Michael O’Mara

The Book of Prehistoric Beasts – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Book of Prehistoric Beasts is illustrated by Angela Rizza, published and kindly sent to me to review by Buster Books. This book is enormous, at a whopping 29cm square, it’s hardback with gorgeous deep green covers and all printing on both covers is silver foiled so it’s a really luxurious feeling book! The spine is glue and string-bound and very durable, it’s a little tricky to get to the very centre of the images but this is only a few millimetres. The images are printed single sided and on the back of each page is lots of information about each creature that is pictured including its name, size, diet, what it looked like, when it lived and facts about its environment. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and smooth, it takes soft pencils well but harder pencils may be a struggle to build up layers for blending due to the lack of tooth; alcohol makers will bleed through the page which you may not mind if you don’t wish to read the information on the back, and water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow, though do test them in an inconspicuous area to check. The book starts with a double-page spread showing the timeline of creatures and they’re shown in this order through the book from the earliest period, Devonian, 419.2 million years ago, all the way up to Quaternary, 2.6 million years ago. The images are split into 4 chapters including different time periods: Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian; Triassic and Jurassic; Cretaceous; and Tertiary and Quaternary. The images themselves are all full page spreads, each containing a few prehistoric creatures. A huge number of creatures are pictured, 87 in fact, and these mainly consist of dinosaurs but do include other, older creatures (I’m not sure if these class as dinosaurs) and younger creatures; the beasts include: gigantoscorpio, dimetrodon, ammonite, icthyosaurus, brachiosaurus, archaeopteryx, microraptor, tyrannosaurus, quetzalcoatlus, mononykus, triceratops, basilosaurus, megalodon, glyptodon, mammuthus, smilodon and gigantopithecus, and so many more, all of the creatures are pictured on the double-page timeline at the beginning of the book and then shown drawn in their habitats and to scale in the colouring pages. This book is every dinosaur-lovers’ dream, my brother was obsessed with dinosaurs growing up and I was therefore forced into knowing an awful lot more about them than I wanted to at the time, knowledge that has come in handy for many random reasons since and this book definitely covers all of the most well-known dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, as well as others that you may never have heard of and can start to research if you wish.

In terms of mental health, you’re unlikely to find a more distracting book. The production quality is very high and from the cover and the very first page, you’re transported back in time to millions of years ago where gigantic beasts roamed the land and the landscape was unrecognisable, you instantly become immersed in this world as you learn facts about the animals and start to colour them and their habitats. It’s not calming as such, not in the same was as colouring landscapes and more familiar animals, but it’s really is very distracting and absorbing which is great for those of us with anxious, racing minds. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium and thin. The intricacy and detail levels are quite variable depending on the creature and its landscape but there are a lot of details drawn in as well as a lot of dotted shading (ideal for beginner colourists who want to learn more about colouring realistically and learning where light and shade should be), therefore you will need moderate to good levels of vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. This book is actually published with kids in mind though they’ll need to be quite mature and artistic to get the most out of it and have a good reading age as there are a lot of tricky animal names to contend with, at a guess, I’d suggest this book for kids aged 8 and above and I’d highly recommend it for big kids (adults!) too because we could all do with learning just a little bit more about the fascinating world of dinosaurs. The illustrations have been very cleverly curated to mostly include more than one creature and sometimes all of them are land or sea creatures and other time part of the image is above ground and other sections are underwater. None of the images feel random, haphazard or badly staged, they’re all really well-drawn and feel quite like uncoloured versions of the images found in regular dinosaur fact books and encyclopaedias. The scenes and animals are drawn pretty realistically and mostly don’t have patterns added to them unless it’s assumed they had those in real life, obviously there may be some inaccuracies as with most historic representations of velociraptors which show them featherless and significantly larger than they possibly could have been, but the artist has clearly worked hard to make these look as realistic as possible within the confines of the majority only being found as fossilised skeletons and a lot of guesswork having to be done about their external features, colouring and patterns.

Overall, this is a great book for those who already love prehistoric beasts, and those wanting to know more. The book is ideal for children and adults and the pages look amazing once coloured and you could even remove them from the book and frame them for you dinosaur-fanatic children (or yourself) if you wish, they’d look great as a series on the wall in a bedroom or playroom or even a classroom! The paper is pretty good and the facts and information about each beast is a huge added bonus.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK- The Book of Prehistoric Beasts
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Book-of-Prehistoric-Beasts-Jonny-Marx-Angela-Rizza/9781780554976/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

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Exploratorium - Ideal for child and adult colourists, fans of Doodle Fusion and Kerby Rosanes's artwork will love this book. Click through for the review, video and photos!

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.

Mythomorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Mythomorphia is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the third and final book in the series after Animorphia and Imagimorphia. This book has a mythical theme and is a bit less intricate and less morphing than the first two books and contains fewer alien creatures than Animorphia too, that being said, it’s still incredible and really has to be seen to be believed, it’s probably the best book on the market with a mythological theme because of the sheer variety of creatures pictured.

The book is 25cm square, the same size as Animorphia and other bestsellers by JB and MM, it’s paperback with a black card cover with bright red lettering and a dragon (UK copy: other countries’ editions have different coloured lettering but the content is the same in all of the books titled Mythomorphia) in Kerby’s signature style which hints at what’s inside. The paper is bright white, very lightly textured and medium thickness, it doesn’t appear to shadow with water-based fineliners as long as you’re careful but do always check your pens somewhere inconspicuous to make sure you don’t ruin any reverse images. The paper is good for pencils and allows for a few layers for blending and shading. The ink does transfer a little when pressure is applied so when you’re using pencils pop a scrap piece of paper behind to avoid transfer. The book contains 80 images which are printed double-sided and include single (18) and double-page spreads (including 7 paired images which don’t enter the spine and have separate but similar designs on each page, and 24 traditional double-page spreads which do enter the spine and aren’t stand-alone images). The book has a glue- and stitch-bound spine which is fairly tight on arrival and the images are borderless so you do lose a strip of each image into the spine and unfortunately a number of the double-page spreads do have large sections of the creature’s body which enter the gutter however these are accessible if you break the spine. The content itself is all based around mythology and mythological creatures and a truly huge range are pictured from unicorns to mermaids, a hydra to a phoenix, different types of dragons and loads of hybrid creatures including a basilisk, manticore, cockatrice, faun, griffin and many, many more. While many of these creatures are drawn in Kerby’s typical morphine style, a number of them are drawn without morphs and simply as scenes. The morphing parts consist of all sorts of things from rock, flames and waves to smoke, flowers, bats and trees as well as a couple in Kerby’s most well-known style including lots of random objects, plants and swirls. The images are incredible and as always, they’re packed with content to look at and colour, the range of mythological creatures is astounding and a number of them were beasts I’d never heard of so I’ve had a great time researching them and the stories behind them!

In terms of mental health, this is one book that’s absolutely fantastic for distraction! It takes quite a lot of concentration to identify all of the parts of the picture let alone start choosing colours so this really is a book that will help you get through the days when your mind is racing and you need to be able to switch off. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted because each image takes a very long time and a lot of work but it’s so worth it and the effects you can create are amazing! This book doesn’t have any pages where you need to add your own doodles, I’m really pleased about this because I can’t draw at all so I’m glad that all of them are finished this time and ready to colour! The images are very cohesive and they contain such a variety of creatures, most of the images have some shading and texture drawn in but not loads (check out the pictures below to decide if you like this feature or not). The line thickness varies throughout but mainly sticks around the thin mark so you need fairly good vision and fine motor control, but definitely not perfect to enjoy this book! There is also a treasure hunt with 3 pages at the back of the book showing all of the items you can hunt for within the images, followed by thumbnails showing the answers. This book is ideal for those of you who have a fairly good attention span so that you can really get involved in the images and the content is so absorbing that you really do get out of your head and away from your thoughts and become immersed in what you’re colouring. The images have a variety of intricacy and detail levels so you can use simpler images on bad days and more detailed images on days where you’re able to focus better so it’s a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions. Because the beasts are mythological there are no “correct” colour schemes so you can really go to town with your outlandish colour schemes or if you need a bit of help then have a quick Google, you’re sure to find film or art representations of most of them that you can use as inspiration for your colour choices.

I would highly recommend this book for male and female colourers who love all things weird, wonderful, and mythological. This book is packed with amazing images that are great fun to colour, it’s stunning, overwhelming at times and one that really gets your creative juices flowing so grab your pencils and get colouring mythology!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mythomorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mythomorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552261/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like a copy of either of Kerby’s previous books then they can be found here:
Animorphia
Amazon UK – Animorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552070/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Imagimorphia
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552148/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Jane Foster’s Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Jane Foster’s Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Pavilion. Jane Foster is best known for her range of screenprinted toys and homeware products which are inspired by Scandinavian art from the 50s and 60s, this colouring book offers fans, new and old, the opportunity to bring her illustrations to life with their own colour schemes. The book itself is 20cm square with rounded corners, paperback with a thin card cover with a partially coloured illustration from inside the book, and a thick piece of hardboard-style card at the back which offers a great surface to colour on. The spine is not attached to the spine of the book cover and is lightly glue-bound meaning that the book opens completely flat and the pages can be easily removed but will also fall out easily when colouring the pages towards the back of the book so do be very careful if you’re wanting your book to remain intact. The images are all printed single-sided. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, it’s perfect for water-based pens which didn’t bleed or shadow but would work equally well with pencils for blending and shading or alcohol markers as long as you put some protective sheets behind your work to prevent bleed-through. The illustrations themselves are lovely and very cheerful, they’re mostly flowers, leaves, fish and birds and all have patterns within them. They’re drawn in quite a simplistic, naïve style and are quite childlike and would certainly appeal to children as well as adults. The designs are mostly Scandinavian-inspired and if you liked the book Scandia, you may well like this as it’s quite similar. The content is wide-ranging consisting of everything from flowers to peapods, bouquets to cacti, fish to feathers and chickens to mushrooms. The images are all in large print, contained within the page without reaching the edges, and quick and easy to colour.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely to just zone out with and not have to think hard about the colouring experience. The images are all of real things but are not drawn at all realistically meaning they’ll look equally good coloured in real colour schemes as they will coloured in rainbows or neons. The images are all small and blocky and therefore quick to colour so this is ideal for anxious or low mood days when you don’t think you’ll be able to concentrate for long and can’t cope with blending and shading, the art really lends itself to block colouring in your brightest colours and after 20 minutes of that you’re sure to feel calmer and more able to face the world. The line thickness is consistent throughout with each image being outlined in an extremely thick line and then details added within in medium and thin lines. The illustrations are all centralised objects or groups of objects and therefore none are scenes in need of backgrounds though you could still add some if you wish. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout each image with the majority having one or two very large spaces and then other areas that are made smaller by internalised patterns which can either be coloured within or over for texture. None of the spaces are teeny tiny and this book would be suitable for almost any level of vision or fine motor control including most children. The content is cute and quirky and sure to put a smile on your face, especially once you’ve filled it with bright colours and made it your own.

I would recommend this book to those who like Scandinavian art, those who liked Scandia and those who want quick and easy designs to colour on days when their mental health is poor, this book is filled with cute and quirky designs that look great no matter what colours you choose so grab a pen and get colouring!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Jane Foster’s Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Jane-Fosters-Colouring-Book-Jane-Foster/9781911216155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The Labyrinth: Mythical Beasts to Colour – A Review

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

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue mountains, pink and purple thistles, lilac clouds, and yellow lightening bolts, but the creature itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of mythological beasts included but some of my personal favourites are the faun, gnome, jackalope, unicorn, and fairy, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book none of the beasts are naturally black though I’m not sure what colour many of the creatures are “supposed” to be so it’s worth going all out with your colour schemes and get your brightest colours working!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images are best, very closely followed by fantasy-based images and you’ve got an abundance of those in this book so it’s a great one for getting lost in! I found it great fun to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when I need energising or feel like my mood needs a boost. The images aren’t of real animals so you can really go to town with your colour schemes and there are really no wrong choices though there will be plenty of depictions of most of these creatures if you have a quick search online so you could copy someone else’s colour schemes if you wish or you can do what I did and just pick a colour and roll with it. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the previous books’ pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The mythical beasts themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a mythological masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love mythology and mythological beasts and really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of mythological creatures that I’ve seen. The Labyrinth is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again.

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

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

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

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

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

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

The Aquarium: Marine Creatures to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aquarium is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the third book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie and The Aviary. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and magenta foiling on the cover. The pages are not perforated but they are easy to remove by cutting as close to the spine as possible so you can still frame them if you wish. There are 31 images, all printed single-sided and very little of the image enters the spine so hardly any of it is lost. The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens barely shadowed and didn’t bleed through at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils, you could also use alcohol markers as long as you pop some protective sheets of paper behind your work. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a fish or sea creature instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on or even in pairs or shoals. The images are beautiful and if you are a fish or underwater creature fan then you’ll love this book! Michael O’Mara are incredibly proud of this new title and quite rightly so, it’s just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Menagerie and The Aviary, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images, I think this might actually be my favourite so far because you can use such an array of bright colours.

Each picture (except the walrus, clown fish and seal) has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue or purple bubbles, red seaweed, turquoise waves and lilac jellyfish silhouettes but the animal itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of sea creatures included but some of my personal favourites are the orcas, lined seahorses, chambered nautilus, and common octopus, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book only the orcas and penguins are naturally black and as you can see from my finished page, I decided to go all out and use as many colours as possible to create rainbow orcas which I really wish were a real thing!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images and those of things in nature are by far the most relaxing to colour and animals are absolutely top of my list for that so this book is ideal! I found it really calming to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when my anxiety peaks and I need to get control of it quickly. Because the images are of something real, you can either colour them realistically meaning you can have a quick google and find out exactly what pens and pencils to use to make it come alive and practice your blending and shading, or you can do what I did and really spice things up with your brightest pens and wildest colour schemes. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The sea creatures themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, because the images are of fish, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over and look like scales through my coloured pencil. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a scaly, tentacled masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love sea creatures, like colouring natural things, or if you really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of fish and marine life that I’ve seen. The Aquarium is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again.

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

A Fourth book has also been announced called The Labyrinth which will be filled with mythical creatures and can be pre-ordered here but you’ve got a long wait as it doesn’t publish until May 2017!
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

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

Creative Colouring Techniques – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Creative Colouring Techniques is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is a wonderful compilation of hugely varied colouring pages, arranged into collections to practice the different colouring techniques which are described and illustrated within. This book is A4, paperback with brightly coloured and patterned flexible card covers. The spine is glue and string bound so it’ll be pretty hard-wearing but it does make it quite tricky to get the book to lie flat until it’s eased up with use. The images are printed double-sided and each has a 1cm border all the way around which prevents any of the image being lost into the spine. The paper is bright white and smooth but I’ve tested my pencils on it and they went down well and I was able to build up plenty of layers for blending and shading. The paper is thick and didn’t bleed through at all with water-based pens and only shadowed when I pressed too hard. The book contains 128 pages, which includes 100 colouring pages split into 20 chapters of 5 images which each start with a colouring or doodling technique which can then be practiced on the subsequent pages. This book contains heaps of techniques, suggestions and bits of advice about colour theory, different types of patterns and different filling techniques. Obviously I can’t give too much away or it’ll ruin the book for you but I have shown some of the technique pages in the photographs of the book so that you can see examples. I’ve also shown the contents page so that you can see the full list of techniques that are included. The images are so varied that it’s difficult to describe them briefly but there are images of everything you can imagine from buildings to fruit, weather to patterns, flowers to skulls and loads and loads of animals and birds. There really is something for everyone and you certainly won’t get bored or find any of the images samey.

In terms of mental health, this book is truly fantastic because it’s like an instruction manual for colouring. A lot of people with mental health problems get stuck sometimes and lack inspiration, especially those who are new to colouring because it can be daunting to know where and how to start. This book solves that problem completely and you could easily work through it from cover to cover because it’s somewhat arranged into difficulty level so you can increase your techniques as you work through the book. The images in each section do mostly lend themselves well to that specific technique and have clearly been chosen for this purpose, however, as you work through the book you could easily mix and match techniques and even add your own ideas as you grow in confidence. The line thickness varies throughout from spindly thin all the way up to medium/thick; the majority of the lines are medium/thin so this is a very usable book for anyone who doesn’t have poor vision or fine motor control. The intricacy and details levels also vary throughout from huge open spaces to teeny tiny details so this book will adapt really well to your good and bad days and you can focus on the larger images when your concentration is poor and the more intricate images when you’re feeling well. The techniques range from helping you to choose colours in various different ways, to using dots, dashes, patterns and more to fill the spaces instead of block colouring and even gives you hints for simple doodling too and as someone who really can’t draw, none of this was impossible for me to achieve so this is an ideal book for those of you who want to spice up your colouring but sometimes feel unable to due to lack of inspiration or lack of drawing talent.

I would highly recommend this book to beginner colourers as a great place to start and to those of you who want to learn new colouring and doodling techniques, this book is filled with all sorts of hints, tips and tricks and it’s beautifully organised so that you can learn a technique and then practice it on specially chosen colouring pages. I love it and think it’s one that you definitely need to add to your collection!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Creative Colouring Techniques
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Creative-Colouring-Techniques/9781782435532/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was doodled using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

The Menagerie Postcards – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scandia: A Colouring Book Journey – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Scandia: A Colouring Journey is illustrated by Zeena Shah, and published and kindly sent to me to review by LOM Art. This gorgeous book is filled with Scandinavian style art and is cute, quirky, fun and pretty in equal measure! The book itself is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers and the front cover has an incredible flower and leaf papercut design which shows the beautiful turquoise first page through it (I’m extremely tempted to remove the cover of my book and frame it because it’s so beautiful). The spine is glue and stitch-bound but it’s pretty pliable and not very many of the images enter the spine so it doesn’t cause much of a problem. The paper is bright white and thick, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which only vaguely shadow if you colour over the same area more than once, and coloured pencils which you can build up multiple layers with for blending and shading, alcohol markers will bleed through but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind your work. This book contains 46 single-sided images which are all drawn in a Scandinavian style and would all make great Nordic jumper patterns. The images are almost entirely of natural items such as food, plants, animals and scenery and they’re all drawn in a cute, cartoon-y style so they’re not overly realistic and are therefore really charming. They have a childlike quality to them (not childish) and are full of imagination from the leafy antlers of a deer to a jumper-wearing bear, the illustrations are all filled with patterns making them very interesting to look at, as well as colour and these would look lovely coloured, removed and framed for a Scandinavian themed room, especially a child’s room as you could use really bright colours for this. The illustrations include mountains, a whale, deer, fruit, birds, a lighthouse, a rabbit, sailing boats, and lots of Scandi-style patterns, it really is beautiful!

In terms of mental health, this is a book that offers great escapism. The images aren’t drawn too realistically so they don’t feel restrictive; you don’t have to use realistic colours to make them come to life, you can easily colour a pink rabbit or some blue fruit and this would look just as good as brown or green. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin with thinner lined details and the intricacy and detail level is also consistently moderate to high throughout. This means that this book would be ideal for anyone, apart from those with particularly poor vision or fine motor control. The lines are thick enough that you won’t easily colour over them by accident and the details aren’t teeny tiny there are just a lot of smaller sections because of the patterns Zeena has added to each larger section. These patterns are really lovely and definitely add a huge amount of interest and charm to the images and can either be used to colour within, or to colour over in blocks to create texture. The fun and light heartedness of these images means that they’re great for lifting your mood and brightening your day and because they’re all single pages, they don’t take hours and hours to colour so this is a fantastic book for your bad days when your concentration is poor or when you want a quick and rewarding colouring experience. The illustrations are beautiful and the papercut front cover is such a wonderful, unique touch of luxury that puts this colouring book right up there with the current bestsellers.

I would highly recommend this book to those of you who like Scandinavian art, and those who like to colour all things cute! This is a beautiful book filled with whimsy, charm and fun and I’m absolutely blown away by the front cover which is definitely worthy of framing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Scandia: A Colouring Journey
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Scandia-Zeena-Shah/9781910552315/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The Aviary: Bird Portraits to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aviary (Colouring Books) is published by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is from my personal collection. This is the second book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie. This book is exactly the same size and format as The Menagerie but in case you missed that here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and silver foiling on the cover. The pages are perforated for easy removal meaning you can display them or gift them to others. There are 31 images, all printed single-sided and because the pages are perforated, the image doesn’t enter the spine so none of it is lost (do check your copy is actually perforated as my copy isn’t and has no signs of perforation either, this is a fault with mine but I doubt mine’s the only one that slipped through). The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens heavily shadowed but didn’t bleed through at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a bird instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are sat diagonally facing the artist and others are pictured front on or even in pairs. The images are beautiful and if you like the Art Therapy series (reviewed by me here) also published by Michael O’Mara, and like me, longed for a book of just the bird images then this is the book for you. Michael O’Mara are incredibly proud of this new title and quite rightly so, it’s just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Menagerie, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of brown branches, lilac flowers, green plants and orange leaves but the animal itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of birds included but some of my personal favourites are an Atlantic puffin, Indian peafowl, macaw, swallow-tailed hummingbird, mallard ducks, red-billed toucan, and the emperor penguin chick but that’s just to name a few. My only, very slight, gripe is that some of the birds are naturally black (raven), or white (albatross), or both (penguin) and this means that you either have to pretty much leave them as they are if you want them to look realistic, or go all out with your outlandish colour schemes (see my toucan below) in order to be able to colour them. It’s not a problem and you’re certainly getting a lot of other images which you could colour very realistically (or break out your neons and rainbow pens like I did) I just think it’s a slight shame. Other than that though the book is perfect!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images and those of things in nature are by far the most relaxing to colour and animals are absolutely top of my list for that so this book is ideal! I found it really calming to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when my anxiety peaks and I need to get control of it quickly. Because the images are of something real, you can either colour them realistically meaning you can have a quick google and find out exactly what pens and pencils to use to make it come alive and practice your blending and shading, or you can do what I did and really spice things up with your brightest pens and wildest colour schemes. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The birds themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, because the images are of birds, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. The flamingo in particular I think lends itself to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over and look like feathers through my coloured pencil. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a feathered masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love birds, like colouring natural things, or if you really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of birds I’ve seen. The Aviary is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again. This is a perfect book for bird-lovers. Scroll down to below the links for loads of photos of inside.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available for less than the RRP here:
Amazon UK – The Aviary (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

A third book will be joining the series in September 2016 called The Aquarium which will be filled with all things fishy. You can pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Aquarium (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aquarium-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552322/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A Fourth book has also been announced called The Labyrinth which will be filled with mythical creatures and can be pre-ordered here but you’ve got a long wait as it doesn’t publish until May 2017!
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White – WHITE WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Oak – OAK WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Beech – BEECH WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE

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