Coloured pencils

Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. It is with a heavy heart that I have to write a less than positive review of these postcards. I had high hopes for them after detailing my criticisms of the Lost Ocean Postcards and raising these issues with the publisher and hoped things would be changed, but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This set of postcards contains 36 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Magical Jungle adult colouring book (reviewed by me here). Each postcard is printed single-sided with a leaf-outlined stamp space and space for an address (left blank with no lines) on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards arrive in a sort of box that doesn’t have a top or bottom and opens out to reveal the postcards inside with three black images drawn in a white line from inside the book, in two designs. The cover is cream with beautiful gold accents and a scaled down version of the book cover. The postcards are attached to the inside back cover of this box and have a glue binding which isn’t attached to anything other than the cards, it’s very sticky on the outside and also not very hard or strong, after the first careful look through the postcards I had already loosened a few and by the fourth time looking through them over half had completely detached. I’ve only had this set for two days and I’ve already had to completely remove the glue binding because so many postcards had fallen out and they’re now all loose in the box-type cover which they fall out the bottom of.

This time there is only one size of set including 36 postcards rather than the 50 we were offered for Lost Ocean. Of my 36 postcards, one was duplicated meaning I got 36 postcards with 35 designs and of the duplicated cards, one had a printing error with a centimetre gap of unprinted design at the top (see photo below), I’ve been in touch with a fellow reviewer whose set also has the duplicate. Four of the postcards didn’t have the design printed centrally and were drastically shifted to one edge of the card (see photo below) and a further one had some text printing at the very top which I assume should have been cut off during manufacturing. The majority of the postcards are landscape and a few are portrait (7 including the duplicate image twice), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards). Some are of the whole original image scaled down (8) and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk so there is a variety of intricacy levels from very intricate to virtually impossible to colour – the majority of the postcards are nowhere near the same size as the original illustrations with some being shrunk from 22.5cm across to just 9.5cm so you can imagine just how small these are. All but one of the designs are unique and they’re a beautiful selection of images from the book.

The postcards are made of thick, cream card which doesn’t bleed with water-based pens. The cards are a much yellower colour than the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Postcards and books. There were issues with white circles and patches on the Lost Ocean postcards which haven’t continued with this set, however, the card is identical and as before, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are repelled by the surface causing a much paler colour and a patchy appearance (see photo below – I will definitely be avoiding pens on these cards because of this). The postcards are lightly textured but don’t take pencils well, when covering larger areas the pencils almost clump and won’t apply smoothly, no matter what brand I’ve used, and it’s difficult to get smooth coverage over any size of area. I’ve found my Holbein pencils the best on this card but even they struggle and burnish quickly. There isn’t much space within the designs to blend or shade unless you want to colour over the lines. The line thickness is spindly thin, I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but many of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and I went over the lines a number of times on my card which was one of the larger designs. Fineliners would be best to colour such intricate images but can’t be used due to being repelled so you’ll need some super sharp pencils and patience to colour slowly and sharpen very regularly. It’s such a shame because I’m a huge fan of Johanna’s images and I just love her books but scaling down the images to postcard size really wasn’t a sensible choice because it’s so limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour them and I just haven’t found that possible to do as neatly as I’d like to. I had assumed that the images would include full-size zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils but because the images have been shrunk, many of them are just too small to colour (see the photos below where I’ve shown a 0.4mm Stabilo nib for scale).

Unfortunately, from a mental health perspective I really can’t recommend these, I really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. They require a huge amount of concentration and while they’re less intricate than the majority of the Lost Ocean postcards, this is because Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and therefore had larger spaces but when scaled down this doesn’t make a huge difference. Though they’re really interesting to look at, I would have to say that they’re really not well designed for colouring (I coloured one of the largest, least detailed images and still really struggled). All in all, I’m afraid I’m really disappointed. It’s such a shame these postcards didn’t follow the format of the Secret Garden Postcards, or those of Millie Marrotta’s Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland which had very few uncolourable images due to them being zoomed in sections of the illustrations, a much more sensible and usable format. My recommendation would be to get the book of Magical Jungle instead, this is a fairly expensive set of postcards when you factor in that many of them aren’t colourable. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, a real shame!

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753548158/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Magical Jungle can be found here:
Review – Magical Jungle
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753557167/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is the fourth in the Harry Potter Colouring Book series and my reviews of the first, second, and third can be found here. Grab your wand, bring a lantern, swat up on your incantations and let’s get delving into the magical artefacts of the wizarding world. This book is paperback with a glossy accented cover and a pale blue spine, it’s A4 in size and glue-bound meaning that a little of some images is lost. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with many of the single pages having a thin border meaning that they’re not lost into the spine. The book contains 96 pages which are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick (they’ve sorted out the paper issues since the first book), and didn’t bleed or shadow when tested with water-based pens, it’s lightly textured and perfect for pencils, you can get plenty of layers for blending and shading! It also held up fine to light use of water when activating the Derwent Inktense Pencils.

The images are drawn by multiple illustrators so they’re cohesive in content but some are drawn quite differently from each other. The images themselves include almost no stills from the film this time. There are a number of images based on concept art for the films and a few patterns are included which do feel a bit like “filler” images but there are fewer of these in this book than the first two (about 4 full page patterns) however, at least 24 pages are images with a centralised object overlaying a repeating pattern, like my coloured page of the sorting hat, and these get quite samey and dull. A huge number of different artefacts are pictured from obvious inclusions of wands, brooms, a time-turner, the Sorting Hat and horcruxes, to many of the items sold by the Weasley twins, book covers, the Marauders’ Map, Delores Umbridge’s cat plates and lots more. There are single and double-page spreads of objects and posters. This time there aren’t many pictures of characters though a few are included  At the end of the book are a number of full colour pages of the images included in the book meaning you can either copy the colour schemes in those or pick your own, they’re also great for helping you re-live the magic of the films and get yourself back into the world of Hogwarts – as if any of us ever left! I have to say, this book feels quite samey when compared to the previous three and they haven’t been brilliantly represented as specific titles due to the first book containing a real mixture of images and then the following three being specific aspects, many of the most obvious of which had already been featured in the first book. It just feels like it’s lacking, we’ve already had images of wands in two books, we’ve already seen the quidditch balls and different brooms, the collection of images is just quite random and the most obvious wizarding artefacts aren’t pictured well due to being shown in previous books.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have an awful lot of impact on it unless you’re a Harry Potter Mega Fan in which case it’s likely to considerably lift your mood and give you hours and hours of distraction and enjoyment. The images take a long time to colour if you want them to look realistic so you will need fairly good levels of concentration. The line thickness varies from very thin to thick but mostly it remains thin so you will definitely need good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The best part of this book is that it has coloured pages at the back which can be used to copy or give inspiration for colour schemes, you can also easily google the objects and artefacts in order to work out exactly how to colour them so they look true to the film, or you can go it alone and try out your own colour schemes with purple broomsticks, glittery wands and rainbow time-turners – it doesn’t have to be realistic, remember it’s a magical world! Some of the illustrations are very intricate and detailed and others are much simpler with larger open spaces so this book does have a variety of difficulty levels to accommodate your good and bad days.

All in all, this is a good book, but I’m left disappointed, it feels samey and lacklustre and the image style gets boring quite quickly, I think a trick was missed by creating the first generic themed book, it really took away from the subsequent three specific titled books as the best bits of each had already been pictured. However, if you’re wanting to finish off the set, or you’re just a bit less picky than me then this book may be for you. The paper quality is good and there’s a wide range of objects and artefacts pictured, I just feel they could have been pictured in a better, more exciting and inspiring way.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Magical-Artefacts-Colouring-Book/9781783705924/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

The Labyrinth: Mythical Beasts to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Labyrinth is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the fourth book created in this series, all illustrated by Richard Merritt who this time has been joined by Sabine Reinhart. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary and The Aquarium) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful teal and purple foiling on the cover. The pages are not perforated but they are easy to remove by cutting as close to the spine as possible so you can still frame them if you wish. There are 32 images, all printed single-sided and very little of the image enters the spine so hardly any of it is lost. The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow 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, you could also use alcohol markers as long as you pop some protective sheets of paper behind your work. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a mythical beasts instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on, all are pictured individually. The images are beautifully drawn and very varied as Richard and Sabine’s art styles are quite different from each other, if you’re a fan of mythology and mythological beasts then you’re sure to love this book! This new instalment to the The Menagerie series is just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Aviary and The Aquarium, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images and this title is no exception.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue mountains, pink and purple thistles, lilac clouds, and yellow lightening bolts, but the creature 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 mythological beasts included but some of my personal favourites are the faun, gnome, jackalope, unicorn, and fairy, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book none of the beasts are naturally black though I’m not sure what colour many of the creatures are “supposed” to be so it’s worth going all out with your colour schemes and get your brightest colours working!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images are best, very closely followed by fantasy-based images and you’ve got an abundance of those in this book so it’s a great one for getting lost in! I found it great fun to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when I need energising or feel like my mood needs a boost. The images aren’t of real animals so you can really go to town with your colour schemes and there are really no wrong choices though there will be plenty of depictions of most of these creatures if you have a quick search online so you could copy someone else’s colour schemes if you wish or you can do what I did and just pick a colour and roll with it. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the previous books’ 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 mythical beasts 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, 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. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over. 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 mythological 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 mythology and mythological beasts and really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of mythological creatures that I’ve seen. The Labyrinth 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.

I have recently created a fan group for artwork by Richard Merritt and Claire Scully (and now Sabine Reinhart too) which you can find here, please do join and share your finished pages from this and the other books in the series.

***This book has been published under the title Mythologica in the US and their edition has perforated pages whereas ours in the UK doesn’t. If you’d prefer perforated pages, I’ve included purchase links for the US edition as well as the UK edition below.***

If you’d like to purchase a UK edition it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a US edition it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mythologica
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Sabine-Reinhart/9781438009520/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal is illustrated by Leila Duly and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. These journals often come shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you may not be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect, those of you familiar with Leila’s first colouring book, Floribunda, will know just how stunning her artwork is and now some of the smaller elements have been collated into this journal. It’s really luxurious from its pale pink hardback cover with a beautiful floral scene from the book, to the black linen-style spine, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! It is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy shell pink ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every other double-page is a small image from Leila’s Floribunda colouring book. The 37 illustrations include lots of the single flower illustrations which were printed in colour on the inside covers of her original book, they are printed in a very similar size to those and therefore look very delicate on the page. Of these illustrations, around 5 are printed twice, first towards the front of the book and then towards the end, these include the freesia, iris, delphinium, and two others. They look beautiful left uncoloured or brightened up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers and first and last pages are pale pink and the first internal page of the book has a large floral image with a small lined space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink lines do transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is lovely because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration though you do have to focus very hard to not colour over the lines. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are very intricate and detailed, and the lines are possibly the thinnest I’ve seen with the illustrations much smaller than those in the original colouring book pages and a similar size to their coloured counterparts on the inside covers of it, therefore you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. When compared to the two previous colouring journals Laurence King have published, I was very slightly disappointed with this one as there are no foiled elements on the cover (apart from the title on the removable paper strip), no metallic coloured edging to the pages, and half the number of colourable designs also including 5 repeats. This seems a little bit of a shame, however, as a standalone product it’s simply beautiful, I just feel the two journals of Johanna Basford’s artwork were better value for money as they had double the number of illustrations but for Floribunda fans this journal will still be ideal.

I would highly recommend this journal for stationery addicts, those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook, and fans of Floribunda and the stunning work of Leila Duly. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is one little flower. This journal is delicate and beautiful and a lovely addition to the colouring journal range.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780679402/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Holbein Artists’ Coloured Pencils.

Sudee Stile 120 Coloured Pencils: The New Marco Raffines? – A Review and Comparison

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

EDIT: Since writing this post a set of 150 individual colours has been released in the UK and US. I don’t have this set yet and at the time of writing and photographing the maximum set size was 120. If and when I get the full 150 set I will update the whole review but in the meantime I have just added this edit and a purchase link here and at the bottom for the full 150 set.

These pencils were kindly sent to me free in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance as I’ve been hearing about these pencils increasingly often in the Facebook colouring groups and I wanted to see what they were like. The biggest and most common claim I’ve seen made about them is that they’re the new Marco Raffines and on a par with their quality, but with a whopping 48 extra colours is this true? Read on to find out what I think.

One thing worth mentioning before I continue is that I’ve extensively read the reviews of these pencils on both the UK and US Amazon sites and it appears that while the majority of people love them, a few hate them due to there being some significant production issues with some sets having shattered leads, arriving dirty or used, with the incorrect packaging etc. I can only review the one set that I’ve got and the only real issue I’ve had is that I received a duplicate pencil and was missing one. Please do bear in mind that this review is just my opinion of my set and obviously isn’t representative of those sets that have arrived broken or badly damaged.

Availability, Cost and Set Sizes
The pencils are not available in stores and are currently only available on Amazon. They are not available in open stock, neither are the Marco Raffines, so you will sadly have to buy a new set when you start running low on some colours, however, the price of these pencils is brilliant, at 30p a pencil, they’re a bargain and while they’re not the cheapest option of pencils, this is by far the best quality, largest range of colours for the least amount of money that’s available. They’re currently £35 for the full 120 set and have been as low as £27 though that listing has been unavailable for a while, do hunt around for the best price! The pencils are available in 120 colours and in sets of 24, 48, 72, 96 and the full 120 set.

Colour Range and Presentation
On first inspection these pencils are identical to the Marco Raffiines apart from the writing on them which obviously says Sudee Stile rather than Marco Raffine. I assumed, like many others, that these were just Marco Raffine pencils re-branded with a different name printed on them but they’re definitely not. Marco Raffines have an oil-based lead whereas the Sudee Stiles are almost certainly wax, it doesn’t say anywhere on them or the Amazon listings what the lead is made of and I originally thought they were oil-based because they behave so similarly to the Marco Raffines, however, I noticed a few days after colouring that a slight wax bloom had built up on my heavily burnished coloured areas and this has never happened with my finished Marco Raffine pages. This wax bloom isn’t a problem and is very common with any wax-based coloured pencils, it can usually be avoided by spraying your finished work with a fixative spray, many people use hairspray as a cheap option, please avoid doing this as it can yellow over time and ruin all of your hard work! The pencils themselves are hexagonal with a silver barrel and a colour-dipped end which is relatively true to the colour of the lead, but not so in all cases so do make a colour chart! Each pencil has black text on it stating Sudee Stile Color and a unique identifying number but these are not done in any sensible colour order so you’ll need to try and create your own or copy my order on the photo of the colour chart I created below. The pencils are available in 120 unique and individual colours, sadly my set arrived with one missing and a duplicate of the number 39 pencil but the colours cover a great range of shades and hues and are a really good selection with no specific colour being over-represented like in some sets. A lot of the colours are pretty similar to the Marco Raffines but you get so many more colours that even if you already have those, these are absolutely worth having too and I would highly recommend getting the full set as you’ll only wish for more if you get the smaller sets. There is another set of Sudee Stile pencils which is externally different but the colours and leads are reportedly exactly the same (information taken from the seller in the questions section on the pencil listing). This other set has a full colour barrel with a gold-dipped end and the writing on the pencils is written in gold rather than black. The Amazon listings have altered over time so sometimes both sets are available, often for different prices from each other, and currently only the silver set I have is available, don’t be alarmed, they’re both the same so just go for the cheapest version of the set size you wish to purchase unless you have a particular preference for the external look of the pencils. There is no mention of lightfastness and due to it being Winter here in the UK I can’t test this currently, the Marco Raffines aren’t very lightfast, especially the light shades so I would expect these to be the same due to the price point so I’d avoid using these to colour pictures that you’re wanting to display rather than keeping in the book.

Packaging
Originally, these were all packaged in a plastic screw-lid tub and they are pretty wedged in against some bubblewrap, this tub will surely last a while but is likely to break with a lot of use and it’s very difficult to identify the pencil or even pick one out, especially once you’ve started sharpening them and they become shorter so I’d strongly advise investing in a pencil case or pencil wrap for ease of use. The 120 set is now available in a thick cardboard box with three trays of pencils and two pencil sharpeners inside. There are reports of them occasionally arriving with no packaging in just a plastic bag, in this case always contact the seller or Amazon and I’m sure they’ll get it resolved.

Sharpening
The pencils arrive pre-sharpened with a blunted point. One thing to note is that they really need sharpening before use, for some reason there seems to be some sort of coating on them which makes them a bit scratchy to start with but this pretty much goes as soon as you sharpen them so don’t lose hope, they’re completely different once sharpened! None of my pencils arrived with broken leads. They have strong leads and sharpen well. I use a T’Gaal adjustable pencil sharpener which is known to be very good for not breaking leads but these are well-made pencils with nice smooth wooden barrels so there shouldn’t be any sharpening issues, regardless of what you use, I’ve had absolutely no breakages so far. The pencils can be used to colour very intricate images because they sharpen to such a good point which is really handy for some of the more detailed adult colouring books out there! They work well on lots of different types of paper and I really haven’t had any issues with them, a few of them feel a little gritty and scratchy at points but that’s something you expect when buying pencils for these kinds of prices and usually it’s a fragment of grit which will sharpen out and then the pencil is fine again (I have also found this to be the case with Marco Raffines).

Blending
The leads aren’t super soft but they’re not hard either, they’re most similar to Faber Castell Polychromos in terms of hardness, and they’re almost identical in feel to the Marco Raffines. They provide very vibrant and even coverage with no need to press hard, they are really easy to blend and shade with, very comparable to Marco Raffines, and they keep a good point so you don’t have to sharpen too regularly. Do check out the comparison blending photos below, the only visible differences are due to my changes in technique rather than the pencils.

Erasing and Smudging
The pigment does erase pretty well (see photo below), especially with a battery-operated eraser so these are ideal for those of you who frequently colour over the lines and want to clean up the edges, as well as for creating highlights that aren’t that uncoloured white type! Obviously, you’ll never be able to completely remove all of the pigment, especially when burnished, but a surprising amount does come off. I haven’t noticed these pencils crumbling at all so you’re unlikely to get any pencil dust, if you rub hard on the pigment it does smudge but this is always the case with a pencil that blends well.

Overall, I fully expected to use these pencils once and then never again because I have full sets of Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier, and Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils, however, I’ve already used these to colour images in 3 different book reviews because I love them so much! The pencils are really versatile and if used properly you can get the palest hint of colour all the way up to a completely filled vibrant colour, they can be used to blend and shade or for block colouring and it’s easy to colour without streaks if you’re careful. They are really pigmented so even light colouring gives a good level of colour without hurting your hands, I have very problematic joints in my hands and end up in a lot of pain if I have to grip or press too hard whilst colouring, I’m also currently suffering from repetitive strain injury in my right thumb, however, these pencils really haven’t exacerbated any of this because they’re soft enough and give a good vibrant coverage without having to force the lead into the paper, this is great for books with thinner paper that you don’t want to create identation on. These pencils would be ideal for beginner colourists all the way up to experts and artists. The colours are a fantastic range, there’s a really good mix of light, bright, pale, and dark shades within each colour group and none are over-represented. The leads are hard enough to keep a good point and not need sharpening too often, but soft enough that they’ll be suitable for the elderly, those with weak grip, and those suffering from arthritis, sore joints, and any other hand complaints (they can be made even more comfortable and chunky by adding pencil grips when colouring). Marco Raffines are the go-to budget pencil option for most people and the Sudee Stile pencils give them a really good run for their money and with the addition of 48 more colours what’s stopping you? These pencils are easy to use, great value for money, and honestly, they’re just a joy to colour with, I love them, they’re a bit more expensive than the Marcos for a 72 set but most of us have been craving more colours in Marcos and now you have the option of 48+ extras in the Sudee Stiles!

If you’d like to purchase a set then they’re available here:
Sudee Stile 24 (Silver) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 24 (Colour) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 48 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 48 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 72 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 72 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 96
Sudee Stile 120 Set
Sudee Stile 150 Full Set

The images below were all coloured using Sudee Stile Coloured Pencils.

Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me to review by Search Press Publishing. This book is the artist’s edition of Jessica’s hugely popular debut colouring book, Tangle Wood, which I reviewed almost 18 months ago, she’s since gone on to produce two further titles, Tangle Bay and Tangle Magic. This artist’s edition is a different format from the original and contains 20 images, some originally single pages and others a full double-page spread, I’ve included photos of all of the pages below so that you can see if your favourites are included and decide if this book is for you. It’s currently listed on Amazon with a release date in the UK as the 31st of March but my contact at Search Press is expecting their own website to have stock by the end of January and Amazon doesn’t usually take long after that so do get your pre-order in (links below) and you’ll be sure to get a copy as soon as it’s available.

The book itself is very large, measuring 25 x 33cm (the same size as Floribunda and the JB artist’s editions), it’s paperback with covers made of the same card as the pages inside, it’s thick card which is a beautiful cream colour, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which don’t bleed sideways or through, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t shadow onto the back, they just seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper. Cream isn’t everyone’s favourite page colour but it definitely adds a vintage feel and seems more natural than pure white so it really fits the woodland theme and also means you’re left with a less harsh contrast if you decide to leave the background uncoloured. The 20 images are printed single-sided onto the card and all of them are landscape, some are single page images from the original book which are printed a little larger, and others are double-page spreads which have been shrunk to fit the new page size. 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, mine arrived pretty stiff. 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 all from the original version of Tangle Wood, unlike most artist’s editions, the majority of these images are actually smaller than in the original book, I personally don’t think this was the best decision as Jessica’s illustrations are some of the most detailed around and it would have been lovely to have slightly larger scale versions to get our teeth into. There are also some slightly odd image choices like the floral frame which doesn’t actually fill the page or have enough space in the middle to draw much of your own imagery, or the floral spray with a small hummingbird, I was very disappointed to see that the gingerbread house wasn’t included apart from as a faded background for the bio on the back page. However, those niggles aside, the book is lovely and the images are really beautiful. Of the 20 images, 3 are printed larger than the original, 11 are printed smaller than the original, and the rest are the same size (see comparison photos below). The illustrations are printed in a different order from the book and don’t show the journey through the wood as the original did, there also isn’t a treasure hunt aspect though there are jewellery pieces hidden in each illustration. On the back of each page it says “Hand Coloured By” with a line to write your name and then “On” followed by space to write the date, you could also add the colouring mediums you used as a great record for the future.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, Jessica’s work contains so much detail that there’s constantly something to look at and notice, there’s a really good mix of images from up-close plants and insects to more scenic pages and all of the chosen illustrations will look beautiful framed if you wish. The linework is fairly consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin, the detail levels do vary because the scale of the images varies and it ranges from the tiniest of details up to much larger open spaces. While you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control, don’t forget that you don’t have to colour in each tiny section individually and you can get great effects from colouring over sections and using the black linework as pattern or texture through your colouring, I often do this with Jessica’s illustrations and it’s really effective. The drawings themselves are really natural and evocative and are sure to spark your imagination as well as calm you down, Jessica’s illustrations feel very peaceful so they’re great for slowing down a racing mind. A number of the images have large spaces where you could add your own backgrounds but this is by no means necessary and the pages will look beautiful with or without any additions. There is also a variance in the amount of content on each page so you can tackle a simpler page on bad days or a more complex design on days where you can focus and concentrate more fully. Fans of the original book are sure to love this edition, it feels quite different from the original but it has many more uses and is ideal for using heavy/wet media that you can’t use on double-sided pages.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, while the image choice and layout is a little disappointing, this may just be my personal taste and what is here is very lovely and will look stunning finished and framed. The book itself would make a wonderful gift or you could colour and frame a page for a loved one, or just brighten up your own home with your wonderful creations, I will certainly be framing my own soon, I just love how my owl turned out!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Wood-Jessic-Palmer/9781782214878/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Search Press Website – https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782214878/tangle-wood-collector-s-art-edition

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and the background with PanPastels.

Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils 150 Set – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils aren’t very well known yet, but they really should be! These pencils are from my personal collection and I purchased them just a few weeks ago, since then, I’ve used them every chance I’ve had and I have to say, I love them, they’re quite possibly my favourite pencils! It was quite a risk clicking the buy button because they’re pretty expensive and I could find very few reviews so it was a bit of a leap of faith but the completed pages I’d seen were so beautiful that I just had to have them and see what they were like.

Availability, Cost and Set Sizes
The pencils are Japanese and are available in open stock in Japan but almost impossible to find out of sets anywhere else in the world, they’re also not available in shops worldwide and can therefore only be bought online outside Japan. There is a huge variety of set sizes and palettes ranging from a set of 12 all the way up to the full 150 set which is available either in a sturdy cardboard box (this is the set I bought and am reviewing), or in an incredibly beautiful looking wooden box with trays in wooden drawers. These pencils are expensive so they’re a real investment and it’s really worth shopping around as the set I bought I’ve seen ranging from £227 all the way up to well over £300, some places to look for them are Ebay, Amazon UK and US (check the US ships to you) and Amazon Japan which was where I bought my set (see bottom of post above photos for info about how to order from Amazon Japan and a direct link to the set).

Colour Range and Presentation
The pencils are available in 150 colours and what sets these apart from any other set I’ve seen is the sheer variety and range of pastel colours, you also get 6 metallic colours and 6 fluorescents as well. The colour range is very varied and doesn’t feel shade-heavy in any shades and I haven’t particularly found it lacking in colours either though I do always hanker for more browns but this is one of the easiest colours to make when mixing other shades together, I’ve just not got around to making a colour mixing chart yet. The pencils themselves look most similar to the Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, they have a full colour round barrel which is thick and feels very well made, the wood casing is perfectly formed on all 150 of my pencils with no scratches, splits or off-centre leads. The non-colouring end is rounded and also coloured so your pencil lead can’t come loose from the casing and be pushed out the end like Prismas have been known to do. The pencils have gold writing, and a gold ring, similar to that on the Polychromos pencils but it’s much further from the end (see photos below), so they’re easy to tell apart. The pencils themselves are thicker than normal, the same thickness as Polychromos and they have a substantial, thick lead. Each pencil has a unique colour name and number printed on it and the lightfastness star rating.

Packaging
The packaging is superb and possibly the best I’ve seen for pencils (excluding the extortionately priced wooden box/drawer sets you can buy), the box is made of very thick cardboard and it doesn’t warp or twist at all, inside the lid it lists all of the pencils with their English and Japanese colour names, their unique colour number which is what they’re ordered by on this list and a chart with dots indicating which sets each pencil can be found in which is very useful for discovering the differences between sets and also being able to buy the smallest possible set when you start running low on certain colours! Each layer of pencils has a sheet of packing foam over it which helps absorb vibrations during transit, there is also an instruction manual which is sadly written in Japanese, though there are a lot of pictures so you can mostly guess at the techniques it’s teaching, and a small booklet containing the same packaging information as the box lid and opening out to show a colour sample of each pencil. The box contains three thick cardboard trays of pencils, each has a plastic insert that has individual slots for each pencil to sit in, the edges of two of my plastic inserts did arrive a bit broken however this isn’t affecting use, the cardboard trays have well-attached blue ribbon loops to aid lifting them out and this prevents warping and twisting of the trays. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened but not to a fine point, they all have a flattened end as if the tip has been cut off or they’ve been sharpened against something (see photo below), I’ve never seen this in a set of pencils before. A number of them also arrived with a strange residue on them that seemed a bit waxy, odd as the pencils are oil-based, this easily rubs, sands, or sharpens off though and it’s visible on the pencils it affects as the tip looks cloudy (see photo below) so there’s no reason to ruin your colouring page, just check the tip and clean it first and then you’re good to go.

Sharpening
The pencils sharpen beautifully, I use a T’Gaal Adjustable Pencil Sharpener which is arguably the best sharpener around (read my review of it here) and I’ve had no breakages and they sharpen to a nice point. The leads are relatively hard, significantly harder than Prismacolor Premiers and a tad softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos so they keep sharp for a good while during colouring and the tips don’t crumble. I personally use the “1” setting on my sharpener as I hate losing lots of wood at once and prefer to use a shorter point which is why in the photos below the point is short, these pencils hold up well on all of the T’Gaal’s settings including the longest point.

Blending
The pencils blend like a dream! Prismacolor Premiers are arguably the best and easiest pencils to blend due to their soft core but these Holbein pencils are a pretty close second and I found them a little bit easier to blend than Faber-Castell Polychromos. As yet, the only time I’ve needed to use a blending pencil has been when I’ve wanted to fade to white but haven’t wanted to lighten the colour by blending with a white pencil (see the blue, purple and pink gems in the photo below). They are really easy to layer, giving a good even coverage and being very sensitive to pressure, they have a beautiful vibrant pigment as you can see from the photographs of my colour charts below which I’ve not filtered or edited in any way, that’s truly how they look in real life! The pencil barrel colour is very similar and pretty accurate to the lead colour, but as always, I would still recommend creating a colour chart, it’s a great way of getting used to the pencils and how they perform on paper/card and it’s a really handy resource to have so that you can easily compare within and between brands so you can make perfect colour choices!

Erasing and Smudging
The pigment of the pencils erases pretty well, even when fully burnished, obviously you’ll never be able to completely remove all of the pigment, especially when burnished, but a surprising amount does come off, particularly when using a battery operated eraser which was what I used for the test below. As with all pencil pigments, it does smudge a little with pressure however, the smudge below was only created from deliberately rubbing at the pencil with my finger and will only smudge during normal use if you get any pencil “dust” which happens very little in use as these pencils really don’t crumble.

Overall, these are expensive and they’re not an item to purchase lightly, however, I can’t recommend them highly enough, there are no production issues at all in my set and none that I’ve heard of within the colouring community, the colour choices are unique and vibrant, they blend beautifully and are a great addition for those looking for more colours who already have any other pencil sets as these don’t contain a huge number of duplicate colour options. They sharpen well, with no issues and the packaging protects them well and makes them really easy to use without needing to decant them elsewhere unless you want to. These pencils would be a wonderful first artist’s grade set, or in addition to others and the pastel colours are just incredible! If you’re wanting to splash out on a new set then you should definitely consider these, I was so anxious about purchasing them but as soon as they arrived and I finished stroking the pretty colours and actually started using them, my fears were allayed and I instantly fell in love with them as has everyone else I’ve seen using them!

Purchasing
If you’d like to purchase a set then you could try out a set of 12 though these are still just over £2 per pencil but at least you’ll then know if you like them and have spares if you then splurge on the full set.

Amazon UK:
12 Colour Pastel Shade Set
12 Colour Basic Shade Set
24 Colour Set in Tin
36 Colour Set in Tin
50 Colour Set in Cardboard Box
100 Colour Set in Cardboard Box
100 Colour Set in Wooden Box with Drawers
150 Colour Set (as reviewed here) in Cardboard Box
150 Colour Set in Wooden Box with Drawers

Amazon Japan
150 Colour Set (as bought by me and reviewed here) in Cardboard Box
All Holbein Pencil listings on Amazon Japan

Amazon Japan ordering instructions
Google Chrome has a pretty accurate page translate tool which I used, you’ll first need to set up an Amazon Japan account and add your payment details and postal address, do this first or it’s really difficult to accurately find out prices. Don’t get too excited when you discover the pencils are mega cheap, the postage and import duties are an absolute killer, this set of pencils worked out at about £165 but the postage and import taxes left me paying another £60, this is all calculated by Amazon and paid upfront so there should be no unexpected fees when they arrive with you though I can’t guarantee this but I didn’t pay anything extra for mine. They also arrived ridiculously quickly, I was told it would take 7 days from Japan to the UK with standard delivery and in fact they took just 4 which is quicker than some UK deliveries I’ve had! The delivery packaging wasn’t great, just a thin bit of paper wedged in the box with no bubble-wrap or anything but my pencils seem to be absolutely fine and the set packaging itself is really good and protective which will help avoid any damage.

Enchanted Forest Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest Journal is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. I will freely admit to being a total stationery addict – I love nothing more than a brand new pen or notebook, so when I saw that our colouring Queen Johanna Basford had released another colouring journal, I had to have a copy, her first colouring journal Secret Garden can be found reviewed by me here. This journal comes shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you won’t be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect. It’s really luxurious from its hardback cover with a beautiful woodland scene from the book and gold foiling accents, to the black linen-style spine and beautiful gold-edged pages, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! The journal is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy cream ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every double-page is a small image from Johanna’s Enchanted Forest colouring book. The 72 illustrations include loads of different leaves, fish, birds, owls, feathers and more, and they look stunning on each double-page spread either left uncoloured or brightening it up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers are cream with black line drawings of Johanna’s flower patterns which can be coloured and the first page of the book has space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink does transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is fantastic because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are intricate and detailed, some at the same level as contained in the original book and others are much smaller and therefore more intricate and detailed so if you’re wanting to colour these images you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. I found that the illustrations are ideal for testing out colour schemes and techniques ready for doing my ‘best’ version in my copy of Enchanted Forest but this is also a great stand-alone journal.

I would highly recommend this journal for Johanna Basford fans, stationery addicts, and those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is a sprig of leaves or a little fox. This journal is gorgeous and certainly the best I’ve seen and its gold-edged pages are a lovely addition.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest Journal
Book Depository Worldwide (cover shown is incorrect but item is right) – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basfords-Enchanted-Forest-Journal-Johann-Basford/9781780679181/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler are a hugely well-known brand worldwide and they produce a large range of stationery products ranging from kids’ products all the way up to artist grade products, with a huge selection in between. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils (not to be confused with the Staedtler Noris Club Pencils) are a budget option at around £4/5 for the full 24 colour set. These are some of the cheapest pencils around so how do they stack up against some of the slightly pricier options like the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils (reviewed here) and the Marco Raffine pencils (reviewed here)?

The Noris Colour pencils are available in up to 24 individual colours and come in sets of 6, 12, and 24 and come in standard Staedtler packaging, or Johanna Basford themed packaging (do hunt around as prices for the packaging can vary and the contents is exactly the same). The pencils themselves have a hexagonal barrel with two black sides, black-lined corners, and 4 coloured sides that are the same colour as the pencil lead. They arrive pre-sharpened and have flattened ends which show the perfectly centred cores which are a standard thickness. The barrels have a soft feel to them and they’re not slippery. The colours cover a good range of shades in the 24 pack and include white, black, grey, a flesh tone, 3 browns, 3 greens, a true red, one purple and plenty of pinks and blues, and two each of yellow and orange. The pencils are wax-based. Sadly, I’m really not a fan of these pencils. The leads are extremely hard, the hardest I’ve come across and they’re very waxy with very little pigment. I found it really difficult to get an even coverage that didn’t have streaks through it and I just couldn’t get any vibrancy. Even when creating my colour chart I struggled to not have huge lines through the fully burnished sections and I pressed so hard whilst colouring with them that I ended up with a blister and nearly went through the page. The pencils do blend ok if you use very light layers, but again, there’s no vibrancy from them. The pigment does erase well, especially when using a battery-operated eraser so these would be useful for those of you who go over the lines a fair bit, and for those wanting to create highlights. Sadly, any of you who suffer from joint pain, have weak grip, or are elderly, will really struggle to use these pencils unless you’re wanting to just do light block colouring and no blending or shading. The sheer amount of pressure needed to get any level of pigment on the page is higher than I’d ever want for a pencil and I ended up with dents and blisters on my fingers after colouring one full page.

The pencils do sharpen well and don’t crumble at all or create dust. The hardness of the lead means it keeps a good point which lasts for ages, mostly because so little of the pigment goes onto the paper when colouring. I haven’t had any issues with breakages or splintering so the lead and pencil barrel seem to be well-made. For the price, you can’t expect a lot but for me, even at this price, I wouldn’t buy them unless they were literally all I could afford. These pencils would be ideal for school children but I can’t recommend them for anyone else, the colours are so pale, the leads are so hard, and they’re so difficult to get colour onto the page how and where you want it. While the Staedtler Ergosofts and Marco Raffines are both a fair bit more expensive, I’d strongly advise opting for those pencils because they’re both highly pigmented, easy to blend and you don’t get an achy blistered hand just by looking at them. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but honestly, I can’t really find anything positive to say about these pencils, they made colouring really stressful for me and the only reason I finished the picture was to show a fully coloured page for this review.

If you’d still like to purchase a set of these pencils they’re available below:
Amazon UK: Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencil Set

The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book is published by Hodder and Stoughton and is from my personal collection. It’s been a sad couple of weeks in the baking world after discovering that not only is our favourite baking show moving from the safety of the BBC to the big wide world of Channel 4 but that also 3 of our 4 presenters and judges won’t be relocating with it. I can’t be the only one who feels as if their world has been turned upside down and isn’t sure if they should be whisking or kneading the mess of dough before them. It’s therefore the perfect time for Tom Hovey, resident artist (at least for now) on the Great British Bake Off, to publish his wonderful colouring book filled with familiarity and nostalgia from the series we know and love! I was so worried that after the devastation of the past few days’ news, this book might disappoint, that it might not be a recipe for success and might have the dreaded soggy bottom! I can safely say it hasn’t, at least for me, it’s beautiful, filled with recognisable bakes and just begging to be coloured! So grab your aprons, preheat your ovens and “On Your Marks, Get Set, BAAAAKE!”!

This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with flexible card covers which have partially coloured designs from inside the book on the outside and on the inside covers are colourable pages of cream horns which are also pictured in the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and isn’t especially tight on arrival meaning it’s quite easy to get most of the way into the gutter so very little of the image edge is lost. The pages consist of a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 90 pages of designs and 12 (24 sides) of these are double-page spreads. Many of the images are centralised cakes which don’t have any aspects reaching the edges of the pages, for those that are full page spreads of double-page designs, a very thin border has been left down the centre of the spine so once you’ve worked the spine and can open the book completely flat you’ll be able to reach all aspects of the image to colour which is fantastic and very rare! The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, my water-based pens barely even shadowed though they did bleed through when I added water to them but that’s to be expected, the paper didn’t hold up brilliantly to water and did buckle a bit but I’m new to using water with pens so I wasn’t sparing enough with it. Pencils work really well on the paper, you can build up plenty of layers for blending and shading and this will be ideal for getting your chocolate looking perfectly tempered, icing superbly swirled, and fruit looking well glazed.

The contents of the book includes loads of Tom’s original illustrations from the series and they are instantly recognisable. There is no text through the book and on my first look through I was really worried about how I’d know what each bake was and who’d made it, I was very relieved and excited when I got to the final three pages of the book and saw that thumbnails of each image have been included and titled with what the bake is, who baked it and which series it’s from. This means a quick google search with those details, or a re-run of that episode if you’re a die-hard fan and have them all, will allow you to find the original bake and Tom’s original coloured illustration so that you can copy it if you wish or you can go to town and colour a unique baked creation. The bakes pictured include trifle, tiered pies, decorative loaves, 3D biscuit scenes, opera cakes, Swiss rolls, Charlotte Russe, eclairs, vol-au-vents, canapes, and even a povitica. All of the images are from Series 4-6 and there is a great cross-section with creations from all of your favourite bakers included, even Mary and Paul’s! Settle yourself down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (purely for research purposes of course), get your pens and pencils out and colour the perfect crumb, shiniest icing, and sauciest self-saucing pudding! None of the people are pictured in this book, no bakers, presenters or judges, but the tent and the beautiful Welford Park House are pictured and even the famous Bake Off squirrel!

In terms of mental health, I have personally found this book fantastic! If you like cakes then this book has to be on your must-have list, it’s sure to cheer you up and improve your mood because the cakes are so beautiful and it might even inspire your baking (if you like to bake). I found the book really calming and very distracting, there are so many little details that you notice new ones each time you flick through the pages allowing you to become totally absorbed and I really noticed my worries melting away as I coloured Tamal’s Charlotte Russe. The images are all drawn in a consistently medium/thick line so this book would be ideal for almost anyone to enjoy regardless of vision impairment or issues with fine motor control. The detail level varies throughout from large pastry slices and meringue peaks on baked Alaska, to much smaller details in the garden scenes, and Chetna’s caramel covered Dobos Torte. This book will be ideal for those of you with varying concentration levels and symptoms because the illustrations are really varied in size and also have very natural stopping points so you could colour one chocolate covered strawberry or cream horn, a pastry or even a whole gateau, the choice is yours! The lines are quite black and heavy and at first I found this a little off-putting because I normally like to colour thin-lined images with delicate linework but I love how my page turned out and instead of just creating sections to colour within, the lines in this book are truly part of the artwork of the finished piece, the boldness of them means that your colours really pop so whether you use pens or pencils you’re liked to want to use some really bold colours so they stand out well and don’t disappear. These illustrations are almost identical to Tom’s originals from the show so if you’re not quite sure which section is nut, which is fruit or what colour dipping sauce has been used then just google the original and you can copy his colour scheme if you wish, this is ideal for anxious colourers like me because it’s like paint-by-numbers without the numbers and it takes all of the stress out of choosing colours and you can just pick the matching shade and get going, your symptoms can take a back seat and you can just enjoy colouring some deliciousness.

This book certainly contains some technical challenges and some pages that you can truly colour into your own signature bake and more still that will hopefully become showstoppers! It’s sure to make you hungry and get you hunting through your recipe books for inspiration and to make tasty treats to snack on when you need a break from colouring. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cake, baking, or the Great British Bake Off because this really is the ultimate book for cake-lovers, it completely transports you back to the Bake Off tent!

If you get a copy of this book then be sure to avoid Mel wearing your tuille as bracelets and Sue accidentally elbowing your English muffins. Keep your colouring area a disaster-free zone and for goodness’ sake, colour slowly so that nothing needs to be discarded and we can all avoid another episode of “bin-gate”, I’m still not sure I’m over the trauma of the Baked Alaska challenge! You can take your finished pages and offer them up on the Gingham Altar for Mary and Paul to poke, prod, and almost certainly tell you it’s under-blended or over-shaded, but perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, you might just get crowned Star Colourer for the week and receive the coveted handshake from Paul – we can all dream can’t we?! This book truly offers you a way to have your cake, and eat it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Great-British-Bake-off-Colouring-Book-Tom-Hovey/9781473615625/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens and a Derwent waterbrush to create the macaron colour, bavarois colour and drips on the berries to create a mottled appearance.

If you’d like to see a silent video flick-through of the entire book then click here.