Laurence King Publishing

The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This journal has been created in partnership with the mental health charity, Mind, all royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to them and thus, by purchasing it, you can not only help yourself (more on this later), but also the countless number of us who are mentally ill in the UK and further afield who are supported by Mind and their tireless work to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental illness. The book itself is 14.7 x 19cm (just smaller than A5), paperback, with flexible card covers with pictures of brightly coloured birds and branches. The journal is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, smooth, and medium thickness, it shadows and occasionally bleeds with water-based pens and pencils don’t work brilliantly unless you use graphite or soft leads due to the smoothness. The majority of the pages in the journal have space to write or draw, some are plain with borders or corner imagery and others are lined, scattered throughout are pages filled with colourful patterns or bright drawings of plants and animals. There are also lots of written activities and self-help suggestions including: relaxing your body, drawing how you’re feeling, organising your time, identifying your stress triggers, and lots more, all of these things may seem simple to people who are well, but it’s often the most basic of tasks, especially anything that involves self-care that those of us who are mentally ill struggle with and it’s great to have prompts all written in the same place for us to refer to when needed. A few colouring pages are scattered through the journal and a number of inspiring and uplifting quotes that might help you look at the world a little differently or remind you that it’s not quite as dark or hopeless as you might feel.

In terms of mental health, this journal couldn’t be much better, it’s been designed with mental health in mind and the tips included are genuinely useful for helping yourself to feel just a little bit better. Journaling is often credited as being great for mental health, it’s not something I’ve ever managed to regularly stick at but I certainly find blogging helps me make sense of things and writing things down can be really useful for this so having a dedicated space to do that interspersed with tips, quotes and activities to keep you perked up is ideal. This journal would be a great present for yourself (get started on the self-care journey by investing in this as something that can help you help yourself), or for others around you who might be struggling with self-care or mental health, it’s perfect for letting someone know you’re thinking of them and starting the conversation about mental health and letting them know that it’s ok not to be ok and it’s also ok to talk about it. The journal is not only a fabulous place to write down your thoughts, feelings, and symptom diary, you could also use it as a place to write down additional self-care tips, strategies, and activities, you could even get people around you who care about you to write nice messages in it for you to read when you’re having symptomatic days and need a boost! The journal is a great size for popping in your bag for journaling on the move or having a portable self-help guide. The tips included are sadly not likely to cure you, they may not even make a huge difference to how you’re feeling, but without trying them, you’ll never know, and starting to care about yourself and for yourself is notoriously difficult when you’re very unwell, therefore having written suggestions of basic things you can try can be a really useful tool for helping yourself feel just a little bit better, even just for a moment!

Overall, I would highly recommend this journal, the paper quality is slightly disappointing but other than that I can’t fault it, the content is great, with a good mix of activities and tips, and space for writing or drawing and if nothing else, the bright colours printed throughout might just brighten your day for the briefest of moments. It would make a wonderful present to yourself or others and better still, by purchasing it you’re helping support a wonderful mental health charity, it doesn’t get much better than that!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Wellbeing Journal: Creative Activities to Inspire
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Wellbeing-Journal/9781782438007/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

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To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again: The Longest Colouring Book in the World – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors of the Escape To… series and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is a really unusual format with only two others that I’m aware of on the market like this, both of which are smaller. This book is paperback with flexible card covers, the covers are portrait but the pages are landscape, they are all attached together and folded in a concertina so that they make one continuous strip of images stretching out for a full 17ft, I’ve never seen anything like it (you can view my silent video flick-through of the whole book here)! The pages fold into A4 size and the book consists of 15 pages in total, all joined together, they’re easy enough to colour because you can keep them folded and therefore just have two pages ‘showing’ at once which makes it a much more manageable size to contend with though it is still a little tricky and may require a table or a large lap tray. The images are printed single-sided and make up one continuous scenescape. The paper is white apart from the sky in the images which gradually changes colour through the pages from white to a dark teal-blue, this transition is seamless and I didn’t actually notice it until the second time I looked through, the backs of all of the pages also fade through from white to the same dark teal-blue colour which is a nice touch. There is no spine to contend with, just folds and these are very easy to colour over so you don’t lose any of the image and can colour its entirety. The paper is white, thick and smooth, it doesn’t have any visible texture but seems to take pencils well and you can happily blend, shade and layer them, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and you can use alcohol markers if you wish as the pages are single-sided and therefore bleeding won’t matter, just pop some protective sheets behind so that it doesn’t bleed through to any other pages. The image is a continuous scenescape journey that takes you from a house with a pretty garden around various landmarks from around the world and delves into folklore and mythology and pictures of all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There is such a wealth of imagery that it’s hard to even know where to start when describing it all, there are llamas, dragons, jackalope, wolves, deer, mountains, the pyramids, a sphynx, totem poles, an Aztec calendar, peacocks, rivers, Chinese dragons, sea serpents, lizards, turtles, otters, walruses, Easter Island statues, cacti, snakes, the Arctic, elk, polar bears, geese, igloos, penguins, and finally ends back at the house which is filled with animals and souvenirs from the trip and a space to write your name in a This Adventure Belongs To box.

In terms of mental health, this book isn’t for the faint-hearted, it really is one hell of a project and will be better suited to those of you without concentration problems and those who don’t mind spending time on a project for a really long time as there’s no quick way of getting this book coloured. That being said, it offers a great level of distraction, there is so much to look at within each section and I know I’ve not yet seen even half of what’s pictured despite looking through it heaps of times, there’s just such a lot of content packed in that you always notice new things. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little within the scenescape but mostly remain at a very high level with some really small sections and lots and lots of components making up each section, you will therefore need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The content is a great mixture of realistic animals and scenery and mythological creatures and surreal settings, this combination lends itself well to realistic or outlandish colour schemes and you could even mix media and colour each page differently or even each type of imagery, the sky is the limit! The images are so wide-ranging that it’s almost like loads of different colouring books in one and you’ll always be able to find something you fancy colouring in here if you have a look through. There are lots of natural stopping points because the whole scenescape is made up of lots of component parts so you can easily colour just one creature or type of flower or work through it systematically from beginning to end, it really is up to you.

Overall, this book is amazing, it’s unlike any others and it’s just packed with content and different things to colour. It offers an amazing project which isn’t for the faint-hearted but it’ll look amazing when it’s finished and be so worth all of the time and effort you’ll need to put in.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/the-Ends-of-the-Earth-and-Back-Again-Good-Wives-And-Warriors/9781786270351/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see the full book then you can find my silent video flick-through here.

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

From the illustrator of Birdtopia, Into the Wild is just as quirky and surreal, click through to read the review and see more images.

Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is the second brought to us by artist Daisy Fletcher who illustrated Birdtopia last year which was one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve seen during my time reviewing. This second book, Into the Wild is formatted in the same way (detailed description of this below) but this time rather than being focused on birds, it’s a whole lot more exotic and wide-ranging in content – to illustrate this I’ve recorded a video flick-through which can be found HERE as well as a full written review and photographs as usual. This book is a little larger than A4 at 23.5 by 31cm, paperback with sturdy card covers with a gold foiled title. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, the paper takes pencil very well and allows for lots of light layers which makes blending a breeze and even better, there’s absolutely no shadowing or bleed-through with water-based pens, unless you use very dark colours, which is a huge bonus! The really strange part of the formatting is that the paper is white and the colouring spaces are left white but all of the backgrounds are printed in a strong cream colour. These backgrounds don’t feel printed and there isn’t a weird surface to the paper so you can still add your own background with pencil or pastel or any other mediums you normally use, but it means the uncoloured pages look quite strange and different from any other book I’ve seen. The images are printed double-sided and some are full page images and others are small illustrations somewhere in the middle of the page. There is a mixture of single page and double-page spreads and the spine is glue and string bound and is very durable but a little of many of the images is lost into it though with some bending it does loosen up a lot.

The book starts with a This Book Belongs To… page and then contains 76 images of animals, flowers, and other wildlife and plants, the last two pages have a beetle printed on each and open out to reveal a fabulous four-page woodland scene including lots of deer, giant mushrooms, a griffin and even two unicorns! The images contain a huge number of different animals from hares to butterflies, deer to otters, fish to chipmunks, wolves to leopards, horses to lynx and lots more. Some of the images are drawn to scale with butterflies and flowers drawn in a realistic scale and others have varied scale with deer perching on flowers and owls sitting on mushrooms so there is a real variance in scale and realism in the scenes. Each double-page spread includes at least one animal, usually many more, and at the back of the book there are thumbnail pictures of each image with the names of each of the animals and many of the plants and flowers that are included which makes them easy to identify and research if you want to colour them realistically. In addition to the line drawings, there are also a few, quite strange, greyscale animals and background plants (this time there are no fully coloured elements), these greyscale items almost look photoshopped into the images (see photos below), these features can be coloured over if you wish, they certainly aren’t the majority and there are fewer in this book than in Birdtopia. None of this is a criticism of the features, and I don’t dislike it, it’s just very unusual and different from anything I’ve seen before (other than Birdtopia) and therefore worth commenting on.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good because of the information at the back of the book identifying what each animal is so that you can head to google and get searching for the accurate colour schemes if you wish. This means that colouring can be very relaxing and thought-free as you’ve got a ready created colour scheme that nature has handed you on a plate that can be found with a quick internet search. The natural images are lovely and relaxing and are sure to ground you and calm you down. The sometimes unusual arrangements are quirky and intriguing and these are almost energising as you ponder the surrealism of them. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so you will need very good fine motor control to enjoy and fully utilise this book. The intricacy and detail level varies throughout from large open spaces to teeny tiny sections so this book will only really suit those of you with good vision. The images themselves vary in size hugely so this a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you can do some of the smaller images on your bad days or tackle the full four-page spread on your good days and everything in between. There are lots of large open spaces around the images where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds and there are no drawing hints so these images look and feel finished but you can add to them if you wish.

I would highly recommend this book to animal and plant lovers and those who love to colour nature and natural images, who don’t mind a bit of the surreal. This book is beautifully drawn and if the cream background doesn’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the paper quality is great!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Into the Wild: An Exotic Woodland Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Into-Wild-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270849/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Daisy Fletcher’s gorgeous colouring book, Birdtopia. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Daisy’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, under each illustration is a small note stating what birds are drawn so that you can easily identify them and colour them realistically if you wish. The cover of the calendar is yellowy-cream card with the same images and design as the book cover, the title is printed in gold foil lettering and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside; the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I tested Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. I completed my page using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water and the paper held up very well to this with minimal warping or buckling. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. As with the Birdtopia book, this calendar has the quirky feature of having white colouring spaces but cream background printed throughout (except for the peacock page which is entirely white due to being a full page design), this isn’t a bad thing and many people think that this feature was one of the things that made Birdtopia so special but it’s worth mentioning and taking note of my photos below as it doesn’t suit everyone and is a bit of a surprise when you first look through the calendar.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured bird illustration, sometimes accompanied by a flower or plant. When writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The calendar is stitch-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. The majority of Daisy’s images are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low, they’re also nature-themed, realistically drawn (though not realistically composed in terms of accurate plants or comparative sizes of things) and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. These images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin and spindly thin throughout so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Daisy’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love birds and nature then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270498/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water.

Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Leila Duly’s fabulous colouring book, Floribunda. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Leila’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, each page has a beautifully written list of the flowers included, just like in the original book. The cover of the calendar is made of pale peachy-pink card with the same black line-drawn design as the book cover on the front, the title is in a large box at the top with pink foiled lettering and edging and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside, the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I used Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The calendar is stitch-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured flower illustration from the inside covers of Floribunda.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. As with all of Leila’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low, they’re also nature-themed, realistic and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. Leila’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is very thin throughout  so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Leila’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love flowers then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Leil-Duly/9781786270474/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and Faber-Castell Polychromos 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.

Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition: 24 Illustrations to Colour and Frame – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. This book contains 24 of the original images from the Lost Ocean colouring book all printed single-sided. The book is 25x33cm, paperback with thick card covers with beautiful gold foiling accents on the cover and blue text on the spine. 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 they’re not stuck very strongly and in the process of colouring my page I’ve managed to detach nearly half of the pages so this book won’t stay together unless you’re extremely careful with it. 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 pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Artist’s Editions). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t.

The images included are from the original Lost Ocean book and I think they’re a really good selection. There aren’t any pattern or filler images this time and they’re all definitely frame-worthy. Of the 24 illustrations, 5 are landscape and the others are portrait orientation, 3 are printed smaller than the original illustrations but the others are all printed larger to varying degrees from 4mm to the largest being the skull at an extra 7cm larger, 5 of the images are taken from double-page spreads where a section has generally been enlarged (a couple have been shrunk but not drastically so) and the rest are from single page spreads. Because the majority of the images have been enlarged, at least a little bit, they mostly have larger spaces to colour which allows you to really go to town and the possibilities for blending and shading are increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print would be ideal for practising these techniques.

As with all of the Artist’s Editions, this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores, this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it, as well as comparing the size to the original images.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Lost Ocean, the journey is less obvious but the images are printed in the same order as they appear in the book so it does have a feeling of flow. It’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a watery world filled with brightly coloured fish and enchanting sea creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I personally love because it means you can decorate your walls with your work or give wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends. This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the small selection of shells printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Artists-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753548134?ref=grid-view&qid=1491572389812&sr=1-1/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

The Flower Year: A Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Flower Year: A Colouring Book is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is the second colouring book offering from Leila Duly who illustrated the hugely successful and utterly stunning, Floribunda, reviewed by me here. This new book is a different format, with somewhat different content and very different production however, rest assured, it’s equally beautiful and an absolute must-have! Below the review are photos of inside so you can have a sneak-peek and if you want to view the whole thing you can see my silent video flick-through here.

This book is quite small at 23 x 18cm, it’s hardback with a pale pink linen-style cover in a slightly different shade from Floribunda, with black floral line drawings on the front and back covers and beautiful moss green interior and first and last pages. The spine of the book is stitch-bound and it is glued onto a flexible fabric tape strip which makes it easier to access the gutter in the center of the pages though in some cases this is still tricky and you’ll lose a little of some of the images. The illustrations are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is medium/thick, cream and very smooth, it’s similar to the paper used in Swedish colouring books though it has less texture; it’s ideal for water-based pens which apply smoothly and don’t bleed or shadow (do always test in an inconspicuous place as we all colour differently), I coloured my page with oil-based pencils (Holbeins and Polychromos’s) and found that I struggled to get even coverage as they didn’t want to blend very well and I was left with a slightly patchy appearance, even without any visible tooth to the paper, until I used a blending pencil (see photos below), this may be user error, but as many of us know, certain papers work better with certain types of pencils and I found that it performed much better with wax-based pencils when testing my Prismacolor Premier Pencils. The book contains a sage green satin ribbon bookmark which is very handy for keeping your page and really adds an extra touch of luxury in addition to the pale pink foiling which adorns the title on the cover and the spine.

The illustrations contain images of flowers from throughout the year with a title page for each month, starting with January and ending in December, each bordered with plants and flowers from that month, following each are 7 pages of floral illustrations containing a range of content styles including double-page spreads, single page spreads, collections of individual flower images and 7 pages with a written quote and a smaller flower image. There is a huge variety of content from birds to butterflies, dragonflies to berries and of course, heaps and heaps of flowers including, a dog rose, foxglove, bluebells, fuchsia, hellebore and plants including mistletoe, holly, horse chestnut and English oak. Some of the pages show small scenes of a zoomed in flowering plant or birds perched on branches, others show a small section of a whole plant, similar to images found in spotters guides and old-fashioned nature books, these collections have the flower’s name added on the page so they’re easy to identify. One of the best things about this book is that all of the pages are shown as thumbnails in the index and underneath each is a list of all of the flowers and birds depicted meaning that those of us who wish to colour the flowers realistically can, with great ease. A number of the pages have centralized images or sweeping spreads with large spaces left where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, however this is by no means necessary and the pages will look finished and stunning, regardless of whether you add extras or not.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful, just as Floribunda was. The images are so realistic and they’re just packed with detail so even just looking through the pages is very calming and it really feels like you’re taken on a journey through the flowers and plants of the British seasons. I particularly like the way the book is split into months and that all of the illustrations are grouped together in this way, it means that you could just work through it in order or even colour the pages from each month as you go through the calendar year and see if you can spot some of those flowers when you’re out and about, I’ve certainly been noticing lots of crocuses (apparently January flowers) and daffodils outside my flat recently, as well as lots of birds, though I’ve not seen any wrens which are pictured for March, maybe I’ll see one soon. Nature-themed imagery is one of the best types for mental health because it’s so innately soothing and calming, even with no colour added, Leila’s illustrations are an absolute work of art and they are truly brought to life once coloured. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout, and while this does make it quite tricky to colour the images, they just wouldn’t look right with a thicker line, their beauty is in their delicacy. The intricacy and detail levels do vary from larger open spaces on periwinkles and bindweed to much smaller spaces of berries and lily-of-the-valley, but really you will need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book; I have good levels of both and it required a lot of time and patience to stay within the lines, even whilst colouring over many of the detailed sections. You will also need a good level of concentration to enjoy this book, while it will certainly cheer you up and calm you down on your worse days, it requires a lot of focus in order to stay within the lines and identify each section so that you’re not accidentally colouring a petal in leaf colours so this book is one to keep for your better days. That being said, when you’re well enough to colour it, it offers wonderful escapism and is extremely absorbing, leafing through the pages is like taking a garden walk, it really transports you outdoors and through forests, meadows and hedgerows.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to nature-lovers and those with very good vision and fine motor control, Leila’s illustrations are second to none and while this book is absolutely beautiful as it is, it’ll be an absolute stunner when it’s full to the brim with colour. This is one book that I really hope I can colour from cover to cover in my lifetime because the end result will be incredible. While the paper can be a bit tricky with certain pencils, do persevere, I promise it’s worth the effort!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Flower Year, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Flower Year: A Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Flower-Year/9781780679532/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Floribunda it’s available here:
Review – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780677767/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using a combination of Holbein Artist’s Coloured Pencils and Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. I also used a Caran d’Ache Blender.

Birdtopia: 20 Colour-In Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia: 20 Colour-In Postcards are published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. These postcards are of illustrations taken from the Birdtopia Colouring Book which was one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve ever seen during my time reviewing. This postcard book is paperback with card covers made of the same card as the postcards themselves, it’s bound with beautiful red tape creating a lay-flat binding meaning you can reach all of the edges when colouring. Each of the 20 postcards have a thin lined border around them and the main background of each is printed in cream, just like the original book, with white backgrounds for all of the colourable sections on the birds and plants. The card itself is white, thick, and lightly textured, it’s a little tricky to build up layers with pencils but patience helps and it doesn’t bleed, shadow or spread with water-based pens; alcohol pens will heavily shadow and bleed to the back but won’t bleed through onto the next design though do always pop a protective sheet behind your work, just in case! The binding allows the postcards to be kept in the book if you’re careful not to twist the spine, or remove them if you wish for gifting or framing. All of the postcards are portrait orientation apart from one landscape image. The illustrations themselves are all taken directly from the book with very little editing of the content, a few are drastically reduced in size, others are smaller but much closer to the original size, none appear to be larger. On the reverse of each postcard is space to write, four address lines and a beautiful floral bordered space for a postage stamp, in the bottom left corner (when looking at the back in a landscape orientation) the birds illustrated are named so that if you wish to colour them realistically you can. Each image contains one, or more, birds and usually a plant of some kind so there is a good variety and plenty of interest in each picture. Some of the birds include the European Robin, the Plate-Billed Mountain Toucan, the Pileated Woodpecker, and Chilean Flamingo, there is a good range of British and exotic birds to suit all tastes.

In terms of mental health, these postcards make the ideal manageable project, they’re small enough to manage in one sitting but the images are also made up of lots of component parts so you could colour just one section if you wish. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout and you will have to have very sharp pencils or fineliners to avoid going over the lines. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little but all of the postcards have high to very high levels of intricacy so you will need exceedingly good vision and fine motor control to enjoy these as the majority of the images are printed on a much smaller scale than in the original book. The content of the images is very natural and realistic and I found it quite calming just looking through the images let alone actually colouring them, the illustrations are very good at grounding you. Because the drawings are of real birds and flowers and the birds are all identified, it’s easy to look up the colours of each and colour them realistically if you wish so that you don’t have to worry about choosing colour schemes when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

I would highly recommend these postcards to bird-lovers and those who love to colour nature and natural images, who don’t mind a bit of the surreal. The images are beautifully drawn and if the cream background doesn’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the card quality is great!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia: 20 Colour-In Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopia/9781780679419/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils.

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.