Lost Ocean

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour is illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Johanna Basford, it is published by Virgin Books. I have also been sent a US edition of the book and have written a comparison post which can be found here. This book is the sixth colouring book illustrated by colouring queen, Johanna Basford and this meant it was time for a bit of a change, this time it’s a different shape, somewhat different style and contains a story that she’s written based on a bedtime story she’s told her daughter Evie but what isn’t different is the charm, beauty and wonderfulness that we’ve come to expect from Johanna’s books, this book has those in spades!

The book itself measures 21.5 x 25cm making it the same height as the UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas but almost 4cm narrower as it’s not square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with ½ French Flaps which open out front and back to reveal a flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, this isn’t waxy and is very smooth so it should be fully colourable with most mediums including pencils and water-based pens, be very careful with alcohol markers bleeding through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has coppery/bronze foiling accents which is quite subtle and very luxurious and aids the traditional storybook feeling! The spine is glue and string-bound which makes it very durable and easier to open out flat so you can reach the majority of the gutter and colour it. The paper is the same as that used in UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas, this paper was found through a global hunt and it’s beautiful, it is not the same paper as used in the US editions of these books which was created specifically for Johanna’s books and named after her. The paper is a very pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how your mediums behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the introduction and name page, the copyright page is at the back at the bottom of the End page. There isn’t an official treasure hunt in this book but Johanna has hidden over 200 butterflies throughout the pages for you to find, some are very obvious and some are much better hidden and there aren’t any answers or clues to where they are so you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all. The images are printed double-sided throughout, I know lots of people aren’t a fan of this but it really wouldn’t have worked with single-sided pages as the story wouldn’t have flowed and the book would have weighed a ton, as it is it contains 120 pages so it’s much thicker than all of the previous titles and has so much content packed in that this could be a lifetime project!  The story has been written by Johanna and it’s thoroughly lovely, exciting and far more complex than I expected. I’m not sure what age range it’s aimed at but there is some fairly complex language included so at a guess I’d suggest probably age 6-8 and above, and possibly older if the children are wanting to read it themselves, depending on their reading ability. The text isn’t on every page and those it is on it’s been very cleverly incorporated and illustrated around so that it doesn’t feel like a colouring book with text shoe-horned it, it feels like an illustrated storybook with images on every page and text on the vast majority. The images vary a huge amount, this book has by far the largest range of content of any of Johanna’s books and it’s absolutely packed with different items to really challenge you to learn to colour all sorts of types of things including gems, metal, feathers, fur, skin, water, and so much more. The images are also drawn in a huge range of styles including ribbons, centralised images, full double-page scenes, mandalas, symmetrical sections, portrait-style images, illuminated manuscripts, borders, frames and more. The content of the images matches the story and without giving too much away, this involves Ivy following an Inky Butterfly out of a portrait, through a hidden door and into a magical world where she meets some lovely friends and creatures and encounters a gigantic flower garden, a magpie shop owner, a mouse, elves, dragons and more. The images contain all manner of things including flowers, leaves, mushrooms, food, lanterns, trinkets, bees, tree houses, stilted water houses, jewellery, maps, stars, berries, a griffin, treasure, and owl, I could go on forever! This book does still have a lot of flowers, leaves and trees but there are so many other things interspersed that you can certainly give your green pencils and pens a bit of a rest and start learning all sorts of techniques to really challenge yourself and make things look realistic if you wish. The images are truly beautiful, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit flicking through this book for the last few days and every single time I find more items I didn’t notice before. One thing I really noticed and which I’m absolutely in love with about this book is the subtle nods to all of Johanna’s previous books, from a picture of flamingos on the wall in the Wonder Room and another of elephants (both from Magical Jungle), to the cuckoo clock on the wall that was pictured in Johanna’s Christmas, a crab postcard, fish and ships in bottles like those found in Lost Ocean, there are dragons, castles and treehouses similar to those in Enchanted Forest and flower upon flower from Secret Garden (as well as heaps of new ones, don’t panic), none of the content feels samey, boring, or repetitive, but it’s so lovely to have little reminders of the previous books which really helps tie them all together and certainly made me wonder if all of those previous books might have been places and lands that Ivy, or her grandfather might have travelled to in the past. Some of the images are really packed with illustrations and others are much more open with space to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish. There aren’t a great deal of images of Ivy because Johanna knows that a lot of us struggle with colouring skin tone and she’s not a fan of drawing people though she’s done a fabulous job of all of the images of Ivy that there are but this book certainly isn’t intimidating for those of us whose current level of skin-tone colouring is a block of peachy-pink!

In terms of mental health, I’m not sure this book could be better, it offers a great project in a number of ways and it is so distracting. The story itself is absolutely lovely and very absorbing, the images follow it really well but also leave plenty of room for you to use your own imagination and get lost in Ivy’s journey to Enchantia. The images are all different sizes so this book is really adaptable for those with fluctuating conditions and these range from small motifs of one bee or a couple of fish, all the way up to completely packed double-page spreads that have almost no un-illustrated spaces and everything in between, no matter how you’re feeling you’ll be able to find a section that’s suitable and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can really use this book to challenge yourself to learn new techniques if you wish but it’ll look equally beautiful block coloured in your brightest, weirdest colour combinations, the sky really is the limit! For those of us who often struggle to know what to colour or pick a page it could be a great idea to work through this book cover to cover and just colour each page in turn so that you don’t have to keep deciding, or you can just dive in to your favourite page and start there, it really doesn’t matter. I know a lot of people want to fully colour a copy of this book as a gift for children in their life and having now seen the book, this would make the most amazing gift and heirloom that children for years to come would adore and cherish but my goodness is it an undertaking, it’ll take such a long time to complete but it’ll be so worth it and you could even start it off for a child and then get them to carry it on. What a wonderful experience it would be to read the story and colour the book together! The line thickness is the same as always, thin and sometimes spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels have increased again since Magical Jungle and are much more similar to Secret Garden and the less detailed parts of Lost Ocean so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control because while the intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout, the majority are quite high because of the sheer amount of content and objects in each image. I have personally found this book really calming, the story is very reminiscent of those from my childhood and nostalgia can be very comforting, it’s just really heart-warming both in the words and the imagery and it really helps your worries melt away, it lifts your mood and the world doesn’t feel like such a dark place for a while, it’s perfect!

Overall, I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s beautiful and I know some people were a bit upset about it having text added this time but it adds so much to the book and loses none of the illustrative content because of the larger number of pages. You don’t need to have kids or be a child to enjoy this book, I don’t have kids and my goodness have I been enjoying it, especially knowing that no one will be “adding” to my colouring or dog-earing the pages but it’ll make a wonderful project or gift for the children in your life if you choose to share it with them. Johanna really has outdone herself, the new objects and types of imagery are fantastic and really add a lot to the book and I honestly can’t express just how beautiful and perfect this book is when it’s actually in your hands, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

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Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color (US Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color is illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Johanna Basford, it is published by Penguin Books. I have also been sent a UK edition of the book and have written a comparison post which can be found here. This book is the sixth colouring book illustrated by colouring queen, Johanna Basford and this meant it was time for a bit of a change, this time it’s a different shape, somewhat different style and contains a story that she’s written based on a bedtime story she’s told her daughter Evie but what isn’t different is the charm, beauty and wonderfulness that we’ve come to expect from Johanna’s books, this book has those in spades!

The book itself measures 21.8 x 25.4cm making it the same height as the US editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas but almost 4cm narrower as it’s not square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with ½ French Flaps which open out front and back to reveal a flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, this isn’t waxy and is very smooth so it should be fully colourable with most mediums including pencils and water-based pens, be very careful with alcohol markers bleeding through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has mint green text backgrounds and beautiful gold and green foiling which is really luxurious and aids the traditional storybook feeling! The spine is glue-bound which makes it quite stiff on opening because the covers are glued a little to the front and back pages of the book, you’re likely to need to crack the spine in order to get the book to open fully but do be very careful because pages can fall out of glue-bound spines and that would be a bit of a disaster if you want to keep the story in order! The paper is the same ‘Johanna Basford’ paper as used in the US editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas, this is not the same as the paper used in the UK editions of any of these books which was sourced through a global hunt to find a suitable ivory paper. The paper is a pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how your they behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the introduction and name page, the copyright page is at the back at the bottom of the End page. There isn’t an official treasure hunt in this book but Johanna has hidden over 200 butterflies throughout the pages for you to find, some are very obvious and some are much better hidden and there aren’t any answers or clues to where they are so you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all. The images are printed double-sided throughout, I know lots of people aren’t a fan of this but it really wouldn’t have worked with single-sided pages as the story wouldn’t have flowed and the book would have weighed a ton, as it is it contains 120 pages so it’s much thicker than all of the previous titles and has so much content packed in that this could be a lifetime project!  The story has been written by Johanna and it’s thoroughly lovely, exciting and far more complex than I expected. I’m not sure what age range it’s aimed at but there is some fairly complex language included so at a guess I’d suggest probably age 6-8 and above, and possibly older if the children are wanting to read it themselves, depending on their reading ability. The text isn’t on every page and those it is on it’s been very cleverly incorporated and illustrated around so that it doesn’t feel like a colouring book with text shoe-horned in, it feels like an illustrated storybook with images on every page and text on the vast majority. The images vary a huge amount, this book has by far the largest range of content of any of Johanna’s books and it’s absolutely packed with different items to really challenge you to learn to colour all sorts of types of things including gems, metal, feathers, fur, skin, water, wood, and so much more. The images are also drawn in a huge range of styles including ribbons, centralised images, full double-page scenes, mandalas, symmetrical sections, portrait-style images, illuminated manuscripts, borders, frames and more. The content of the images matches the story and without giving too much away, this involves Ivy following an Inky Butterfly out of a portrait, through a hidden door and into a magical world where she meets some lovely friends and creatures and encounters a gigantic flower garden, a magpie shop owner, a mouse, elves, dragons and more. The images contain all manner of things including flowers, leaves, mushrooms, food, lanterns, trinkets, bees, tree houses, stilted water houses, jewellery, maps, stars, berries, a griffin, treasure, and owl, I could go on forever! This book does still have a lot of flowers, leaves and trees but there are so many other things interspersed that you can certainly give your green pencils and pens a bit of a rest and start learning all sorts of techniques to really challenge yourself and make things look realistic if you wish. The images are truly beautiful, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit flicking through this book for the last few days and every single time I find more items I didn’t notice before. One thing I really noticed and which I’m absolutely in love with about this book is the subtle nods to all of Johanna’s previous books, from a picture of flamingos on the wall in the Wonder Room and another of elephants (both from Magical Jungle), to the cuckoo clock on the wall that was pictured in Johanna’s Christmas, a crab postcard, fish and ships in bottles like those found in Lost Ocean, there are dragons, castles and treehouses similar to those in Enchanted Forest and flower upon flower from Secret Garden (as well as heaps of new ones, don’t panic), none of the content feels samey, boring, or repetitive, but it’s so lovely to have little reminders of the previous books which really helps tie them all together and certainly made me wonder if all of those previous books might have been places and lands that Ivy, or her grandfather might have travelled to in the past. Some of the images are really packed with illustrations and others are much more open with space to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish. There aren’t a great deal of images of Ivy because Johanna knows that a lot of us struggle with colouring skin tone and she’s not a fan of drawing people though she’s done a fabulous job of all of the images of Ivy that there are but this book certainly isn’t intimidating for those of us whose current level of skin-tone colouring is a block of peachy-pink!

In terms of mental health, I’m not sure this book could be better, it offers a great project in a number of ways and it is so distracting. The story itself is absolutely lovely and very absorbing, the images follow it really well but also leave plenty of room for you to use your own imagination and get lost in Ivy’s journey to Enchantia. The images are all different sizes so this book is really adaptable for those with fluctuating conditions and these range from small motifs of one bee or a couple of fish, all the way up to completely packed double-page spreads that have almost no un-illustrated spaces and everything in between, no matter how you’re feeling you’ll be able to find a section that’s suitable and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can really use this book to challenge yourself to learn new techniques if you wish but it’ll look equally beautiful block coloured in your brightest, weirdest colour combinations, the sky really is the limit! For those of us who often struggle to know what to colour or pick a page it could be a great idea to work through this book cover to cover and just colour each page in turn so that you don’t have to keep deciding, or you can just dive in to your favourite page and start there, it really doesn’t matter. I know a lot of people want to fully colour a copy of this book as a gift for children in their life and having now seen the book, this would make the most amazing gift and heirloom that children for years to come would adore and cherish but my goodness is it an undertaking, it’ll take such a long time to complete but it’ll be so worth it and you could even start it off for a child and then get them to carry it on. What a wonderful experience it would be to read the story and colour the book together! The line thickness is the same as always, thin and sometimes spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels have increased again since Magical Jungle and are much more similar to Secret Garden and the less detailed parts of Lost Ocean so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control because while the intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout, the majority are quite high because of the sheer amount of content and objects in each image. I have personally found this book really calming, the story is very reminiscent of those from my childhood and nostalgia can be very comforting, it’s just really heart-warming both in the words and the imagery and it really helps your worries melt away, it lifts your mood and the world doesn’t feel like such a dark place for a while, it’s perfect!

Overall, I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s beautiful and I know some people were a bit upset about it having text added this time but it adds so much to the book and loses none of the illustrative content because of the larger number of pages. You don’t need to have kids or be a child to enjoy this book, I don’t have kids and my goodness have I been enjoying it, especially knowing that no one will be “adding” to my colouring or dog-earing the pages but it’ll make a wonderful project or gift for the children in your life if you choose to share it with them. Johanna really has outdone herself, the new objects and types of imagery are fantastic and really add a lot to the book and I honestly can’t express just how beautiful and perfect this book is when it’s actually in your hands, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).