Staedtler Fibre-Tips

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.

UK Giveaway and Review – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2 is published through CreateSpace and illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Jo Shiloh. I have been sent multiple copies of this book and so I’m running a UK giveaway (due to postage costs) over on my Facebook page which you can enter until Sunday the 10th of April at 8pm. This is Jo’s second colouring book offering, the first can be found reviewed by me here. This second instalment is similar in layout but the images are more detailed, intricate and floral. This book is A4, paperback, with a full colour front and back cover and it contains 88 pages of 40 single-sided designs. The paper is typical createspace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy so it’ll bleed with water-based markers but pop a protective sheet behind your work and you’re good to go. The paper texture is pretty good for blending and layering with pencils. The book has a glue-bound spine so it won’t lie especially flat but all of the images have a border and are contained to a single page so they don’t enter the spine so there is no image loss. The images are very cohesive and the majority are mandalas drawn in various different styles from circular scenes to traditional mandalas, to repeating sections or patterns.

In terms of mental health, this is a great book for those of you who like to colour mandalas, patterns, abstract images and not realistic images of ‘things’. The images do vary but mostly they’re pretty intricate and detailed so there’s plenty to get your teeth into and keep you focused, and occupied outside your anxious thoughts or low mood. You’ll need a moderate level of concentration so this would be a great book for practising mindfulness techniques because you can focus on your breath and the task at hand. The line thickness varies a little but mostly it’s thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to stay within the lines and to colour the small sections. I’m personally not a fan of colouring patterns because I like to colour realistic images, however, colouring patterns can be particularly good for those of us with anxiety disorders because there are no right or wrong colour schemes and you can just pick a pen or pencil and go without worrying about getting the perfect cherry red or wood brown. Patterns offer a perfect distraction from having to actively think and they’re great for just doing sections of when you’re having a bad day or completing a whole page when you’re up to a longer colouring session. The images are quite swirly and flowing rather than having lots of blocky, sharp edges so they’re great for relaxing and calming you down.

I would recommend this book for those of you who love to colour patterns and mandalas and who prefer single-sided books for using mediums that bleed through in double-sided books. This is a really nice mandala book with plenty of detail to get your teeth into but not so much that it’ll put you off.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Color-and-Relax-Jo-Shiloh/9781518790416/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tip pens.

Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Dogs – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Dogs: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing) is illustrated by Anastasia Catris, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Orion Books. This book is part of a new series called Draw Your Way To a Younger Brain and you can read my review of the other two titles here: Safari and Cats. Anastasia has been very busy in the colouring book world and has also created 6 beautiful colouring books which are the same size and shape with her signature drawings and my reviews of these can be found here. This book is small at 17cms square which makes it perfect for drawing on the go and taking travelling in your bag. It’s paperback with a beautiful pink cover which matches the others in the sets beautifully meaning they look really gorgeous together on a shelf. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and has a little tooth perfect for blending and shading with pencils. The spine is glue-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into the spine though this will ease up a bit over time. The illustrations are, unusually, all double-page spreads and as this book is primarily a drawing book and secondarily a colouring book, there are lots of spaces for you to add your own drawings and patterns to. If you don’t like drawing then this is not the book for you. The illustrations take various different forms from a patterned animal on the left with a blank outline of it mirrored on the right to fill with patterns, to drawings that you can draw the other half of with a line of symmetry drawn down the middle, to scenes you can complete. There are written hints on every page to give you a suggested direction but you can complete the pages however you wish and there’s plenty of scope in many of them to go in whatever direction you choose. Some of the pages include: drawing dogs at a dog show; drawing the rest of a sled dog team; adding patterns to various breeds of dogs; and adding objects and animals to scenes. The images are very cohesive and similar in style to Anastasia’s colouring books and they’re beautifully drawn.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, as long as you like drawing! I personally really struggle with drawing and therefore don’t find it to be a remotely relaxing activity, however, this book isn’t too taxing and it gives a lot of hints to get you started with drawing. These aren’t techniques or things that will teach you how to draw but they are suggestions of what to draw and sometimes that’s all the inspiration you need. There are lots of patterns added to the completed drawings which you can use as inspiration for adding patterns to the unfinished sections. You could also use search engines to look up pictures of things you want to draw in the larger spaces so that you can try to learn to draw new creatures and objects. This book probably wouldn’t suit an advanced artist because the amount of finished work in it will probably be quite restrictive but it would definitely suit a beginner or intermediate artist, especially those who prefer to have suggestions made of what to create. Adding patterns and zentangling has been found to be relaxing and very good for practising mindfulness and the more patterns I’ve discovered and added to my repertoire, the easier it has become to add patterns to things without going blank or getting stressed about it. These books are ideal for learning new patterns but if you need more inspiration and doodling and drawing are your thing then I’d highly recommend the Art Therapy series of books which I’ve reviewed here. The images are varied in content and require various different types of drawing and doodling to be added, the line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. There is a lot of intricacy and detail added to the completed images and you can add however much intricacy and detail as you want in your own drawings. The whole book is fully colourable but this isn’t a colouring book specifically and won’t suit those of you who can’t draw because there are just too many open spaces that will look very odd without anything added to them and will leave your images looking unfinished.

I would highly recommend this book, and the others in the series, for anyone who likes to draw and needs a little inspiration in order to get going. The images are lovely and the nature theme is very calming and the portable size means they’re great for colouring and drawing on the go.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Dogs: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Draw-Your-Way-Younger-Brain-Dogs-Anastasia-Catris/9781409165477/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was added to with a Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner and coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

Draw Your Way To A Younger Brain: Cats– A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Cats: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing) is illustrated by Anastasia Catris, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Orion Books. This book is part of a new series called Draw Your Way To a Younger Brain and you can read my review of the other two titles here: Safari and Dogs. Anastasia has been very busy in the colouring book world and has also created 6 beautiful colouring books which are the same size and shape with her signature drawings and my reviews of these can be found here. This book is small at 17cms square which makes it perfect for drawing on the go and taking travelling in your bag. It’s paperback with a beautiful yellow cover which matches the others in the sets beautifully meaning they look really gorgeous together on a shelf. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens and has a little tooth perfect for blending and shading with pencils. The spine is glue-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each is lost into the spine though this will ease up a bit over time. The illustrations are, unusually, all double-page spreads and as this book is primarily a drawing book and secondarily a colouring book, there are lots of spaces for you to add your own drawings and patterns to. If you don’t like drawing then this is not the book for you. The illustrations take various different forms from a patterned animal on the left with a blank outline of it mirrored on the right to fill with patterns, to drawings that you can draw the other half of with a line of symmetry drawn down the middle, to scenes you can complete. There are written hints on every page to give you a suggested direction but you can complete the pages however you wish and there’s plenty of scope in many of them to go in whatever direction you choose. Some of the pages include: drawing more cat toys; drawing what a cat has found up a tree; adding patterns to plain big cat shapes; and adding objects and cats and other animals to scenes. The images are very cohesive and similar in style to Anastasia’s colouring books and they’re beautifully drawn.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, as long as you like drawing! I personally really struggle with drawing and therefore don’t find it to be a remotely relaxing activity, however, this book isn’t too taxing and it gives a lot of hints to get you started with drawing. These aren’t techniques or things that will teach you how to draw but they are suggestions of what to draw and sometimes that’s all the inspiration you need. There are lots of patterns added to the completed drawings which you can use as inspiration for adding patterns to the unfinished sections. You could also use search engines to look up pictures of things you want to draw in the larger spaces so that you can try to learn to draw new creatures and objects. This book probably wouldn’t suit an advanced artist because the amount of finished work in it will probably be quite restrictive but it would definitely suit a beginner or intermediate artist, especially those who prefer to have suggestions made of what to create. Adding patterns and zentangling has been found to be relaxing and very good for practising mindfulness and the more patterns I’ve discovered and added to my repertoire, the easier it has become to add patterns to things without going blank or getting stressed about it. These books are ideal for learning new patterns but if you need more inspiration and doodling and drawing are your thing then I’d highly recommend the Art Therapy series of books which I’ve reviewed here. The images are varied in content and require various different types of drawing and doodling to be added, the line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. There is a lot of intricacy and detail added to the completed images and you can add however much intricacy and detail as you want in your own drawings. The whole book is fully colourable but this isn’t a colouring book specifically and won’t suit those of you who can’t draw because there are just too many open spaces that will look very odd without anything added to them and will leave your images looking unfinished.

I would highly recommend this book, and the others in the series, for anyone who likes to draw and needs a little inspiration in order to get going. The images are lovely and the nature theme is very calming and the portable size means they’re great for colouring and drawing on the go.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Draw Your Way to a Younger Brain: Cats: An Art Therapy Book (Drawing)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Draw-Your-Way-Younger-Brain-Cats-Anastasia-Catris/9781409165460/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was drawn and added to with a Staedtler Pigment Liner and coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion: Adult Coloring Book is created, published and kindly sent to me to review by Amelia Gregory, the creator of the hugely successful Amelia’s Magazine. This book is really unusual because each double-page spread is created by a different artist, all of whom are named with a short bio about them and their piece at the back of the book. This means that art styles vary hugely throughout from thick and chunky lines with large open spaces, to spindly thin lines with teeny tiny gaps and everything in between, this book truly fits the description of varied, and really does have something for everyone. The book itself is a little smaller than A4, paperback with a thick-ish card cover, and it’s nice and chunky because the paper used is thick and very high quality. Each image is a double-page spread with the left-hand side coloured by the artist, and the right-hand side left black and white for you to colour. Some of the pages are one full design with half coloured and half not, and others are two similar, paired designs that don’t have a continuation aspect but are definitely related, this mixture works really well and makes for a really cohesive feel in the book despite the art being created by 44 different people. The paper is white, thick, and textured making it perfect for water-based pens which go on really smoothly with no bleeding, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. Alcohol markers do bleed significantly so I’d avoid those but the paper is perfect for almost any other medium. One of the best things about this book is the binding, it’s called lay-flat binding and it does exactly what it says, the book lies flat no matter where you are in it so there is no spine to worry about and no area down the middle that can’t be coloured. It’s very similar to the postcard bindings which means that the images are easily removed for displaying but this also means you need to be careful when colouring on your lap or any uneven surface because you could cause the pages to become loose so do be careful with this book. The images are printed double-sided with a coloured image on the reverse of each black and white image so you don’t have to worry much about bleeding and I experienced absolutely none with the pens I used.

The images themselves are really varied because they’re each created by a different artist so there isn’t a lot of specific detail I can give without describing each image which is why I’ve included lots of photos from inside the book below. As I mentioned before, there is a huge variety of line thickness, intricacy and detail level, the image style is also really varied from abstract to realistic, cartoony to surreal, impressionist to scenic and much more. The content is equally varied from people to places, food to animals, scenery to portraits and heaps and heaps of other quirky randomness. The colour schemes of the pre-coloured pages are also really different from bright to dark, every colour to a limited palette, pastels to neons and primaries to naturals, so there is huge scope for you to use all sorts of different colours schemes in your own work either by matching your half to the pre-coloured half, using opposite colour palettes, complimentary colours, or just doing your own thing completely. There really is so much scope to make this book your own and turn it into a work of art.

In terms of mental health, the variety is a big selling point for those of you with fluctuating conditions and varying levels of concentration and ability. There truly is a page that will suit any mood, symptom and ability level. This variance means that it won’t be suited to those of you with particularly poor vision or fine motor control because there are a number of highly intricate and detailed images but for the majority of you, this book will really suit you, especially if you really like a mixture of styles. On top of getting the book, you also get 8 postcards, 4 of which are fully coloured and 4 are black and white ready to be coloured by you. This book really is the book that keeps on giving! You can colour the postcards on the days when you want a small project and the book when you’re up for a full-page challenge.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to use pens because of the bleed-proof paper, those who like to remove and frame their work, those who love variety and anyone with a fluctuating condition because this book covers all levels and will keep you very busy. The binding is fabulous and an absolute dream to work with – I wish all colouring books had it! This book is filled with beautiful art just waiting to be coloured and it’s limited edition with just 1000 copies being printed so what are you waiting for?! Get ordering!

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion: Adult Coloring Book

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tips.

An Interview with Claire Eadie of Colour With Claire Blog

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Today my post is different from usual and I’m bringing you my first ever interview. Claire Eadie is a fellow reviewer who suffers from emetophobia and discovered an interest in colouring when trying to stave off a panic attack. A lot has happened since then and the Nottingham-based colourer has now reviewed hundreds of books and products on her blog – Colour With Claire. We recently connected online and I’m now proud to call her my friend and I’m interviewing Claire because she’s one of my favourite reviewers. Whenever I’m looking for books or colouring mediums for myself, I check her site and I’m sure to find the answers I need, she’s got to have the most extensive list of colouring reviews online and they’re extremely reliable and wonderful to read. I thought it would be great to introduce Claire to you, my readers, and find out a bit more about her, her reviews and what it’s like being a reviewer. So without further ado, Claire, it’s over to you!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one colouring book would you take with you?

That’s a hard one, as I tend to get bored easily! I guess I’d take The Time Garden by Daria Song. Her books are so beautiful but I *know* I’ll never finish them so I suppose being stuck on a desert island would force me to!

What do you like most about reviewing?

Finding really great books that have fallen under the radar for whatever reason, and introducing them to colourists who may not have found out about them otherwise.

What do you find hardest about reviewing?

Finding the time, trying not to make each review monotonous or too similar, and colouring things I’m not really interested in but- in order to cater for a wide range of tastes- have to include.

Can you share your review process and what you wish people knew about reviewing?

The sheer amount of time and effort that goes into it. It’s  not just sitting at your computer tapping away and clicking the upload button. Just to give a sense of what’s involved, this is my basic review process: Scour Amazon for new book releases, contact the creator/publisher to request a copy, colour a page from inside the book, take example photos from the book (in the right lighting which can sometimes be very difficult on typical British overcast days!), upload all the photos onto a phone app and watermark/add a border (this takes a lot of time), upload them all to my computer, go online and research the book and its illustrator, write the review!, share it to all my social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), email the illustrator/publishers with a thank you and the review link, copying it over to Amazon—all of this whilst keeping the page up to date with the latest colouring news/sharing other people’s coloured pages, and more books dropping through my door every day, some of which I haven’t requested but are automatically sent out from publishers… Oh, and running giveaways out of my own pocket! It’s not as easy as you might think.

What book releases are you most looking forward to over the coming year?

There are so many good ones coming out this year, I think adult colouring has reached its height now and more great illustrators are producing books that showcase their amazing talents. Sommernatt by Hanna Karlzon, Imagimorphia by Kerby Rosanes, Legendary Worlds by Colorworth Publishing, Escape to Shakespeare’s World by Good Wives and Warriors, The Magical Journey by Lizzie Mary Cullen… oh and probably the most anticipated of all, Magical Jungle by Johanna Basford J

Who is your favourite illustrator?

Difficult! My top 3 would be Hanna Karlzon, Daria Song & Johanna Basford.

If you could have a colouring book created just for you, what would be included in it? What shape and size would it be?
Square and spiral bound, the same size as Secret Garden. It would have a mixture of realistic scenery, Scandinavian/Folk art, and JB’s gorgeous double page spreads. Paper would be a very thick card and the cover a soft-touch hardback.

When you’re colouring just for you, what book do you go to and what mediums do you use?

I change books all the time, as I say I get bored easily! If I want to get it coloured quickly, I usually turn to Staedtler Triplus felt pens, and if I want to make it really pretty and take my time, Faber Castell Polychromos pencils.

What are the elements that make up a good colouring book in your opinion?

Spiral binding, thick cardstock, crisp linework, variety.

Thank you so much to Claire for answering my questions and letting us all know a bit more about her reviews and her personal colouring. We have done joint interviews so if you’d like to read my interview by Claire then click here. Below is a selection of Claire’s favourite images that she has coloured over the course of nearly a year of reviewing. Enjoy!

Adult Colouring: Where to Start

So you want to start colouring? Don’t know where to start? Then this is the post for you!

Adult colouring has well and truly taken off since the craze was kick-started in April 2015 and it’s currently showing no signs of stopping. New books are arriving on Amazon every day and artists and illustrators all over the world are jumping on the band wagon and offering up their drawings ready for you to add your personal touch of colour to. There are some stunning books on the market and some that really aren’t so great. The market is becoming very saturated and I can imagine that for those of you who are just entering the world of adult colouring, this must be very daunting and impossible to know where to even begin! So here is where you need to start, what you need to know and where to get your colouring goodies from so that you can get started as quickly as possible. For those of you that are new to my blog, you can read more about me and my colouring journey here.

Pens or Pencils

So, let’s get you started on your adult colouring journey. The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to colour with pens or pencils. There are a number of different types of each to help you narrow down further but firstly you need to decide whether you want pens, pencils or both. The pros of pencils are that mostly they’re erasable or at least partially erasable so if you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. They can be used to shade and blend and give more depth to pictures. They don’t bleed so you can use them on single-sided and double-sided books without any issues. The cons are that they’re fairly tough on your joints so you’re better sticking to pens if you have joint problems or pain, they’re also very time-consuming to use if you’re wanting to create impressive effects. The pros of pens are that they’re really vibrant, quicker to use, easier on your hands, come in a range of nib sizes for different sized areas on the page, and you don’t have to blend or shade, you can just colour in blocks. The major con with pens is that they bleed, some bleed sideways over the lines, some bleed through the paper (or shadow, where you can clearly see the coloured sections on the reverse of the page without it fully bleeding through), and this is often a big problem in double-sided books, they’re also much harder to blend and shade with and they’re more expensive and run out faster. Once you’ve decided on pens or pencils (or both), you’re ready to decide which type you want.

Pencils

Pencils are usually made of wax (like Crayola, and any pencils your kids or you will have used at school and growing up) or oil. Everyone has their own preference, some like wax, I’m a huge fan of oil, and others seem to get on well with both. If you can get to an art shop then I’d suggest trying out some of each to decide which you prefer, if you’re unable to attend a shop then the following info will hopefully help. Within the wax and oil-based pencil brands are harder and softer pencils. If you have any joint problems or issues with grip etc then you need a soft pencil (look out for this description in reviews). I have poor grip and achy joints in my hands and I tried various brands of wax-based pencils and just couldn’t get on with them, I found them hard, sticky and very difficult to get vibrant colour without having to press really hard. Others have had much better experiences with wax-based pencils than me and as I said before, it’s unfortunately entirely down to personal preference. Oil-based pencils are generally a bit pricier but in my opinon they’re well worth the money because they’re so much easier to use and much softer and more vibrant with less pressure needed.

Wax-based Pencils

If you’re wanting wax-based pencils then the budget option is often Crayola coloured pencils, the mid to high range that I’d recommend would be Derwent Coloursoft which I’ll review at a later date and these are highly blendable, vibrant and come in up to 72 beautiful colours. I would also recommend the Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils which come in 24 colours and are very easy to use and vibrant. The artist’s grade, high-end price option is Prismacolor Premiers which are the Marmite of the pencil world, people either love them and create stunning pieces of art with them or hate them because of the wax bloom that builds up and the lead breaking which these pencils are notorious for, I’ve never used these so I can’t vouch for them, they are often used beautifully, but there are major issues with people sharpening inches off them trying to just get a point to colour with!

Oil-based Pencils

If you’re after oil-based pencils then there isn’t really a budget option but the most cost-effective and cheapest are the Marco Raffine pencils which I’ve reviewed here. There are plenty of mid to high range pencils and my recommendation would be the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors which I received just yesterday which are available in 70 colours and seem to work beautifully. The artist’s grade high-end pencils with a price tag to match are the Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils which are pricey but as the proud owner of the full set, they’re worth every penny and truly are the crème de la crème of the pencil world. When choosing pencils, have a think about whether you’re wanting to just colour in blocks or whether you’re wanting to blend and shade and create artist’s style work, if you’re wanting the former then definitely stick to the low-end pencils because they’re ideal for that, whereas if you’re wanting to blend and shade then I’d opt for the mid or high-end pencils. The majority of colouring and the effects you can create are based on talent and practice rather than tools. I’ve seen amazing work coloured with Crayolas and some fairly dodgy work created with Polychromos pencils so if you can’t afford a pricey set, don’t despair, just get practising! It’s easier to create good effects with pricier pencils because they’re better made and easier to use but it really is mostly about talent and the best way to learn is to practice and to look on YouTube for tutorials, that’s where I’ve learnt all of my techniques from!

Pens

If pencils aren’t for you and you want to venture into the inky world of pens instead then this is the section for you. Broadly speaking, pens are broken down into water-based ink and alcohol based ink.

Alcohol Pens

Alcohol pens ALWAYS bleed. Unless you’re using super thick card they will bleed through the paper so you will be limited to books that only have images printed on one side or you’ll have to sacrifice half of the pictures to bleed-through. That being said, alcohol pens are very popular within the adult colouring world but a word of warning, they smell very strongly of solvent and if you have issues with headaches or migraines you might want to avoid them or colour in short bursts, near a window! Alcohol-based pens are more versatile than water-based pens because they can be layered and blended, either with each other on the page using similar shades, or using a clear blending pen (most brands sell these separately). Alcohol markers come with a significant price tag and the cheapest are usually unbranded permanent markers which can be found in the UK in stores like Poundland and The Works. The low to mid range are Sharpies and these come in a multitude of set sizes and colours and are world-renowned for their quality. Most others are mid to high or high-end prices and these include Spectrum Noir, Promarker and Copic. I don’t use alcohol markers because I suffer from migraines, often induced by environmental stimuli, so if you’re interested in using them I’d suggest searching for other reviews online, there are plenty of great ones to be found so that you can invest in the right set for you.

Water-based pens

Water-based pens are my personal favourites. I love colouring in pencil but when I’m colouring because I’m anxious or colouring just for me, I love nothing more than to get out my water-based fineliners and just get colouring! Water-based pens come in a huge variety of nib thicknesses and you need to bear in mind the size of the spaces you’ll be colouring when purchasing pens – there’s no point getting chunky felt-tips (markers) if you’re planning on using really intricate books because you’ll ruin them.

Water-based Fineliners

Fineliners are usually 0.3 or 0.4 mm’s and they’re ideal for small spaces and intricate parts. They are available all over the place and the cheapest are usually own-brand sets from UK shops like Poundland, The Works, WHSmiths and most major supermarkets, the mid-high range sets that I’ve found to be best are the Stabilo Point 88 fineliners which I’ve reviewed here and the Staedtler Triplus fineliners which I’ve reviewed here.

Water-based Fibre-tips/Felt Pens

Alongside these are water-based markers/ felt/fibre-tip pens which have a huge variety of shape and size nibs and are used for colouring larger areas. They are often a bit streaky, especially if you colour over the same spot twice and the cheaper they are, the streakier they usually are. There are hundreds of brands that do low-range sets for kids and adults but there aren’t any I’d recommend because they’re so streaky. My advice would be to invest in a mid-range set of Staedtler Triplus Fibre-tips (reviewed by me here), or Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips (review coming soon) because they’re much less streaky, last for ages and they are colour-matched with the fineliner sets so you can seamlessly colour small and large areas of the same picture with different pens. For high-end water-based markers I’ve heard great things about the Tombow Dual Brush Pens and the Faber-Castell Pitt Pens but I’ve not had the budget to try these out yet so be sure to test them in an art shop or buy a single pen first to test out and see what you want to invest in.

Books

Now you’ve decided what you’re going to colour with, you need to decide what you’re going to colour! The first thing to decide is whether it has to be single-sided or whether the colouring medium you’ve chosen will allow you to use double-sided books. If you’ve opted for alcohol markers then it must be single-sided, water-based pens you’ll want single-sided or thick paged double-sided and for pencils you can use any book you like. Paper quality is only an issue for water-based pens where it needs to be thick if it’s double-sided and pencils where you want a bit of texture (known as tooth – the grooves and textures in the paper that stop it being smooth and flat) if you’re wanting to blend and shade because you need to build up layers and the tooth allows you to do that. Shiny or incredibly smooth paper makes using pencils very difficult and if it’s waxy then steer clear of using anything other than alcohol markers because nothing else will stick, it’ll simply wipe off. After narrowing down the printing and paper quality, you then want to decide on what content you’re interested in – fantasy, people, animals, nature, patterns, abstract, scenes, mandalas, etc. There are so many books on the market now that you won’t find it difficult to find a book that fits all of these criteria, even if you want really niche content like rats, dragons or shoes.

Health Impacts

Finally, you want to think about your health which is a huge part of why I review colouring books and if you’re a reader of my blog already you’ll know, a huge part of each review I write. Whether you’re physically or mentally ill, your condition may affect your ability to colour and therefore your ability to enjoy a particular book. Things to bear in mind are whether your condition fluctuates, whether you have good vision, whether you have good fine motor control, whether the content of the book’s images may affect your mood in any way, whether your concentration levels alter, and what level of intricacy and detail you can handle. This might sound like a lot but in every review I write I describe all of these aspects so you can find books that will suit your level of functioning and ability so that you don’t get a book that’s so basic you get bored, or so intricate that it increases your levels of panic. You can find all of the reviews I’ve written in alphabetical order here and product reviews are at the bottom of that list, and I’ve grouped them into intricacy levels here.

One last thing I feel I really ought to make you aware of is that adult colouring is highly addictive. You may go into it thinking that you’ll buy just one book and one pack of pens, that’s how we all started, but trust me, it’ll never be enough and you’ll end up always chasing the next release and that next colouring fix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous addiction and one that I’m personally quite proud of as I survey my ever-growing collection of pens and pencils and bookshelf that is full to bursting, but nonetheless, it is addictive and you quickly feel that you have to collect books and seek out the perfect colouring pencil. Check out my pre-order list here for all of the books I’m pining for that are being released over the next few months!

I really hope this post will have helped explain the basics to all of the new people joining the adult colouring world who were unsure where to start. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or would like specific help finding books or colouring mediums to suit you then please don’t hesitate to contact me by clicking here and filling out the contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I like nothing more than matching people up to their ideal colouring books and mediums and the more specific you are, the easier it is. I’ve reviewed over 90 books and products so far and the number is rising weekly and on top of all of those, I’m aware of a great deal more books and products and have read countless reviews from others so I can hopefully point you in the right direction even if I’ve not reviewed the item myself. Last but not least, please do follow me in some way so that you can be kept updated with new blog posts, reviews, and colouring news etc. Links to everything are down the right-hand side of this page or you can click here to find me on Twitter, or click here for Facebook, or you can follow my blog via email at the top right of this page.

Where to Buy

Adult colouring books and colouring mediums can be found in most book, art and craft shops and can also be found in a host of places online. My favourite places to order books from are Amazon UK and Book Depository who do free shipping worldwide and links to both of these can be found on every review I post. To get you started here are the links to their adult colouring book sections.

Amazon UK – Amazon Adult Colouring Books

Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/adult-colouring-books/?a_aid=colouringitmom