Lost Ocean

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.

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.

Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent US editions and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the 2016 Secret Garden Colouring calendar. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her third colouring book Lost Ocean, reviewed by me here (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2016. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick white paper which is good quality – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only very very slight shadowing when using my darkest fineliners and none with my lighter colours. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, unlike the Secret Garden 2016 Calendar and the 2017 Enchanted Forest Calendar, these are actually properly hidden objects though there is no key so it can be a little tricky to know exactly what you’re looking for! As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
UK Edition (publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (already published)
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean 2017 Coloring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-2017-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478773/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Enchanted Forest Wall Calendar, a 16-Month Planner and a page-a-day calendar too.
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Colouring Planner
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.

Lost Ocean: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 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 but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This box of postcards contains 50 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Lost Ocean 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 beautiful presentation box made of very thick card and covered in cream paper with a scaled down version of the book cover, complete with gold foiling on the front, and a black background white line drawn pattern inside and around three quarters of the outside edge.

There are two sets of postcards, one including 36 postcards in a book and the larger set containing 50 in a presentation box which is the set I’m reviewing here (do check listings carefully to make sure you’re getting the set you want). As stated before, this set contains 50 postcards, all of which are unique with no duplicates and they are beautiful to look at. The majority of the postcards are landscape, and a few are portrait (5), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards – see photo below). Some are of the whole original image scaled down and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk a little so there is a real 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.

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 (see comparison photo below). I’m personally not overly keen on this yellowy cream colour and feel that it makes the cards look almost dirty. Strangely, the cream appears to have been printed onto originally white card because in a few places it’s blotchy and there are even small white circular printing errors on a few (see image below), the edges of the cards are white. Because the colour has been printed on, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are almost 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 and take pencils well so you can build up plenty of layers though 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 and sadly, this is where the problem is. I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but 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. Fineliners don’t colour well on this card and even those with 0.3mm and 0.4mm nibs were sometimes too thick to colour the pictures neatly. This is 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 and use felt-tips or fineliners but because the images have been shrunk they’re 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 have perfect vision (no glasses needed yet) and fine motor control and really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Intricate is an understatement when describing these images – they’re so detailed and tiny and while this makes them 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). You can’t even make copies of them and blow them up larger because the copyright instructions strictly prohibit this. 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 Lost Ocean which is currently half price on Amazon and half the price of this postcard set, it contains many more images, none of which are impossible to colour. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, I’m deeply disappointed.

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Postcard-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753557372/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Lost Ocean can be found here:
Review – Lost Ocean
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Johann-Basford/9780753557150/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The partially coloured image was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which were repelled by the surface of the card.