Johanna Basford

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.

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.

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

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

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

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

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

Johanna’s Christmas: A comparison between the UK and US editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna’s Christmas was released in the UK and US last week and after the huge online debates surrounding the differences between the UK and US editions of her previous books I thought I’d do a comparison of them both as my previous comparisons of Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle were very successful. I was unable to get review copies so I have purchased the US edition from Book Depository and the UK edition from Amazon UK (purchase links below). I have heard that there are issues with some UK editions which have been printed in China, my copy was printed in Italy (more info below).

This is a long post because there are so many pictures included to illustrate each point but please bear with me because a lot of time and effort has gone into being as thorough as possible. Most of the things I’ve noticed don’t affect the enjoyment or use of the book, they’re just differences but there are a few items that are fundamentally different and do affect use so keep an eye out for those, they’re summarised at the bottom. Some of the very noticeable differences include size and paper type so here goes with the most comprehensive list of similarities and differences that you’re likely to find online!

  1. Dust Jacket – This is usually one of the biggest differences between the editions, with the UK version usually having a removable dust jacket and the US edition having it attached. This time we have a break in convention and both the UK and US edition have attached covers, with no removable dust jacket. I think this is a shame as I’ve loved the removable dust jackets but there you go, neither has them.
    johannas-christmas-1-dust-jacket-1 johannas-christmas-1-dust-jacket-2 johannas-christmas-1-dust-jacket-3 johannas-christmas-1-dust-jacket-4 johannas-christmas-1-dust-jacket-5
  2. French Flaps – The inside flaps of the cover are larger in the UK edition. Both editions have a white line-drawn bauble pattern but the UK edition has more baubles printed smaller, the US edition has them cut off a little and printed larger, and the image on the UK front flap is on the back one in the US and vice versa.
    johannas-christmas-2-french-flaps-1 johannas-christmas-2-french-flaps-2 johannas-christmas-2-french-flaps-3
  3. Spine – The UK edition has a black spine with white writing (the same as Secret Garden and UK Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle) and the Virgin books symbol. The US edition has a white spine with black writing and the Penguin books symbol (the same as US Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle).
    johannas-christmas-3-spine-1 johannas-christmas-3-spine-2 johannas-christmas-3-spine-3
  4. Book size – The UK edition is exactly the same size as Johanna Basford’s first two titles (and the same as the UK editions of Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle) – 25cm square, the US edition is slightly larger at around 25.5cm square making it about half a centimetre taller and wider (this is the same size as the US editions of Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle).
    johannas-christmas-4-book-size-1 johannas-christmas-4-book-size-2
  5. Cover colour – The UK cover is bright white, the US cover is ever so slightly off-white though this is only noticeable when placed next to something truly white.
    johannas-christmas-5-cover-colour
  6. Foiling – This is one of the most noticeable differences. The UK edition has stuck with tradition and has gold foiling accents, these are smooth and very shiny and a yellower gold than the UK Magical Jungle foil (this didn’t show up well in photos). Most of the title and lots of aspects of the cover design are foiled. The sheer amount of foiling on the UK edition means that I feel it looks quite tacky and gaudy. The US edition is much more subtle and classy and has a fully foiled title in gold but brand new red and green foiling on the wreath which looks really beautiful!
    johannas-christmas-6-foiling-1 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-2 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-3 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-4 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-5 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-6 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-7 johannas-christmas-6-foiling-8
  7. Spelling differences – As you’d expect, the UK edition has the British spellings throughout of colour etc, the US edition has color (always check your cover as it’s the easiest way of telling if you have a UK or US edition by the spelling of “colouring book”).
    johannas-christmas-7-spelling-differences-1 johannas-christmas-7-spelling-differences-2
  8. Cover design – The image on the cover of the UK edition is ever so slightly smaller and shows a little less all the way around than the US edition, it is not shifted at all like previous covers have been.
    johannas-christmas-8-cover-design-1 johannas-christmas-8-cover-design-2
  9. Blurb – The UK and US editions have completely different blurbs.
    johannas-christmas-9-blurb-1 johannas-christmas-9-blurb-2
  10. Back cover design – The back of the UK edition is identical to the front, minus the foiling. The US edition also has no foiling on the back but the design is printed in a mirror image compared to the front.
    johannas-christmas-10-back-cover-design
  11. Inside covers – On opening out the French flaps, both editions have the same bauble design printed front and back, however the baubles are printed much larger in the UK edition.
    johannas-christmas-11-inside-covers-1 johannas-christmas-11-inside-covers-2
  12. Paper quality – This is one of the biggest differences between the two editions. The paper in each edition is the same as the paper used in that edition of Magical Jungle but they’re not the same as each other, despite assurances from Johanna Basford herself that the paper in the UK and US editions would be identical; I can categorically state that it is NOT. The colour is different, the thickness is different and the surface texture is different. The UK paper is ivory and a much whiter hue, it is a little thinner but feels equally thick as Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest and significantly thicker than Lost Ocean. There is a little tooth but the paper does burnish after a few layers when tested with Polychromos and Prismacolor pencils. The US paper is ivory but a more cream colour though it’s still paler than the cream colour of Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. The paper is the thickest yet and has a more visible tooth, it took far more layers for blending (see direct comparison below with identical numbers of layers with two polychromos pencils on the red and yellow leaf) and still isn’t totally burnished. In both editions water-based pens behave the same way and the paper in both is beautiful to colour on with pens as they glide really well with no feathering or spreading at all. The UK paper seems like it will shadow faster and more easily than the US edition and while I didn’t experience any shadowing in either, the UK paper did seem like it might with very dark colours if not using a light touch. From what I have read online the official Johanna Basford paper is the one used in the US edition, I personally prefer the colour of the UK edition but the US paper is much easier to use pencils on and is less likely to bleed with water-based pens so I have to recommend that one.
    johannas-christmas-12-paper-quality-1 johannas-christmas-12-paper-quality-2 johannas-christmas-12-paper-quality-3 johannas-christmas-12-paper-quality-4 johannas-christmas-12-paper-quality-5
  13. Page ink quality – Both books have equally permanent ink when tested with Derwent blender and burnishing pencils. Both smudged ever so slightly but I was pressing hard. I haven’t coloured an image in each with pencil yet to be able to state much about ink transfer, however, my US copy arrived with little bits of print transferred onto the opposite page, presumably just from the weight of being in a stack of books so I’d guess it’s not hugely permanent, my suggestion would be to use a scrap piece of paper behind your colouring in either edition of the book just to be safe, especially between the double page spreads.
    johannas-christmas-13-page-ink-quality-1 johannas-christmas-13-page-ink-quality-2 johannas-christmas-13-page-ink-quality-3 johannas-christmas-13-page-ink-quality-4
  14. Image size – The images in the UK edition are printed a fair bit smaller than the US edition (up to 1.5cm overall and yes I measured a number of them with a ruler to check) meaning there is a larger white border around the images in the UK book compared to the US book. This difference hasn’t been especially noticeable in previous books but is visibly different in most images in these editions. Those of you with poorer vision or fine motor control would be best purchasing the US edition as the images are larger throughout, those who prefer intricacy should opt for the UK edition.
    johannas-christmas-14-image-size-1 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-2 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-3 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-4 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-5 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-6 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-7 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-8 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-9 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-10 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-11 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-12 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-13 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-14 johannas-christmas-14-image-size-15
  15. Printing – The UK edition is printed in Italy (predominantly, some much whiter versions seem to be appearing and these have apparently been published in China) and the US edition is printed in the US.
    johannas-christmas-15-printing-1 johannas-christmas-15-printing-2
  16. Image Quality – There was a major issue with pixelation in the UK edition of Magical Jungle, I’m pleased to state that at least in my copy there are no printing issues at all and image quality is equally good in the UK and US editions.
    johannas-christmas-16-image-quality-1 johannas-christmas-16-image-quality-2
  17. Introduction page – The text on both editions is laid out and justified differently.
    johannas-christmas-17-introduction-page-1 johannas-christmas-17-introduction-page-2
  18. Binding – The UK edition is stitched and lightly glue-bound whereas the US edition is only glue-bound which will make it less durable and can lead to pages falling out.
    johannas-christmas-18-binding
  19. Thickness – The UK edition is noticeably thinner than the US edition, this will be because the paper is thinner in the UK edition. This also makes the UK edition much bendier than the US edition.
    johannas-christmas-19-thickness-1 johannas-christmas-19-thickness-2 johannas-christmas-19-thickness-3 johannas-christmas-19-thickness-4
  20. Weight – The UK edition is also lighter in weight than the US edition. I have weighed them both and the UK edition weighs 488g and the US edition 514g.
    johannas-christmas-20-weight-1 johannas-christmas-20-weight-2
  21. Backing wallpaper colour – Each single-sided design has one of three festive wallpaper designs on the back because Johanna didn’t want the pages to just be blank. In the UK edition these are printed in a darker grey line than the fainter US edition.
    johannas-christmas-21-backing-wallpaper-colour
  22. Backing wallpaper order – The images are single-sided but 5 are arranged into double-page spreads meaning that the preceding double-page is wallpaper. In the UK edition both sides of the spread are the same wallpaper pattern, in the US edition they are each different though the order throughout on the single pages is the same.
    johannas-christmas-22-backing-wallpaper-order-1 johannas-christmas-22-backing-wallpaper-order-2
  23. Perforations – The perforations are better cut and more obvious in the UK edition and the pages are easier to tear out, they are less visible in the US edition and harder to pull out the pages. Both editions are quite difficult to remove the pages from and the section of the page that is left tends to rip as you’re pulling it out so do be very careful when removing pages to avoid any rips to the pages themselves.
    johannas-christmas-23-perforations-1 johannas-christmas-23-perforations-2 johannas-christmas-23-perforations-3 johannas-christmas-23-perforations-4
  24. Page size – The size of the perforated section of the page is different in each edition and actually neither are square which will making framing them a little bit challenging as they’re not a standard shape or size. You’ll either have to matt and layer in a larger frame or cut off some of the edge of the page on the centralised images to make them a standard size. The UK pages measure approximately 23.4cm x 24.9cm. The US pages measure approximately 24.1cm x 25.2cm.
    johannas-christmas-24-page-size-1 johannas-christmas-24-page-size-2 johannas-christmas-24-page-size-3 johannas-christmas-24-page-size-4

To sum up, if you’ve managed to make it this far, the two biggest factors affecting your decisions are these:

  1. Matching set – If you want your copy of Johanna’s Christmas to match Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest and the UK editions of Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle as much as is currently possible (bearing in mind the difference in paper colour, thickness and level of intricacy), then you want the UK edition because it is exactly the same size but it doesn’t have a removable dust jacket. This is also the best copy to purchase if you prefer higher levels of intricacy or more space to add your own drawings and backgrounds.
  2. Larger, easier to colour images and thicker paper– If your vision or fine motor control aren’t perfect then I’d definitely advise purchasing the US edition of Johanna’s Christmas because the extra (up to) 1.5cm in the images will be useful. The paper is thicker and toothier making it best for pen and pencil users, the US edition is superior in almost every way.

Everything else I’ve listed is not a criticism and doesn’t impact use or enjoyment, I’ve just listed all of the differences to make people aware of what they are and to make it easy to identify which copy is which when looking at pictures of it online and elsewhere. In my opinion, the US edition offers a superior colouring experience to the UK edition and if you’re going to purchase just one copy then I’d suggest it be that one. If you notice any other differences then please do get in touch and I’ll add them to the list! Happy Colouring – You’ve definitely earnt it!

You can read my review of the contents of Johanna’s Christmas, including my mental health recommendations here for the UK and here for the US edition. My comparisons of the UK and US editions of Johanna’s other books can be found here – Lost Ocean & Magical Jungle.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Johanna’s Christmas 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

 

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).