Fineliners

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.

Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia: A Colouring Book to Keep Your Favourite Moments – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia is published and kindly sent to me to review by Promopress and illustrated by Toc De Groc – a Barcelona based trio of ladies who run a design studio. They were the creators of the stunning book Hidden Nature and this second book is just as beautiful with a different theme but similar style. This book is square (the same size as the bestsellers), paperback, with a beautiful floral embossed white card cover and removable paper slip with the title and coloured illustrations from inside the book. The spine of the pages isn’t attached to the cover apart from at the back and it’s a lay-flat binding meaning you can access the entirety of the page, and that you can remove them if you wish. The book contains 45 single-sided images with a frame in each one that you could cut out and then add a photo or your own drawing and then frame the whole thing for yourself or others. The paper is bright white and really thick (160gsm), it’s not card-like but it’s some of the thickest paper I’ve seen in a colouring book and there isn’t even a hint of bleed-through or shadowing with water-based pens so it’s perfect with all of your water-based markers and with pencils whose colours will show up beautifully on the paper. The images are borderless and all contain nature-themed illustrations with lots of hidden features throughout and each one contains a frame of varying size, shape, and number. One of the things that stands out most about this book is the little cat who is hidden within each page (bar one – the motorcycle page). He’s shown in various different sizes throughout and sometimes he’s the main feature of the image and other times he’s hidden somewhere for you to find. The image content is really varied, all nature-themed, but with loads of different objects and animals added in, all covered in florals. The themes range from love to music, Christmas to under the sea, tropical to afternoon tea, travel to makeup and so much more. Great numbers of animals are also included from unicorns to birds, turtles to flamingoes, butterflies to dogs and of course lots and lots of cats! Some of the images are of scenes, some are set up like still life, some are object shapes made out of lots of flowers and leaves, and others have animals hidden within them. Each one is single-sided with a peach coloured back page with co-ordinating white line art. At the very back of the book is a double page spread of beautiful lettering in both upper and lower case which you could trace over to add greetings or initials to your frames if you wish.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s filled with nature which is ideal for calming you down and helping you to relax and zone out but it’s all drawn in a cartoony style which brings character and whimsy to the images. The frames are a really novel concept and they’re ideal because they give you a project with a goal at the end and the finished pages, once removed from the book, would be fantastic to add photos, greetings or drawings to and then gifted either as they are or framed. The illustrations are drawn in a consistently thin line throughout so this isn’t an ideal book for those of you with poor vision or fine motor control issues, but the line isn’t spindly thin so it’s manageable to stay within the lines when you’re colouring. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout but range from medium to high levels of intricacy and most of the images contain a lot of details meaning there are lots of different parts to colour on each page though you can of course colour over these in blocks if you choose. The images are quirky and fun and will be sure to bring a smile to your face, they don’t take themselves too seriously and this book doesn’t feel intimidating or too perfect to colour in like some others do. This is a friendly book that starts off with a page where you can write your name and continues into a beautiful, floral-filled world where you can get lost and colour in whatever colours you fancy without realism forcing you to colour everything a specific colour. I personally found this book very calming and relaxing and it really did cheer me up on some of my darker days while I was colouring it ready to review. The images are varied and often made up of lots of component parts so if you’re having a bad day and your concentration is poor you could colour just one flower, or cupcake, or heart and then go back to it when you’re feeling better, or on good days you can plough your way through the pages that are filled with detail and intricacy.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes nature based images, and anyone who likes cartoon-style drawings. The images are quirky and whimsical and are a great combination of objects and animals intertwined with natural florals and they’re drawn so beautifully that they’re just crying out for colour to be added. This is a fabulous book for pen fans who want to be able to use their water-based pens without having to worry about the dreaded bleed-through and those who want to colour pretty floral images.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Hidden-Natures-Frame-Fantasi-Toc-de-Groc/9788416504442/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you like the look of this book then check out the first one in the series here:
Review – Hidden Nature
Amazon UK – Hidden Nature: A Colouring Escape for Grown-ups
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Hidden-Nature-Toc-de-Groc/9788415967729/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was colouring using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 fibre-tips.

Millie Marotta 2017 Diary – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta 2017 Diary was published and very kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. This diary is a smidge over A5 size, hardback, with white covers with a beautiful scaled down version of the Wild Savannah book cover with hints of colour added and touches of gold foiling on the front. The diary is kept closed with a black elastic strap and there is no writing on the covers apart from 2017 in gold foil, there’s also a removable thick wrap-around slip of green paper with gold foil writing stating it’s the Millie Marotta Diary with the bar code on the back. Inside the diary the front and back are black double-page spreads with the publishing information printed at the front, followed by the diary pages and 26 illustrations taken from Millie’s third colouring book, Wild Savannah. The pages are bright white and medium thickness for a diary, the pages are unlined and consist of a week to view on the left page and a blank page on the right that just shows the dates of the current month in the bottom right hand corner leaving you plenty of space to write notes, doodle, jot down lists etc. Each week starts on a Monday and the dates are separated by a line with Saturday and Sunday sharing one. The diary begins with a Personal Details page where you can write your address, work details, and useful numbers, following this are year views of 2017 and 2018 both sharing a single page. At the beginning of each month is a pair of images from Wild Savannah, some are double-page spreads and others are two separate single images. Sadly, the paper isn’t very thick for colouring and doesn’t have much texture at all, water-based pens bleed through (see photo below) and pencils are pretty difficult to work with, especially if you’re wanting to blend or shade, my wax-based Prismacolor pencils worked fairly well but my Polychromos pencils were difficult to use. When writing in the diary, I’d advise using a pencil or biro to avoid ruining the reverse of the page, I’d personally stick to pencil and write lightly so that you don’t get pressure marks and indentations affecting the colouring pages. The images are all scaled down from the originals and are mostly full page designs shrunk to fit on the A5 pages with a few that are the centre sections of the image, also scaled down to fit the page.

In terms of mental health, this colouring diary is a great combination of colouring pages and useful diary so that you can colour and plan your year all in one place. There’s plenty of space for writing so you won’t run out of space to write your plans and you could colour the designs as and when it takes your fancy or at the start of each month where the colouring page appears, you could complete them in order or randomly, the choice is yours! The illustrations are all vastly scaled down from the originals so the intricacy and detail levels are through the roof on most of the images so you will need perfect vision and fine motor control and some mega sharp pencils to enjoy colouring these pages. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout so there’s no margin for error! This diary has fewer colouring pages than most others I’ve seen and it’s definitely much more diary than colouring book, it sadly hasn’t been printed on great paper for colouring but it’ll be fine to write on so fans of Millie’s work may want to just leave the line drawings as they are, they look beautiful just in black and white.

Overall, I would recommend this diary but it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen with thinner, smoother paper than I’d like and fewer colourable pages. It’s a lovely addition to any die-hard Millie Marotta collection and it’s beautiful to look at but the pictures are pretty tricky to colour well due to not being able to use pens without bleed-through or blend pencils particularly well.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta 2017 Diary
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotta-2017-Diary-Millie-Marotta/9781849943932/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Millie Marotta Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta Journal is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. Colouring notebooks and journals are becoming increasingly popular as people are wanting to combine their love of colouring with their desire to write, many people associate journaling or writing a diary with adding doodles but for those of us with no drawing or doodling talent, the colouring notebook solves the problem of wanting to be creative but not being able to draw. This journal is a smidge over A5 size, hardback, with white covers with a beautiful black and white line drawing of some of Millie’s birds with hints of colour added and touches of gold foiling on the front. The journal is kept closed with a black elastic strap and there is no writing on the covers, just a removable thick wrap-around slip of green paper with gold foil writing stating it’s the Millie Marotta Journal with the bar code on the back so there is nothing printed on the journal itself other than the bird pattern. Inside the journal the front and back are black double-page spreads with the publishing information printed at the back, followed by 192 pages of ruled paper and 15 illustrations taken from Millie’s third colouring book, Wild Savannah. The pages are bright white and medium thickness for a notebook, the ruled lines are narrow so you can get loads of writing on each page. 15 illustrations are placed evenly throughout the book and these take up a full single page, interspersed between each image is a small bird drawing in a corner of a page which is also colourable. Sadly, the paper isn’t very thick for colouring and doesn’t have much texture at all, water-based pens bleed through (see photo below) and pencils are pretty difficult to work with, especially if you’re wanting to blend or shade, my wax-based Prismacolor pencils worked fairly well but my Polychromos pencils were difficult to use. When writing in the journal, I’d advise using a pencil or biro to avoid ruining the reverse of the page, I’d personally stick to pencil and write lightly so that you don’t get pressure marks and indentations affecting the colouring pages. The images are all scaled down from the originals and are mostly full page designs shrunk to fit on the A5 pages with a few that are the centre sections of the image, also scaled down to fit the page.

In terms of mental health, this colouring journal is a great combination of colouring pages and lined notebook so that you can colour and journal all in one place. There’s heaps of space for writing so you won’t run out for months and you could colour the designs as and when it takes your fancy or each time you’ve written up to a colouring page, you could complete them in order or randomly, the choice is yours! The illustrations are all vastly scaled down from the originals so the intricacy and detail levels are through the roof on most of the images so you will need perfect vision and fine motor control and some mega sharp pencils to enjoy colouring these pages. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout so there’s no margin for error! This journal has fewer colouring pages than most others I’ve seen and it’s definitely much more journal than colouring book, it sadly hasn’t been printed on great paper for colouring but it’ll be lovely paper to write on so fans of Millie’s work may want to just leave the line drawings as they are, they look beautiful just in black and white.

Overall, I would recommend this journal but it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen with thinner, smoother paper than I’d like and fewer colourable pages. It’s a lovely addition to any die-hard Millie Marotta collection and it’s beautiful to look at but the pictures are pretty tricky to colour well due to not being able to use pens without bleed-through or blend pencils particularly well.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotta-Wild-Savannah-Journal-Millie-Marotta/9781849943802/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Pencils and the bird was tested with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which bled through.

The Aquarium: Marine Creatures to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aquarium is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the third book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie and The Aviary. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and magenta 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 31 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 barely shadowed and 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, 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 fish or sea creature instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on or even in pairs or shoals. The images are beautiful and if you are a fish or underwater creature fan then you’ll love this book! 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 and The Aviary, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images, I think this might actually be my favourite so far because you can use such an array of bright colours.

Each picture (except the walrus, clown fish and seal) has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue or purple bubbles, red seaweed, turquoise waves and lilac jellyfish silhouettes 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 sea creatures included but some of my personal favourites are the orcas, lined seahorses, chambered nautilus, and common octopus, 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 only the orcas and penguins are naturally black and as you can see from my finished page, I decided to go all out and use as many colours as possible to create rainbow orcas which I really wish were a real thing!

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 sea creatures 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 fish, 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 and look like scales 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 scaly, tentacled 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 sea creatures, 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 fish and marine life that I’ve seen. The Aquarium 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.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available for less than the RRP here:
Amazon UK – The Aquarium
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Aquarium-Richard-Merritt/9781910552322/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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 – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?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 Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures: A Colouring Book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures is published by Batsford Books who are very kindly sending me a review copy. After discovering that it had been released early in the UK in some Waterstone’s stores, I sent my boyfriend out on a mission and he dutifully delivered me a copy as I just couldn’t wait to see inside, this might seem excessive to some but I’m sure the die-hard colouring fans will understand the need to have a book the first moment you possibly can, normally I’d feel a bit silly for being so uncontrollable but this book is so beautiful that all guilty thoughts have gone out the window and I’m just thrilled to have an extra week to look through this stunning book. Everyone has their own favourites of Millie’s images and we all debate about which of her previous books is our favourite or the best, well for me, this is without doubt, the best book of hers by a big margin! So, before I get so enthusiastic that I forget to tell you all the important information, here’s my actual review.

Curious Creatures is the fourth book in Millie’s animal-centred adult colouring book series. It’s the same size and shape (25cm square) as her previous books, paperback, with flexible card covers with black and white line drawings that hint at some of the curious creatures within the pages and these illustrations have highlights of colour added as well as gold foiling on them and the title. The spine is a beautiful purple colour which compliments the other spine colours really well and they look gorgeous on the shelf together (see photo below). The covers have French flaps which each have a paired down version of the front cover on the outside and inside is a pale blue background with white line drawings of moths (this isn’t really colourable and is different from the format of Millie’s three previous titles). The spine is glue and string-bound so it’s very durable but it does mean that a little of some of the images is lost into it until it eases up with a bit of use. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads, and while I felt like there were more double-page spreads in this book, I counted and it’s actually the same number as the previous titles, some single-pages must just pair up very well and feel like they’re double pages without actually being so. The paper is bright white and lightly textured, it’s the same paper as the previous titles and doesn’t bleed but does shadow a little with water-based pens; pencils work beautifully and blend and shade really well.

The book starts with a two-page introduction from Millie herself where she explains her illustration process and how hard she found it to narrow down the choice of animals to be included. Following this are heaps of illustrations of the strangest, weirdest, most beautiful and downright curious creatures. The images include a hermit crab, Bactrian camel, chambered nautilus, sea slugs, moths, flying fish, poison dart frog, tufted puffin, jewel beetles and so much more. There are five matching spreads where there is a more detailed version on the left and a less detailed copy of the same image on the right where you can add your own details and patterns if you wish but there are no written hints so it’s entirely up to you what you do with these pages. A fabulous new feature at the back of this book is a two-page list of all of the creatures in order of their inclusion in the book. This list has the English and scientific name (Latin name) for each creature and it makes identifying them super easy and also means that you can quickly google images of each creature so you can find out what they look like if you’re keen on the natural look in your colouring; it’s also a great way of finding out more information about some of the stranger creatures on the planet and I’ve already learnt loads of interesting facts! These images feel a little fuller and more finished than Millie’s previous books, there’s a little more scenery and a little more added to backgrounds such as clouds or bubbles so the blank spaces are a bit less empty, this isn’t intrusive for those wanting to create their own backgrounds though, it just helps it look a bit more finished for those who don’t want to create their own.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic. There is so much to look at, so much to discover, that it’s incredibly distracting and really focuses your mind on the illustrations themselves rather than any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The image content is totally absorbing and nature-based images are the best for relieving symptoms of mental illness. This book is very intricate, but don’t let that scare you, you can use pencils, fine-nibbed felt tips, fineliners and gel pens, all with great effects and most of the images aren’t so detailed that you’re put off or overwhelmed. If you have vision problems or issues with fine motor control then you may struggle with this book but for any of the rest of you I’d suggest giving this book a go and persevering into a more intricate world. The natural scenes of animals, flowers and trees definitely create a sense of calm and this will be one of my go-to books when I really need to focus on something and be distracted. It’s detailed enough that you have to focus and concentrate and this lends itself wonderfully to drowning out any anxious or disturbing thoughts you may want to shift. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so I’d advise colouring during the day or near a very good desk lamp. The images are really cohesive in their curiousness and they are truly fascinating to look through.

I can’t praise this book highly enough, I love Millie’s work and this book is absolutely stunning and just enthralling. The illustrations lend themselves to whatever colour scheme you fancy whether that be realistic, rainbow, monochrome, black and white, mixed media, or anything else you can dream up. This book has by far the most varied, interesting and intriguing content and I’m sure that it will become a firm favourite just like her previous titles, possibly even exceeding them!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Curious Creatures
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marottas-Curious-Creatures-Millie-Marotta/9781849943659/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The Menagerie Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Menagerie Postcards is illustrated by Claire Scully and Richard Merritt, and published and very kindly sent to me to review by LOM art, an imprint of Michael O’Mara Books. This book of postcards contains 20 scaled down illustrations from the hugely popular The Menagerie (reviewed by me here). The postcards are standard size and have a lay flat binding which makes them easy to remove when you wish but is sturdy enough to keep the postcards in place while you’re colouring and for if you wish to keep them as a complete book. The covers are made of thick card with black tape down the spine, the signature bear image is pictured on the front with bronze foiling. None of the image is lost into the spine and the whole thing is fully colourable. The back of each postcard has a dotted outline for a stamp and four address lines. Each of the 20 images has elements of the animal and in some cases the background foliage embellished with bronze foiling which really adds a touch of luxury to these postcards. The card itself is bright white and smooth, water-based pens colour brilliantly on this with no sideways bleeding, bleed through or shadowing. Unfortunately, pencils don’t colour well on this card because it’s just too smooth and there’s no tooth so they don’t layer or blend well and I found my normally vibrant colours looked very dull and flat. The images are printed single-sided and are a great selection from the original images from The Menagerie, most of the favourites are included from the bear to the fox, tiger to lion, elephant to rhino and even the llama! The only original image that I personally was disappointed isn’t included was the highland cow because I think that would have looked wonderful with bronze foiling but we can’t have it all! The images have been scaled down well and are of course much smaller but they’re definitely still colourable though you may need to change your technique for these smaller versions.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s really natural and there is so much detail that it really draws you in and focuses you on the here and now rather than your symptoms or thoughts. The line thickness is consistent throughout at spindly thin so there is no room for manoeuvre and you’ll easily colour over the lines so this is definitely a postcard set for those of you with very good vision and fine motor control. The intricacy and detail levels do vary from very detailed to extremely, super teeny tiny, microscopic detail that is a struggle to see, let alone colour. However, don’t despair, while you certainly won’t be able to colour within each teeny tiny section, you can easily colour over the smallest details and use them as texture underneath your colouring. Many of the images are fully colourable but around 50% of them do have areas that are filled with miniscule detail and while this didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the postcards at all, it’s just something to be aware of, especially as pencils don’t work so well on this card. These illustrations are so detailed that you can’t help but practice mindfulness and focus intently on colouring each section carefully and neatly and this really helps you to get out of your head and away from difficult thoughts. While these images are small in size, they take a surprisingly long time to colour so you’re certainly getting value for money and you will need pretty good concentration and lighting to get the most out of these. As a side note, they would look beautiful framed either coloured or uncoloured, especially with the luxurious bronze foiling.

I would highly recommend this postcard book to fans of The Menagerie who have very good vision and fine motor control. Pen lovers will find these postcards ideal but you’ll definitely need to stick to the finest of fineliners to stay within the lines and keep the images looking crisp. These postcards are beautiful and other than not being well suited to pencils, they’re pretty much perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Menagerie-Postcards-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552346/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of The Menagerie then you can get the book here:
My Review – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

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 – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my review of The Menagerie here, or purchase it below.
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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 – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aquarium-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552322/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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 – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?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 – WHITE WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Oak – OAK WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Beech – BEECH WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE

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

Tierzauber (Animal Magic) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Christophorus Verlag GmBH (Recht herzlichen Dank für deine Großzügikeit Tina). This book is illustrated by the highly talented Richard Merritt who is one of my Top 5 favourite illustrators (I’m terrible at decisions and can’t pick just one). You may not know his name but you’re sure to know his work because he’s one half of the incredible duo who illustrated The Menagerie and upcoming titles The Aviary and The Aquarium. He’s well-known for his stunning drawings of highly intricate, hyper detailed and patterned animals and these have been featured in the Art Therapy series of books which was where I first discovered his work. You can imagine my excitement when one of my readers discovered Tierzauber and asked me to investigate and review it. Tierzauber roughly translates as Animal Magic, a very apt title as this book is crammed full with images of animals, all drawn in Richard’s distinctive style. If you liked The Menagerie, or the Art Therapy series, you’ll LOVE this book because it contains 60 pages of incredible animal images!

This book is 22.5cm square, a little smaller than the bestsellers, paperback, with thick card covers that are double-thickness and open out to reveal pairs of animal images at the front and back that are contained within the book. The covers are soft-feel and have gold foiling accents on both the front and back images. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but a little tight, however this will ease up with use. All of the images are single pages, but some of these do cover the whole page and therefore a little is lost into the spine. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white, medium thickness paper which shadows a bit with dark coloured water-based pens and looks as if it might bleed through at points so do be very careful with these and always test the ones you’re using first. The paper is lightly textured so you can get a few pencil layers but not loads so blending and shading is a little tricky. The images are of a huge range of animals and run in a vague order where similar animals are grouped together from cats and dogs to British wildlife like badgers, foxes, squirrels and rabbits, to more exotic animals including an elephant, lion, warthog, meerkats, koala, and then onto sea creatures including lots of different fish, dolphins, an octopus, a seal and an otter, then onto reptiles including a tree frog, chameleon, tortoise, and finally on to birds and insects including penguins, a toucan, flamingos, a butterfly and dragonfly. So many things from the animal kingdom are pictured including lots of unusual animals that aren’t often found in other colouring books. For a full look through of the book CLICK HERE to watch my video flick-through on Facebook.

In terms of mental health, if you love animals, or at least love colouring them, then this book is sure to help! I have always found Richard’s illustrations wonderful for my own mental health because there are so many small sections to colour and really focus your mind on which is ideal when I’m very anxious and need to get out of my head. The images are all filled with lots of patterns creating small sections that you can colour within or colour over and leave as texture behind your work so although this book is very intricate and detailed, it doesn’t have to be used in that way so it’s ideal for almost anyone, regardless of vision or fine motor control depending on how you wish to use it. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so again, it’s suitable for almost anyone but not those with particularly poor vision or dexterity. Unlike in The Menagerie, there is no added colour so you’re free to add your own backgrounds and colour schemes to every image. While a number of the animals are featured in both books, they are all drawn differently (see comparison photos below) so you won’t be getting any duplicates if you want copies of both. Images of nature and animals are fantastic for calming you down and these images are particularly good because there are so many sections to attend to. The size of the book means the pages are a bit more manageable which is great for those of you with poor concentration as these pages will take less time to colour than The Menagerie which is much larger. While these illustrations are all of realistic animals, the patterns within allow you to use natural or totally outlandish colour schemes as and how you wish and both will look equally fabulous! The images are really cohesive and great fun to colour and they would look amazing removed from the book and framed for a really funky office or a cutesy nursery.

I would highly recommend this book to people who love colouring animals, to fans of Richard’s work and The Menagerie or the Art Therapy series, and to anyone who likes intricate and detailed images. This is a beautiful book which you’ll need to be a bit careful colouring with pens but is perfect other than that! Even the inside and outside covers are colourable with alcohol markers so this book is a true example of a fully colourable colouring book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tierzauber-Richard-Merritt/9783862303441/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Menagerie it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A second book will be joining the series in June 2016 called The Aviary which is set to be every ornithologist’s dream! I’ll bring you a review as soon as I can and in the meantime, here’s where you can pre-order it:
Amazon UK – The Aviary
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners all of which bled through the paper.

Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards (Colouring Notecards) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This beautiful set of notecards is housed in a sturdy, thick card box which is cream with gold foil accents. It’s fully colourable and shows on the back what images are on the 12 cards (all are pictured below). The box has a little cardboard platform inside with a beautiful black and white leaf print which the cards and envelopes are sat on top of so that they don’t move around in the box. The 12 cards each contain a different scaled down image from Johanna Basford’s original Enchanted Forest colouring book and this means that the images are very intricate and detailed. The cards themselves are made from cream card which is a similar colour to the paper in her first two books, and the postcards so they match well as a set for those of you who like to collect things. The card is a medium weight, very similar to other colouring cards that are currently on the market, and it doesn’t bleed through or shadow at all with water-based pens however, I did have a very small issue with the ink occasionally spreading slightly sideways and going over the lines, this was a very minor issue but one that’s worth mentioning. The card is very lightly textured so would work fine with pencils though you won’t be able to build up lots of layers so you’ll have to blend carefully. The cards are 12.5 x 16.5cm so they’re between A6 and A5 size, and 9 of the cards have centralised circular or individual images and 3 have full page images which reach the edges of the cards, obviously there is no spine so there’s no issue in reaching all of these parts. The images are of course beautifully cohesive and are exact scaled down copies of the images in the books and a fairly good selection is included from the compass to the leaf boat, the dragonfly to the castle, the gate to the circular framed owl and squirrel. Almost all of the images on these cards were featured in the set of 20 postcards which you can read my review of here. The illustrations are all printed in a portrait orientation which is ideal because it means the cards will stay standing when displayed, landscape cards often slip and won’t stand after a few days. The cards are left blank inside for you to write your own messages and the back has a small dandelion motif and publishing information at the bottom. The set comes with 12 identical cream envelopes which have a small leafy design indicating where to put the postage stamp, and a little acorn drawing on the flap on the back.

In terms of mental health, these cards are lovely because not only do they give a wonderful small colouring project, you can also share the colouring love, either by colouring them and sending them to friends and family, or by sending the uncoloured cards so the recipient can colour it themselves (this would be a great way to convert newbies to colouring)! As with all of Johanna’s artwork, the illustrations are beautiful and have all been scaled down from the original images in order to make them fit on the cards, this means that they are much smaller than the original versions and are therefore only suitable for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. I was very disappointed with the Enchanted Forest Postcards because the designs were so small that they’re almost impossible to colour however, these cards are, luckily, a little larger (see comparison photos below). They’re still quite tricky to colour and do have a lot of very small and intricate details so fineliners and very sharp pencils are an absolute must! Although the images are small, they do require a lot of concentration so these cards are a project for your better days when you can focus well. The images are ideal for all sorts of mental and physical illnesses because they’re all grounded in nature which is great for calming you down, helping you zone out and lifting your mood. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so it’s pretty difficult to stay within the lines and you really will need very good vision for these. Unlike the Secret Garden notecards which I’ve not reviewed, but have seen online, these notecards don’t have any foiling added to them and are fully colourable which I personally think is much nicer. There is a fair amount of space on the majority of the cards to be able to add your own backgrounds or doodles if you wish, but they don’t look unfinished at all as they are because each image is a finished page, rather than an add your own drawing page from the book, but you have the option to add your own personal touches if you wish.

I would highly recommend these notecards to collectors of Johanna’s work, those of you with very good vision and fine motor control who would like beautiful, delicate cards to colour and send, and those who want an easy way of spreading the colouring love in order to convert non-colourers!

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards (Colouring Notecards)

If you can’t get enough of Enchanted Forest then check out my reviews below:
Enchanted Forest Postcards
Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and the unicorns were coloured over with Clear Glitter Stardust Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens.