Quarto Publishing

Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes is published and kindly sent to me to review by Racepoint Publishing, an imprint of Quarto. This book is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, best known for Animorphia and Imagimorphia, but this book is different both in function, format and purpose. It is not actually a colouring book, though all of the illustrations are black line drawings in Kerby’s signature style so of course they can be coloured if you wish, it is actually a reproduction of his own sketchbook with illustrations chronologically organised from 2012 up to early 2016. It is hardback with a soft feel cover which is black with a white wrap around illustration of a whale with a few of his signature alien doodles, it closes with a black elastic strap. The paper is cream, lightly textured and thick, while you can see the black lines of the illustrations of the following pages through it, it held up fantastically to my water-based pens without even the slightest hint of shadowing so you can easily colour this book with water-based pens or pencils, if you wish to colour it at all, alcohol based markers will bleed through. The spine is flexibound, with glue and string and is fairly tight, the images are printed double-sided with some being partial pages, single-pages spreads, double-page spreads or even three-quarter page spreads so a fair number of the images do run across the spine and these can be a little difficult to access though the spine will ease up with use. While I absolutely love this book and it wasn’t designed with colourists in mind, I think it’s a shame that it is so small and that so many of the images enter the spine because it does make them difficult to colour and even to fully appreciate the image because there’s a line down the middle breaking it up. The production quality is really high but I wish it was available as a colouring version in the same format as Animorphia and Imagimorphia. Each image is titled and dated and a few state what or who they were commissioned for but there is very little written commentary aside from the 4 page introduction, the 1 page preface written by Kerby himself, and a double-page spread briefly describing his drawing process; it would have been really interesting to read more information about the design briefs, the purpose of the work, and also the rationale behind the finished piece, and to see them on a larger scale as some of these images are extremely small and really lose their impact when shrunk down (it is unclear what scale any of these images were originally drawn in).

The image content is really varied but it all has Kerby’s signature style. There are lots of morphing animals, objects and scenes that show vast contrast between nature and mechanics, softness and structure, ethereality and reality. There are small drawings and large drawings, some which are much more realistic and others which are filled with alien creatures and the surreal. The images contain a huge number of different animals from deer to bats, birds of all types to sea creatures, foxes to giraffes and so much more. Interspersed with these are skulls, feathers, buildings and structures, mechanical images and doodles. As with all of Kerby’s work, the majority of the images include heavy black shading which isn’t to everyone’s taste but I personally find that it really adds to the movement and reality of the image. Some of the images have black backgrounds and some are drawn entirely in black with thin white lines that could be coloured if you wished, there is a real variety within this book and it truly shows off the versatility and talent of this illustrator.

In terms of mental health, this book is just fascinating to look through let alone colour! The images are so interesting to look at and ponder over and the more you look, the more you notice and see so this is definitely a book that keeps on giving and you’re unlikely to ever tire of it! In many ways, this book is almost too beautiful to colour, but it would look truly stunning if you chose to, though it does of course look finished as it is. The line thickness varies throughout from thin to spindly thin and some are verging on microscopic because the images have been shrunk from the original drawing scale. The intricacy and detail levels also massively vary from large open spaces of animal faces to the teeniest tiniest details that are difficult to even see, let alone to contemplate colouring, this means that it’s essential that you have very good vision and fine motor control if you’re wanting to colour this book, though this won’t be necessary if you’re wanting to just view it as a finished piece of art. I personally found this book to be ideal for mindfulness and distraction, the images are so packed full of detail that you can’t help but become completely immersed and absorbed within this fantasy world and you quickly feel your anxiety and other symptoms melt away. The artwork is breathtakingly beautiful and it really does have to be seen to be believed!

This book is ideal as a work of art, but would also be beautiful for adult colourers to fill with their own colour. You will need very good vision and motor control but the size of these images makes them ideal for bad days as small colouring projects, the format could have been improved for the colouring community but as a reproduction of Kerby’s sketchbook it’s beautifully produced and just fascinating to look through!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Sketchy-Stories/9781631061752/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re new to Kerby’s work then you can read my reviews of his adult colouring books here: Animorphia and Imagimorphia.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

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Color Me Stress-Free – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book) is published by Race Point Publishing and was very kindly sent to me by Quarto Group to review for you all. This is the third instalment in the Color Me series and you can find my review of its predecessors Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy here. This book is the same shape (almost square) and size as the previous two books and matches them perfectly so it looks and feels like a beautiful set on the shelf. The book is flexibound with a stiff cover. The binding in these books is pretty tight so they don’t like lying flat however all of the images are printed with a large border around them so you don’t have to contend with trying to colour into the spine. This book contains almost 100 images, all split between 7 differently named chapters that are areas of our lives that can stress us: Disorganisation, Relationships, Finances, Work, Health, Time, and Travel and Commuting. Unlike the first two books in this series whose images were related to each chapter title (Music, Children, Water etc), the images in this book aren’t obviously related to the chapter titles and there are far more abstract and random patterns than scenes which I personally think is a shame. The images are printed single-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which does bleed with water-based pens but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind when you’re colouring. This paper is also fairly well-suited to alcohol markers and when I tested mine the ink obviously bled through but didn’t especially spread as long as I was careful so this is a good book for all of you Copic, Spectrum Noir and Promarker colourers. All of the images are created by one illustrator Angela Porter so this book has a lovely cohesive style and flows really well.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for calming you down in an effort to become stress-free. The pictures are calming and not too intricate meaning they are perfect for using pencils, felt-tips or even paints or watercolours on, just slip a sheet of scrap paper underneath to protect the subsequent pages. This is a great book for those of you who find intricate images fiddly or too difficult and frustrating to colour. It’s also great for inspiration because at the beginning of each chapter a couple of the pictures are shown coloured in so you can follow their colour schemes or brave it and add your own funky colour combinations. This book is a nice size and you get a good sense of satisfaction because each image is small enough that it doesn’t take hours or even days to complete meaning this book is perfect if you don’t have a great attention span or high level of concentration. Don’t worry though, it’s also good for those of you who can sit and colour all day, it just means you’ll get plenty of pictures completed! The images mostly consist of patterns which are known to be very calming because many of them are repetitive and this really keeps you concentrating and distracted from any negative thoughts. There is huge variety within the patterns from swirling and flowing to sharp corners and harsh lines, geometric shapes to abstract designs, symmetrical to random, it’s all in there. There are a few scenic images but they are much fewer in number than the previous two titles in the series which is great for those of you that preferred the patterned designs but not so great for those of you who preferred the scenes. The line thickness is medium throughout and this book is perfect for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control but don’t want to colour simple or basic images. This is a really happy medium between intricate and detailed and simple and basic and would be ideal for elderly colourers and those who struggle with small images or thin lines.

I would recommend this book and the others in the series as a great purchase for those of you who like simpler, less intricate images to colour, those of you using pens that bleed easily, and those of you that maybe don’t have the patience or desire to sit colouring one image for days in order to get it finished. They’re great starter books and contain really good images for practising shading with coloured pencils. These books are lovely and work well on their own or as a set and I look forward to seeing Color Me Fearless when it’s released in March 2016 – I hope to be reviewing it!

You can get purchase a copy of Color Me Stress-Free here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Stress-Free/9781631061608/?a_aid=colouringitmom

And you can pre-order a copy of Color Me Fearless here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Fearless-Lacy-Mucklow/9781631061950/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

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 – https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Buddhism/9781910254226/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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 – https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Aztecs-Mayas/9781910254219/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Just Add Color: Botanicals and Mid-Century Modern Mania – A Review

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

Just Add Color: Botanicals and Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania are published by Rockport, a sub-company of Quarto Publishing who kindly sent me copies to review. They are part of a large “Just Add Color” series which continues to be added to and already contains a huge variety of titles and themes including Carnival, Day of the Dead, Folk Art, and Circus . These books are soft-back with a normal thickness card cover, they are lightly glue-bound and the book can be fully opened to enable colouring of the full page but it doesn’t lie flat on a surface without being held. The images are printed one-sided onto beautiful, thick, heavyweight white paper (almost thick enough to be described as card) and the pages are perforated meaning they can be removed easily from the book before or after colouring. I coloured using Staedtler fibre-tips and experienced no bleed-through and only very slight bleeding when using various brands of fineliners but this isn’t an issue as the images are one-sided. The paper is very smooth with little texture meaning coloured pencils lay on even colour easily with little effort or need to change direction to fill in gaps. Each book contains 30 images created by one illustrator (different illustrators for each book in the series) which leads to a lovely cohesive image style within each book. Because each book is created by a different illustrator, the line thickness varies between books, but not within. The books are almost square in shape but smaller than the usual square-booked bestsellers. Each book varies in style and content so I have included sample images as well as a coloured page from each for you to see in the links below. In addition, I give a more detailed description of what each book contains and how your mental health may affect and be affected by the book.

Just Add Color: Botanicals – Review
Just Add Color: Botanicals – Buy it here

Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania – Review
Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania – Buy it here

Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania – A Review

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

This book is published by Rockport, a sub-company of Quarto Publishing who kindly sent me a copy to review. Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania is one of the quirkiest colouring books I’ve come across and is unlike any I’ve seen. My mum described it perfectly as looking like an Ikea catalogue with all of the colour removed. It is a fun book that is filled with images of retro furniture, eccentric ornaments and not so stylish living spaces. There are pages of decorative bowls, clocks, kitchens and living rooms. There’s even a picture of a fondue taking you right back to 70’s dinner parties, or in my case, occasional special dinners in the 90’s made by my retro parents (I really fancy a cheese fondue now). The pictures are all illustrated by Jenn Ski giving the book a lovely cohesive style. They are all drawn with thin black lines so you will need a fair amount of fine motor control so that you don’t colour over the lines. There are a few small areas such as pot plants or drawing pins but this is not an intricate or finely detailed book so you don’t need perfect vision or huge amounts of concentration to be able to enjoy this book and get a calming or relaxing experience from it. This book is perfectly suited to any colouring medium because the images are printed one-sided so you don’t need to worry about bleeding. You could use sharpies or alcohol-markers with no issues, as well as felt-tips, fineliners, gel pens and colouring pencils. The pages are perforated meaning they can be removed to make colouring easier or afterwards so you can display your work. This book is so quirky that you can’t help but come away with a smile on your face. It’s really unusual and different and therefore ideal for those of you with a fairly exhaustive collection already. The paper and print quality are exceptional and you’re really getting a book that has been well put together and thought about rather than a rushed job where the paper or image quality has suffered. This book would be perfect for both male and female colourers because it’s modern and funky rather than pretty or delicate. If you would like to get yourself a copy then head over to Amazon via this link Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania.

For general review information about the Just Add Color series and information about other titles in the series click here.

The image below was coloured using Marco Raffine Coloured Pencils and Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

Just Add Color: Botanicals – A Review

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

This book is published by Rockport, a sub-company of Quarto Publishing who kindly sent me a copy to review. Just Add Color: Botanicals is a lovely hand-drawn book  with stylised images of flowers, plants. The pictures are all illustrated by Lisa Congdon giving the book a lovely cohesive style. They are all drawn with medium/thin black lines so you will need a fair amount of fine motor control so that you don’t colour over the lines. There are a few small areas such as leaves or flower centres but this is not an intricate or finely detailed book so you don’t need perfect vision or huge amounts of concentration to be able to enjoy this book and get a calming or relaxing experience from it. This book is perfectly suited to any colouring medium because the images are printed one-sided so you don’t need to worry about bleeding. You could use sharpies or alcohol-markers with no issues, as well as felt-tips, fineliners, gel pens and colouring pencils. The pages are perforated meaning they can be removed to make colouring easier or afterwards so you can display your work. This book has a lovely style and while the images are not realistic looking they are of natural flowers and plants and I personally find nature images the most calming to colour in. The pictures are charming and have a cartoon-esque quality to them so you could colour them in realistic colours or mix things up with blue leaves, black petals and green centres, it really is up to you! The paper and print quality are exceptional and you’re really getting a book that has been well put together and thought about rather than a rushed job where the paper or image quality has suffered. This book is a great purchase for those of you who like natural images, particularly those with an interest in flowers and plants or those who prefer to colour things that are less realistic and allow your imagination to run wild. If you would like to get yourself a copy then head over to Amazon via this link Just Add Color: Botanicals. The image below was coloured using Marco Raffine coloured pencils.

For general review information about the Just Add Color series and information about other titles in the series click here.