Staedtler

Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes them very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler are a hugely well-known brand worldwide and they produce a large range of stationery products ranging from kids’ products all the way up to artist grade products, with a huge selection in between. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils (not to be confused with the Staedtler Noris Club Pencils) are a budget option at around £4/5 for the full 24 colour set. These are some of the cheapest pencils around so how do they stack up against some of the slightly pricier options like the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils (reviewed here) and the Marco Raffine pencils (reviewed here)?

The Noris Colour pencils are available in up to 24 individual colours and come in sets of 6, 12, and 24 and come in standard Staedtler packaging, or Johanna Basford themed packaging (do hunt around as prices for the packaging can vary and the contents is exactly the same). The pencils themselves have a hexagonal barrel with two black sides, black-lined corners, and 4 coloured sides that are the same colour as the pencil lead. They arrive pre-sharpened and have flattened ends which show the perfectly centred cores which are a standard thickness. The barrels have a soft feel to them and they’re not slippery. The colours cover a good range of shades in the 24 pack and include white, black, grey, a flesh tone, 3 browns, 3 greens, a true red, one purple and plenty of pinks and blues, and two each of yellow and orange. The pencils are wax-based. Sadly, I’m really not a fan of these pencils. The leads are extremely hard, the hardest I’ve come across and they’re very waxy with very little pigment. I found it really difficult to get an even coverage that didn’t have streaks through it and I just couldn’t get any vibrancy. Even when creating my colour chart I struggled to not have huge lines through the fully burnished sections and I pressed so hard whilst colouring with them that I ended up with a blister and nearly went through the page. The pencils do blend ok if you use very light layers, but again, there’s no vibrancy from them. The pigment does erase well, especially when using a battery-operated eraser so these would be useful for those of you who go over the lines a fair bit, and for those wanting to create highlights. Sadly, any of you who suffer from joint pain, have weak grip, or are elderly, will really struggle to use these pencils unless you’re wanting to just do light block colouring and no blending or shading. The sheer amount of pressure needed to get any level of pigment on the page is higher than I’d ever want for a pencil and I ended up with dents and blisters on my fingers after colouring one full page.

The pencils do sharpen well and don’t crumble at all or create dust. The hardness of the lead means it keeps a good point which lasts for ages, mostly because so little of the pigment goes onto the paper when colouring. I haven’t had any issues with breakages or splintering so the lead and pencil barrel seem to be well-made. For the price, you can’t expect a lot but for me, even at this price, I wouldn’t buy them unless they were literally all I could afford. These pencils would be ideal for school children but I can’t recommend them for anyone else, the colours are so pale, the leads are so hard, and they’re so difficult to get colour onto the page how and where you want it. While the Staedtler Ergosofts and Marco Raffines are both a fair bit more expensive, I’d strongly advise opting for those pencils because they’re both highly pigmented, easy to blend and you don’t get an achy blistered hand just by looking at them. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but honestly, I can’t really find anything positive to say about these pencils, they made colouring really stressful for me and the only reason I finished the picture was to show a fully coloured page for this review.

If you’d still like to purchase a set of these pencils they’re available below:
Amazon UK: Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencil Set

UK Giveaway and Review – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2 is published through CreateSpace and illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Jo Shiloh. I have been sent multiple copies of this book and so I’m running a UK giveaway (due to postage costs) over on my Facebook page which you can enter until Sunday the 10th of April at 8pm. This is Jo’s second colouring book offering, the first can be found reviewed by me here. This second instalment is similar in layout but the images are more detailed, intricate and floral. This book is A4, paperback, with a full colour front and back cover and it contains 88 pages of 40 single-sided designs. The paper is typical createspace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy so it’ll bleed with water-based markers but pop a protective sheet behind your work and you’re good to go. The paper texture is pretty good for blending and layering with pencils. The book has a glue-bound spine so it won’t lie especially flat but all of the images have a border and are contained to a single page so they don’t enter the spine so there is no image loss. The images are very cohesive and the majority are mandalas drawn in various different styles from circular scenes to traditional mandalas, to repeating sections or patterns.

In terms of mental health, this is a great book for those of you who like to colour mandalas, patterns, abstract images and not realistic images of ‘things’. The images do vary but mostly they’re pretty intricate and detailed so there’s plenty to get your teeth into and keep you focused, and occupied outside your anxious thoughts or low mood. You’ll need a moderate level of concentration so this would be a great book for practising mindfulness techniques because you can focus on your breath and the task at hand. The line thickness varies a little but mostly it’s thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to stay within the lines and to colour the small sections. I’m personally not a fan of colouring patterns because I like to colour realistic images, however, colouring patterns can be particularly good for those of us with anxiety disorders because there are no right or wrong colour schemes and you can just pick a pen or pencil and go without worrying about getting the perfect cherry red or wood brown. Patterns offer a perfect distraction from having to actively think and they’re great for just doing sections of when you’re having a bad day or completing a whole page when you’re up to a longer colouring session. The images are quite swirly and flowing rather than having lots of blocky, sharp edges so they’re great for relaxing and calming you down.

I would recommend this book for those of you who love to colour patterns and mandalas and who prefer single-sided books for using mediums that bleed through in double-sided books. This is a really nice mandala book with plenty of detail to get your teeth into but not so much that it’ll put you off.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Color-and-Relax-Jo-Shiloh/9781518790416/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tip pens.

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
These pencils are made by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand and they were kindly sent to me to review by Cult Pens and subsequently Staedtler. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based which I normally don’t get on well with but these pencils are definitely the exception to that rule of mine now. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are currently available in 24 different colours and I was sent the 24 set to review which come in a blue stand-up box (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, and the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box which is lovely, but nothing like as useful as the blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes it very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I tried out almost all of the pencils whilst colouring images for reviews and had to sharpen most during this and didn’t experience any breakage at all. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely the best wax-based pencils I’ve used so far and I will be using them in my future colouring.

Update: Hugely exciting news! Staedtler have added an extra 12 colours to the ergosoft range and these will be arriving soon. I will be getting a set to review so as soon as I have them I’ll be posting about them and giving you the scoop on what new colours have been added so do click “follow” on my blog so that you’re updated as soon as my blog post is live!

The pencils are available to buy here :
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in brand new tin

GIVEAWAY and Review – My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book For Creative Minds

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book for Creative Minds (Crafts) is published and was kindly sent to me for review and a UK giveaway (see details at the end of this review) by Plexus Books. In short, this book is stunning and, in my opinion, comes close to rivalling the current bestsellers in the field. This book is the second in the series and my review of the first can be found here. This square book is paperback, glue-bound and contains a whopping 101 images that are printed double-sided with no border so a small amount of the image is lost into the spine until this loosens up with use. The paper is white and medium thickness with a little texture so it is ideal for use with pencils, but not so great with fineliners as they shadow a little but they don’t bleed through. Always test in an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining an image that you’re desperate to colour on the back if your pens bleed.

The images in this book are fairly cohesive and there is a lovely flora and fauna theme running through it though there are a few very different image styles which are dotted throughout and seem a little out of character in comparison to the majority of the book. Mostly though, this book has a great flow and contains heaps of images of flowers, animals, patterns and mandalas to keep you colouring for weeks. The images vary in intricacy level but this is not a book for beginners or those with poor eyesight or fine motor control issues because mostly the images are intricate-highly intricate with a lot of detail added to most so good visual acuity and a steady hand will be a must! The line thickness varies from spindly thin to thick and chunky but mostly resides in the thin (but not too thin) area. Many of the images are realistically drawn but there are also a huge number of stylised and almost cartoon-style drawings. Some of the images are double-page spreads and others show a pattern or whole image on one side and then a zoomed in or repeated version on the opposite page creating a really nice pair without them being matching. There is no pre-added colour in this book but there are a number of pages that have gaps and spaces and written hints about what you can add there so for those of you that like drawing there is scope to add to and embellish this book. This book follows the same format as the first in the series – My Magical Oasis, and if you liked that book then you’re sure to love this one too! A whole host of plants and creatures are included in these images from unicorns to deer, flower trees to mushrooms, peacocks to frogs, geckos to beetles, dragons to elephants and many more things including fruit, flowers and feathers as well as a host of abstract patterns.

In terms of mental health, this book is a great one and should definitely be added to your collection. The sheer variety of image content means this book was already onto a winner but the level of intricacy and detail in the majority of the images means that it’s perfect for keeping you focused and occupied. Those of you who have days of poor concentration will be able to use one of the simpler images contained within to still get your colouring fix but these are sparing so those of a moderate to advanced level of colouring would be best suited to this book. That said, I found it really relaxing, calming and distracting and it’s staying firmly in my “to keep” pile as it’s joined my ever-growing favourites list. As you’ll have seen in my other reviews, I rate books with natural images of animals and flowers very highly because they seem to have the greatest calming effect on me. I also find it very soothing colouring natural images because I’m virtually housebound and don’t often get the chance to go outside and experience these things in the real world anymore so being able to colour my own flowers and animals is a helpful way in which I can reconnect with nature without my anxiety disorders kicking off and ruining my enjoyment of it.

This book really is a mystical wonderland of reality and fantasy and totally brings you back to nature. This is a fabulous book for calming your thoughts and has more than enough detail to keep you focused and distracted from worries and stresses. I would highly recommend it, in particular to those of you who are fans of JB and MM’s work as this book is somewhere inbetween but with its own unique and beautiful style.

If you’d like to purchase a copy then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – My Mystical Wonderland: Art Therapy Colouring Book for Creative Minds (Crafts)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/My-Mystical-Wonderland-Eglantine-De-La-Fontaine/9780859655439/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens, Steadtler Triplus Fibre-tip pens and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

GIVEAWAY – If you live in the UK and would like to win a copy of this beautiful book then head over to my Facebook page here and enter via the pinned post at the top of the page. You have until 8pm GMT on Sunday the 24th of January to enter! Good luck!

Russell Grant’s Art of Astrology – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Russell Grant’s Art of Astrology: Discover Your Inner Self Through Colour (Colouring Book) is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Blink Publishing. This book is perfect for those with an interest in Astrology whether to find out more, deepen your knowledge of the subject, or even if you just fancy colouring a beautiful book with a wide variety of images, this is a gorgeous book that’s well worth getting. I’ll point out now that I’m not into Astrology and know almost nothing about it so I may not use terminology correctly or have noticed all of the Astrological features it contains but I’ve done my best! This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, with a paperback card cover which is almost entirely double-thickness as it opens out. The cover is fully colourable but is shiny so you will need to use alcohol pens as water-based pens just wipe off. The inside of the front and back cover have a triangular pattern design incorporating all of the star signs. This is also fully colourable and isn’t shiny so would work well with water-based pens, pencils or alcohol pens but check they don’t bleed through and ruin the cover of the book. The book contains 96 pages which are printed double-sided, the images are borderless and include single-page and double-page spreads. The spine is glue-bound so unfortunately a little of each image is lost into it and unreachable for colouring, though this does improve as the spine loosens up over time. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and has a little tooth so it’s perfect for pencils and water-based pens don’t bleed through at all but do shadow a fair bit so always test somewhere inconspicuous to check how your pens behave on the paper.

The images themselves are split into sections themed to each Star Sign in order from Aries, all the way through to Pisces. Each section is split into a page showing the Star Sign itself (e.g. lion, crab, centaur), Mythology, depicting famous mythological stories which include representatives of the star sign (e.g. Jason and the Golden Fleece – Aries – Ram; Theseus and the Minotaur – Taurus – Bull; Psyche and Eros – Libra – Scales), and the Planets affecting each star sign. The sections are all started with a full page description of the Star Sign including the dates of births that fall within it, personality traits of individuals born in that period, information about the ascending planets and the effect this can have on personality within the Star Sign, and descriptions of the mythology used to depict that section of the zodiac. The images are really beautifully drawn and are very cohesive and flow very well. Each star sign is pictured within a circle and a landscape scene shown behind it. Subsequent images show key scenes from mythology which are easily recognisable and each section includes a double-page spread containing geometric patterns, the traditional Star Sign symbol and often include small landscape scenes (examples of these are pictured below). The book begins with an Introduction by Russell Grant explaining how he got into Astrology and about some of the misconceptions people have about it. He also explains some of the terminology and describes the parts of Astrology that are and aren’t contained within the book, mostly it’s just the basics that are contained because Astrology covers such a huge range of things and these can’t all be incorporated into one colouring book. Following this is a double-page spread describing how to use the book and how choosing your colours can demonstrate excesses or deficiencies in your personality. At the back of the book is a lengthy section about colours each split into one of 16 different parent colours and then further split into specific shades and hues of colour, each of which is described in terms of how it affects mood, what it signifies and the personality traits it symbolises, as well as its spiritual meanings and connotations.

In terms of mental health, this book is sure to help you if you’re interested in Astrology as it helps to increase your understanding of Star Signs and may help you gain a better, deeper understanding of your personality. If nothing else, this book is a great colouring book with some really interesting pictures to colour and despite not having an interest in Astrology myself, this is one book that I will certainly be keeping because of the wide range of content it includes from planets to landscapes, underwater scenes to lions, a phoenix to a Merman. The line thickness varies throughout each image but is consistent throughout the book and ranges from thin to medium with the detail in each image being drawn in a thin line and bolder, medium-thickness lines outlining key areas and sections to make them stand out more. The images are all fairly similar in terms of detail and intricacy though some of the patterned pages do contain much smaller spaces than the rest of the images but these could easily be coloured in chunks if the tiny bits were too much of a challenge. The level of intricacy is great for those of you who can concentrate fairly well and really want to get your teeth into a page, you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control to enjoy this book but if either of these is poor then I’d give this book a miss because it does contain a lot of detail and the lines aren’t overly forgiving. There aren’t any gaps left in the images to add your own doodles which isn’t a criticism at all and is sure to be welcomed by those of you, who like me, hate drawing and never quite know what to do with the empty spaces left in a lot of colouring books on the market. The images are mostly grounded in nature which is great for calming you down and getting you focused on the external activity of colouring rather than any thoughts that might be racing through your head. I don’t know if mindfulness and Astrology go well together or are mutually exclusive practices but this book would be great for practising mindfulness because it’s got the right amount of detail to keep you focussing on the task but isn’t so taxing that you’ll be distracted from maintaining your breathing and staying grounded in the here and now. Because the line thickness, intricacy and detail levels are all pretty consistent throughout, this isn’t an ideal book for those of you with fluctuating conditions, especially if this is the only book you intend to get, however, if you have, or plan to get more than one book then this is a great one for days when you can focus well or need some decent distraction.

I would recommend this book to “astrology amateurs or cosmic connoisseurs”, to anyone who’s interested in Astrology already or who wants to learn more about it or the spiritual meanings and effects of colours. The images are beautifully drawn and are great for anyone, not just fans of Astrology. This book is packed full with a huge variety of images and would be a great addition to any colourer’s collection because this book is unlike any other I’ve seen.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Russell Grant’s Art of Astrology: Discover Your Inner Self Through Colour (Colouring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Russell-Grants-Art-Astrology-Russell-Grant/9781910536650/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens, Staedtler Fibre-tip pens and Panpastels.

The Christmas Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Christmas Colouring Book (Search Press Colouring Books) is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Search Press Publishing. The book itself is paperback and A4 in size with a glue-bound spine. The images are printed single-sided and do not enter the spine. The paper is a good thickness and bright white with a little tooth meaning you can use just about any colouring medium you fancy. My water-based pens shadowed and bled a little but this isn’t an issue because there is no image on the reverse. I found it very easy to blend and shade with my Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils. This book is part of a series and each book starts with 7 double-sided pages of coloured images that are contained within the book and then changes to single-sided black line images. This book contains images of all things Christmassy. From traditional to more modern, the images contain everything from presents to Father Christmas, snowmen to wreathes, Christmas puddings to Christmas trees and stockings and at the back there are even two pages of Christmas themed letters. This book is unlike most other colouring books and is more of a collection of similarly themed images rather than a cohesive book that tells a story. Many of the pages consist of a number of small images grouped together on the same page that aren’t especially related to each other. To begin with, I found this quite off-putting because I love books that tell a story, however, the images are very nice and are great for practising blending and shading with coloured pencils and alcohol markers because the images are printed single-sided. This book contains over 80 Christmas designs.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have an awful lot of impact on it, though if you love Christmas, it’s sure to increase your festive spirit. Because of the variety of image sizes, it’s a good book for those of you with fluctuating conditions because if you can’t focus much you can just spend a few minutes colouring one of the smaller images and then complete the larger images on days where you’re able to concentrate a bit more. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control to be able to stay within the lines. The images vary in intricacy and detail levels with some having lots of small spaces and others being much larger, open designs. This is a lovely addition to any colouring collection and is great for practising colouring techniques.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Christmas Colouring Book (Search Press Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Christmas-Colouring-Book-Elaine-Hamer/9781782213505/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tip pens.

The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book: Second Mandala Colouring Book 2015 (One and Only Colouring) is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Yard Books. This book is HUGE and every mandala fan’s dream! As many of you know, I’ve really gone off mandalas after spending way too long colouring them when I was an inpatient in hospital when I was 17, and normally I find reviewing mandala books a bit of a chore because I simply don’t enjoy colouring them, however, this book was different. As soon as I opened the cover and flicked through, I realised that I wasn’t going to struggle with colouring a page and knowing what to say, I was going to struggle with picking which image to colour first!

This book is large (larger than the typical books) at 30cms square and is paperback with a card cover. It has bright white, thick paper that is great for using multiple types of media and according to the publishers you can even use paint on it though I’d be very careful about how wet you get the page. I found that my water-based fineliners ever-so slightly shadowed but I experienced no bleeding and the shadowing is so slight that it would easily be covered by colouring the next image. The images are printed double-sided and because of their circular shape, they go nowhere near the glue-bound spine so nothing is lost and all of the images can be completely coloured. This book contains 70 stunning mandala images which vary in complexity levels and line thickness and while some are simpler than others, this is definitely a book for grown-ups not children. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to thick and chunky (see the photos below) and everything in between and there isn’t a majority thickness, there are a number of images in each line thickness so this book is really one that adapts to your concentration level.

In terms of mental health, I found this book fantastic for my own. As I said before, I really don’t like mandalas normally and I tend to find them very boring but despite these images being really large and detailed, I was totally absorbed whilst colouring the image ready for the review and I really enjoyed it to the point where I was disappointed when I’d finished that it was over! These images do have a variety of intricacy and levels of detail but they are generally complex and will take a number of hours to colour. They’re very calming and distracting and I think they’d be great for people with anxiety or mood disorders because they’re so absorbing and they force you to concentrate on the task rather than unwanted thoughts and feelings. Some of the images are super detailed and will be almost impossible to colour with pencils so I’d definitely suggest investing in a decent set of fineliners (you can read my reviews of the two bestselling brands here – Stabilo and Staedtler). Others you’d be able to really practice your blending and shading with pencils in the larger spaces and this difference in intricacy levels means that this book is perfect for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you’ve got mega fiddly images to really channel your concentration into and simpler designs for days when you’re feeling rough. The nature of the images being mandalas means that there’s no pressure to colour anything realistically so you really can just pick up a pen or pencil of any colour and just get going – you can plan out the colour scheme ahead of time, or pick up a random colour and fill in the next section with it and if in doubt, do what I do, and colour in rainbows, it’s easy, it’s fun and it always looks bright and cheerful which is perfect for brightening up the dark days so many of with mental health problems experience! You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to fully enjoy this book but it doesn’t need to be perfect as long as you’re ok with not being able to colour a few of the most intricate designs. This book is also perfect for practising mindfulness!

I’d highly recommend this book for any mandala fans, anyone that likes patterns and anyone that really wants to zone out and just colour away their stress. This is a gorgeous book on a large scale that I genuinely loved colouring in and it will be remaining firmly on my shelf ready for the days when I just need to chill out and colour a rainbow. If you’d like to get a copy then you can find it here.
The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book: Second Mandala Colouring Book 2015 (One and Only Colouring) – Amazon UK
http://www.bookdepository.com/Second-One-Only-Mandala-Colouring-Book-Second-Mandala-Colouring-Book-2015/9781907912917/?a_aid=colouringitmom – Book Depository

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and a couple of Staedtler triplus fineliners.

Staedtler Triplus Color Fibre Tip Pens – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Triplus Colour 323 SB20 Fibre-Tip Pen Desktop Box – Assorted Colours (Pack of 20) were kindly sent to me by Staedtler and here’s everything you need to know about them. According to the Staedtler website, these pens are dry-safe (except the neons) meaning they can be left uncapped for days with drying up, I’ve not tested this on any of my precious pens though. They come in 20 different colours (shown below) + 6 neons and are available in packs of 6, 10 and 20 and come in the special Staedtler stand up boxes (pictured below) which are ideal for ease of use so you can see all of your colours, access them easily when using them and then tidy them away neatly, all in their original packaging. The pens have water-based ink so they’re washable, they don’t bleed unless used on very thin paper and are odourless meaning there’s no getting high or headachey when using them like there is with solvent-based pens. They have a 1.00mm line thickness. They have a pressure-resistant bullet tip which I can attest to being very good and after a lot of use, the tip hasn’t changed shape in any way and no feathering of any kind has occurred, there are no stray ‘hairs’ causing those horrid stray coloured lines over the edges of where you’re colouring and the shape of the nip means that if you use the very end you can colour into much smaller spaces than you’d expect or cover larger areas by using it at more of an angle.

The colours of the Staedtler Fibre-Tips are perfectly matched to the Staedtler Fineliners which is very handy for images with small and large spaces so that you can use the fineliners for the detailed sections and the fibre-tips for the larger areas for seamless colour continuity (see the images below using both). The barrels of the triplus fineliners are silver and the cap and end is the colour of the ink, in contrast, the barrels of the Steadtler Fibre-Tip Pens is the colour of the ink and the caps are dark blue so they’re easily distinguishable from each other (see below). The barrel colour is not accurate on all of these pens so always ensure you test them on some scrap paper or create a colour chart first to avoid disappointment or using the wrong colour accidentally. The colour range is great and most of them are really bright and vibrant however, the purple is very dark and 3 browns in a set of 20 colours seems a little excessive.

When I first started using these pens I really didn’t get on with them because they were so wet and were causing the paper in my books to crinkle and were close to feathering. They were also especially streaky and the light colours like the pink, orange, lightest blue and green were incredibly difficult to get an even coverage from. However, this did ease off with use and I now have no problems with them at all and they lay down colour fairly evenly, though, as with all felt-tips/markers, they do go a little streaky and create darker patches when you unavoidably overcolour certain areas. These pens are very good quality and feel very different from the felt-tips we all used as children that ran out as soon as you looked at them and caused terrible feathering. Sadly, these pens are only available in 20 colours which is a pretty limited range but they are a great starter set and they’re really worth adding to your collection because of the quality and ease of use.

One thing that I discovered by accident was that these pens are not remotely lightfast. As you’ll see in the close-up below I left this colour tester I had created with a ruler over half of it by a window with the sun shining through it for a few hours and this is the result. I only discovered this because I accidentally left one of my coloured images in the sun and saw that the colours had changed after very limited amounts of time in the sun (the orange and pink are worst affected, followed by the purple, all of which are majorly affected within a few hours). Please do bear this in mind if you’re wanting to colour images that you’re going to frame or expose to light in any way for any prolonged amounts of time because your image will be spoiled very quickly. These are the only pens I’ve noticed this with though so there are plenty of alternatives and if you’re leaving your images in the books then this isn’t an issue at all.

All in all, these are a great set of pens that are easy to use, and ideal for matching up with the Staedtler Fineliners which I have reviewed here. The colours are bright and vivid and once the wetness has died down with use, they give a much smoother, more even coverage and are by far the best felt-tips I’ve used yet. The box is an added bonus because it makes it so much easier to use the pens when they’re stood up in their box and it means you don’t have pens strewn all over your colouring area. I would strongly recommend purchasing these pens if you’re wanting to start using felt-tips and in terms of set size, I would advise getting the biggest set you can because they’re usually the best value for money and you’ll always need more colours. I hope this review will have answered any of the questions you may have had but if you have any more then feel free to leave a comment below (make sure you sign up to email updates so you get notified when I respond) or connect with me on Facebook.

Some of the most useful and best priced sets can be found on Amazon at the links below.
Staedtler Triplus Colour 323 SB20 Fibre-Tip Pen Desktop Box – Assorted Colours (Pack of 20)
Staedtler 323SB10P Triplus Color Fibre-Tip Pens 8+2 Stand-Up Box
Staedtler triplus color assorted neon colours – pack of 6 pens

Staedtler Triplus Fineliners – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler kindly sent me this set of Triplus 334 C15H Fineliner Pens – Assorted and I recently purchased the full set which can be found here Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens – Assorted (Pack of 30), since this review was originally posted Staedtler have kindly sent me the full 36 set. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliners have 0.3mm nibs (0.1mm smaller than Stabilo), and have a triangular, ergonomic barrel making them fairly chunky and easy to hold. They are available in 30 colours plus 6 neons which can be purchased separately and they are available in various different sized and packaged sets from individual pens all the way up to the full set of 36 and everything inbetween (6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30). Some of the sets are available in cardboard packaging which isn’t ideal because the pens can be difficult to remove and replace but others are in the distinctive plastic Staedtler boxes which stand up and make removing and replacing the pens really easy. The barrels of the triplus fineliners are silver and the cap and end is the colour of the ink, in contrast, the barrels of the Steadtler Fibre-Tip Pens is the colour of the ink and the caps are dark blue so they’re easily distinguishable from each other (see photo below).

The colours of the Staedtler Fineliners are perfectly matched to the Staedtler Fibre-Tips which is very handy for images with small and large spaces so that you can use the fineliners for the detailed sections and the fibre-tips for the larger areas for seamless colour continuity. The pens have water-based ink so they are odourless meaning there’s no getting high or headachey when using them like there is with solvent-based pens. According to the Staedtler website the pens are all dry safe with long cap-off times except the neons but I’ve not tested this as I don’t want to ruin my pens! There are 6 pastel colours and these can be bought in the full set of 30 or in a set on their own but a word of warning, they are pretty dark and nothing like as pastel as I’d personally have liked. The cap colour is not accurate on these pens so always test them on some scrap paper or create a colour chart first to avoid disappointment or using the wrong colour accidentally. The colour range is great and most of them are really bright and vibrant however, the purples leave a lot to be desired and three of the browns are incredibly similar, generally though, they’re great and they mostly don’t duplicate the Stabilo colours so if you’re looking for a lot of colours then getting both sets won’t lead to lots of double-ups.

So, are these pens for you? Personally, I find these pens a little too thin and scratchy however when I colour and write I hold the pen very upright and because the nibs on these pens are quite pointy, it doesn’t give a great surface to colour so if you hold pens at more of a slanted angle, you may well get on better with these than I do. The first set I was sent was really quite scratchy and I wasn’t a fan but the new set I ordered this week hasn’t felt scratchy at all and has been much smoother and easier to use. My personal preference is for the Stabilo fineliners which you can read about here. If you’re worried about whether you’ll like these then my suggestion would be to get a single pen of each of the two brands and try them out (or try them in a shop if you’re able to get to one) and see which you prefer because it seems to be a real 50:50 split for preference. Finally, in terms of set size, I would advise getting the biggest set you can because they’re usually the best value for money and you’ll always need more colours. I have 8 sets of varying sizes, all from different shops and brands and I still wish for more colours! I hope this review will have answered any of the questions you may have had but if you have any more then feel free to leave a comment below (make sure you sign up to email updates so you get notified when I respond) or connect with me on Facebook.

Update: Since originally writing this post a new pack of 42 colours has been created. These are quite difficult to get hold of and only seem to be available online. I’m yet to get my hands on a set but I’ll write a review as soon as I have a set!

Some of the most useful and best priced sets can be found on Amazon at the links below.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners 42 Set
STAEDTLER TRIPLUS FINELINER FULL RANGE BOX SET OF 36 ASSORTED COLOURS 334 C36
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens – Assorted (Pack of 30)
Triplus 334 C15H Fineliner Pens – Assorted
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen Pack of 20
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 334 SB6CS1 Desktop Box – Assorted Pastel Colours (Pack of 6)
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Neon Pack of 6 – Color: Asstd