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Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book (Pull Out & Frame Colouring Bks) is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. Enchanted Forest, illustrated by Johanna Basford is one of the worldwide bestselling colouring books and with good reason – the images are stunning, beautifully detailed, tantalisingly intricate and beautifully put together. However, many of us colourers found that the spine caused a problem because some of the middle of each image was lost into it and the double-sided printing meant that those of us who wanted to use pens of any kind had to sacrifice a number of images on the reverse or resort to colouring with mediums we weren’t so keen on. These issues were taken on board by the publisher and they have responded with this Artist’s Edition.
This book includes 20 of the original images from Enchanted Forest, printed single-sided. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden Artist’s Edition). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but do stay put as long as you’re careful and don’t twist the spine too much. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.
The images included are from the original Enchanted Forest book but they are a slightly bizarre selection. I’m sure we each have our own favourites and preferred images, I’m personally a huge fan of the animals, the leafy scenes and double-page spreads but there are a fair few of the more ‘filler’ style images included. I feel terrible criticising this book and it really is my only criticism because the production is second to none and the artwork is beautiful, it’s just a shame that images such as the gate, the coat of arms and the leafy pattern were included instead of images like the hedgehog, toadstool, enchanted tree, and leafy boat that would have been so spectacular to colour and frame. The circular and square images are slightly smaller in size then the original book (under 1cm – see comparison photos below) but the (mostly) portrait and (couple of) landscape images are either zoomed in (see the fox which is much larger than the original image and has also been printed facing the opposite direction from the original book) or zoomed out double-page spreads with a little of the edges cut off but this means you can finally colour that elusive section that enters the spine of the original book (see comparison photos below). This means that a few of the images have slightly larger spaces meaning the ability to really go to town and blend and shade is increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print size in some of the images would be ideal for practising these techniques. The majority of the images are printed on the same, or similar, scale as Johanna’s original book meaning it’s packed full with delicate leaves and intricate details just crying out to have colour added to them.
I’ve already highlighted the majority of the ways in which this book is different from the original but a couple more things to note are that this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect and none of the included images are designed to be added to, though of course you may still wish to add backgrounds or borders, there aren’t any images with large spaces like in the original so just bear that in mind. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores. This means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it.
In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Enchanted Forest, the journey is less obvious and the images don’t flow in this edition because they are printed in a different order from the original book, nevertheless, it’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a world filled with brightly coloured foliage and enchanting creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I hope will catch on with future publications because who wants to spend hours colouring a stunning image and then leave it in a book when you could be decorating your walls with your work or giving wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends?! This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the tiny lion head image printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!
If you’d like to purchase a copy of this stunning book, then head over to Amazon where the UK edition is on sale, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until May for the US edition but there are pre-order links below.
Amazon UK (UK edition) – Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book (Pull Out & Frame Colouring Bks)
Book Depository Worldwide (UK edition) – https://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-Artists-Edition-Pull-Out-Frame-Colouring-Book-Johanna-Basford/9781780677842/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Book Depository Worldwide (US edition) – https://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-Artists-Edition-Johanna-Basford/9781780677859/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.
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