Mentally Ill

Colorist's Special Effects - Click through to see photos and read my written review.

Colorist’s Special Effects: Colour Interior Version – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colorist’s Special Effects is illustrated, self-published and very kindly sent to me to review by Helen Elliston. This book is A4, paperback and is available in a greyscale or colour interior version (the greyscale version is cheaper and they both say on the front and on the online listings which they are, I’d personally recommend the colour version, I can’t imagine trying to follow the instructions without the colours there to see). The spine is glue-bound and seems pretty durable so far, the tutorials are printed double-sided and some of the practice sheets are printed single-sided but none of the content spans the spine so none of it is lost into it and all parts are accessible, it’s a little tricky to get the book to lie flat but this will ease up over time. The book is self-published through Createspace and therefore has standard medium/thin paper which is white and lightly textured, it’s not perfect for pencils or pens but it works fine and bearing in mind this is a techniques book, used to practice, it doesn’t need to be perfect to gain all of the knowledge you need to make your colouring pages really improve. The book begins with a contents page listing all of the techniques that you’ll learn within the book, they’re split into chapters of similar techniques so that you can work on a specific type of colouring at once if you wish. These chapters are Hair, Lips and Skin; Nature; 3D shapes and Objects; Gems; and Backgrounds. Within each of these chapters are a long list of specific techniques that can be used alone or in conjunction with each other, these include brown hair, metals, water droplets, faceted gems, woodgrain, pearls, fish scales, sunglasses, bubbles, 3D fabric and lots, lots more. The tutorials themselves are very clearly laid out with numbered diagrams all pictured in colour, each shows a coloured picture of the step you’re completing alongside short written instructions detailing what colour and where you’re using it. There is an absolute wealth of information in the book and Helen covers everything from simple techniques like a shiny fish all the way up to realistic eyes, hair and skin tones and everything in between. There are lots and lots of chances to practice and many of the practice pages are printed single-sided so that you can use any mediums you wish, there are multiple opportunities to attempt each technique so you don’t need to worry if you don’t perfect it first time. At the back of the book are a colour wheel that you can fill in yourself, lots of colour charts, first double-sided for use with pencils and then single-sided for use with wet media that might bleed through, these are all in four different shapes each with plenty of space to write down the colour/colours and brand that you’ve used for easy identification later. There is also a page of 12 signature cards, each with an image (2 of each design) that you can use a technique from the book on that can then be cut out and placed on pages instead of a watermark when photographing and sharing your work. There really is so much content that I can’t possibly talk about all of it here, every time I look through the book I find techniques that I’ve somehow not noticed before, there are loads of different skills to learn from colouring objects to scenes to backgrounds, you can use a huge variety of media and this book is probably the best techniques guide on the market because of the sheer breadth of coverage, it’s honestly astounding!

In terms of mental health, this book is hugely useful and very exciting but can be quite overwhelming and challenging too, this is in no way Helen’s fault and it isn’t a criticism of this specific book, it’s more something that I’ve really noticed for myself when using techniques books, it can be really tough to get started, to follow and to have the confidence to give it a go or apply to other things and this is very much the fault of our conditions and symptoms rather than the books themselves. All of this being said, Helen has made the instructions and diagrams as clear as possible, it can be quite overwhelming when first looking at the page but if you can focus just on the first instruction and slowly move your way through them then before you know it, you’ve coloured a whole object and it looks amazing! The techniques are mostly laid out in one of two ways, either, each colour is shown separately in each diagram and described in the instructions so that you know what order to place the layers, or each diagram is cumulative with colour showing each new layer on top of the previous ones, I personally prefer the first type as it’s much clearer and easier to focus on for anxious, over-stimulated eyes, others may well prefer the second type because it’s clearer what the whole thing should look like throughout each stage because the images mimic what you’re actually doing rather than just the one layer each step is focusing on. It was a clever move on Helen’s part to use both types of diagram and these are all created in paint to clearly show the layers and differences between colours with a colour photograph of Helen’s finished piece in pen or pencil at the end so that you know exactly what you’re working towards. The line thickness on the practice drawings is pretty consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary depending on what you’re learning to colour, almost none of it is particularly intricate or detailed because the techniques are very much about learning to blend, layer and build colour and 3D shape which usually requires a fair bit of space to work within so this book is definitely suitable for those with normal levels of vision and fine motor control.

All in all, I can’t praise this book highly enough, nor can I fully describe it without possibly writing dissertation length post about it, there is just so much content and it really is like an encyclopaedia of colouring techniques from small objects, people, and animals, all the way up to metal, and backgrounds. No matter what level of colourist you are, you’re sure to find something useful and inspirational to improve your colouring.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Colorist-s-Special-Effects—Color-Interior/9781546646594/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

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Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects is illustrated and written by Rachel Reinert and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Get Creative 6. This book is A4, paperback, with flexible card covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable. The content is printed double-sided throughout. The paper consists of two different types, the tutorial section is printed on glossy white paper and the colouring practice pages are printed on bright white, matt paper that is medium thickness and lightly textured. The book is split into two sections, tutorials for the first two thirds of the book and illustrations to practice your colouring techniques on for the last third. The information and tutorials are very comprehensive and cover a wide range of topics from colour theory and detailed descriptions of different colouring mediums to basic colouring techniques, ways to choose colours and use mediums in new and different ways, and then moves onto how to create artistic effects like blending, highlights, adding backgrounds, water droplets, auras/glows, a basic tutorial for colouring skin and hair (better ones can be found but this is a good start), crystals and lots more. Rachel uses different mediums for each technique so you’re sure to find one that you already own the tools to create and she names each colour she uses so you can match it either identically or by finding close matches within the mediums you already have. You can learn to use a huge number of mediums from coloured pencils to watercolour pencils and paints, alcohol markers, gel pens, pastels and mixed media. The colouring pages exactly match each technique so you can directly copy the instructions without having to first work out how to apply them to a different image. The colouring pages are perforated and can therefore be removed before colouring so that you’re not constantly having to flick to the tutorial and then to the page to colour, it also means you can copy them (for personal use) to print onto the paper of your choice so you can practice multiple times to really perfect each technique or to try out different mediums. The images are all very natural and mostly include plants and flowers. The techniques are all written in clear, plain language with any specialised terms explained so that anyone of any level will understand them. They are all illustrated with full colour photographs and laid out neatly and numbered so they’re very easy to follow. There are helpful tips written in coloured circles throughout the book so they’re easy to find and the contents page clearly lists all of the techniques and page numbers.

In terms of mental health, this book is great but you will need to be aware of a few things. The premise is ideal for perfectionists, you can learn all sorts of techniques that you’ve wondered about for ages and practice them in a dedicated space and build up your confidence before being let loose on your actual colouring pages, following written instructions means that you don’t have to keep pausing or rewinding a video if it’s going too fast for you and you can read all of the instructions before starting if you’re worried about making mistakes or if you don’t quite understand a section. Each technique is broken down into small sections with each focusing on one or two colours so they’re manageable to work on over time if you don’t want to complete a whole technique all at once. All of these are great positives and particularly good for those of us who like things to be perfect, realistic, and who struggle to follow videos. However, you will need good concentration, I don’t know about you but now that I’m ill I really struggle to read and concentrate for any length of time and therefore following instructions is extremely difficult for me. I often get easily overwhelmed by the sight of lists of things to do and find it very challenging to follow them. However, I have found that if you can possibly not skip ahead and just focus on each instruction one by one then it’s much more manageable and able to be followed because you’re just using one colour in one or two places at once before then moving onto the next. I have also found it helpful to read the whole technique a few times and study the accompanying pictures before starting to follow it. Many of the techniques can be mixed and matched and also swapped across mediums too so they’re far more versatile than you might first assume. The illustrations used to practice on are varying sizes with some pages containing a few smaller drawings and others containing one centralised image. None are huge and none are tiny, they’re all quite a middling size and very manageable to colour in one sitting if you wish and can concentrate on the techniques and instructions for long enough. The line thickness is pretty consistent and remains thin with some medium thickness sections or outlines. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from quite detailed to much less so, none of the images are hugely intricate because you have to be able to apply the techniques to each one and there’s not a lot you can do with very intricate images so these illustrations will suit most levels of vision and fine motor control apart from those who have particularly poor levels of either.

Overall, this is a great book that’s ideal for any level of colourist to learn something new from, the practice sheets are perforated which is ideal so you can see the instructions at the same time as colouring and also for making personal copies and the techniques are explained in clear, simple language with lots of colour photographs which add clarity. I’d highly recommend this book, it’s written in an interesting and accessible way and broken up into concise sections that are easy to navigate and roughly run in order of difficulty.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Color Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Artistic Effects
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Workshop-Rachel-Reinert/9781942021575/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured with: Poppy – Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils; Leaf – Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and blended with Zest-It and a Blending Stump.

From Holland with Love - Click through to read my review, see photos of inside and watch a video flick through

From Holland With Love – A Review

From Holland With Love is illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg and is published by Pepper Books. This book is the sixth book published by Masja and her five previous titles were all variations of paisley-filled designs under the title of Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World). This sixth book is a little different and is more like a love letter, or love drawing if you will, from Masja to and about Holland. The book itself is 25.5cm square, it’s hardback this time with a beautiful glowing orange cover and a compilation image of various illustrations contained within the book in blue and white. The spine is glue and string bound and relatively difficult to get it to lie flat due to it being hardback. The pages are printed single-sided and are perforated meaning you don’t have to contend with the page gutter and try to colour into it and that you can remove the pages before or after colouring in order to frame or gift them. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, pencils blend and layer beautifully and water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed through, alcohol markers will bleed through so do put a protective sheet behind your work to protect the next page. The illustrations contain lots of typically Dutch objects and scenery from clogs to windmills, tulips to traditional dress and a bicycle amongst other beautiful floral patterns, drawings of women and some lovely birds. The imagery is really varied and far less paisley-filled than the previous titles but don’t despair if you love those, they don’t feel like they’re missing from this work and the illustrations are really lovely and very pretty. At the back of the book are three pages of images that can be cut out for projects, a page of card toppers, a page of social media tags where you can add your name instead of having to watermark your photos and a page including 2 small postcard style designs all of which are illustrated and colourable.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s not overwhelming to colour and has enough detail to be interesting and absorbing, without being overly complex or over-stimulating. The content is familiar, fun and cute and much of it could be coloured in any palette you choose and look equally fabulous. The line thickness is mostly consistent and remains thin with a few images drawn in a spindly thin line. The intricacy and detail levels vary and range from very intricate on some of the postcard size images and social media tags to larger, more open spaces in some of the colouring pages and everything in between, you’ll need moderately good vision and fine motor control for the majority of the images and better levels for a few of the most intricate pages. A few of the pages will require a high level of concentration but many won’t need you to be at your best and require less focus so this is a good book for those of you with varying concentration levels. The pages also consist of varying amounts of content which means they take differing lengths of time to complete and there are natural stopping points if you just want to colour one section. These images would look really beautiful framed and this book would be an ideal gift for those who live in Holland, are from there, or who just love all things Dutch, it’s so representative and beautiful, I’m sure it would be a very well-received gift!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it’s beautiful for those who love all things Dutch and those just wanting to colour more of Masja’s gorgeous illustrations. The production quality is very high and the images are really lovely to colour.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to buy here:
Amazon UK – From Holland with Love
Masja’s Website – https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

The image below was coloured with a single Prismacolor Premier Pencil and a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 - Click through to read my review, watch my flick through and see internal photos

Worldwide Giveaway and Review – Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 5

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 5 was illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg. Masja has very kindly sent me an extra copy of this title and part 4 and I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for them both over on my FB page, click here to enter by midnight GMT on the 11th of November. This book is the fifth in her series of books and my reviews of her other titles can be found HERE and she’s already created 2 more books with different titles since these. Part 5 ventures further afield than the first three books and takes us on an exotic journey through the Orient with Chinese and Japanese art and animals featured. The book itself is paperback, nearly 24.5cm square, with a gorgeous turquoise cover with beautiful gold foiled accents on a Chinese dragon image found inside the book. The spine of the book is glue-bound and therefore a little tricky to get it to lie flat unless you break the spine which could eventually lead to pages loosening, however the pages this time are perforated which is ideal if you want to remove them for colouring or framing. The images are printed single-sided this time and all of the images are therefore single page designs. The paper is white, thick (thicker than all of her previous books) and lightly textured, it provides a good surface for blending and shading pencils, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and alcohol markers will be fine to use as long as you pop some protective sheets behind your work. The content is all drawn in Masja’s signature paisley style so while the images are Oriental themed, they’re very similar to the previous books and existing fans of her work won’t be disappointed. The images contain all manner of things from Chinese dragons, koi carp, ornaments, mandalas, patterns, cranes, cherry blossom, ponds, and more. The illustrations are very floral and delicate and contain a mixture of scenes and patterns, full page designs and centralised images.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s very calming and absorbing without requiring too much concentration so it’s a great book for good and bad days. There’s a real variety in the amount of content on each page so you can easily choose a smaller, simpler design to focus on when you’re having a bad day, or a much more complex spread when you’re feeling well, none of the images are overwhelming as they’re all contained to one side so the book feels very accessible. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control but certainly not perfect. The intricacy and detail level varies a lot from larger open spaces to much smaller spaces where Masja has filled the creatures and designs with patterns though of course you can always colour over these small sections rather than within each one if you prefer to colour larger areas. There are plenty of spaces where you can create your own backgrounds or add your own imagery if you wish but this is by no means a requirement and the pages will look lovely regardless. Masja’s work is very soft and flowing, there aren’t any straight lines and this really helps to create a natural, calming world that you can escape into whilst colouring. The images have a great mixture of realism and imagination added to them so they look equally good coloured realistically or outlandishly and you could even mix the two throughout the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s already a fan of the series, and those who are intrigued and new to it, the images are lovely, very cohesive, and really natural and calming and they look beautiful once splashed with realistic or imaginative colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here: https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

I’m also currently running a giveaway for a UK resident to win a copy of this, and book 5 in the series. The competition runs until midnight GMT on the 11th of November and can be entered here.

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

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 4 - Click through to read my review, see photos and watch my video flick through

Worldwide Giveaway and Review – Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld (My Wondrous World) Part 4

Mijn Wonderlijke Wereld Part 4 was illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Masja van den Berg. Masja has very kindly sent me an extra copy of this title and part 5 and I’m currently running a Worldwide giveaway for them both over on my FB page, click here to enter by midnight GMT on the 11th of November. This book is the fourth in her series of books and my reviews of her other titles can be found HERE as well as my review of Part 5 HERE and she’s already created 2 more books with different titles since these. Part 4 ventures further afield than the first three books and takes us on an exotic journey through India and its animals. The book itself is paperback, nearly 24.5cm square, with a bright yellow cover with beautiful blue foiled accents on a peacock image found inside the book. The spine of the book is glue-bound and therefore a little tricky to get it to lie flat unless you break the spine which could eventually lead to pages loosening. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is white, thick and lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed and only very minimally shadows with the darkest water-based pens and provides a good surface for blending and shading with pencils; alcohol markers should be avoided as they’ll ruin the reverse image and bleed through. The content is all drawn in Masja’s signature paisley style so while the images are Indian themed, they’re very similar to the previous books and existing fans of her work won’t be disappointed. The images contain all manner of things from giraffes and peacocks, to scarabs and elephants, scorpions and florals to parakeets and ponds. The illustrations are very floral and delicate and contain a mixture of scenes and patterns, full page designs and centralised images.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s very calming and absorbing without requiring too much concentration so it’s a great book for good and bad days. There’s a real variety in the amount of content on each page so you can easily choose a smaller, simpler design to focus on when you’re having a bad day, or a much more complex double-page spread when you’re feeling well. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control but certainly not perfect. The intricacy and detail level varies a lot from larger open spaces to much smaller spaces where Masja has filled the creatures and designs with patterns though of course you can always colour over these small sections rather than within each one if you prefer to colour larger areas. There are plenty of spaces where you can create your own backgrounds or add your own imagery if you wish but this is by no means a requirement and the pages will look lovely regardless. Masja’s work is very soft and flowing, there aren’t any straight lines and this really helps to create a natural, calming world that you can escape into whilst colouring. The images have a great mixture of realism and imagination added to them so they look equally good coloured realistically or outlandishly and you could even mix the two throughout the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who’s already a fan of the series, and those who are intrigued and new to it, the images are lovely, very cohesive, and really natural and calming and they look beautiful once splashed with realistic or imaginative colour schemes.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here: https://www.masjaswebshop.nl/

I’m also currently running a giveaway for a UK resident to win a copy of this, and book 5 in the series. The competition runs until midnight GMT on the 11th of November and can be entered here.

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

Hello! My First Video in Front of the Camera!

Hello lovelies, friends and family have been suggesting to me for the last 3.5 years to do Vlogs and I’ve never felt confident enough or had any particular desire to do it so I’ve always stuck to just blogging. However, I’m getting a bit bored currently and really want to branch out and get my voice heard just that little bit more and video posts seemed like the best way of doing this and after a fabulous pep talk on the phone with a Uni friend today, I decided to bite the bullet and record something. It was meant to be 2 minutes of me just saying Hi, but it turned into something a lot longer and a bit more informative. Please do give it a watch and let me know what you think of it. I’m hoping to use these videos to expand more on my blog posts, to reach a wider audience and to help you see the face behind mental illness and invisible conditions. The link to the post about Trichotillomania that I mention in the video can be found here.

The Book of Prehistoric Beasts – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Book of Prehistoric Beasts is illustrated by Angela Rizza, published and kindly sent to me to review by Buster Books. This book is enormous, at a whopping 29cm square, it’s hardback with gorgeous deep green covers and all printing on both covers is silver foiled so it’s a really luxurious feeling book! The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable, it’s a little tricky to get to the very centre of the images but this is only a few millimetres. The images are printed single sided and on the back of each page is lots of information about each creature that is pictured including its name, size, diet, what it looked like, when it lived and facts about its environment. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and smooth, it takes soft pencils well but harder pencils may be a struggle to build up layers for blending due to the lack of tooth; alcohol makers will bleed through the page which you may not mind if you don’t wish to read the information on the back, and water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow, though do test them in an inconspicuous area to check. The book starts with a double-page spread showing the timeline of creatures and they’re shown in this order through the book from the earliest period, Devonian, 419.2 million years ago, all the way up to Quaternary, 2.6 million years ago. The images are split into 4 chapters including different time periods: Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian; Triassic and Jurassic; Cretaceous; and Tertiary and Quaternary. The images themselves are all full page spreads, each containing a few prehistoric creatures. A huge number of creatures are pictured, 87 in fact, and these mainly consist of dinosaurs but do include other, older creatures (I’m not sure if these class as dinosaurs) and younger creatures; the beasts include: gigantoscorpio, dimetrodon, ammonite, icthyosaurus, brachiosaurus, archaeopteryx, microraptor, tyrannosaurus, quetzalcoatlus, mononykus, triceratops, basilosaurus, megalodon, glyptodon, mammuthus, smilodon and gigantopithecus, and so many more, all of the creatures are pictured on the double-page timeline at the beginning of the book and then shown drawn in their habitats and to scale in the colouring pages. This book is every dinosaur-lovers’ dream, my brother was obsessed with dinosaurs growing up and I was therefore forced into knowing an awful lot more about them than I wanted to at the time, knowledge that has come in handy for many random reasons since and this book definitely covers all of the most well-known dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, as well as others that you may never have heard of and can start to research if you wish.

In terms of mental health, you’re unlikely to find a more distracting book. The production quality is very high and from the cover and the very first page, you’re transported back in time to millions of years ago where gigantic beasts roamed the land and the landscape was unrecognisable, you instantly become immersed in this world as you learn facts about the animals and start to colour them and their habitats. It’s not calming as such, not in the same was as colouring landscapes and more familiar animals, but it’s really is very distracting and absorbing which is great for those of us with anxious, racing minds. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium and thin. The intricacy and detail levels are quite variable depending on the creature and its landscape but there are a lot of details drawn in as well as a lot of dotted shading (ideal for beginner colourists who want to learn more about colouring realistically and learning where light and shade should be), therefore you will need moderate to good levels of vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. This book is actually published with kids in mind though they’ll need to be quite mature and artistic to get the most out of it and have a good reading age as there are a lot of tricky animal names to contend with, at a guess, I’d suggest this book for kids aged 8 and above and I’d highly recommend it for big kids (adults!) too because we could all do with learning just a little bit more about the fascinating world of dinosaurs. The illustrations have been very cleverly curated to mostly include more than one creature and sometimes all of them are land or sea creatures and other time part of the image is above ground and other sections are underwater. None of the images feel random, haphazard or badly staged, they’re all really well-drawn and feel quite like uncoloured versions of the images found in regular dinosaur fact books and encyclopaedias. The scenes and animals are drawn pretty realistically and mostly don’t have patterns added to them unless it’s assumed they had those in real life, obviously there may be some inaccuracies as with most historic representations of velociraptors which show them featherless and significantly larger than they possibly could have been, but the artist has clearly worked hard to make these look as realistic as possible within the confines of the majority only being found as fossilised skeletons and a lot of guesswork having to be done about their external features, colouring and patterns.

Overall, this is a great book for those who already love prehistoric beasts, and those wanting to know more. The book is ideal for children and adults and the pages look amazing once coloured and you could even remove them from the book and frame them for you dinosaur-fanatic children (or yourself) if you wish, they’d look great as a series on the wall in a bedroom or playroom or even a classroom! The paper is pretty good and the facts and information about each beast is a huge added bonus.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK- The Book of Prehistoric Beasts
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Book-of-Prehistoric-Beasts-Jonny-Marx-Angela-Rizza/9781780554976/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.