The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain is published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. LKP have teamed up with Ordnance Survey, historic map creators and producers of the UK, to produce this wonderful colourable map book. Ordnance Survey was established in 1791 and they have been creating detailed maps ever since, these were originally produced in black and white and colour wasn’t added until 1887. While their mapping processes have altered and become digitised over the decades, their maps are still known, used, and well-regarded all over the world and now we’ve been offered the chance to colour them ourselves.

This book is huge (the second largest colouring book I’ve seen) at 34.9 x 26.8cm. It’s paperback with thick flexible card covers with three-quarter French flaps. The cover of the book depicts a map of London which continues over the inside flaps with the front flap having a list of all of the towns and cities which are depicted within, and an outline of Great Britain. The flaps open out to reveal a red lined interior, I personally feel this space could have been better utilised and would have been lovely with an added map. The spine of the book is not attached to the cover and is supposedly lay-flat, it’s glue and string-bound and while you can get to the centre of the majority of the images, it’s a bit of a challenge on a few so I wouldn’t describe it as truly lay-flat binding but it’s not far off. The spine of the book is bound with green tape so your pages should remain secure and aren’t removable unless you use a blade of some sort. The pages are printed double-sided and contain a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is a pale cream colour, similar to Secret Garden, it is very lightly textured which gives a smooth surface to colour on but there’s not a lot of tooth for building up pencil layers. Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow but do always test them somewhere inconspicuous first! The images are all as you’d expect, black and white line drawings of maps just waiting to be coloured. There is no key in the book so some of the symbols are a little confusing however a quick google search should help you identify any you’re stuck on. Nothing is named or labelled on the maps so the images are all text-free apart from a red outlined box that tells you what town or city the map is depicting, the source, location and a little information about the place and its most famous areas or landmarks. The maps show a really good cross-section of locations from coastal to inner cities, piers to stations, rivers to mountains. The book is split into sections, the largest of which is dedicated to England, followed by Scotland, and Wales. Heaps of places are mapped from Brighton to Loch Ness, Norwich to Aberystwyth, York to Lerwick and Blackpool to Margate. In the centre of the book is a single-sided 4-page fold out spread of Thames Valley, London showing the River Thames in the centre and spanning from Belgravia to the O2 Arena. This spread could easily be removed and would look stunning framed before or after being coloured.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have much of an impact, the content is just as you’d expect and maps aren’t known for being calming or soothing. Due to lack of any writing on the maps, I found it quite difficult to identify what the map was specifically showing and what each section was meant to be. As a perfectionist, I wanted to colour my map in the correct colours and it took a surprisingly long time to find exactly where on the map I was looking at and what colour each section should be so this book certainly can’t be used for a quick colouring fix. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and thin with spindly thin details and bolder accents here and there. The levels of detail and intricacy varies throughout from large open spaces of fields or sea, to teeny tiny spaces showing residential areas and country roads. I would recommend this book for those of you with pretty good vision and fine motor control and I’d advise using fineliners or sharp pencils so that you can get into the details. This book requires a huge amount of concentration to identify each part and colour within some of the small sections so it’s definitely one to keep for your better days when you can focus well and not get frustrated by the process. Once you have managed to identify the sections, if you’re wanting to colour the map realistically it’s very easy and you don’t have to spend ages narrowing down your colour choices, you can just get going which may be useful for anxious colourers though I personally found this book quite stressful due to the sheer amount of difficulty I had with identifying symbols and areas. The pages are huge, especially the double-page spreads and centre fold-out so this book will certainly keep you distracted and occupied for long periods of time if you’re able to concentrate on it, progress is quite slow because there is so much detail included in each but this could be a real labour of love and for anyone who managed to finish colouring it cover to cover, I’m sure it will look truly fantastic! This book is pretty niche and I’ve realised that despite being interested in looking at maps, colouring them is not my forte, but for keen cartographers who fancy having a go, this is the best book to go for. The paper colour offers a real vintage feel and once finished, the maps do look beautiful!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those with a keen interest in maps but for those, who like me, sort of like them, this book is just a bit too challenging to get started with. The production of it can’t be faulted and I truly believe it’ll look incredible when finished if you have the determination to persevere!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain
Book Depository Worldwide –

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

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