts as typical and this book ticked all of the boxes). The images are hugely varied in style with some including scenes, many including Buddha, some patterns and some repeating image patterns as well as a few mandalas. Most of the pictures are single pages but a number are double-page spreads and the images are full page so a little is lost into the spine until it loosens up and you can reach it with your colours.

In terms of mental health, it’s ideal! Buddhism teaches you to focus the mind, practice meditation and mindfulness and generally live in the here and now, thus quieting the thought processes and worries and anxieties about the world. The line thickness varies throughout from spindly thin to much thicker meaning that you’ll easily be able to find an image to suit your mood, visual acuity and fine motor control levels on any given day. This is great for those of us with fluctuating conditions or whose colouring is majorly affected by things like anxiety level (because of visual and fine motor control changes) or even physical symptoms including tremors or blurred vision. The whole of the Art Therapy series is well-designed for fluctuation and because of this it doesn’t feel samey as each book contains so much variety within each theme. The level of detail and intricacy varies throughout, there is more than enough detail to keep you occupied, distracted and focused, but not so much that it will increase your stress levels and there are simpler and more complicated pictures to suit your mood and concentration level.  I found this book particularly calming to flick through and colouring it was particularly relaxing because of the image content.

I would highly recommend this book to any Buddhists, aspiring Buddhists, enthusiasts or mindfulness-practitioners. This book is great for calming and relaxing you and practising mindfulness whilst colouring which makes it the perfect tool for mentally ill colourers like me who struggle to ever quieten their mind. For more information about the Art Therapy series including paper quality and binding style, and other titles in the series, click here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book then you can find it here
Amazon UK – Art Therapy: Buddhism: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation.
Book Depository Worldwide –

The image below was coloured using Marco Fine Oil-Based Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation is a new title in the Art Therapy series published by Jacqui Small LLP. I knew nothing about Aztecs and Mayas before getting this book other than the miscalculated end of world date so it was an education looking through this book and seeing the art that is unlike any I’ve seen. I’ve now researched Aztec and Maya art and this book really is the go-to book for these themes. It contains loads of images that are similar to those found in sculpture, drawings, murals and pottery from the time as well as showing animals from Mexico and Aztec architecture. This book contains a huge variety of images from scenes of architecture, animals, plants and food, to patterns and friezes and images of people that would have been found on pottery and in sculpture (see pictures below).

In terms of mental health, this book has a variance in line thickness and level of detail and intricacy so, as with all of the others in this series, it’s ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions. The line thickness varies from thin to medium (most other titles in the series vary much more than this) so you do need fairly good vision and fine motor control but it doesn’t need to perfect in order to enjoy the book. Some of the images are very detailed and intricate but the majority are more open with a larger amount of space to practice shading and blending. The images aren’t especially calming or relaxing, they’re much more aimed at those with an interest in colouring Aztec and Maya art than at specifically calming you down but the nature-themed images contained within are definitely more calming than most so it’s fairly hit and miss in that respect and definitely more geared towards fans of the content rather than relaxation.

I would recommend this book to those of you with an interest in Aztec or Maya art so take a trip back through history and enjoy colouring art from 700 years ago. For more information about the Art Therapy series including paper quality and binding style, and other titles in the series, click here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book then you can find it here:
Amazon UK – Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation.
Book Depository Worldwide –

The image below was coloured using Marco Fine Oil-Based Pencils.

Wings & Things: Colouring For Grown Ups – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
wings and things: art therapy is illustrated and was kindly sent to me for review by Edwina Mc Namee. This gorgeous book is filled with 50 images of all things winged, feathery, mystical and magical. The book is paperback, glue-bound and printed single-sided with no border so a little of each image is lost into the spine but this really is only a little.  The book is slightly smaller than A4 and has a gorgeous aqua coloured cover that can almost certainly be coloured in so you’ve practically got an extra colouring page on the front and it also has a lovely “This book belongs to” page. Almost all of the images are portrait but a few are printed landscape so that more can be fitted onto the page. The book has a lovely cohesive image style because it’s all been hand-drawn by the very talented Edwina who clearly has a love of all things feathery. The images include all sorts of birds, headdresses, bats, butterflies, insects and unicorns. They are drawn with varying line thicknesses from thin to thick with most being medium/thick, they don’t look overly heavy though. The paper is bright white and pretty thin, my fibre-tip pens which hardly ever bleed did bleed through all over the back of the page so if you’re using anything that bleeds do put a scrap sheet behind your work so that you don’t ruin the next picture.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it’s grounded in nature and while it contains images of fantastical things, the majority are birds and feathered creatures. I found this book really calming and relaxing to colour, so much so that I coloured two full pages instead of the usual one. The images are fairly detailed but not overly intricate so they’re really well suited to anybody because you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control in order to be able to enjoy it. The spaces are large enough that you can practice shading and blending but not so large that the book feels basic or childish. The images feel very positive and the level of complexity varies meaning the book can be used on good and bad days as your concentration comes and goes. The images in this book are well-suited to any colouring medium and I found it lovely to use pens and pencils on. The images below were coloured using Staedtler Fibre-tip pens and Marco Raffine Oil-based pencils which were really easy to shade and layer on the paper.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who like animals or birds and anyone who struggles to colour the very intricate books but doesn’t want to colour very basic images. The images are lovely, calming and very charming and being printed one-sided means that you can use any medium you like without having to worry about ruining any images. In my opinion it’s great for mental health and well worth adding to your collection. Thank you very much to Edwina for sending me a copy of her gorgeous book and if you’d like to get your hands on a copy, head over to her Etsy shop where you can find the book in two parts: part 1 and part 2. It is also available on Amazon here wings and things: art therapy

Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book With Hidden Jewels – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me by Search Press Publishing. I’ll start off by saying that this is one of the most beautiful colouring books that I’ve ever seen and it’s now firmly in my list of favourite books. It’s somewhat similar to the books created by Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford but it has a unique style of its own and seamlessly blends animals, plants and zentangle into a stunning work of art that you’ll be clamouring to colour by the end of this review. The book itself is square (slightly smaller in size than other square books) and softback (it’s not especially bendy so it’ll keep protected in a bag if you transport your books but also isn’t rigid and hard). The pages are thick, off-white and lightly textured and the 75 stunning images are printed double-sided. The outlines of each picture can be seen through the pages so I assumed that pens would be a no-go in this book but actually, I experienced no bleeding when using my water-based fineliners so these should be fine for you to use (always test on an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining any designs). Pencils add colour smoothly and because the paper is textured you can add plenty of layers so you’ll be able to blend and shade beautifully. Some of the images are single pages and others are double-page spreads and the book is relatively tightly glue-bound so some of the image near the middle is lost into the spine and it does take some stretching of the spine to be able to get it to lie flat or stay open without being held. With time though, I’ve found that spines like this do loosen up and with a book like this, it’s so worth the wait so don’t be put off, just be patient and keep working the spine so that you can reach the middle of the images.

This book is truly beautiful and the images are unlike anything else I’ve seen because they’re so detailed, patterned and charming. I hope you’ll get some of the atmosphere through the images attached at the bottom but truly you need to see this book to realise just how wonderful it is. If you like colouring nature images that are highly detailed then you’ll just love this book. It takes you on a journey rather than being a collection of similarly themed images. You start off seeing some of the jewels that have been hidden within the wood and are greeted by a large tree and a friendly looking fox, you discover a gingerbread house and walk past all sorts of species of birds. You walk further into the trees and happen upon all manner of woodland creatures including badgers, rabbits, foxes, deer and hedgehogs, you encounter a family of owls and a kingfisher who’s caught his lunch. By the end of the walk you’ve reached what’s probably the heart of the wood and night has fallen and your path is lit by a smiling full moon. This book is so much more than a colouring book. It tells a story, it has hidden elements in the form of jewels and jewellery pieces and it sparks your imagination and creates a wonderful world of escapism. The images are highly detailed and intricate and many encompass typical zentangle patterns that you can either colour between so you’re colouring teeny tiny sections or colour over to create patterned blocks and sections. Some of the images aren’t complete or have large sections around them that have been left blank and while I was confused by these at the beginning and it felt a little unfinished on certain pages, after reading the introduction page it explained that these spaces are left so that you can add your own details, backgrounds, and to continue the picture on in your own way. I think this feature is great because it means that you can add to the book or leave it without there being text in the way and detracting from your beautiful colouring. There are also a number of floral and faunal frames that are circular, square and even heart-shaped that you could either leave as they are or add to if your drawing skills are honed!

In terms of mental health, this book has a lot of detail and intricacy so it’s ideal for those of you who like complicated images that keep you distracted and focused for hours. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to medium thickness but mostly it’s thin throughout like the majority of intricate colouring books are. The line colour varies throughout and some are blackest black and others are much paler and grey. One thing to note is that the lines of some the images are kind of fuzzy and seem out of focus, I wasn’t too keen on this to begin with but as time has gone on it’s bothered me less and less and now it doesn’t worry me. It did make me think my eyes were having a problem to begin with though so do be aware of it if you have vision problems and be careful if you get migraines (like I do) as it can make you feel a little strange. That’s the only slight issue I had with the book though, it is absolutely stunning and completely captivating and the more I look through it the more I notice and discover and the more I fall in love with it. I think this book is absolutely ideal for anyone with mental health problems because it’s so natural and calming and the subject matter is really relaxing and beautifully drawn. This book contains hours and hours of enjoyment and I’m sure it’s set to become a bestseller because it’s so gorgeous so if you’re wanting a copy I’d get your hands on one soon before everyone catches on to how unmissable this book is. I for one, am hoping that Jessica will be creating a new book soon because her artwork is beautiful and an absolute joy to colour! The images below are coloured with Marco Fine Coloured Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 fineliners. If you’d like to get a copy of this wonderful, woodland treasure hunt follow the link to Amazon Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels

Marco Raffine Fine Art Oil-Based Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Before I start reviewing let me first state that I am NOT an artist, I have no art training, not even an art GCSE and only started using coloured pencils again 2 months ago. This review is from a beginner’s perspective  and the colouring I’ve done has been based on learning techniques from YouTube tutorials which are linked below. These pencils are from my personal collection and I’ll tell you right now, I LOVE THEM! I bought a pack of Crayolas and despite others managing to get truly beautiful effects from them I managed a vague bit of shading, no blending and just got blisters because I found them so hard and almost impossible to get a deep and vibrant colour from. I scoured the internet and found all of the artist grade pencils were over a £1 a pencil which I couldn’t possibly afford at the time and I thought all was lost and that I’d never be able to use pencils unless I won the lottery. However, I persevered and happened upon the Marco pencils on Ebay and was shocked at how cheap they were for oil-based pencils which sounded like the type I needed. I looked for reviews and found a measly two on Amazon both of which said they were amazing so I went for it and began my long wait for them to arrive from China.

So after nearly 3 weeks they arrived and I’m so glad I found them and ordered the largest set they make. They come in sets of 24,36,48 and 72 and personally I’d recommend just going all out and getting the set of 72 because they’re under £20 including postage and that’s just a bargain! The pencils are soft, not scratchy and lay down colour easily and smoothly on all of the paper types I’ve come across so far in my colouring books. They are great for layering, shading, blending or just giving smooth, vibrant colour without hurting your hand from pressing too hard. Each pencil gives a huge range of hues from the palest hint of colour to a bright, bold, dense pigment depending on layering and pressure. The colours in the box of 72 cover a great range with a lot of emphasis on greens (11 in total) and browns (6 in total) which is ideal for all of those nature colouring books like Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland. There are a few too many greys for my liking (7 seems excessive) and not enough shades of pink (6 – not including the 3 flesh tones but these 6 include some purple colours). However, all in all, it’s a great range that is really versatile because of the ability to shade and blend thus creating more effects and colours and making the possibilities pretty much endless!

The box they come in isn’t a great storage solution because as soon as you’ve sharpened the pencils a few times they become too short to dig out with your fingers and if you tip the box up you either get stabbed with a whole load of sharpened pencils or accidentally tip half of the contents on the floor (not advised!). I would definitely suggest getting jars, a pencil case or a pencil carrier to store them in so that you can avoid the above! Since writing this review originally, I have been sent a set to review which come with a pencil roll to store the pencils in and this is a much better solution (more info at the bottom of the review). I would also strongly advise creating a colour chart with the number of each pencil and a shaded section from light to dark so that you have it to hand (see mine below). As with many coloured pencils, the end of the pencil is coloured but this isn’t always an accurate portrayal of the colour you’ll lay down and this often leads to some very strange colour combinations due to “accidents”. It’s also difficult to replicate colours without this if you’re half way through a project and don’t remember what colour you used. Making and colouring the chart can be time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it and will save you getting frustrated in the future or constantly having to scribble on scrap paper and wasting your precious leads!

As for using these pencils, they’re a dream! I’ve had various friends try them out, all of whom are novices like me and all of them have loved them and commented on how smooth they are to use and how vibrant the colours are and just how different they are from the pencils we all used at school. They sharpen beautifully without the need for an expensive sharpener (I currently use a Lego one from a kids’ stationery set) and have had very few problems with breakages or not being able to get a proper point. They last ages and honestly I’ve had absolutely no problems with them! They behave in exactly the same way as premium oil-based pencils so you can use blender pencils, burnishers, baby oil and other products to give you a more professional look but all of the images below have been completed with just the Marco pencils, without any other products.

I would highly recommend these pencils to anybody. Those of you who are just starting out and learning to use pencils, these are great because they’re soft, versatile, behave in much the same way as premium products but because of the miniscule price tag you won’t be afraid of getting stuck in and using them and learning how they work together and what effects you can get. For those of you with more experience, these are great for a travel set and for creating beautiful images with and the range of colours is ideal for almost any project if you get the largest set of 72 pencils. I am now lucky enough to own a set of 120 Faber Castell Polychromos pencils which I love but I have to say I like the Marco Raffines almost as much. The range of colours of Polychromos is much better, obviously because there are almost double the number of shades, but the Marco pencils really are up there for ease of use and ability to create amazing effects and I just can’t get over the price! If you’ve been umming and ahhing over whether you should click buy then my recommendation would be DO IT! They’re super cheap and as yet, I’ve not found anyone that regretted buying them or didn’t like them. Happy Colouring!

Pencil Wrap/Roll – The wrap contains 72 elasticated slots for the pencils (and these are a perfect fit, not too tight or too loose) as well as 2 extra pencil slots, perfect for blending or burnishing pencils, and 4 larger elasticated slots that could be used to store erasers or pencil sharpeners. There is a leather flap at the top and bottom to cover up the leads of the pencils to prevent them being broken when transported and the case folds over to half the size and can then be rolled up and safely kept closed with a leather strip and a secure popper (press stud). The pencils aren’t pre-added to the wrap so it’s easy to put them into it in whatever order suits you, I went for number order as that’s easiest to match up with my colour chart.

If you’d like to purchase these pencils then you can purchase sets through the links below.

72 set in cardboard box:
Amazon UK – Marco Raffine 72 Set
Amazon UK – Erofa 72 Color Art Colour Pencils Drawing Pencils for Secret Garden Pencil Pouch colored pencil Artist Sketch Set
Amazon UK – Wiysond Set of 72 Color Pencil Colour Marco Fine Art Drawing Oil Base Non-toxic Pencils Set For Artist Sketch

These are the links to the videos I used to learn to blend and shade. Happy Colouring!

Art Therapy: My Fashion Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

This is a very stylised book that is quite far removed from the standard adult colouring books that most of us are now used to. It contains many images of women in unpatterned clothing with very large expanses to add designs to as you wish. This book is very suited to those of you who are more artistic and who enjoy doodling and drawing in addition to colouring, rather than those of us who just want to colour in a pre-drawn design. If you’re someone who struggles with ideas or isn’t interested in doodling or adding patterns then I’d suggest this book isn’t for you because there isn’t that much actual colouring that can be done in this book because the expanses are so large limiting you to use coloured pencils or felt-tips (often these streak over big areas). If you’re into zentangle then this could be a great book for you. This book is like an issue of Vogue with all the colour removed, it’s very similar to a fashion catalogue and includes pictures of whole outfits as well as jewellery, bags, shoes and even lingerie. As someone who is not a doodler, I struggled to pick pages to colour in and found it challenging to come up with patterns to add to the designs but I did get there in the end and in some ways the challenge did me some good and got me out of my comfort zone. However, I didn’t find this book calming which is the main reason I colour and found that it did add to my stress levels so bear that in mind if anxiety or low frustration tolerance are issues for you. For anyone interested in fashion or design, this is a must though, particularly if you’re not great at drawing people and just want to design clothing because the hard bit is already done for you! If you do purchase this book then I’d invest in a good set of fineliners so that you can create coloured doodles and patterns (see my shoe designs in the picture below which I drew using Stabilo .88s). The images below were completed using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Marco Raffine coloured pencils and Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

You can buy your copy here-Art Therapy: My Fashion Colouring Book: 100 Designs for Colouring In.- Amazon UK – Book Depository Worldwide

For more information about the Art Therapy series including other books and paper quality etc visit this post.