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Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps - Click through to read my review, see photos and watch my video flick through

Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps: Colour, Explore, Protect – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps is illustrated by Claire Scully of The Menagerie series, written by Jacopo Pasotti and published by Bergli Books, it is from my personal collection. This book has been created to highlight the plight of a number of endangered species of animals, plants and landmarks in the alps and a portion of the purchase price is donated to the World Wildlife Fund though sadly it doesn’t state how much from each book is donated. The book is expensive compared to most and therefore a considered purchase but I can honestly tell you that it’s worth the price. I’ve been umming and ahhing over purchasing it since it was published in November and I finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago and I truly love it. It’s absolutely huge at nearly 30cm square and it’s really thick due to the paper used. The book is paperback with flexible card covers with a beautiful wolf image on the front that is indicative of the content but not actually included inside the book. The spine is glue and string bound and very sturdy and durable, it’s a little tricky to get the book to lie flat due to it’s thickness but some careful pressure will help this. The 50 images of plants, animals and landscapes are all printed single-sided with information about each one on the opposite page written in English, German, French, and Italian. Each is numbered and named with a brief description of them, their habitat and the reason they’re endangered so you get to learn about each one as you colour it. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, it’s really nice to colour on with pencils, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and I’ve even used watercolour paints with a sparing amount of water with great success as you can see in the photos below so you can use any medium you fancy, even alcohol markers if you put protective sheets behind your work and don’t mind bleed-through onto the proceeding page’s information. The image content is mostly animals but also contains 9 images of plants and 4 images of landscapes. These illustrations range from insects including various beetles and butterflies to small mammals and birds including the dormouse and kingfisher all the way up to much larger mammals including wolves and bears. There are recognisable animals that you’ll already know about as well as much less known animals, beautiful images of plants showing them like wildlife guides do or in situ as well as a few landscape images of specific areas that are under threat. None of the images in this book are duplicated in any others, although a few of the animals have been previously illustrated in other books (e.g. bear, wolf, owl), all of this artwork is original so even if you have all of Claire’s books like I do, you won’t be getting repeats!

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s really absorbing and all of the images are nature-based which is inherently very calming. All of the illustrations are drawn in Claire’s beautiful signature style, this is very detailed and intricate but don’t be put off, you can always colour over the sections rather than within each one separately and this makes the images much easier to colour. The animals images are by far the most detailed, but the plant images are a fair bit less intricate with far fewer details so there is some range in these levels for your good and bad days. The line thickness is thin throughout, just like always with her art so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control but not perfect if you’re happy to colour over sections. The artwork is all very natural and really beautiful to look at, even uncoloured it’s just stunning and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit just poring over the pages. The pictures are huge and can take ages to colour if you wish so you can really take your time over them; many have natural stopping points for those with concentration issues who like to finish sections but on the whole these images do require a fair bit of concentration and focus. They look equally amazing coloured in realistic or outlandish colour schemes so you don’t need to feel restricted just because they’re drawn quite realistically. Because the images are printed single-sided, you can really branch out with using mediums you might otherwise struggle to use in books, the paper is really good quality and can take a lot more than most and you can easily use mixed media too with some really great effects and to top it all off, you could carefully remove your finished pages and frame them to gift or display if you wish. The images are beautiful and they really do transport you to the alps, you can practically feel the chill in the air and hear the ringing of cow bells and if you want to fully immerse yourself and gorge on Swiss chocolate whilst colouring then I’d highly recommend that too, it’s all part of the experience!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, the artwork is beautiful, the cause is really important and best of all the production quality of the book is really high so although it’s expensive, you’re still getting a lot of book for your money and not once have I regretted the cost. If you like Claire’s work then this book is an absolute must-have!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Treasured Alps, Threatened Alps
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Treasured-Alps–Threatened-Alps/9783038690276/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Video Flick-Through

The image below was coloured with Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils, Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, and the metallic areas were coloured with Kuretake Gansai Tambi “Starry Colors” metallic watercolour paints using very fine brushes for the honeycomb.

The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book is published by Rizzoli and illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Jessica Palmer. Jessica has also sent me a second copy in order to run a giveaway, this is currently running on my FB page and you can win a copy of this book and a set of 20 Winterkleurkaarten by Julia Woning; you have until midnight on the 29th of November 2017 to enter here. This book is a new format, design and style from what we’ve come to know for Jessica’s art in the Tangle book series but it is no less beautiful, it’s just different. The book itself is 23.1 x 25.4cm, paperback with flexible card covers and a partially coloured black and white design from inside the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and can be a little tricky to get completely flat but with perseverance this will become easier. The pages are a mixture of single-sided (25 images) and double-sided printing (42 images) and it seems quite random as to where these are placed, the images are also a mixture of single (63) and double-page spreads (4 comprising of 2 spreads) and many have black backgrounds (23 ish). The paper is bright white, lightly texture and medium thickness, it worked well with my Derwent Inktense Pencils and didn’t overly warp when activated with water and this didn’t shadow or bleed. Water-based pens don’t seem to bleed or shadow and pencils work well for blending and layering, alcohol markers can be used on the single-sided images as long as you place a protective sheet behind to catch any bleed-through. The images themselves are all inspired by Tiffany lamps and therefore have a real stained glass feel as they’re designed to have light displayed through them to show each section, therefore the images are mostly quite heavily lined with lots of sections making up each design. Each of the designs contains at least one dragonfly for you to find, sometimes these are the centre of the image and other times they’re hidden, they give a really cohesive feel to the book because even though each page is filled with different content, it’s still tied together with the Tiffany lamp and dragonfly theme. The designs vary a lot in size and content and Jessica explains in the introduction that she has deliberately created illustrations with much simpler designs for children or beginners and all different levels in between up to very complex detailed designs. There is a really good mixture of designs and pretty much all of them are heavily nature-inspired, just like the real Tiffany lamps. The images don’t contain actual lamps with fixtures and stands, they’re all designs inspired by lamps and therefore the artwork has been altered and adapted to fit a flat page rather than all of them being circular or curved which is nice.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, the natural images are great for calming you down and helping you zone out. The different levels of difficulty are ideal for those of us with fluctuating conditions because you can do simpler images on your worse days and more complex images on your better days when you can focus. The line thickness varies throughout and ranges from spindly thin to thick and mostly stays around the thin range. The intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from large open spaces to much smaller, finer details and again, it remains mostly around the quite detailed level and therefore you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to enjoy the majority of the images. The printing is ideal for those who like to use wet media or mixed media as you can colour the double-sided pages with pencil or carefully with water-based pens and the single-sided pages with watercolours, alcohol markers and paints if you wish. You can really challenge yourself to work on making the images look like sections of lamps with light shining through them if you wish or you can just colour them as normal colouring images, either option will look equally beautiful. The single-sided images could even be carefully removed from the book once coloured and framed or gifted if you wanted.

Overall, this is a lovely book, it’s not as niche as you might expect and the illustrations are all drawn in Jessica’s beautiful signature style and will look incredible once splashed with colour, whatever medium you fancy using!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Tiffany Glass Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tiffany-Glass-Coloring-Book/9780847860708/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Jessica has also sent me a second copy in order to run a giveaway, this is currently running on my FB page and you can win a copy of this book and a set of 20 Winterkleurkaarten by Julia Woning; you have until midnight on the 29th of November 2017 to enter here.

The image below was coloured with Derwent Inktense Pencils and activated with water.

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

Helen has also just released a second book, Colorist’s Special Effects 2, I have just received a copy and will be reviewing it soon, suffice to say, it’s incredible and an absolute must-have so if you’d like to order a copy, you can purchase it here.
Amazon UK – Colorist’s Special Effects 2 

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

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.

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.

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.

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.