Crayons

Abenteuer Natur (Adventurous Nature) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Abenteuer Natur is published by Christophorus Verlag GMBH and illustrated by Richard Merritt who very kindly sent me a copy to review. You may not know his name but you’re sure to know his work because he’s one half of the incredible duo who illustrated The Menagerie, The Aviary, The Aquarium and The Labyrinth and he also solely illustrated another German published colouring book, Tierzauber (Animal magic), last year. He’s well-known for his stunning drawings of highly intricate, hyper detailed and patterned animals and these have been featured in the Art Therapy series of books which was where I first discovered his work. Abenteuer Natur translates as Adventurous Nature and the content really doesn’t disappoint with a wide range of exotic and unusual animals pictured inside.

This book is 22.5cm square, a little smaller than the bestsellers, paperback, with thick card covers that are double-thickness and open out to reveal pairs of animal images at the front and back that are contained within the book. The covers are soft-feel and have gold foiling accents on both the front and back images. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but a little tight, however this will ease up with use. The formatting inside is different from Tierzauber and this time the images are printed single-sided and all are perforated meaning they can easily be removed for colouring or framing but these perforations are quite subtle and therefore the pages will only come out if you remove them, not accidentally.  The paper is bright white, medium thickness with a bit of tooth, you can get a few layers with pencils but it’s a little tricky to blend and shade, water-based pens do shadow but this isn’t a problem due to the pages being single-sided and you could use alcohol markers as long as you put some protection behind the page to avoid bleed through. The 27 images are of a huge range of exotic and unusual animals including Mandarin Ducks, Warthogs, Humpback Whales, a Bushbaby, Bison, Grasshopper and loads more. Everything is pictured from insects to sea creatures, land mammals to tree inhabitants, birds to reptiles and everything in between. So many things from the animal kingdom are pictured including lots of animals that aren’t often found in other colouring books.

In terms of mental health, if you love animals, or at least love colouring them, then this book is sure to help! I have always found Richard’s illustrations wonderful for my own mental health because there are so many small sections to colour and really focus your mind on which is ideal when I’m very anxious and need to get out of my head. The images are all filled with lots of patterns creating small sections that you can colour within or colour over and leave as texture behind your work so although this book is very intricate and detailed, it doesn’t have to be used in that way so it’s ideal for almost anyone, regardless of vision or fine motor control depending on how you wish to use it. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so again, it’s suitable for almost anyone but not those with particularly poor vision or dexterity. Unlike in The Menagerie series, there is no added colour so you’re free to add your own backgrounds and colour schemes to every image. While a number of the animals are featured in the Menagerie series, they are all drawn differently (see comparison photos below) so you won’t be getting any duplicates if you want copies of both. Images of nature and animals are fantastic for calming you down and these images are particularly good because there are so many sections to attend to. The size of the book means the pages are a bit more manageable which is great for those of you with poor concentration as these pages will take less time to colour than The Menagerie which is much larger. While these illustrations are all of realistic animals, the patterns within allow you to use natural or totally outlandish colour schemes as and how you wish and both will look equally fabulous! The images are really cohesive and great fun to colour and they would look amazing removed from the book and framed for a really funky office or a cutesy nursery.

I would highly recommend this book to people who love colouring animals, to fans of Richard’s work and The Menagerie or Art Therapy series, and to anyone who likes intricate and detailed images. This is a beautiful book with fabulous and unusual imagery, even the inside and outside covers are colourable with alcohol markers so this book is a true example of a fully colourable colouring book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Abenteuer Natur
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Abenteuer-Natur-Richard-Merritt/9783862303786/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

I recently created a dedicated Facebook Group for artwork by Richard Merritt, Claire Scully and all that found in the Art Therapy series, Menagerie series and those books illustrated singly by either of them. This group can be found here and I’d love you to join and share you work!

Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Daisy Fletcher’s gorgeous colouring book, Birdtopia. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Daisy’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, under each illustration is a small note stating what birds are drawn so that you can easily identify them and colour them realistically if you wish. The cover of the calendar is yellowy-cream card with the same images and design as the book cover, the title is printed in gold foil lettering and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside; the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I tested Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. I completed my page using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water and the paper held up very well to this with minimal warping or buckling. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. As with the Birdtopia book, this calendar has the quirky feature of having white colouring spaces but cream background printed throughout (except for the peacock page which is entirely white due to being a full page design), this isn’t a bad thing and many people think that this feature was one of the things that made Birdtopia so special but it’s worth mentioning and taking note of my photos below as it doesn’t suit everyone and is a bit of a surprise when you first look through the calendar.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured bird illustration, sometimes accompanied by a flower or plant. When writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The calendar is stitch-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. The majority of Daisy’s images are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low, they’re also nature-themed, realistically drawn (though not realistically composed in terms of accurate plants or comparative sizes of things) and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. These images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin and spindly thin throughout so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Daisy’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love birds and nature then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270498/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water.

Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Leila Duly’s fabulous colouring book, Floribunda. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Leila’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, each page has a beautifully written list of the flowers included, just like in the original book. The cover of the calendar is made of pale peachy-pink card with the same black line-drawn design as the book cover on the front, the title is in a large box at the top with pink foiled lettering and edging and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside, the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I used Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The calendar is stitch-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured flower illustration from the inside covers of Floribunda.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. As with all of Leila’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low, they’re also nature-themed, realistic and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. Leila’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is very thin throughout  so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Leila’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love flowers then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Leil-Duly/9781786270474/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. It is with a heavy heart that I have to write a less than positive review of these postcards. I had high hopes for them after detailing my criticisms of the Lost Ocean Postcards and raising these issues with the publisher and hoped things would be changed, but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This set of postcards contains 36 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Magical Jungle adult colouring book (reviewed by me here). Each postcard is printed single-sided with a leaf-outlined stamp space and space for an address (left blank with no lines) on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards arrive in a sort of box that doesn’t have a top or bottom and opens out to reveal the postcards inside with three black images drawn in a white line from inside the book, in two designs. The cover is cream with beautiful gold accents and a scaled down version of the book cover. The postcards are attached to the inside back cover of this box and have a glue binding which isn’t attached to anything other than the cards, it’s very sticky on the outside and also not very hard or strong, after the first careful look through the postcards I had already loosened a few and by the fourth time looking through them over half had completely detached. I’ve only had this set for two days and I’ve already had to completely remove the glue binding because so many postcards had fallen out and they’re now all loose in the box-type cover which they fall out the bottom of.

This time there is only one size of set including 36 postcards rather than the 50 we were offered for Lost Ocean. Of my 36 postcards, one was duplicated meaning I got 36 postcards with 35 designs and of the duplicated cards, one had a printing error with a centimetre gap of unprinted design at the top (see photo below), I’ve been in touch with a fellow reviewer whose set also has the duplicate. Four of the postcards didn’t have the design printed centrally and were drastically shifted to one edge of the card (see photo below) and a further one had some text printing at the very top which I assume should have been cut off during manufacturing. The majority of the postcards are landscape and a few are portrait (7 including the duplicate image twice), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards). Some are of the whole original image scaled down (8) and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk so there is a variety of intricacy levels from very intricate to virtually impossible to colour – the majority of the postcards are nowhere near the same size as the original illustrations with some being shrunk from 22.5cm across to just 9.5cm so you can imagine just how small these are. All but one of the designs are unique and they’re a beautiful selection of images from the book.

The postcards are made of thick, cream card which doesn’t bleed with water-based pens. The cards are a much yellower colour than the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Postcards and books. There were issues with white circles and patches on the Lost Ocean postcards which haven’t continued with this set, however, the card is identical and as before, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are repelled by the surface causing a much paler colour and a patchy appearance (see photo below – I will definitely be avoiding pens on these cards because of this). The postcards are lightly textured but don’t take pencils well, when covering larger areas the pencils almost clump and won’t apply smoothly, no matter what brand I’ve used, and it’s difficult to get smooth coverage over any size of area. I’ve found my Holbein pencils the best on this card but even they struggle and burnish quickly. There isn’t much space within the designs to blend or shade unless you want to colour over the lines. The line thickness is spindly thin, I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but many of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and I went over the lines a number of times on my card which was one of the larger designs. Fineliners would be best to colour such intricate images but can’t be used due to being repelled so you’ll need some super sharp pencils and patience to colour slowly and sharpen very regularly. It’s such a shame because I’m a huge fan of Johanna’s images and I just love her books but scaling down the images to postcard size really wasn’t a sensible choice because it’s so limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour them and I just haven’t found that possible to do as neatly as I’d like to. I had assumed that the images would include full-size zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils but because the images have been shrunk, many of them are just too small to colour (see the photos below where I’ve shown a 0.4mm Stabilo nib for scale).

Unfortunately, from a mental health perspective I really can’t recommend these, I really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. They require a huge amount of concentration and while they’re less intricate than the majority of the Lost Ocean postcards, this is because Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and therefore had larger spaces but when scaled down this doesn’t make a huge difference. Though they’re really interesting to look at, I would have to say that they’re really not well designed for colouring (I coloured one of the largest, least detailed images and still really struggled). All in all, I’m afraid I’m really disappointed. It’s such a shame these postcards didn’t follow the format of the Secret Garden Postcards, or those of Millie Marrotta’s Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland which had very few uncolourable images due to them being zoomed in sections of the illustrations, a much more sensible and usable format. My recommendation would be to get the book of Magical Jungle instead, this is a fairly expensive set of postcards when you factor in that many of them aren’t colourable. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, a real shame!

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753548158/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Magical Jungle can be found here:
Review – Magical Jungle
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753557167/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is the fourth in the Harry Potter Colouring Book series and my reviews of the first, second, and third can be found here. Grab your wand, bring a lantern, swat up on your incantations and let’s get delving into the magical artefacts of the wizarding world. This book is paperback with a glossy accented cover and a pale blue spine, it’s A4 in size and glue-bound meaning that a little of some images is lost. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with many of the single pages having a thin border meaning that they’re not lost into the spine. The book contains 96 pages which are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick (they’ve sorted out the paper issues since the first book), and didn’t bleed or shadow when tested with water-based pens, it’s lightly textured and perfect for pencils, you can get plenty of layers for blending and shading! It also held up fine to light use of water when activating the Derwent Inktense Pencils.

The images are drawn by multiple illustrators so they’re cohesive in content but some are drawn quite differently from each other. The images themselves include almost no stills from the film this time. There are a number of images based on concept art for the films and a few patterns are included which do feel a bit like “filler” images but there are fewer of these in this book than the first two (about 4 full page patterns) however, at least 24 pages are images with a centralised object overlaying a repeating pattern, like my coloured page of the sorting hat, and these get quite samey and dull. A huge number of different artefacts are pictured from obvious inclusions of wands, brooms, a time-turner, the Sorting Hat and horcruxes, to many of the items sold by the Weasley twins, book covers, the Marauders’ Map, Delores Umbridge’s cat plates and lots more. There are single and double-page spreads of objects and posters. This time there aren’t many pictures of characters though a few are included  At the end of the book are a number of full colour pages of the images included in the book meaning you can either copy the colour schemes in those or pick your own, they’re also great for helping you re-live the magic of the films and get yourself back into the world of Hogwarts – as if any of us ever left! I have to say, this book feels quite samey when compared to the previous three and they haven’t been brilliantly represented as specific titles due to the first book containing a real mixture of images and then the following three being specific aspects, many of the most obvious of which had already been featured in the first book. It just feels like it’s lacking, we’ve already had images of wands in two books, we’ve already seen the quidditch balls and different brooms, the collection of images is just quite random and the most obvious wizarding artefacts aren’t pictured well due to being shown in previous books.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have an awful lot of impact on it unless you’re a Harry Potter Mega Fan in which case it’s likely to considerably lift your mood and give you hours and hours of distraction and enjoyment. The images take a long time to colour if you want them to look realistic so you will need fairly good levels of concentration. The line thickness varies from very thin to thick but mostly it remains thin so you will definitely need good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The best part of this book is that it has coloured pages at the back which can be used to copy or give inspiration for colour schemes, you can also easily google the objects and artefacts in order to work out exactly how to colour them so they look true to the film, or you can go it alone and try out your own colour schemes with purple broomsticks, glittery wands and rainbow time-turners – it doesn’t have to be realistic, remember it’s a magical world! Some of the illustrations are very intricate and detailed and others are much simpler with larger open spaces so this book does have a variety of difficulty levels to accommodate your good and bad days.

All in all, this is a good book, but I’m left disappointed, it feels samey and lacklustre and the image style gets boring quite quickly, I think a trick was missed by creating the first generic themed book, it really took away from the subsequent three specific titled books as the best bits of each had already been pictured. However, if you’re wanting to finish off the set, or you’re just a bit less picky than me then this book may be for you. The paper quality is good and there’s a wide range of objects and artefacts pictured, I just feel they could have been pictured in a better, more exciting and inspiring way.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Magical-Artefacts-Colouring-Book/9781783705924/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

The Labyrinth: Mythical Beasts to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Labyrinth is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the fourth book created in this series, all illustrated by Richard Merritt who this time has been joined by Sabine Reinhart. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary and The Aquarium) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful teal and purple foiling on the cover. The pages are not perforated but they are easy to remove by cutting as close to the spine as possible so you can still frame them if you wish. There are 32 images, all printed single-sided and very little of the image enters the spine so hardly any of it is lost. The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils, you could also use alcohol markers as long as you pop some protective sheets of paper behind your work. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a mythical beasts instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on, all are pictured individually. The images are beautifully drawn and very varied as Richard and Sabine’s art styles are quite different from each other, if you’re a fan of mythology and mythological beasts then you’re sure to love this book! This new instalment to the The Menagerie series is just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Aviary and The Aquarium, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images and this title is no exception.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue mountains, pink and purple thistles, lilac clouds, and yellow lightening bolts, but the creature itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of mythological beasts included but some of my personal favourites are the faun, gnome, jackalope, unicorn, and fairy, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book none of the beasts are naturally black though I’m not sure what colour many of the creatures are “supposed” to be so it’s worth going all out with your colour schemes and get your brightest colours working!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images are best, very closely followed by fantasy-based images and you’ve got an abundance of those in this book so it’s a great one for getting lost in! I found it great fun to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when I need energising or feel like my mood needs a boost. The images aren’t of real animals so you can really go to town with your colour schemes and there are really no wrong choices though there will be plenty of depictions of most of these creatures if you have a quick search online so you could copy someone else’s colour schemes if you wish or you can do what I did and just pick a colour and roll with it. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the previous books’ pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The mythical beasts themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a mythological masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love mythology and mythological beasts and really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of mythological creatures that I’ve seen. The Labyrinth is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again.

I have recently created a fan group for artwork by Richard Merritt and Claire Scully (and now Sabine Reinhart too) which you can find here, please do join and share your finished pages from this and the other books in the series.

***This book has been published under the title Mythologica in the US and their edition has perforated pages whereas ours in the UK doesn’t. If you’d prefer perforated pages, I’ve included purchase links for the US edition as well as the UK edition below.***

If you’d like to purchase a UK edition it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a US edition it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mythologica
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Sabine-Reinhart/9781438009520/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

Wonderlands by Johanna Basford – A Review

Ever since I found Johanna’s first colouring book, Secret Garden, I’ve been on a mission to have copies of all of the books and formats that get published of her work. A quick google search alerted me to an elusive book called Wonderlands which was the first book published in her name but this was either out of stock, unavailable or selling for crazy amounts of money for a used copy on Amazon or Ebay because it’s now out of print, with no plans to re-publish. I had pretty much given up hope of ever getting a copy unless I won the lottery. That was until a week ago when I saw that a few people in the colouring community had suddenly managed to find copies and that they weren’t having to re-mortgage their homes in order to get them. I contacted two of them straight away and both got back to me and were really helpful in showing me how to find the book on the publisher’s website (it’s very well hidden, even googling numerous times and trying different search terms didn’t come up with the ability to buy it) and I got ordering. I ordered it last week and just 7 days later I had a copy in my hands and wowee was it worth the 2 year wait and countless hours trying to hunt a copy down in that time.

Wonderlands is not a colouring book and was never designed to be one. The paper is white and thick though subsequent designs can be seen through it and it has a visible horizontal grain, a small section of pages (16 sides) are black paper with a vertical grain with white line drawings printed on them. I have not tested the paper with any colouring mediums as this book is now my pride and joy and I won’t be going near it with pencils or pens so if you wish to colour it you will need to test your mediums on an inconspicuous area but do bear in mind that paper with grain can bleed badly with any type of liquid and it may therefore only be suitable for pencils rather than pens. The content of the book is mostly from Johanna’s Wonderlands art exhibition which was displayed at Dundee Contemporary Arts from the 4th of May to 7th of July 2013. As such, the illustrations are some of the most detailed I’ve ever seen and have not been designed with colouring in mind and are therefore very black-heavy with much less white space left than we’re used to in Johanna’s work. Many of these illustrations have been shrunk down from much larger depictions in order to fit the book’s pages and therefore the intricacy and detail levels are second-to-none. I can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to see the original exhibition but luckily we are able to take our own mini tour within the pages of this book.

Looking through the book feels almost like you’re looking into Johanna’s mind, you can see her creative process working and there are hints and precursors to all of her colouring books and projects. I studied Creative Textiles for GCSE and therefore love seeing the process from initial ideas and mood boards all the way through to the finished display pieces and this book really feels like you’re able to go on that journey and you can see the first glimpses of certain pages from the colouring books we know and love from the owl tree and lily pond in Secret Garden to the monkeys of Magical Jungle. The content of this book is much more wide-ranging and less specific and is also more jumbled up within each page with one page containing objects ranging from an octopus to a cactus, a dustbin to a whale, a playing card to a ladder and even a lightbulb. This book is honestly spectacular and while it’s not for colouring, anyone who’s a fan of Johanna’s work will find that this book is an absolute must-have. Not every page has a design on it but the ordering of these blank pages is quite random throughout, there are a few single-sided pages but the majority are double-sided. The image styles range from ribbons across the page with vast blank spaces around them to repeating patterns like we saw in Lost Ocean, centralised images of trees and other objects to centralised mirror image designs and some lovely two-page spreads where the original image is shown in its entirety on one side and a section zoomed into on the other so you can see some of the wonderful detail more closely. The illustrations cover such an expanse of content from alphabets drawn in flowers and leaves and another in robots and machinery, to people ranging from Sumo wrestlers to Beefeaters, Royal Guards and little ballerinas, there’s a whole page dedicated to junk food including gingerbread men and burgers and others just consisting of butterflies, moths, or pyramids of animals. As with all of Johanna’s work, each illustration is stunning and one of the best features of this book is the section of photographs at the back which shows the exhibition itself and shows the scale of some of the pieces she created, we’ve seen sneaky peeks of some of these in newspaper articles and in her studio videos where we’ve seen her beautifully doodled dog statue and framed cuckoo clock designs and it’s wonderful seeing them in situ in the book, my personal favourite being the beautiful sailboat with seaweed imagery which clearly inspired Lost Ocean. The black pages are different again with the images all printed in a slightly greyish white and looking a little less crisp than the black-lined illustrations do, they look a tad more smudgy and as if they were created with paint or screen-printing rather than a pen but nevertheless they’re beautiful and the content here is very natural and nature-based from Oriental-style motifs to a beautiful double-page spread of peacocks, a floral heart very similar to the one in Secret Garden, to a beautiful pond and rainforest ribbon. The book feels quite sectioned off with it starting with black on white illustrations, then moving to white on black, then back to black on white and finally ending with 16 pages of photographs from the exhibit, despite this sectioning, the book feels really cohesive and does feel like a journey through the exhibition itself and Johanna’s mind and creative process. At the very back of the book all of the works of art are titled and information about the commissions and exhibit is given which gives great context for where the pieces are from and why they were created.

In terms of mental health, this book has certainly been fantastic for my own and has already given me hours of enjoyment and calm. Looking through the pages has really opened up a new world for  me and I’ve loved looking at all of the different aspects and details and each time I look through I see something new because it’s just so jam-packed with content. The paper has a lovely feel to it and it’s just a really tactile book with plenty to keep you occupied for hours. The spine is glue-bound so you’ll need to be a little careful not to break it by opening the pages too far. I’ve really loved adding this book to my Johanna Basford collection and it’s possibly my favourite book because it’s just so beautiful and wide-ranging. The cover has a black and white illustrated removable dust jacket with full French flaps and this could be completely coloured if you wish though I shall be leaving mine as is, the black and white is just so striking and the paper it’s printed on has a lovely soft feel.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, if you’re looking for a colouring book then this isn’t for you as many of the details and designs are impossibly small and wouldn’t be colourable but for fans of Johanna’s work who want to see more of her art and discover where the books we colour have come from this book is ideal. The production of the book is wonderful and while it may seem a little pricey at £20 + £5 postage (more for International deliveries) it’s truly a beautiful book that I think is worth every penny, it’s becoming harder and harder to find and I have no idea how much stock the publisher has left (it currently states Low Stock on the site) so I certainly wouldn’t put off ordering it if you’re desperate for a copy, you won’t be disappointed and it really is a very special creation.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here: Dundee Contemporary Arts

For a silent full video flick-through of the book, please click here.