Laurence King Publishing

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.

Enchanted Forest Journal – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

#OOTD (Outfit Of The Day): Fashion Flat Lay Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
#OOTD Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is based on the hugely successful hashtag that has swept its way through Instagram and Twitter – #OOTD which stands for Outfit Of The Day where users lay out their day’s clothing on the floor or a pretty or striking background and upload it for all to see. This is a BIG thing with almost 96 million posts on Instagram alone! With that in mind, illustrator Laura Hickman decided to bring the insanely successful hashtag and theme to the colouring book world and create a book filled with themed flat lays for you to customise, spruce up and personalise. The book is 24cm square, paperback, with a pale pink flexible card cover, a striking black spine and copper coloured foiling, the insides of both covers are filled with black outlines of clothing which are fully colourable. The spine is glue and string-bound and therefore it’s very durable, none of the images enter the spine because they are each contained to one page and all have a small border around them so you’re able to colour the full image on each page. The illustrations are printed single-sided with a flat lay on the right side, on the opposite page is a small colourable design with a one or two-word description/title for the opposite illustration. The paper is bright white, lightly textured and medium/thick, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and pencils blend and shade beautifully on it. The images themselves are of a mixture of different outfits, garments, objects, and accessories. They include heaps of clothing from tops to jackets, jeans to bikinis, skirts to pyjamas and even a Christmas jumper! The accessories range from sunglasses to jewellery, hats to scarves, handbags to make-up and so much more! The objects are the most wide-ranging from fruit to phones, macarons to incense, pencils to flowers and even a retro Walkman and a French Bulldog, there’s heaps and heaps of content!

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have a lot of impact on it but it certainly won’t exacerbate any of your symptoms. The line thickness is consistent throughout with thin outlines and some spindly thin details and patterns. The intricacy and detail levels are fairly similar throughout though there is a bit of variance and mostly it’s a moderate level of detail with some more intricate parts dotted throughout. The images have very natural stopping points which is really helpful for those of you with fluctuating symptoms or concentration. You can easily colour one garment or a pair of shoes or the whole page if you’re feeling up to it. There’s huge scope for adding your own patterns or embellishments, making the items look really realistic, or creating your dream outfit, you can use any colours you fancy and really go all out with your colour schemes and mediums, it’ll suit pastels, pencils, pens, paints, gel pens, glitter, you name it, it’ll work on this subject matter. The images are very neutral and therefore won’t negatively affect your mood though if you’re a fashion-lover then I’m sure it may well cheer you up and get your imagination going.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for fashion-lovers. It seems to be aimed at Instagram users, fashionistas, teenagers and the young at heart. It’s a good, fun book with heaps of stuff to colour, it might even inspire some outfit choices for you!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – #OOTD Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Ootd-Laur-Hickman/9781780678696/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

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

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

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

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

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

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Great-British-Colouring-Map-Ordnance-Survey/9781780678597/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Matthew Williamson: Fashion, Print & Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Matthew Williamson: Fashion, Print & Colouring Book is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is really unusual and different from any other I’ve seen which after reviewing over 200 colouring books is quite a feat! It combines colouring, fashion and creative inspiration all into one book so it has far less colouring in than usual, but you also get loads of added extras.  This book is an absolute whopper at 33.1 x 25.3cm. It’s paperback with a beautiful partially coloured image which combines aspects from many of the patterns found inside the book. The spine is a glowing pink colour and the book is very thick and fairly heavy with a medium thickness card back and a thinner front cover. The spine is lay-flat meaning you can access the whole image and can easily remove pages from the book if you wish. You could create your own fashion-filled room by removing some or even all of the pages and putting them up on the wall or framing them for future inspiration and to add wonderful splashes of colour to your surroundings. The paper varies throughout the book, the non-colouring pages are medium thickness, smooth, slightly shiny paper which almost feels like the pages of a fashion magazine; the colouring pages are printed single-sided onto medium thickness card with a coloured back so there are no blank pages in the book but you can use whatever mediums you like on the colouring pages without fear of ruining anything on the reverse. The card the colouring pages are printed on is very lightly textured and while you can layer with pencils a little, it does burnish quickly, it’s perfect for pens, both water-based and alcohol-based and the patterns really lend themselves to bright popping colour which pens will bring fabulously! All of the pages within the book are single-pages and each chapter consists of 5 themed pages followed by one block coloured page which is the back of the colouring page each time. The book only contains 16 colourable images (plus a repeat on the back cover and another printed on paper at the back too), so if you’re wanting this just as a colouring book then it’s probably not for you as it’s a pretty pricey book for just 16 usable pages; however, if you’re interested in fashion, particularly Matthew Williamson’s work, then you’ll love this and it’ll be a must-have for your collection as it shows his creative process from the conception mood board all the way through to the finished print being strutted down the catwalk cut into a stunning and eye-catching garment.

The content of the book is split into themed chapters, each has a title page with the real life inspiration for the print, following this are full single-page spreads of the mood board used as well as a short piece of written commentary from Matthew, the studio drawing, photograph of the catwalk/illustration of a model in the outfit, and finally the colouring page so you can become a fashion designer yourself and splash your colours in whatever way you see fit. The patterns and prints are very varied and most are nature-inspired, the content includes heaps of animals including butterflies, dragonflies, leopards, parrots, flamingos and more, plants, flowers and even fruit! There are also patterns inspired by places Matthew’s travelled to including Ibiza, the Bahamas, India, Costa Rica, Morocco and even the English countryside. This book contains something for everyone and if you’re a fan of Matthew Williamson’s work then you’ll love it because he’s chosen these prints himself due to each of them being most iconic of his brand or a personal favourite.

In terms of mental health, this book offers heaps of distraction and is packed full with bright colours which are great for lifting the mood and cheering up the darkest of days. There isn’t a lot of colouring to do though each pages is huge and therefore does take a long while to colour, even when block colouring with pens! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin, the intricacy and detail levels vary hugely but there are intricate sections on the majority of the images so you’ll need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book and not keep colouring over the lines. The size of the spaces does vary throughout so you can pick out some of the larger spaced designs for days when your concentration is poor and you want to colour larger sections, or on better days you can colour the more detailed illustrations and patterns. There is huge variety of content but most of the artwork is grounded in nature so it feels quite calming though it’ll be pretty energising too if you colour it in your brightest shades! While this book isn’t ideal just as a colouring book, as a one-stop-shop for fans of Matthew Williamson’s work, it’s fantastic; it’s fascinating to see and read about his creative process and the chapter layout works really well for showing the development of ideas and colour schemes from the mood board to the finished fabric. This is a must-have for any fashionistas!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book for fashion-lovers and specifically fans of Matthew Williamson’s work. There aren’t a huge number of colouring pages for such a long book, but this is so much more than a colouring book and is much more like a guide to fashion with added colouring pages to customise yourself.

You can purchase a copy of this book here:
Amazon UK – Matthew Williamson: Fashion, Print & Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Matthew-Williamson-Matthew-Williamson/9781780678979/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers.

If you’d like to see more or Matthew Williamson’s work, as well as download a free colouring page, click here.

Lost Ocean: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 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 but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This box of postcards contains 50 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Lost Ocean 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 beautiful presentation box made of very thick card and covered in cream paper with a scaled down version of the book cover, complete with gold foiling on the front, and a black background white line drawn pattern inside and around three quarters of the outside edge.

There are two sets of postcards, one including 36 postcards in a book and the larger set containing 50 in a presentation box which is the set I’m reviewing here (do check listings carefully to make sure you’re getting the set you want). As stated before, this set contains 50 postcards, all of which are unique with no duplicates and they are beautiful to look at. The majority of the postcards are landscape, and a few are portrait (5), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards – see photo below). Some are of the whole original image scaled down and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk a little so there is a real 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.

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 (see comparison photo below). I’m personally not overly keen on this yellowy cream colour and feel that it makes the cards look almost dirty. Strangely, the cream appears to have been printed onto originally white card because in a few places it’s blotchy and there are even small white circular printing errors on a few (see image below), the edges of the cards are white. Because the colour has been printed on, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are almost 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 and take pencils well so you can build up plenty of layers though 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 and sadly, this is where the problem is. I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but 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. Fineliners don’t colour well on this card and even those with 0.3mm and 0.4mm nibs were sometimes too thick to colour the pictures neatly. This is 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 and use felt-tips or fineliners but because the images have been shrunk they’re 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 have perfect vision (no glasses needed yet) and fine motor control and really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Intricate is an understatement when describing these images – they’re so detailed and tiny and while this makes them 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). You can’t even make copies of them and blow them up larger because the copyright instructions strictly prohibit this. 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 Lost Ocean which is currently half price on Amazon and half the price of this postcard set, it contains many more images, none of which are impossible to colour. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, I’m deeply disappointed.

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Postcard-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753557372/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Lost Ocean can be found here:
Review – Lost Ocean
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Johann-Basford/9780753557150/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The partially coloured image was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which were repelled by the surface of the card.

Birdtopia Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia: Colouring Book (Colouring Books) is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing; it’s illustrated by Daisy Fletcher. This book is one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve seen during my time reviewing and the content isn’t quite as I’d expected – 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 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 background 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 birds, flowers, and other wildlife. The images contain a huge number of different birds from blue tits to birds of paradise, eagles to hummingbirds, flamingos to swallows and flocks more! Some of the images are drawn to scale with the birds and flowers drawn in a realistic scale and others have varied scale with birds being the same size as rabbits and foxes and flowers being much larger. Each double-page spread includes at least one bird, usually many more, and at the back of the book there are thumbnail pictures of each image with the names of each of the birds and few other animals included which makes them easy to identify and research to discover realistic colour schemes for them. In addition to the line drawings, there are also a few, quite strange, greyscale and sometimes fully coloured animals and a couple of flowers which almost look photoshopped into the images (see photos below), the greyscale creatures could be coloured over but the others are already finished for you. These certainly aren’t on the majority of images but there are a fair few and some of the collections of things on a page are quite oddly arranged, such as a hare sat on a pine cone, or a barn owl perched on a poppy. In the centre of the book are 3 double-page spreads of fully coloured images and while sections of these are found uncoloured throughout the book, the exact arrangements are unique to these pages. None of this is a criticism, and I don’t dislike it, it’s just very unusual and different from anything I’ve seen before 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 a full double-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 to these images look and feel finished but you can add to them if you wish.

I would highly recommend this book to bird-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 don’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the paper quality is fabulous!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia: Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-Colouring-Book-Daisy-Fletcher/9781780677798/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.