Marco Fine Pencils

Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition – A Review

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

The book itself is very large, measuring 25 x 33cm (the same size as Floribunda and the JB artist’s editions), it’s paperback with covers made of the same card as the pages inside, it’s thick card which is a beautiful cream colour, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which don’t bleed sideways or through, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t shadow onto the back, they just seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper. Cream isn’t everyone’s favourite page colour but it definitely adds a vintage feel and seems more natural than pure white so it really fits the woodland theme and also means you’re left with a less harsh contrast if you decide to leave the background uncoloured. The 20 images are printed single-sided onto the card and all of them are landscape, some are single page images from the original book which are printed a little larger, and others are double-page spreads which have been shrunk to fit the new page size. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but do stay put as long as you’re careful and don’t twist the spine too much, mine arrived pretty stiff. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images included are all from the original version of Tangle Wood, unlike most artist’s editions, the majority of these images are actually smaller than in the original book, I personally don’t think this was the best decision as Jessica’s illustrations are some of the most detailed around and it would have been lovely to have slightly larger scale versions to get our teeth into. There are also some slightly odd image choices like the floral frame which doesn’t actually fill the page or have enough space in the middle to draw much of your own imagery, or the floral spray with a small hummingbird, I was very disappointed to see that the gingerbread house wasn’t included apart from as a faded background for the bio on the back page. However, those niggles aside, the book is lovely and the images are really beautiful. Of the 20 images, 3 are printed larger than the original, 11 are printed smaller than the original, and the rest are the same size (see comparison photos below). The illustrations are printed in a different order from the book and don’t show the journey through the wood as the original did, there also isn’t a treasure hunt aspect though there are jewellery pieces hidden in each illustration. On the back of each page it says “Hand Coloured By” with a line to write your name and then “On” followed by space to write the date, you could also add the colouring mediums you used as a great record for the future.

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

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

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

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

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY and Review – Tangle Magic: A Spellbinding Colouring Book With Hidden Charms

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Magic is illustrated by Jessica Palmer, published and kindly sent to me to review by Search Press Publishing. Search Press have very kindly offered to sponsor a Worldwide Giveaway for 2 copies of Tangle Magic (entry details at the bottom of this post, just above the photos). I am blown away by this book and have spent more time than I should have just looking through the pages, always noticing something new, there’s just so much detail included and so many aspects that aren’t immediately obvious but that you notice over time. I nearly cried when I saw that I had very kindly been mentioned in the dedication (see photo below) and that so many of my ideas for image content had been used, most notably the wonderful crystal ball, free from tangles so we can all colour it realistically, Jessica, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, for the dedication, for including us colourists in your inspiration process, and for creating such a wonderful third book! Emotional, mushy bit over, let’s get on with the actual review!

This book is 22.2cm square (10 inches), softback with a soft touch flexible card cover with line drawings on the front and back which are contained within the book and the pages are flexibound meaning they’re quite tight to begin with but the spine eases up with use and Search Press have reliably informed me that with sensible amounts of bending (including bending the covers so far back that they touch each other completely) the spine will hold up and you’ll be able to access the entire page. I’m yet to be brave enough to try this but you can certainly get very close to the centre of each image without much difficulty and the pages are stitch-bound which always increases durability. The paper is thick, bright white and lightly textured, (the same as Tangle Bay), water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow as long as you’re careful and there is plenty of tooth to be able to build up layers of pencil for blending and shading. The outlines of the images aren’t 100% permanent so when using pencils or heavy pressure, make sure you pop a spare sheet of paper behind your work to protect the proceeding page, the transfer is fully erasable but the paper will save time so you don’t have to be erasing things.

The book contains 75 pages of double-sided images which consist of a mixture of single and double-page spreads and they are filled with all manner of magical things. The content is a little different from what you might be expecting so I’ll describe it as best I can and have posted lots of photos of inside the book below so you can see inside for yourself. I was expecting to see predominantly magical paraphernalia and while there is plenty of that, the content is far more wide-ranging than I was expecting, I was thinking mostly witches, potions, magic wands and tricks, and there is lots of that, but there are also lots of anthropomorphised animals throughout which are either magical themselves, or in some cases performing magic tricks, or even the subject of spells. There are fairy tales included from the princess and the pea and what looks to be Aladdin in duck form, to a snow queen swan (or goose) and the characters of the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle and even the owl and the pussycat who appeared in Tangle Bay (they appear to be favourites of Jessica’s). All things weird, wacky, spellbinding, mystical and magical are included and while it’s not especially traditional, the wide-ranging content is fantastically diverse and covers everything from witches and potions to tarot cards and fortune telling, magic spells and rabbits out of hats, enchanted creatures and objects, and heaps of mythical creatures including a phoenix, unicorns, dragons, a lizard king and lots of other anthropomorphised creatures. This book is the perfect third instalment of the Tangle series and is a great combination of the heavily tangled and patterned designs from Tangle Wood, and the more whimsical anthropomorphised animals that we found in Tangle Bay. Tangle Magic is packed with content, all of which is original and fresh whilst still being very much drawn in Jessica’s signature hyper-detailed style. The book doesn’t tell a story or have a particular feeling of continuity but it is extremely cohesive and very much sticks to the magical brief. Unlike the previous two titles, there aren’t any pages with any particularly large open spaces left and there is only one frame rather than several so this book is much more geared towards those who want to just colour instead of adding their own drawings and features, though there is still plenty of space for backgrounds to be added if you wish! At the beginning of the book is a beautiful full-colour gemstone colouring tutorial and there are plenty of gems drawn that you can practice on throughout the book to perfect your skills!

In terms of mental health, this book offers fantastic escapism and will provide wonderful distraction from even the most intrusive of thoughts or symptoms. The line thickness varies a little throughout but mostly it’s thin and spindly then so you’ll definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. The intricacy and detail levels are extreme and second to none, however don’t be put off, while there is a very high level of detail and intricacy, you can easily colour over this (see my chameleon picture) and use it as texture underneath rather than colouring within each section which makes it far less daunting and overwhelming and also means that your vision and fine motor control don’t need to be so good! There is so much to look at within each page that you really do get transported into Jessica’s wonderful, whimsical world and I have found this book fantastic for my mood because the illustrations are of nature which is inherently calming, but they’re also spiced up with lots of fun, humour and intrigue which piques your interest and keeps you focused on the here and now rather than being lost in your thoughts. This book is absolutely beautiful, hyper-detailed and will look absolutely incredible coloured in because there’s so much variety and because the content is magical you can use whatever colours you like and have purple dogs, red ducks and bright blue owls, the only limit is your imagination!

I would highly recommend this books to fans of Jessica’s previous books Tangle Wood and Tangle Bay, Tangle Magic has returned to the hyper-detailed zentangled patterns, with a wonderful whimsical scattering of anthropomorphised animals to lift your mood and fill the book with fun. All things magical and mystical are pictured and the content is extremely wide-ranging so there’s sure to be something to suit everyone.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available to pre-order here –
Amazon UK – Tangle Magic
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Magic-Jessic-Palmer/9781782214632/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Search Press (first stock will arrive there next week so this is the fastest way of ordering a copy) – https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782214632/tangle-magic

Jessica’s first two books can be found reviewed by me here – Tangle Wood, Tangle Bay.

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and the magic was coloured over using Sakura Gelly Roll Clear Stardust Gel Pen.

WORLDWIDE GIVEAWAY: Search Press have very kindly offered to sponsor a Worldwide Giveaway for one person to win two copies of Tangle Magic, one for them, and one to share with a friend. If you’d like to enter, head over to my Facebook Page and enter here by 8PM GMT on Sunday the 31st of July.

Adult Colouring: Where to Start

So you want to start colouring? Don’t know where to start? Then this is the post for you!

Adult colouring has well and truly taken off since the craze was kick-started in April 2015 and it’s currently showing no signs of stopping. New books are arriving on Amazon every day and artists and illustrators all over the world are jumping on the band wagon and offering up their drawings ready for you to add your personal touch of colour to. There are some stunning books on the market and some that really aren’t so great. The market is becoming very saturated and I can imagine that for those of you who are just entering the world of adult colouring, this must be very daunting and impossible to know where to even begin! So here is where you need to start, what you need to know and where to get your colouring goodies from so that you can get started as quickly as possible. For those of you that are new to my blog, you can read more about me and my colouring journey here.

Pens or Pencils

So, let’s get you started on your adult colouring journey. The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to colour with pens or pencils. There are a number of different types of each to help you narrow down further but firstly you need to decide whether you want pens, pencils or both. The pros of pencils are that mostly they’re erasable or at least partially erasable so if you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. They can be used to shade and blend and give more depth to pictures. They don’t bleed so you can use them on single-sided and double-sided books without any issues. The cons are that they’re fairly tough on your joints so you’re better sticking to pens if you have joint problems or pain, they’re also very time-consuming to use if you’re wanting to create impressive effects. The pros of pens are that they’re really vibrant, quicker to use, easier on your hands, come in a range of nib sizes for different sized areas on the page, and you don’t have to blend or shade, you can just colour in blocks. The major con with pens is that they bleed, some bleed sideways over the lines, some bleed through the paper (or shadow, where you can clearly see the coloured sections on the reverse of the page without it fully bleeding through), and this is often a big problem in double-sided books, they’re also much harder to blend and shade with and they’re more expensive and run out faster. Once you’ve decided on pens or pencils (or both), you’re ready to decide which type you want.

Pencils

Pencils are usually made of wax (like Crayola, and any pencils your kids or you will have used at school and growing up) or oil. Everyone has their own preference, some like wax, I’m a huge fan of oil, and others seem to get on well with both. If you can get to an art shop then I’d suggest trying out some of each to decide which you prefer, if you’re unable to attend a shop then the following info will hopefully help. Within the wax and oil-based pencil brands are harder and softer pencils. If you have any joint problems or issues with grip etc then you need a soft pencil (look out for this description in reviews). I have poor grip and achy joints in my hands and I tried various brands of wax-based pencils and just couldn’t get on with them, I found them hard, sticky and very difficult to get vibrant colour without having to press really hard. Others have had much better experiences with wax-based pencils than me and as I said before, it’s unfortunately entirely down to personal preference. Oil-based pencils are generally a bit pricier but in my opinon they’re well worth the money because they’re so much easier to use and much softer and more vibrant with less pressure needed.

Wax-based Pencils

If you’re wanting wax-based pencils then the budget option is often Crayola coloured pencils, the mid to high range that I’d recommend would be Derwent Coloursoft which I’ll review at a later date and these are highly blendable, vibrant and come in up to 72 beautiful colours. I would also recommend the Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils which come in 24 colours and are very easy to use and vibrant. The artist’s grade, high-end price option is Prismacolor Premiers which are the Marmite of the pencil world, people either love them and create stunning pieces of art with them or hate them because of the wax bloom that builds up and the lead breaking which these pencils are notorious for, I’ve never used these so I can’t vouch for them, they are often used beautifully, but there are major issues with people sharpening inches off them trying to just get a point to colour with!

Oil-based Pencils

If you’re after oil-based pencils then there isn’t really a budget option but the most cost-effective and cheapest are the Marco Raffine pencils which I’ve reviewed here. There are plenty of mid to high range pencils and my recommendation would be the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors which I received just yesterday which are available in 70 colours and seem to work beautifully. The artist’s grade high-end pencils with a price tag to match are the Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils which are pricey but as the proud owner of the full set, they’re worth every penny and truly are the crème de la crème of the pencil world. When choosing pencils, have a think about whether you’re wanting to just colour in blocks or whether you’re wanting to blend and shade and create artist’s style work, if you’re wanting the former then definitely stick to the low-end pencils because they’re ideal for that, whereas if you’re wanting to blend and shade then I’d opt for the mid or high-end pencils. The majority of colouring and the effects you can create are based on talent and practice rather than tools. I’ve seen amazing work coloured with Crayolas and some fairly dodgy work created with Polychromos pencils so if you can’t afford a pricey set, don’t despair, just get practising! It’s easier to create good effects with pricier pencils because they’re better made and easier to use but it really is mostly about talent and the best way to learn is to practice and to look on YouTube for tutorials, that’s where I’ve learnt all of my techniques from!

Pens

If pencils aren’t for you and you want to venture into the inky world of pens instead then this is the section for you. Broadly speaking, pens are broken down into water-based ink and alcohol based ink.

Alcohol Pens

Alcohol pens ALWAYS bleed. Unless you’re using super thick card they will bleed through the paper so you will be limited to books that only have images printed on one side or you’ll have to sacrifice half of the pictures to bleed-through. That being said, alcohol pens are very popular within the adult colouring world but a word of warning, they smell very strongly of solvent and if you have issues with headaches or migraines you might want to avoid them or colour in short bursts, near a window! Alcohol-based pens are more versatile than water-based pens because they can be layered and blended, either with each other on the page using similar shades, or using a clear blending pen (most brands sell these separately). Alcohol markers come with a significant price tag and the cheapest are usually unbranded permanent markers which can be found in the UK in stores like Poundland and The Works. The low to mid range are Sharpies and these come in a multitude of set sizes and colours and are world-renowned for their quality. Most others are mid to high or high-end prices and these include Spectrum Noir, Promarker and Copic. I don’t use alcohol markers because I suffer from migraines, often induced by environmental stimuli, so if you’re interested in using them I’d suggest searching for other reviews online, there are plenty of great ones to be found so that you can invest in the right set for you.

Water-based pens

Water-based pens are my personal favourites. I love colouring in pencil but when I’m colouring because I’m anxious or colouring just for me, I love nothing more than to get out my water-based fineliners and just get colouring! Water-based pens come in a huge variety of nib thicknesses and you need to bear in mind the size of the spaces you’ll be colouring when purchasing pens – there’s no point getting chunky felt-tips (markers) if you’re planning on using really intricate books because you’ll ruin them.

Water-based Fineliners

Fineliners are usually 0.3 or 0.4 mm’s and they’re ideal for small spaces and intricate parts. They are available all over the place and the cheapest are usually own-brand sets from UK shops like Poundland, The Works, WHSmiths and most major supermarkets, the mid-high range sets that I’ve found to be best are the Stabilo Point 88 fineliners which I’ve reviewed here and the Staedtler Triplus fineliners which I’ve reviewed here.

Water-based Fibre-tips/Felt Pens

Alongside these are water-based markers/ felt/fibre-tip pens which have a huge variety of shape and size nibs and are used for colouring larger areas. They are often a bit streaky, especially if you colour over the same spot twice and the cheaper they are, the streakier they usually are. There are hundreds of brands that do low-range sets for kids and adults but there aren’t any I’d recommend because they’re so streaky. My advice would be to invest in a mid-range set of Staedtler Triplus Fibre-tips (reviewed by me here), or Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips (review coming soon) because they’re much less streaky, last for ages and they are colour-matched with the fineliner sets so you can seamlessly colour small and large areas of the same picture with different pens. For high-end water-based markers I’ve heard great things about the Tombow Dual Brush Pens and the Faber-Castell Pitt Pens but I’ve not had the budget to try these out yet so be sure to test them in an art shop or buy a single pen first to test out and see what you want to invest in.

Books

Now you’ve decided what you’re going to colour with, you need to decide what you’re going to colour! The first thing to decide is whether it has to be single-sided or whether the colouring medium you’ve chosen will allow you to use double-sided books. If you’ve opted for alcohol markers then it must be single-sided, water-based pens you’ll want single-sided or thick paged double-sided and for pencils you can use any book you like. Paper quality is only an issue for water-based pens where it needs to be thick if it’s double-sided and pencils where you want a bit of texture (known as tooth – the grooves and textures in the paper that stop it being smooth and flat) if you’re wanting to blend and shade because you need to build up layers and the tooth allows you to do that. Shiny or incredibly smooth paper makes using pencils very difficult and if it’s waxy then steer clear of using anything other than alcohol markers because nothing else will stick, it’ll simply wipe off. After narrowing down the printing and paper quality, you then want to decide on what content you’re interested in – fantasy, people, animals, nature, patterns, abstract, scenes, mandalas, etc. There are so many books on the market now that you won’t find it difficult to find a book that fits all of these criteria, even if you want really niche content like rats, dragons or shoes.

Health Impacts

Finally, you want to think about your health which is a huge part of why I review colouring books and if you’re a reader of my blog already you’ll know, a huge part of each review I write. Whether you’re physically or mentally ill, your condition may affect your ability to colour and therefore your ability to enjoy a particular book. Things to bear in mind are whether your condition fluctuates, whether you have good vision, whether you have good fine motor control, whether the content of the book’s images may affect your mood in any way, whether your concentration levels alter, and what level of intricacy and detail you can handle. This might sound like a lot but in every review I write I describe all of these aspects so you can find books that will suit your level of functioning and ability so that you don’t get a book that’s so basic you get bored, or so intricate that it increases your levels of panic. You can find all of the reviews I’ve written in alphabetical order here and product reviews are at the bottom of that list, and I’ve grouped them into intricacy levels here.

One last thing I feel I really ought to make you aware of is that adult colouring is highly addictive. You may go into it thinking that you’ll buy just one book and one pack of pens, that’s how we all started, but trust me, it’ll never be enough and you’ll end up always chasing the next release and that next colouring fix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous addiction and one that I’m personally quite proud of as I survey my ever-growing collection of pens and pencils and bookshelf that is full to bursting, but nonetheless, it is addictive and you quickly feel that you have to collect books and seek out the perfect colouring pencil. Check out my pre-order list here for all of the books I’m pining for that are being released over the next few months!

I really hope this post will have helped explain the basics to all of the new people joining the adult colouring world who were unsure where to start. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or would like specific help finding books or colouring mediums to suit you then please don’t hesitate to contact me by clicking here and filling out the contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I like nothing more than matching people up to their ideal colouring books and mediums and the more specific you are, the easier it is. I’ve reviewed over 90 books and products so far and the number is rising weekly and on top of all of those, I’m aware of a great deal more books and products and have read countless reviews from others so I can hopefully point you in the right direction even if I’ve not reviewed the item myself. Last but not least, please do follow me in some way so that you can be kept updated with new blog posts, reviews, and colouring news etc. Links to everything are down the right-hand side of this page or you can click here to find me on Twitter, or click here for Facebook, or you can follow my blog via email at the top right of this page.

Where to Buy

Adult colouring books and colouring mediums can be found in most book, art and craft shops and can also be found in a host of places online. My favourite places to order books from are Amazon UK and Book Depository who do free shipping worldwide and links to both of these can be found on every review I post. To get you started here are the links to their adult colouring book sections.

Amazon UK – Amazon Adult Colouring Books

Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/adult-colouring-books/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book With Hidden Treasure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book with Hidden Treasure is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me by Search Press Publishing. This is the sequel to Tangle Wood and you can read my review of that here. Tangle Wood is one of the nicest books I’ve ever seen so when I heard Jessica was creating a second book and that it would be beach-themed, I was very excited. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the beauty of Tangle Wood, especially for me as my favourite place on earth is the beach so this book had a lot to live up to. So does it hold up? ABSOLUTELY! Jessica has done it again and created another beautiful, unique book which encapsulates everything beachy! Jessica’s signature illustration style has altered a little but it’s just the right mix of empty spaces, zentangle patterns and realism. Jessica seamlessly blends animals, plants, objects and landscapes and adds her own zentangle patterns meaning you can colour lots of tiny little sections or colour whole blocks and leave the patterns as texture. This book is a work of art and the only difficulty I’ve had with it was narrowing down which image to colour first, there are just so many beautiful pages to choose from!

The book itself is square (slightly smaller in size than other square books but the same size as Tangle Wood) and softback (it’s not especially bendy so it’ll keep protected in a bag if you transport your books but also isn’t rigid and hard). The pages are thick, bright white (a deliberate change from Tangle Wood to ensure the blues you’re likely to use will show up well) and lightly textured and the 75 stunning images are printed double-sided. I experienced no bleeding when using my water-based fineliners so these should be fine for you to use (always test on an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining any designs). Pencils add colour smoothly and because the paper is textured you can add plenty of layers so you’ll be able to blend and shade beautifully. Some of the images are single pages and others are double-page spreads and the book is relatively tightly stitched and flexi-bound so some of the image near the middle is lost into the spine and it does take some stretching of the spine to be able to get it to lie flat or stay open without being held. With time though, I’ve found that spines like this do loosen up and with a book like this, it’s so worth the wait so don’t be put off, just be patient and keep working the spine so that you can reach the middle of the images. One small thing to note is that the black ink on the blackest pages does transfer when using pencils so just pop a scrap piece of paper behind your work to avoid this, it’s fully erasable if it does transfer but that saves having to get your rubber out!

This book is truly beautiful and the images are charming. I hope you’ll get some of the atmosphere through the images attached at the bottom but truly you need to see this book to realise just how wonderful it is. If you like colouring nature images that are highly detailed then you’ll just love this book. In Jessica’s first book you were taken on a journey through a wood, Tangle Bay doesn’t take you on a journey but instead Jessica wanted to create a sense of place and she’s done this beautifully and you really are transported to the beach of your childhood, your imagination, and of story books. So many aspects of the beach and the seaside are included from realistic scenes of puffins sitting on rocks and seagulls swooping, to storybook ships, mermaids and anthropomorphised animals like ducks wearing hats and donkeys dressed up having a day out at the beach on deck chairs! This book contains a mixture of styles and the majority of the images are less intricate and detailed than those in Tangle Wood (more info on this further down). This book contains such a wealth of images that it’s hard to describe them all. Jessica described it as being livelier than Tangle Wood and I definitely agree, there’s a lot more movement in the pages and more chaos, whimsy and fun. She’s added sprinkles of humour and you get hit by waves of nostalgia as you come across the image of the owl and the pussycat in their beautiful pea green boat, the Punch and Judy show, melting ice creams, deck chairs, parasols, postcards, sandcastles and flock upon flock of seagulls! This book flits between scenes of mermaids relaxing under the sea, penguins piloting an airship, day and night scenes of lighthouses, treasure troves just waiting to be made shiny and sparkly, and hordes of sea creatures from seahorses to whales, fish to crabs, dolphins to lobsters, jellyfish to seals and so much more! Scenes of typically British days at the beach are pictured including beach huts and even Brighton Pavilion (a huge plus for me as I live under 30 minutes away from it) and also underwater scenes from much further afield including coral reefs and exotic tropical fish. Hidden within the images are bits of treasure for you to hunt down and colour in and this treasure hunt aspect adds a real sense of adventure and fun to the book. Tangle Bay sparks your imagination and creates a wonderful world of escapism. Some of the images are highly detailed and intricate and many encompass typical zentangle patterns. Some of the images have large sections around or within them that have been left blank so that you can add your own details and backgrounds. These are less obvious than in Tangle Wood so the pictures won’t look at all unfinished if you choose not to add anything but the spaces are there if you want them. There are also some beautiful frames of shells, fossils, seaweed, and more, that are circular, square and even heart-shaped that you could either leave as they are or add to if your drawing skills are honed!

Tangle Wood and Tangle Bay are quite different from each other so I got in touch with Jessica to ask her about this so that I could give you all an accurate portrayal of the books. Tangle Wood is very detailed throughout whereas Tangle Bay has a fair number of much more open-spaced images with less detail and without zentangle patterns. Jessica explained that from the feedback she got about Tangle Wood, some people didn’t like the patterning so much and found it too intricate so she varied the detail levels more to appeal to more people and I have to say, this makes it ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions because on your good days where you can really concentrate and focus, you can colour some of the really detailed zentangled pages, and on days where you’re more symptomatic you can colour the less detailed images and really practice your blending and shading skills and even have a go at adding your own zentangles to the sections. This mixture seems like a great way to reach more people and appeal to beginner and advanced colourist alike, I do personally miss a little of the detail, however, I’ve definitely been won over by the image content and shall have to get zentangling myself!

In terms of mental health, this book has a wide variety of detail and intricacy levels so it’s ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions to keep you distracted and focused for hours on good and bad days. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to medium thickness but mostly it’s thin throughout so this book is best for those of you with fairly good vision and fine motor control. Unlike in Tangle Wood where the line colour varied, in Tangle Bay the linework is all black and there are no issues with fuzziness either so it’s great to see that’s been rectified. This book is beautiful and completely enchanting and the more I look through it, the more I notice and discover, and the more I fall in love with it, just as I did with Tangle Wood. I think this book is absolutely ideal for anyone with mental health problems because it’s so natural and calming and the subject matter is really relaxing and beautifully drawn and some of the pages are really fun and might even make you laugh (see the donkeys on deck chairs and sharks riding bicycles below). Jessica states that she puts her heart and soul into her work and this is so very clear in every page, her work is beautiful and is meticulously created. This book contains hours and hours of enjoyment and I’m sure it’s set to become a bestseller because it’s just gorgeous so if you’re wanting a copy I’d get your hands on one soon before everyone catches on to how unmissable this book is. I’ve heard that Jessica is currently working on a third title and as soon as I have any news, I will let you all know what we’re getting excited about and when we can get our sticky mitts on a copy. Like my Facebook page to be kept up to date!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Tangle Bay: An Enchanting Colouring Book with Hidden Treasure
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Bay-Jessica-Palmer/9781782214137/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, a Derwent burnishing pencil and PanPastels were used for the background.

Wings & Things: Colouring For Grown Ups – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
wings and things: art therapy is illustrated and was kindly sent to me for review by Edwina Mc Namee. This gorgeous book is filled with 50 images of all things winged, feathery, mystical and magical. The book is paperback, glue-bound and printed single-sided with no border so a little of each image is lost into the spine but this really is only a little.  The book is slightly smaller than A4 and has a gorgeous aqua coloured cover that can almost certainly be coloured in so you’ve practically got an extra colouring page on the front and it also has a lovely “This book belongs to” page. Almost all of the images are portrait but a few are printed landscape so that more can be fitted onto the page. The book has a lovely cohesive image style because it’s all been hand-drawn by the very talented Edwina who clearly has a love of all things feathery. The images include all sorts of birds, headdresses, bats, butterflies, insects and unicorns. They are drawn with varying line thicknesses from thin to thick with most being medium/thick, they don’t look overly heavy though. The paper is bright white and pretty thin, my fibre-tip pens which hardly ever bleed did bleed through all over the back of the page so if you’re using anything that bleeds do put a scrap sheet behind your work so that you don’t ruin the next picture.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it’s grounded in nature and while it contains images of fantastical things, the majority are birds and feathered creatures. I found this book really calming and relaxing to colour, so much so that I coloured two full pages instead of the usual one. The images are fairly detailed but not overly intricate so they’re really well suited to anybody because you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control in order to be able to enjoy it. The spaces are large enough that you can practice shading and blending but not so large that the book feels basic or childish. The images feel very positive and the level of complexity varies meaning the book can be used on good and bad days as your concentration comes and goes. The images in this book are well-suited to any colouring medium and I found it lovely to use pens and pencils on. The images below were coloured using Staedtler Fibre-tip pens and Marco Raffine Oil-based pencils which were really easy to shade and layer on the paper.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who like animals or birds and anyone who struggles to colour the very intricate books but doesn’t want to colour very basic images. The images are lovely, calming and very charming and being printed one-sided means that you can use any medium you like without having to worry about ruining any images. In my opinion it’s great for mental health and well worth adding to your collection. Thank you very much to Edwina for sending me a copy of her gorgeous book and if you’d like to get your hands on a copy, head over to her Etsy shop where you can find the book in two parts: part 1 and part 2. It is also available on Amazon here wings and things: art therapy

Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book With Hidden Jewels – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me by Search Press Publishing. I’ll start off by saying that this is one of the most beautiful colouring books that I’ve ever seen and it’s now firmly in my list of favourite books. It’s somewhat similar to the books created by Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford but it has a unique style of its own and seamlessly blends animals, plants and zentangle into a stunning work of art that you’ll be clamouring to colour by the end of this review. The book itself is square (slightly smaller in size than other square books) and softback (it’s not especially bendy so it’ll keep protected in a bag if you transport your books but also isn’t rigid and hard). The pages are thick, off-white and lightly textured and the 75 stunning images are printed double-sided. The outlines of each picture can be seen through the pages so I assumed that pens would be a no-go in this book but actually, I experienced no bleeding when using my water-based fineliners so these should be fine for you to use (always test on an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining any designs). Pencils add colour smoothly and because the paper is textured you can add plenty of layers so you’ll be able to blend and shade beautifully. Some of the images are single pages and others are double-page spreads and the book is relatively tightly glue-bound so some of the image near the middle is lost into the spine and it does take some stretching of the spine to be able to get it to lie flat or stay open without being held. With time though, I’ve found that spines like this do loosen up and with a book like this, it’s so worth the wait so don’t be put off, just be patient and keep working the spine so that you can reach the middle of the images.

This book is truly beautiful and the images are unlike anything else I’ve seen because they’re so detailed, patterned and charming. I hope you’ll get some of the atmosphere through the images attached at the bottom but truly you need to see this book to realise just how wonderful it is. If you like colouring nature images that are highly detailed then you’ll just love this book. It takes you on a journey rather than being a collection of similarly themed images. You start off seeing some of the jewels that have been hidden within the wood and are greeted by a large tree and a friendly looking fox, you discover a gingerbread house and walk past all sorts of species of birds. You walk further into the trees and happen upon all manner of woodland creatures including badgers, rabbits, foxes, deer and hedgehogs, you encounter a family of owls and a kingfisher who’s caught his lunch. By the end of the walk you’ve reached what’s probably the heart of the wood and night has fallen and your path is lit by a smiling full moon. This book is so much more than a colouring book. It tells a story, it has hidden elements in the form of jewels and jewellery pieces and it sparks your imagination and creates a wonderful world of escapism. The images are highly detailed and intricate and many encompass typical zentangle patterns that you can either colour between so you’re colouring teeny tiny sections or colour over to create patterned blocks and sections. Some of the images aren’t complete or have large sections around them that have been left blank and while I was confused by these at the beginning and it felt a little unfinished on certain pages, after reading the introduction page it explained that these spaces are left so that you can add your own details, backgrounds, and to continue the picture on in your own way. I think this feature is great because it means that you can add to the book or leave it without there being text in the way and detracting from your beautiful colouring. There are also a number of floral and faunal frames that are circular, square and even heart-shaped that you could either leave as they are or add to if your drawing skills are honed!

In terms of mental health, this book has a lot of detail and intricacy so it’s ideal for those of you who like complicated images that keep you distracted and focused for hours. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to medium thickness but mostly it’s thin throughout like the majority of intricate colouring books are. The line colour varies throughout and some are blackest black and others are much paler and grey. One thing to note is that the lines of some the images are kind of fuzzy and seem out of focus, I wasn’t too keen on this to begin with but as time has gone on it’s bothered me less and less and now it doesn’t worry me. It did make me think my eyes were having a problem to begin with though so do be aware of it if you have vision problems and be careful if you get migraines (like I do) as it can make you feel a little strange. That’s the only slight issue I had with the book though, it is absolutely stunning and completely captivating and the more I look through it the more I notice and discover and the more I fall in love with it. I think this book is absolutely ideal for anyone with mental health problems because it’s so natural and calming and the subject matter is really relaxing and beautifully drawn. This book contains hours and hours of enjoyment and I’m sure it’s set to become a bestseller because it’s so gorgeous so if you’re wanting a copy I’d get your hands on one soon before everyone catches on to how unmissable this book is. I for one, am hoping that Jessica will be creating a new book soon because her artwork is beautiful and an absolute joy to colour! The images below are coloured with Marco Fine Coloured Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 fineliners. If you’d like to get a copy of this wonderful, woodland treasure hunt follow the link to Amazon Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels

Marco Raffine Fine Art Oil-Based Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Before I start reviewing let me first state that I am NOT an artist, I have no art training, not even an art GCSE and only started using coloured pencils again 2 months ago. This review is from a beginner’s perspective  and the colouring I’ve done has been based on learning techniques from YouTube tutorials which are linked below. These pencils are from my personal collection and I’ll tell you right now, I LOVE THEM! I bought a pack of Crayolas and despite others managing to get truly beautiful effects from them I managed a vague bit of shading, no blending and just got blisters because I found them so hard and almost impossible to get a deep and vibrant colour from. I scoured the internet and found all of the artist grade pencils were over a £1 a pencil which I couldn’t possibly afford at the time and I thought all was lost and that I’d never be able to use pencils unless I won the lottery. However, I persevered and happened upon the Marco pencils on Ebay and was shocked at how cheap they were for oil-based pencils which sounded like the type I needed. I looked for reviews and found a measly two on Amazon both of which said they were amazing so I went for it and began my long wait for them to arrive from China.

So after nearly 3 weeks they arrived and I’m so glad I found them and ordered the largest set they make. They come in sets of 24,36,48 and 72 and personally I’d recommend just going all out and getting the set of 72 because they’re under £20 including postage and that’s just a bargain! The pencils are soft, not scratchy and lay down colour easily and smoothly on all of the paper types I’ve come across so far in my colouring books. They are great for layering, shading, blending or just giving smooth, vibrant colour without hurting your hand from pressing too hard. Each pencil gives a huge range of hues from the palest hint of colour to a bright, bold, dense pigment depending on layering and pressure. The colours in the box of 72 cover a great range with a lot of emphasis on greens (11 in total) and browns (6 in total) which is ideal for all of those nature colouring books like Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland. There are a few too many greys for my liking (7 seems excessive) and not enough shades of pink (6 – not including the 3 flesh tones but these 6 include some purple colours). However, all in all, it’s a great range that is really versatile because of the ability to shade and blend thus creating more effects and colours and making the possibilities pretty much endless!

The box they come in isn’t a great storage solution because as soon as you’ve sharpened the pencils a few times they become too short to dig out with your fingers and if you tip the box up you either get stabbed with a whole load of sharpened pencils or accidentally tip half of the contents on the floor (not advised!). I would definitely suggest getting jars, a pencil case or a pencil carrier to store them in so that you can avoid the above! Since writing this review originally, I have been sent a set to review which come with a pencil roll to store the pencils in and this is a much better solution (more info at the bottom of the review). I would also strongly advise creating a colour chart with the number of each pencil and a shaded section from light to dark so that you have it to hand (see mine below). As with many coloured pencils, the end of the pencil is coloured but this isn’t always an accurate portrayal of the colour you’ll lay down and this often leads to some very strange colour combinations due to “accidents”. It’s also difficult to replicate colours without this if you’re half way through a project and don’t remember what colour you used. Making and colouring the chart can be time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it and will save you getting frustrated in the future or constantly having to scribble on scrap paper and wasting your precious leads!

As for using these pencils, they’re a dream! I’ve had various friends try them out, all of whom are novices like me and all of them have loved them and commented on how smooth they are to use and how vibrant the colours are and just how different they are from the pencils we all used at school. They sharpen beautifully without the need for an expensive sharpener (I currently use a Lego one from a kids’ stationery set) and have had very few problems with breakages or not being able to get a proper point. They last ages and honestly I’ve had absolutely no problems with them! They behave in exactly the same way as premium oil-based pencils so you can use blender pencils, burnishers, baby oil and other products to give you a more professional look but all of the images below have been completed with just the Marco pencils, without any other products.

I would highly recommend these pencils to anybody. Those of you who are just starting out and learning to use pencils, these are great because they’re soft, versatile, behave in much the same way as premium products but because of the miniscule price tag you won’t be afraid of getting stuck in and using them and learning how they work together and what effects you can get. For those of you with more experience, these are great for a travel set and for creating beautiful images with and the range of colours is ideal for almost any project if you get the largest set of 72 pencils. I am now lucky enough to own a set of 120 Faber Castell Polychromos pencils which I love but I have to say I like the Marco Raffines almost as much. The range of colours of Polychromos is much better, obviously because there are almost double the number of shades, but the Marco pencils really are up there for ease of use and ability to create amazing effects and I just can’t get over the price! If you’ve been umming and ahhing over whether you should click buy then my recommendation would be DO IT! They’re super cheap and as yet, I’ve not found anyone that regretted buying them or didn’t like them. Happy Colouring!

Pencil Wrap/Roll – The wrap contains 72 elasticated slots for the pencils (and these are a perfect fit, not too tight or too loose) as well as 2 extra pencil slots, perfect for blending or burnishing pencils, and 4 larger elasticated slots that could be used to store erasers or pencil sharpeners. There is a leather flap at the top and bottom to cover up the leads of the pencils to prevent them being broken when transported and the case folds over to half the size and can then be rolled up and safely kept closed with a leather strip and a secure popper (press stud). The pencils aren’t pre-added to the wrap so it’s easy to put them into it in whatever order suits you, I went for number order as that’s easiest to match up with my colour chart.

If you’d like to purchase these pencils then you can purchase sets through the links below.
72 set including a pencil roll – GHB Colouring Pencils 72-Colour Assorted Colours with Pencil Pouch
72 set in cardboard box:
NIUTOP 72 Colored Pencils, Marco Raffine fine art Drawing Pencils For Artist Sketch / Adult Coloring Books/Secret Garden Coloring Book (72 Colored Pencils)
Erofa 72 Color Art Colour Pencils Drawing Pencils for Secret Garden Pencil Pouch colored pencil Artist Sketch Set
SUMNACON Set of 72 Colour Pencils Colour Marco Fine Art Drawing Oil Base Non-toxic Pencils Set For Artist Sketch
Wiysond Set of 72 Color Pencil Colour Marco Fine Art Drawing Oil Base Non-toxic Pencils Set For Artist Sketch

These are the links to the videos I used to learn to blend and shade. Happy Colouring!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufgdg8bwexI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_FcWFIXusA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuyWteo65bk
https://vimeo.com/134639014