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Fantasia is illustrated by Nicholas F. Chandrawienata and published and kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Amulet Publishing. This book is one of the most talked about in the colouring groups on Facebook and has been one of the most difficult to get hold of after early US editions were printed with very disappointing paper quality, however, these issues have now been rectified and the book is produced to an extremely high standard and is readily available on Amazon US (details about International purchase at the bottom of the review above the photos). The book itself is 27.4 x 25.4cm, landscape orientation, paperback with flexible card covers with a fully coloured image from inside on the front. The book is spiral-bound on the left side and the pages are perforated but don’t come loose unless deliberately detached from the book. The 61 images are printed double-sided onto thick white paper, it’s not bright white but not off white either, it has a great amount of tooth (see photos below) and is ideal for layering and blending pencils and it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully; alcohol markers will bleed through and you should always test any pens including water-based markers in an inconspicuous area to ensure you don’t ruin any reverse images as everyone colours differently. The images are all contained to a single page, none of them are spreads. The illustrations are really varied in content and while the majority are of people including their faces, upper bodies and whole bodies, a number of them are quite random too and include Easter eggs, a dinosaur, dragons, koi carp, roses, snowflakes, skulls and all sorts more. The most iconic images from this book and the ones that really sell it and look most spectacular when coloured are the images of people and these truly are transformed with colour, whether you use realistic flesh tones or go all out with green or purple tones instead, these images look unbelievable! Nicholas is an extremely talented illustrator and his work really is perfect, it’s beautiful, and really detailed and due to him being from Indonesia, there is a real Asian influence on his work which we don’t often see in colouring books and is a really fresh thing to see and colour. His work really does have to be seen to be believed so do check out the images below so you can see some of the variety and wide-ranging content as well as the beauty of his drawings.
In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s so distracting and unusual and on one page you’re transported into prehistoric times where dinosaurs roamed the earth and on another you’re face to face with a mermaid, pirate, or even death. The illustrations are realistically drawn but much of the content is mythical or fantastical so there are no “correct” colour schemes and this book is definitely one to push you out of your comfort zone and get you trying new colour schemes and learning to colour flesh, fur or metal accurately. This book isn’t for the faint-hearted but if you’re brave you’ll really reap the rewards because it looks just incredible when coloured! The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin but not spindly. The intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout each picture with most containing some large and some small spaces, for example a large open space of a face with much more detailed flowers around the edge; none of the spaces are particularly tiny apart from on the odd occasion so this book would be suitable for most levels of vision and fine motor control but do check the pictures of the pages below in order to ensure suitability. Three of the images have small text on them suggesting for you to add detail to a named section of the image which has been left uncharacteristically simple, these aren’t overly intrusive and you can always ignore the instructions like I did and just colour the image as it is. This book does mostly require a fairly high level of concentration but there are a few images that are made up of component parts which you could focus on when you’re feeling poorly and leave the full page portraits for day when you’re feeling better and up for a challenge. I really can’t rave about this book enough, it’s stunning and even though a lot of the content isn’t stuff I’d normally choose to colour, I can’t wait to work my way through every page in this book because the artwork is just so beautiful!
Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s absolutely gorgeous and a great challenge to get you out of your comfort zone, the paper is fantastic for pencil-lovers and the illustrations are incredible. It’s ideal for those with mental or physical health problems as it’s so distracting and isn’t ridiculously intricate so it’s accessible and if you’re prepared to sacrifice the reverse image, or you want to buy two copies so you don’t have to, then you can even remove your finished pieces and frame them to brighten up your darker days and remind yourself of all that you can achieve!
If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s currently available on Amazon US and for those of you in the UK and elsewhere don’t despair as they do ship to other countries though I’m not sure exactly where they do and don’t ship to. I tried checking out to my address in West Sussex, UK and they do allow it and including shipping the book costs just £17 or thereabouts which is a steal so do check it out! International group orders are often set up and run through a dedicated Facebook Group which can be found here and they also share their finished pages from the book so it’s a great place to start if you need inspiration!