Enchanted Forest

How to Draw Inky Wonderlands (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
How to Draw Inky Wonderlands is by Johanna Basford who very kindly sent me a UK and US edition to review. This review is of the UK edition, (my US review can be found here) which is published by Virgin Books. I have also written a comparison post which can be found here, or the video comparison post can be found here.

This book is completely different from anything previously produced by Johanna and in fact, anything else I’ve seen on the market. Rather than being a colouring book, Johanna has welcomed us into her world to teach us her secrets in order to allow us all to be more creative and draw our own colouring pages and additions. As soon as I heard about the premise of the book I was very excited but also really nervous; I’ve always wanted to learn to draw but struggle to be patient or practice enough to actually improve. However, if anyone can teach me to draw, it’s colouring book queen, Johanna Basford, and spoiler alert, it’s actually working! Loads of people state that they can’t draw and are lying through their teeth, they normally mean that they can’t create a hyper-realistic portrait of someone that looks identical to a photograph. I, however, am serious about my lack of talent for drawing, I genuinely struggle to draw straight lines, circles or evenly-spaced stars and my sheep, age 28, are still drawn as clouds with stick legs and smiley faces. They’re adorable but no one believes anyone over the age of 8 drew them.

The book itself is paperback and unlike the majority of Johanna’s colouring books, it’s rectangular, not square and measures 21 by 25cm, making it the same size as Ivy and the Inky Butterfly and the same height as all of the UK editions of Johanna’s colouring books. There is no removable dust cover this time, instead having flexible card covers with ½ French flaps which open out front and back to reveal a beautiful flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, it isn’t waxy and is very smooth meaning most mediums will be suitable for colouring it, just be careful with alcohol markers in case they bleed through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has gold foiling accents and the title is backed with a beautiful pink background. The spine is glue and string-bound which makes it very durable but a little tricky to get it to lie flat for drawing in however little to none of the content enters the spine and therefore you don’t lose much in the gutter. The paper is the same as that used in previous UK editions of Johanna’s titles from Magical Jungle onwards, this paper was found through a global hunt and it’s beautiful, it’s not the same paper as used in the US editions. The paper is a very pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils. It has a good level of tooth so it can cope with pencil lines being drawn and erased and the Staedtler Pigment Liners that Johanna uses herself and recommends drawing with work beautifully and seamlessly on the paper with no feathering, spreading, shadowing or bleeding and they blend in beautifully with the printed artwork so your drawings won’t stand out as “different” from the content that’s already on the page. The paper is ideal for pencils and water-based pens and you only need to avoid alcohol makers or particularly wet media. As ever, there’s a test page at the back of the book where you can check out how each of your tools and mediums behaves.

This is very much a drawing book, it’s not a colouring book with a few drawing tips included. Upon opening the book, you find a beautiful title page, name page and introduction including tips and a materials list. The book is then split into 3 themed sections: Garden, Ocean, and Forest. There are no page numbers in the book and no contents page. The book is printed double-sided with each double page depicting at least one drawing technique, often many more. The drawings are all split up into really clear sections most of which are visually displayed in steps along with accompanying written instructions. There is a real range of different size projects included from small and simple requiring just a few very easy steps, to much more time-consuming and complicated and requiring more focus and ability to replicate well.

For the vast majority of the tutorials, each step is numbered and the step you’re currently drawing is printed in black, with the previously drawn sections in paler grey so that you can easily identify what elements you’re adding each time. Once you’ve drawn the whole image you then go over it all with pen and once dry, erase the pencil lines and voila, you’ve got your own illustration which is highly likely to surprise you, mine certainly did! There is a huge range of content for the tutorials including loads of different types of flowers and leaves, fish and other sea creatures including crabs and lobsters, ships, objects, borders, and different types of motifs including crests, symmetrical, repeating and circular. The possibilities are endless once you’ve learnt the basics and Johanna has a real knack for making it all seem very simple and easy rather than difficult and daunting so before you know it, you’re drawing things you never expected to be able to. It can be really anxiety-inducing starting something new, especially when it’s something you’ve struggled with before and find frustrating but this book is so different from any others I’ve seen and doesn’t make things just sound simpler, it actually breaks each drawing down into simpler steps so that you’re drawing very basic shapes and creating amazing things with them. There is real talent in being able to teach a skill in that way and make it so inclusive and accessible.

The tutorials are ideal for starting to learn to draw but they’re also fantastic to help you continue because once you’ve started you’ll start noticing how other images are created and what shapes they’re made up of. I often find inspiration very lacking when I try to draw and if you’re like me then I highly recommend going through Johanna’s colouring books and you’ll be absolutely inundated with ideas to the point where the only difficulty you’ll have will be choosing what to draw first! Learning to draw is apparently like exercising, it won’t come naturally or easily at first and it may feel like it’s not worth it but the more you practice, the more you’ll improve and the easier it will become and eventually you’ll be creating your own things rather than copying the original tutorials.

In terms of mental health, I’ll be completely honest and say that before receiving the book, I was dreading writing this section because I thought I was going to have to say it was bad because I’ve always found drawing stressful. However, I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case and actually, I think this book is great for mental health as long as you have a little patience because it makes it surprisingly simple and learning to draw the few things I have with this book has been by far the least frustrating drawing experience I’ve ever had! I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge fan of Johanna, I honestly was so nervous about reviewing this book because I didn’t want to have to write a negative review or say that although it was lovely, I was still unteachable. How wrong I was! Just as Johanna has been telling us, anyone can learn to draw. I’m certainly not an artist, I’m not ever going to get paid for anything my pen puts on paper (apart from my signature on a job contract) but I can safely say that with practice, my drawings will no longer look like a child’s and people won’t laugh when I tell them I drew it rather than a small kid. For me, that’s more progress than I ever thought I’d make and it’s a huge confidence boost too. That’s one reason why this book is ideal for those of us with mental health problems because it gives you the tools you need to actually succeed at learning a new skill and that’s sure to improve your self-esteem and confidence.

I would highly recommend the Johanna Basford journals for practising your drawing in, it’s what I’m currently using and I’ve had no issues at all so far. The features I’m particularly liking about using them are the ribbon bookmark which I can use to mark my place, the paper which is lovely and thick and a great surface to draw on and takes erasing well, and the motifs already printed on each double-page spread which offer great inspiration and make the whole process much less daunting, at least for me, because I’m not starting on a completely blank page, each one has already been started for me! I intend to work through in order, dating my drawings as I go so that I can hopefully see my progress over time.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, even to those of you who absolutely cannot draw because Johanna really will teach you! I already miss getting my yearly fix of colouring pages from her but the fact that she’s teaching us how to draw our own comes a very close second for me and seeing everyone’s versions cropping up online is definitely spurring me on to practice and learn and be more creative. This book is spreading joy, even more so than Johanna’s colouring books do, and it’s boosting confidence and self-esteem all over the world. If you weren’t sure about getting a copy then I really would suggest getting one and seeing what you think and if you need further persuading then have a go at following Johanna’s video tutorials on her Facebook page and see what you can create!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – How to Draw Inky Wonderlands
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/How-Draw-Inky-Wonderlands-Johanna-Basford/9780753553190/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Review

 

How to Draw Inky Wonderlands (US Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
How to Draw Inky Wonderlands is by Johanna Basford who very kindly sent me a UK and US edition to review. This review is of the US edition, (my UK review can be found here) which is published by Penguin. I have also written a comparison post which can be found here, or the video comparison post can be found here.

This book is completely different from anything previously produced by Johanna and in fact, anything else I’ve seen on the market. Rather than being a colouring book, Johanna has welcomed us into her world to teach us her secrets in order to allow us all to be more creative and draw our own colouring pages and additions. As soon as I heard about the premise of the book I was very excited but also really nervous; I’ve always wanted to learn to draw but struggle to be patient or practice enough to actually improve. However, if anyone can teach me to draw, it’s colouring book queen, Johanna Basford, and spoiler alert, it’s actually working! Loads of people state that they can’t draw and are lying through their teeth, they normally mean that they can’t create a hyper-realistic portrait of someone that looks identical to a photograph. I, however, am serious about my lack of talent for drawing, I genuinely struggle to draw straight lines, circles or evenly-spaced stars and my sheep, age 28, are still drawn as clouds with stick legs and smiley faces. They’re adorable but no one believes anyone over the age of 8 drew them.

The book itself is paperback and unlike the majority of Johanna’s colouring books, it’s rectangular, not square and measures 21.5 by 25.5cm, making it the same size as Ivy and the Inky Butterfly and the same height as all of the US editions of Johanna’s colouring books. There is no removable dust cover this time, instead having flexible card covers with ½ French flaps which open out front and back to reveal a beautiful flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, it isn’t waxy and is very smooth meaning most mediums will be suitable for colouring it, just be careful with alcohol markers in case they bleed through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has gold foiling accents and the title is backed with a beautiful duck egg blue background. The spine is glue-bound which you’ll need to be careful with, a number of people have reported previous titles published in the US falling apart so you will need to be gentle with this edition when trying to open it flat for drawing in. The paper is the same as that used in previous US editions of Johanna’s titles from Magical Jungle onwards, this paper was created and named after Johanna it’s beautiful, it’s not the same paper as used in the UK editions. The paper is a pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils. It has a good level of tooth so it can cope with pencil lines being drawn and erased and the Staedtler Pigment Liners that Johanna uses herself and recommends drawing with work beautifully on the paper. The only issue I had was that my 0.2 nib pen slightly feathered and spread on the page, however, none of my other pens really did this so it may just be a dodgy pen but just bear it in mind and do check out the photos below to see what I mean. Using the Staedtler Pigment Liners means that your drawings will match Johanna’s and blend in really well with the printed artwork so your drawings won’t stand out as “different” from the content that’s already on the page. The paper is ideal for pencils and water-based pens and you only need to avoid alcohol makers or particularly wet media. As ever, there’s a test page at the back of the book where you can check out how each of your tools and mediums behaves.

This is very much a drawing book, it’s not a colouring book with a few drawing tips included. Upon opening the book, you find a beautiful title page, name page and introduction including tips and a materials list. The book is then split into 3 themed sections: Garden, Ocean, and Forest. There are no page numbers in the book and no contents page. The book is printed double-sided with each double page depicting at least one drawing technique, often many more. The drawings are all split up into really clear sections most of which are visually displayed in steps along with accompanying written instructions. There is a real range of different size projects included from small and simple requiring just a few very easy steps, to much more time-consuming and complicated and requiring more focus and ability to replicate well.

For the vast majority of the tutorials, each step is numbered and the step you’re currently drawing is printed in black, with the previously drawn sections in paler grey so that you can easily identify what elements you’re adding each time. Once you’ve drawn the whole image you then go over it all with pen and once dry, erase the pencil lines and voila, you’ve got your own illustration which is highly likely to surprise you, mine certainly did! There is a huge range of content for the tutorials including loads of different types of flowers and leaves, fish and other sea creatures including crabs and lobsters, ships, objects, borders, and different types of motifs including crests, symmetrical, repeating and circular. The possibilities are endless once you’ve learnt the basics and Johanna has a real knack for making it all seem very simple and easy rather than difficult and daunting so before you know it, you’re drawing things you never expected to be able to. It can be really anxiety-inducing starting something new, especially when it’s something you’ve struggled with before and find frustrating but this book is so different from any others I’ve seen and doesn’t make things just sound simpler, it actually breaks each drawing down into simpler steps so that you’re drawing very basic shapes and creating amazing things with them. There is real talent in being able to teach a skill in that way and make it so inclusive and accessible.

The tutorials are ideal for starting to learn to draw but they’re also fantastic to help you continue because once you’ve started you’ll start noticing how other images are created and what shapes they’re made up of. I often find inspiration very lacking when I try to draw and if you’re like me then I highly recommend going through Johanna’s colouring books and you’ll be absolutely inundated with ideas to the point where the only difficulty you’ll have will be choosing what to draw first! Learning to draw is apparently like exercising, it won’t come naturally or easily at first and it’ll often feel like it’s not worth it but the more you practice, the more you’ll improve and the easier it will become and eventually you’ll be creating your own things rather than copying the original tutorials.

In terms of mental health, I’ll be completely honest and say that before receiving the book, I was dreading writing this section because I thought I was going to have to say it was bad because I’ve always found drawing stressful. However, I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case and actually, I think this book is great for mental health as long as you have a little patience because it makes it surprisingly simple and learning to draw the few things I have with this book has been by far the least frustrating drawing experience I’ve ever had! I’m not just saying that because I’m a huge fan of Johanna, I honestly was so nervous about reviewing this book because I didn’t want to have to write a negative review or say that although it was lovely, I was still unteachable. How wrong I was! Just as Johanna has been telling us, anyone can learn to draw. I’m certainly not an artist, I’m not ever going to get paid for anything my pen puts on paper (apart from my signature on a job contract) but I can safely say that with practice, my drawings will no longer look like a child’s and people won’t laugh when I tell them I drew it rather than a small kid. For me, that’s more progress than I ever thought I’d make and it’s a huge confidence boost too. That’s one reason why this book is ideal for those of us with mental health problems because it gives you the tools you need to actually succeed at learning a new skill and that’s sure to improve your self-esteem and confidence.

I would highly recommend the Johanna Basford journals for practising your drawing in, it’s what I’m currently using and I’ve had no issues at all with it so far. The features I’m particularly liking about using them are the ribbon bookmark which I can use to mark my place, the paper which is lovely and thick and a great surface to draw on and takes erasing well, and the motifs already printed on each double-page spread which offer great inspiration and make the whole process much less daunting, at least for me, because I’m not starting on a completely blank page, each one has already been started for me! I intend to work through in order, dating my drawings as I go so that I can hopefully see my progress over time.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, even to those of you who absolutely cannot draw because Johanna really will teach you! I already miss getting my yearly fix of colouring pages from her but the fact that she’s teaching us how to draw our own comes a very close second for me and seeing everyone’s versions cropping up online is definitely spurring me on to practice and learn and be more creative. This book is spreading joy, even more so than Johanna’s colouring books do, and it’s boosting confidence and self-esteem all over the world. If you weren’t sure about getting a copy then I really would suggest getting one and seeing what you think and if you need further persuading then have a go at following Johanna’s video tutorials on her Facebook page and see what you can create!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/How-Draw-Inky-Wonderlands-Johanna-Basford/9780143133940/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Review

World of Flowers: A Colouring Book & Floral Adventure (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
World of Flowers is the 7th book brought to us by colouring queen, Johanna Basford. She very kindly sent me the most wonderful box of goodies including the UK and US edition of World of Flowers so that I could review and compare the two, you can see my unboxing video and flip-through of the US edition here. This review is of the UK edition. You can find the US edition review here. I have compared the two in detail both via video and in a written post including photos, there are a lot of differences, most of which don’t affect enjoyment of the book but a few of which do including the cover/dust jacket, paper, image size, and whether they match your previous editions so do check out that post so that you purchase the right edition for you. The UK edition publishes on the 25th of October.

World of Flowers is a paperback, square book (25cm x 25cm) which is exactly the same size as the UK editions of Johanna’s previous square titles, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas. It has a black spine with white text, the same as the UK editions of previous titles and it looks beautiful with the other books on the shelf (see photo below). The UK edition has a removable dust jacket which has rose-gold foiling accents on the front, really adding to the luxurious feel of this book. The jacket is made of thick paper which you can colour and the inside of it is covered with a beautiful array of flowers and plants which has a waxy finish and can be coloured but only with certain mediums because most pens and pencils are repelled by the shine (alcohol markers are best for this and don’t bleed). Previous dust jackets have been a little loose but this one fits perfectly and looks really smart. It’s an off-white colour but much closer to white than cream, it’s the same colour as the Magical Jungle UK cover. Under the dust jacket, the book is paperback with pale pink card covers which have an inky black flower design on the outside and inside covers that can also be found inside the book. The spine is glue and string-bound which makes it very durable and easier to open out flat so you can reach the majority of the gutter and colour it. The paper is the same as that used in UK editions of Magical Jungle, Johanna’s Christmas, and Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, this paper was found through a global hunt and it’s beautiful, it is not the same paper as used in the US editions of these books which was created specifically for Johanna’s books and named after her. The paper is a very pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how they behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page and then a “This book belongs to …” page where you can add your name, there is then an introduction and colouring tips from Johanna and then 80 pages of beautiful flower illustrations. There is no treasure hunt in this book and so there is also no key of images at the back either. The images are printed double-sided with no border, normally this would mean a little of each image was lost into it but Johanna has taken on board the concerns of us colourists and has deliberately left the spine as clear as possible in the vast majority of the images so this frustration is mostly gone! The book contains 80 pages of stunning images, the same number as in Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle, fewer than Johanna’s first two books (96 Secret Garden, 84 Enchanted Forest) but I have to say, I didn’t notice this at all until I looked at the specs on Amazon. This book is every flower-lover’s dream. If you don’t like flowers or aren’t that keen on them or leaves then this book is absolutely not for you because it really does what the title suggests and is jam-packed with large blooms, tiny blossoms, seedlings, potted plants, cut flowers, perfumeries, ponds, gardens, potting sheds, and visitors to flowers including bees, butterflies, beetles, snails and more. The designs range from patterns and mandalas to circular and wreath designs, ribbons and banners to single and double-page scenes, centred images with large open backgrounds and pages crammed with content where you couldn’t squeeze any more on if you tried. There isn’t a story feel to this book, it doesn’t create such a vivid sense of place like so many of Johanna’s previous books have done but it does very much take you to a garden and so although it doesn’t feel to me like a journey, it is much like visiting a garden, it’s filled with variety and will look truly incredible filled with colour. The detail and intricacy that we’re so familiar with is well and truly back. I was slightly disappointed with the lack of detail in Magical Jungle and a few of the images in Ivy and so I’m really glad to see it back because that’s what I’ve always loved so much about Johanna’s work. At the very end of the book is a double-sided fold-out poster with two different floral garden scenes to colour. This can be detached from the book as it is perforated but it seems quite well attached and therefore won’t accidentally fall out from the book as long as you’re careful with it. A number of the images in the book have large blank spaces where you can add your own inky leaves and creatures or just leave them blank if drawing isn’t your forte and unlike in Secret Garden there are no written hints so you’re free to create whatever your imagination can conjure up. If you need inspiration then head online to google, pinterest and Facebook colouring groups where there will be finished pages cropping up daily from people worldwide who are venturing into this garden of delights.

In terms of mental health, this book is brilliant because of its content and how beautifully the images are drawn. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The images are drawn with a range of intricacy and detail levels but mostly this remains high so again, you need good vision and dexterity. The nature of the imagery in this book is superb for calming you down and helping you to zone out. I find nature scenes the best thing for calming down my anxious racing mind and this book really does that. It’s great for keeping you occupied and distracted and because of the variety of image styles, it means that there is something for every concentration level as well as good and bad days of symptoms. There are ribbon images which could take you just a couple of hours to colour, centralised single images which will take a few hours, all the way up to jam-packed double-page spreads depicting perfumeries and potting shed shelves which will take days or even weeks depending on what mediums and techniques you use to colour them.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. A few comments I’ve seen online have criticised this book for being samey and unoriginal but I can’t agree. I’ve gone back through Secret Garden and although World of Flowers does remind me of it, the imagery really isn’t similar other than being drawn by the same person. Johanna has really developed her style since the first book, all of the spaces and designs are colourable for the majority of us whereas the intricacy level in Secret Garden is exceptionally high for most images and therefore quite a challenge to colour. There are many more types of designs in this new title and therefore much more variety even though the theme is more limited than any previous book has been. This book is certainly geared up for those who love colouring flowers and leaves and if that isn’t your thing then it absolutely isn’t for you but for those of us who do, it’s just perfect and stunningly beautiful!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available below. Do bear in mind that there are some significant publishing differences between this and the US edition and therefore you may want to read or view my comparison post/video before ordering if you haven’t already.
Amazon UK – World of Flowers
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/World-Flowers-Johanna-Basford/9780753553183

The image below was coloured with Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

Video Review

Video Flick Through

World of Flowers: A Coloring Book & Floral Adventure (US Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
World of Flowers is the 7th book brought to us by colouring queen, Johanna Basford. She very kindly sent me the most wonderful box of goodies including the UK and US edition of World of Flowers so that I could review and compare the two, you can see my unboxing video and flip-through of the US edition here. This review is of the US edition. You can find the UK edition review here. I have compared the two in detail both via video and in a written post including photos, there are a lot of differences, most of which don’t affect enjoyment of the book but a few of which do including the cover/dust jacket, paper, image size, and whether they match your previous editions so do check out that post so that you purchase the right edition for you. The US edition publishes on the 23rd of October.

World of Flowers is a paperback, square book (25.5cm x 25.5cm) which is exactly the same size as the US editions of Johanna’s previous square titles, Lost Ocean, Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas. It has a white spine with black text, the same as the US editions of previous titles and it looks beautiful with the other books on the shelf (see photo below). The US edition doesn’t have a removable dust jacket and instead has card covers with rose-gold foiling accents on the front, really adding to the luxurious feel of this book. The card covers open out to reveal French flaps with a fully colourable floral design spanning the interior, this card is matte and therefore colourable with almost any medium you choose. The spine is glue-bound which isn’t ideal as these aren’t overly durable and often cause the pages to fall out as the spine breaks quite easily; it takes a bit of work to get the spine to lie flat but you can reach the majority of the gutter and colour it. The paper is a pale ivory colour (it’s Johanna’s new signature paper), and is exactly the same as that found in the US edition of Magical Jungle, Johanna’s Christmas, and Ivy and the Inky Butterfly, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly though they do spread sideways ever so slightly as the paper is a little absorbent so just mind that, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and they only shadow if you colour too much in one spot. It is not the same paper as used in the UK editions of these books.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page and then a “This book belongs to …” page where you can add your name, there is then an introduction and colouring tips from Johanna and then 80 pages of beautiful flower illustrations. There is no treasure hunt in this book and so there is also no key of images at the back either. The images are printed double-sided with no border, normally this would mean a little of each image was lost into it but Johanna has taken on board the concerns of us colourists and has deliberately left the spine as clear as possible in the vast majority of the images so this frustration is mostly gone! The book contains 80 pages of stunning images, the same number as in Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle, fewer than Johanna’s first two books (96 Secret Garden, 84 Enchanted Forest) but I have to say, I didn’t notice this at all until I looked at the specs on Amazon. This book is every flower-lover’s dream. If you don’t like flowers or aren’t that keen on them or leaves then this book is absolutely not for you because it really does what the title suggests and is jam-packed with large blooms, tiny blossoms, seedlings, potted plants, cut flowers, perfumeries, ponds, gardens, potting sheds, and visitors to flowers including bees, butterflies, beetles, snails and more. The designs range from patterns and mandalas to circular and wreath designs, ribbons and banners to single and double-page scenes, centred images with large open backgrounds and pages crammed with content where you couldn’t squeeze any more on if you tried. There isn’t a story feel to this book, it doesn’t create such a vivid sense of place like so many of Johanna’s previous books have done but it does very much take you to a garden and so although it doesn’t feel to me like a journey, it is much like visiting a garden, it’s filled with variety and will look truly incredible filled with colour. The detail and intricacy that we’re so familiar with is well and truly back. I was slightly disappointed with the lack of detail in Magical Jungle and a few of the images in Ivy and so I’m really glad to see it back because that’s what I’ve always loved so much about Johanna’s work. At the very end of the book is a double-sided fold-out poster with two different floral garden scenes to colour. This can be detached from the book as it is perforated but it seems quite well attached and therefore won’t accidentally fall out from the book as long as you’re careful with it. A number of the images in the book have large blank spaces where you can add your own inky leaves and creatures or just leave them blank if drawing isn’t your forte and unlike in Secret Garden there are no written hints so you’re free to create whatever your imagination can conjure up. If you need inspiration then head online to google, pinterest and Facebook colouring groups where there will be finished pages cropping up daily from people worldwide who are venturing into this garden of delights.

In terms of mental health, this book is brilliant because of its content and how beautifully the images are drawn. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so you will need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The images are drawn with a range of intricacy and detail levels but mostly this remains high so again, you need good vision and dexterity. The nature of the imagery in this book is superb for calming you down and helping you to zone out. I find nature scenes the best thing for calming down my anxious racing mind and this book really does that. It’s great for keeping you occupied and distracted and because of the variety of image styles, it means that there is something for every concentration level as well as good and bad days of symptoms. There are ribbon images which could take you just a couple of hours to colour, centralised single images which will take a few hours, all the way up to jam-packed double-page spreads depicting perfumeries and potting shed shelves which will take days or even weeks depending on what mediums and techniques you use to colour them.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. A few comments I’ve seen online have criticised this book for being samey and unoriginal but I can’t agree. I’ve gone back through Secret Garden and although World of Flowers does remind me of it, the imagery really isn’t similar other than being drawn by the same person. Johanna has really developed her style since the first book, all of the spaces and designs are colourable for the majority of us whereas the intricacy level in Secret Garden is exceptionally high for most images and therefore quite a challenge to colour. There are many more types of designs in this new title and therefore much more variety even though the theme is more limited than any previous book has been. This book is certainly geared up for those who love colouring flowers and leaves and if that isn’t your thing then it absolutely isn’t for you but for those of us who do, it’s just perfect and stunningly beautiful!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available below. Do bear in mind that there are some significant publishing differences between this and the UK edition and therefore you may want to read or view my comparison post/video before ordering if you haven’t already.
Amazon UK – World of Flowers
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/World-of-Flowers/9780143133827/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Review

Unboxing and Flip Through

Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition: 24 Illustrations to Colour and Frame – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. This book contains 24 of the original images from the Lost Ocean colouring book all printed single-sided. The book is 25x33cm, paperback with thick card covers with beautiful gold foiling accents on the cover and blue text on the spine. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but they’re not stuck very strongly and in the process of colouring my page I’ve managed to detach nearly half of the pages so this book won’t stay together unless you’re extremely careful with it. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Artist’s Editions). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t.

The images included are from the original Lost Ocean book and I think they’re a really good selection. There aren’t any pattern or filler images this time and they’re all definitely frame-worthy. Of the 24 illustrations, 5 are landscape and the others are portrait orientation, 3 are printed smaller than the original illustrations but the others are all printed larger to varying degrees from 4mm to the largest being the skull at an extra 7cm larger, 5 of the images are taken from double-page spreads where a section has generally been enlarged (a couple have been shrunk but not drastically so) and the rest are from single page spreads. Because the majority of the images have been enlarged, at least a little bit, they mostly have larger spaces to colour which allows you to really go to town and the possibilities for blending and shading are increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print would be ideal for practising these techniques.

As with all of the Artist’s Editions, this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores, this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it, as well as comparing the size to the original images.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Lost Ocean, the journey is less obvious but the images are printed in the same order as they appear in the book so it does have a feeling of flow. It’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a watery world filled with brightly coloured fish and enchanting sea creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I personally love because it means you can decorate your walls with your work or give wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends. This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the small selection of shells printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Artists-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753548134?ref=grid-view&qid=1491572389812&sr=1-1/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

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.

Enchanted Forest Journal – A Review

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

Enchanted Forest Journal is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. I will freely admit to being a total stationery addict – I love nothing more than a brand new pen or notebook, so when I saw that our colouring Queen Johanna Basford had released another colouring journal, I had to have a copy, her first colouring journal Secret Garden can be found reviewed by me here. This journal comes shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you won’t be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect. It’s really luxurious from its hardback cover with a beautiful woodland scene from the book and gold foiling accents, to the black linen-style spine and beautiful gold-edged pages, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! The journal is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy cream ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every double-page is a small image from Johanna’s Enchanted Forest colouring book. The 72 illustrations include loads of different leaves, fish, birds, owls, feathers and more, and they look stunning on each double-page spread either left uncoloured or brightening it up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers are cream with black line drawings of Johanna’s flower patterns which can be coloured and the first page of the book has space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink does transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is fantastic because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are intricate and detailed, some at the same level as contained in the original book and others are much smaller and therefore more intricate and detailed so if you’re wanting to colour these images you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. I found that the illustrations are ideal for testing out colour schemes and techniques ready for doing my ‘best’ version in my copy of Enchanted Forest but this is also a great stand-alone journal.

I would highly recommend this journal for Johanna Basford fans, stationery addicts, and those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is a sprig of leaves or a little fox. This journal is gorgeous and certainly the best I’ve seen and its gold-edged pages are a lovely addition.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest Journal
Book Depository Worldwide (cover shown is incorrect but item is right) – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basfords-Enchanted-Forest-Journal-Johann-Basford/9781780679181/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna’s Christmas is published by Virgin Books and is from my personal collection, it’s currently available on Amazon UK though there was a delay for most of us getting them. I also ordered a US edition from Book Depository which I have reviewed HERE and I have also written a comprehensive comparison post of the two which can be found here.

The book itself is 25cm square, the same size as the previous UK editions of Johanna’s books, ever so slightly smaller than the US editions which are all 25.4cm square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with two third French flaps which open out front and back to reveal a beautiful colourable large-print bauble design. The covers are white with black text, the spine is black with white text and gold foil stars and Christmas trees; the cover has loads of gold foil accents, it’s a bright gold (yellower than the foil used on the UK Magical Jungle) and I personally feel it’s a bit overdone and looks a little tacky and gaudy! Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the copyright page, name page, and Introduction, including colouring tips from Johanna. Unlike Johanna’s previous books, there isn’t a treasure hunt element, this has been replaced by the quest to find a flock of 63 hidden robins though you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all because there are no answer pages at the back. The spine is glue and string-bound making it pretty durable and with a bit of work it’ll lie quite flat. The paper is pale ivory, the same as UK Magical Jungle, different from the US edition of this book and Magical Jungle (those both have the same paper). The paper is a whiter colour and slightly thinner than that in the US edition but is equally as thick as the paper in Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest, and far thicker than the paper in Lost Ocean. It’s very lightly textured so it’s easy to get an even coverage with pencils and water-based pens don’t bleed and only barely shadow but this doesn’t matter as the pages are printed single-sided, alcohol markers will bleed through so make sure you put protective sheets behind your work to protect the proceeding page. The images are printed single sided onto perforated pages so you really can use any medium you fancy as long as you either remove the page first or put adequate scrap paper behind the page. On the back of each image is one of 3 grey line-drawn Christmas-themed patterns which you can colour or just leave blank. The majority of the images are single pages but 5 of them are double-page spreads which can easily be coloured as single images as each half is contained to a perforated single page, or paired together either in the book or for framing to create a scene or matching pair. At the back of the book is a double-sided colour palette testing page where you can test all of your mediums to see how they look and behave on the paper.

The 37 images include many of the things you’d expect a Chirstmassy colouring book to include though a quick note here of some of the things you may have expected that aren’t included, Nativity scenes or any religious imagery, no people including no Father Christmas, no Mrs Claus, and no elves because Johanna doesn’t like drawing people, there’s also no Christmas dinner. However, don’t despair, because she really and truly has included everything else that you could possibly wish for from Christmas trees to reindeer, Christmas puddings to sweets, gingerbread houses to robins, and presents of all shapes and sizes. There are wonderful images of a polar bear on an iceberg, a rocking horse, a Gramophone emitting Christmas-themed music, and a stunning cuckoo clock. The illustrations are unmistakable and to me the content is pretty perfect, until now I’ve only purchased one Christmas-themed colouring book because all of the previous books I’ve seen have fallen short in content or not had enough detail for my liking, this book is everything I wanted and is jam-packed with holly, mistletoe, candy canes, poinsettias, wreathes, baubles, stockings, snowflakes, and nutcrackers. The images are presented in a number of forms from a beautiful two page ribbon spread, to a circular frame surrounding an arctic hare, two mandala-style squares and a snowflake shape created from repeating Christmas objects, centralised images, symmetrical patterns and my favourite, a double-page spread of a wonderful living room with a roaring fire, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and even a carrot, cookie and hot drink left out for Father Christmas and his reindeer.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, especially for those who dream of Christmas all year around like I do! If you’re wanting to get into the festive spirit then I’d suggest settling down wearing a Christmas jumper, putting on a Christmas film or festive music and even breaking out the mince pies or yule log so you can really get into the mood for your colouring. This book offers a wonderful level of escapism, it really transports you to memories of happy Christmas times and the joy of a beautifully decorated tree and perfectly wrapped presents. Those of you who are Christian will probably be disappointed by the lack of religious imagery but Johanna has suggested that she isn’t religious and a great number of us who celebrate Christmas aren’t either so she has kept away from religion and instead kept to illustrations of Winter-themed things and traditional Christmas Day celebrations. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin with spindly thin details. The intricacy and detail levels are drastically reduced from Lost Ocean and are most similar to Enchanted Forest and Magical Jungle so this book will be suited to those with fairly good but not perfect vision and fine motor control (check the images below to ensure it’s suitable for you). The images mostly contain lots of different component parts which make it very easy to colour a small section on days when your concentration is poor, or a much larger section when you’re focusing well. The illustrations also have different amounts of imagery ranging from centralised images with quite large open spaces to double-page spreads with loads of detail and components which will take much longer to complete. There is a real variety of images with some more suited to pens and others more suited to pencils and the use of blending and shading. If you get just one Christmas-themed colouring book, then I’d strongly advise this one, it’s beautiful, single-sided and therefore ideal for any medium, and packed with all of the non-religious Christmas imagery you could possibly wish for! Once you’ve finished a page you can even remove it and frame it and either gift it to someone else or hang it on your wall to add some wonderful festive cheer.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough, the illustrations are beautiful and perfectly Wintery and Christmassy, they’re printed single-sided so you can use any medium you wish and frame them once finished, the intricacy is a really good level so the images aren’t boring to colour but also aren’t impossible for people with normal vision. This book is pretty much perfect and it’s certainly got me looking forward to Christmas even more than I already was, it’ll be the perfect present for yourself, and your loved ones!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna’s Christmas
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johanns-Christmas-Johann-Basford/9780753557563/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna’s Christmas
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johanns-Christmas-Johann-Basford/9780143129301/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips. The glittery accents were added using a Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen in Stardust (Clear glitter).

Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Coloring Book (US Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna’s Christmas is published by Penguin Books and is from my personal collection, it’s currently available with free Worldwide delivery from Book Depository which is where I got my copy from. I have also ordered reviewed the UK edition here and written a comparison post of the two here.

The book itself is 25.4cm square, the same size as the previous US editions of Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle, ever so slightly larger than the UK editions which are all 25cm square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with two third French flaps which open out front and back to reveal a beautiful colourable bauble design. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has beautiful matte red, green, and gold foiling and it looks really Christmassy and luxurious even before you open it! Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the copyright page, name page, and Introduction, including colouring tips from Johanna. Unlike Johanna’s previous books, there isn’t a treasure hunt element, this has been replaced by the quest to find a flock of 63 hidden robins though you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all because there are no answer pages at the back. The spine is glue-bound which isn’t ideal as these aren’t overly durable and often cause the pages to fall out as the spine breaks quite easily. The paper is a pale ivory colour (it’s Johanna’s new signature paper), and is exactly the same as that found in the US edition of Magical Jungle, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly though they do spread sideways ever so slightly as the paper is a little absorbent so just mind that, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and they only shadow if you colour too much in one spot. The images are printed single sided onto perforated pages so you really can use any medium you fancy as long as you either remove the page first or put adequate scrap paper behind the page. On the back of each image is one of 3 grey line drawn Christmas-themed patterns which you can colour or just leave blank. The majority of the images are single pages but 5 of them are double-page spreads which can easily be coloured as single images as each half is contained to a perforated single page, or paired together either in the book or for framing to create a scene or matching pair. At the back of the book is a double-sided colour palette testing page where you can test all of your mediums to see how they look and behave on the paper.

The 37 images include many of the things you’d expect a Christmassy colouring book to include though a quick note here of some of the things you may have expected that aren’t included, Nativity scenes or any religious imagery, no people including no Father Christmas, no Mrs Claus, and no elves because Johanna doesn’t like drawing people, there’s also no Christmas dinner. However, don’t despair, because she really and truly has included everything else that you could possibly wish for from Christmas trees to reindeer, Christmas puddings to sweets, gingerbread houses to robins, and presents of all shapes and sizes. There are wonderful images of a polar bear on an iceberg, a rocking horse, a Gramophone emitting Christmas-themed music, and a stunning cuckoo clock. The illustrations are unmistakable and to me this book is almost perfect, until now I’ve only purchased one Christmas-themed colouring book because all of the previous books I’ve seen have fallen short in content or not had enough detail for my liking, this book is everything I wanted and is jam-packed with holly, mistletoe, candy canes, poinsettias, wreathes, baubles, stockings, snowflakes, and nutcrackers. The images are presented in a number of forms from a beautiful two page ribbon spread, to a circular frame surrounding an arctic hare, two mandala-style squares and a snowflake shape created from repeating Christmas objects, centralised images, symmetrical patterns and my favourite, a double-page spread of a wonderful living room with a roaring fire, beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and even a carrot, cookie and hot drink left out for Father Christmas and his reindeer.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, especially for those who dream of Christmas all year around like I do! If you’re wanting to get into the festive spirit then I’d suggest settling down wearing a Christmas jumper, putting on a Christmas film or festive music and even breaking out the mince pies or yule log so you can really get into the mood for your colouring. This book offers a wonderful level of escapism, it really transports you to memories of happy Christmas times and the joy of a beautifully decorated tree and perfectly wrapped presents. Those of you who are Christian will probably be disappointed by the lack of religious imagery but Johanna has suggested that she isn’t religious and a great number of us who celebrate Christmas aren’t either so she has kept away from religion and instead kept to illustrations of Winter-themed things and traditional Christmas Day celebrations. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin with spindly thin details. The intricacy and detail levels are drastically reduced from Lost Ocean and are most similar to Enchanted Forest and Magical Jungle so this book will be suited to those with fairly good but not perfect vision and fine motor control (check the images below to ensure it’s suitable for you). The images mostly contain lots of different component parts which make it very easy to colour a small section on days when your concentration is poor, or a much larger section when you’re focusing well. The illustrations also have different amounts of imagery ranging from centralised images with quite large open spaces to double-page spreads with loads of detail and components which will take much longer to complete. There is a real variety of images with some more suited to pens and others more suited to pencils and the use of blending and shading. If you get just one Christmas-themed colouring book, then I’d strongly advise this one, it’s beautiful, single-sided and therefore ideal for any medium, and packed with all of the non-religious Christmas imagery you could possibly wish for! Once you’ve finished a page you can even remove it and frame it and either gift it to someone else or hang it on your wall to add some wonderful festive cheer.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough, the illustrations are beautiful and perfectly Wintery and Christmassy, they’re printed single-sided so you can use any medium you wish and frame them once finished, the intricacy is a really good level so the images aren’t boring to colour but also aren’t impossible for people with normal vision. This book is pretty much perfect and it’s certainly got me looking forward to Christmas even more than I already was, it’ll be the perfect present for yourself, and your loved ones!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna’s Christmas
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johanns-Christmas-Johann-Basford/9780753557563/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Johanna’s Christmas
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johanns-Christmas-Johann-Basford/9780143129301/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips. The glittery accents were added using a Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen in Stardust (Clear glitter).

Magical Jungle: An Inky Expedition and Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
This review is of the UK edition of Magical Jungle published by Virgin Books. I also have a US edition published by Penguin and have written a comparison post about the differences between the two which can be found here. Both copies of the book were purchased by me as I was unable to secure review copies, I purchased the UK edition from Amazon UK and the US edition from Book Depository. This UK edition of Magical Jungle was printed in Italy.

Magical Jungle is a paperback, square book (25cm x 25cm) which is exactly the same size as Johanna’s previous three titles, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Lost Ocean. It has a black spine with white text, the same as Secret Garden and Lost ocean and it looks beautiful with the other titles on the shelf (see photo below). The UK edition has a removable dust jacket which has gold foiling accents on the front, really adding to the luxurious feel of this book. The jacket is made of thick paper which you can colour and the inside of it is covered with a beautiful jungle foliage pattern which has a waxy finish and can be coloured but only with certain mediums because most pens and pencils are repelled by the shine (alcohol markers are best for this and don’t bleed). This dust jacket is a little looser than the first two and feels a little thinner, it is off white and not cream (see the photo below to see the difference) so it does look a little different from the first two and is similar to Lost Ocean but not quite white. Under the dust jacket, the book is paperback with bright grass green card covers which have an inky black orchid and leaf design on the outside and inside covers. The paper is NOT the same as any previous titles or editions of Johanna’s books and also IS NOT the same as the US edition of Magical Jungle. The paper is most similar to the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest paper but instead of being a yellowy-creamy colour, this is much whiter and more of an ivory hue. It feels equally as thick as the SG and EF paper and has a good level of texture so it’s not difficult to cover the gaps but you can layer and blend well with coloured pencils. I didn’t experience any bleeding or shadowing with water-based pens but everyone colours differently so do make sure you test them on the brand new colour palette test page at the back of the book (a very handy feature where you can not only check for how your mediums behave on the paper but also test colour combos on the new ivory paper).

The images are printed double-sided with no border and the spine is glue and stitch-bound, normally this would mean a little of each image was lost into it but Johanna has taken on board the concerns of us colourists and has deliberately left the spine as clear as possible in the vast majority of the images so this frustration is mostly gone! The book contains 80 pages of stunning images, the same number as in Lost Ocean, fewer than Johanna’s first two books (96 Secret Garden, 84 Enchanted Forest) but I have to say, I didn’t notice this at all until I looked at the specs on Amazon. The style of the images has somewhat changed and Johanna has added more double-page spreads and ribbon pages (those with an illustration running across the middle but not filling the entire page) and put in fewer patterns and mandala-style images though there is a running theme of images with symmetry which I know are a bit like Marmite within the colouring community. One issue specific to the UK edition is the print quality, I have checked with a couple of friends of mine who also have a UK edition printed in Italy and all of us have pixelation throughout the images. This is very subtle and is only noticed when you look very closely at the lines but nevertheless, it’s there and the lines aren’t crisp and neat as the original drawings would have been or as they are in the US edition (see comparison post for more information on this). This pixelation doesn’t particularly affect the enjoyment of the book but it is there and is present on all colouring pages throughout the book, see photos below for clarification.

The book starts with a “This book belongs to …” page where you can add your name and then goes on to show all of the animals that are hidden within the pages for you to find (at the back of the book all of the items are listed under a miniature image of each page they are contained within). You are then transported into Johanna’s Magical Jungle where you will encounter turtles, snakes, monkeys, parrots, and butterflies galore. The images range from double page jungle scenes, to mandala style images of insects, fruity repeating patterns, to single creatures taking centre stage in bordered images, and so much more. Your journey into the jungle starts with a double-page spread where you encounter a waterfall and a croc-infested lake. Walking through the jungle you discover tigers, pandas, tropical birds and tree frogs. There are scenes of gigantic leaves, jungle pools, monkey-filled canopies, jungle houses, ponds and so much more. Finally, at the very end of the book are 4 single-sided perforated pages printed on the same paper as the rest of the book with beautiful images that you can colour and then remove and frame. These pages would be perfect for wetter, more-likely to bleed mediums like watercolours or alcohol markers. These perforated pages have replaced the fold-out spreads of Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean and while some people have been disappointed by this and in some ways I am too, they’re also really beautiful illustrations that will be wonderful to frame and I’m pretty sure this was Johanna’s way of appeasing the people who’ve been consistently asking for removable pages (which can’t be done throughout the book due to cost) and not have to wait until the Artist’s Edition is published next year in order to colour with alcohol markers or be able to frame some of our work. A number of the images in the book have large blank spaces where you can add your own inky leaves and creatures or just leave them blank if drawing isn’t your forte and unlike in Secret Garden there are no written hints so you’re free to create whatever your imagination can conjure up. If you need inspiration then head online to google, pinterest and Facebook colouring groups where there will be finished pages cropping up daily from people worldwide who are venturing into the foliage and colouring their own leafy jungle.

In terms of mental health, this book has different benefits from Johanna’s previous titles. This book is definitely less distracting and requires much less concentration because there are fewer elements on the majority of the pages and these are larger and less detailed. The line thickness is the same as her previous books and is very thin however the intricacy and detail levels are drastically decreased and this is her least detailed book to date which means it will suit far more of you, especially those of you with poorer vision and fine motor control who were just overwhelmed with the teeny tiny sections of her previous books. Fineliner colourers may be quite disappointed as there are very few images in this book that specifically lend themselves to colouring with fine nibs and if you’re wanting to use pens you’ll be much better placed using gel pens or fibre-tips (steer clear of alcohol markers, they’ll bleed through). The illustrations in this book are ideal for pencil colourers because there is so much space to blend and shade; there is also plenty of space to add your own backgrounds if you wish. The images aren’t arranged into a storyline and are more of a collection of jungle-themed illustrations, this means that the book doesn’t especially take you on a journey though it does definitely transport you to a far off place and offers a good level of escapism. The variety of image styles means that there is something for every concentration level as well as good and bad days of symptoms. There are ribbon images which could take you just a couple of hours to colour, centralised single images which will take a few hours, all the way up to jam-packed double-page spreads depicting jungle scenes which will take days or even weeks depending on what mediums and techniques you use to colour them and whether or not you add a background. The nature of the imagery in this book is superb for calming you down and helping you to zone out. I find nature scenes the best thing for calming down my anxious racing mind and this book really does that. The lack of intricacy is a shame for some of us but I know this increases anxiety in some colourers and for those of you who experience this, this book will be ideal for you! You can always add your own intricate patterns and details if you wish meaning you can combine colouring and zentangling if you choose.

Magical Jungle is a huge step away from the detail and intricacy of Lost Ocean and is most similar to the larger more open-spaced designs of Enchanted Forest. The content is very plant-heavy and is filled with leaves and flowers with lots of animals featured throughout; there have been some complaints from people who were expecting it to be animal-centric and who were disappointed so please do check out the images below and Johanna’s flick-through here. I personally really love this book, the print quality issues with the lines being pixelated in the UK version are a real shame and I do miss some of the detail of Johanna’s previous titles but in general this book is beautiful, I do wish there was more of a storyline with the images rather than it being a themed collection but overall it’s gorgeous and will be so lovely to colour and I can’t wait to get started on my next page.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Magical Jungle it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753557167/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780143109006/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.