The Aviary: Bird Portraits to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aviary (Colouring Books) is published by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is from my personal collection. This is the second book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie. This book is exactly the same size and format as The Menagerie but in case you missed that here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and silver foiling on the cover. The pages are perforated for easy removal meaning you can display them or gift them to others. There are 31 images, all printed single-sided and because the pages are perforated, the image doesn’t enter the spine so none of it is lost (do check your copy is actually perforated as my copy isn’t and has no signs of perforation either, this is a fault with mine but I doubt mine’s the only one that slipped through). The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens heavily shadowed but didn’t bleed through at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a bird instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are sat diagonally facing the artist and others are pictured front on or even in pairs. The images are beautiful and if you like the Art Therapy series (reviewed by me here) also published by Michael O’Mara, and like me, longed for a book of just the bird images then this is the book for you. Michael O’Mara are incredibly proud of this new title and quite rightly so, it’s just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Menagerie, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of brown branches, lilac flowers, green plants and orange leaves but the animal itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of birds included but some of my personal favourites are an Atlantic puffin, Indian peafowl, macaw, swallow-tailed hummingbird, mallard ducks, red-billed toucan, and the emperor penguin chick but that’s just to name a few. My only, very slight, gripe is that some of the birds are naturally black (raven), or white (albatross), or both (penguin) and this means that you either have to pretty much leave them as they are if you want them to look realistic, or go all out with your outlandish colour schemes (see my toucan below) in order to be able to colour them. It’s not a problem and you’re certainly getting a lot of other images which you could colour very realistically (or break out your neons and rainbow pens like I did) I just think it’s a slight shame. Other than that though the book is perfect!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images and those of things in nature are by far the most relaxing to colour and animals are absolutely top of my list for that so this book is ideal! I found it really calming to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when my anxiety peaks and I need to get control of it quickly. Because the images are of something real, you can either colour them realistically meaning you can have a quick google and find out exactly what pens and pencils to use to make it come alive and practice your blending and shading, or you can do what I did and really spice things up with your brightest pens and wildest colour schemes. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The birds themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, because the images are of birds, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. The flamingo in particular I think lends itself to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over and look like feathers through my coloured pencil. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a feathered masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love birds, like colouring natural things, or if you really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of birds I’ve seen. The Aviary is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again. This is a perfect book for bird-lovers. Scroll down to below the links for loads of photos of inside.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available for less than the RRP here:
Amazon UK – The Aviary (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide –

You can read my review of The Menagerie here, or purchase it below.
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide –

A third book will be joining the series in September 2016 called The Aquarium which will be filled with all things fishy. You can pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Aquarium (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide –

A Fourth book has also been announced called The Labyrinth which will be filled with mythical creatures and can be pre-ordered here but you’ve got a long wait as it doesn’t publish until May 2017!
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide –

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

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