Mindfulness

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.

Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal is illustrated by Leila Duly and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. These journals often come shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you may not be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect, those of you familiar with Leila’s first colouring book, Floribunda, will know just how stunning her artwork is and now some of the smaller elements have been collated into this journal. It’s really luxurious from its pale pink hardback cover with a beautiful floral scene from the book, to the black linen-style spine, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! It is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy shell pink ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every other double-page is a small image from Leila’s Floribunda colouring book. The 37 illustrations include lots of the single flower illustrations which were printed in colour on the inside covers of her original book, they are printed in a very similar size to those and therefore look very delicate on the page. Of these illustrations, around 5 are printed twice, first towards the front of the book and then towards the end, these include the freesia, iris, delphinium, and two others. They look beautiful left uncoloured or brightened up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers and first and last pages are pale pink and the first internal page of the book has a large floral image with a small lined space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink lines do transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is lovely because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration though you do have to focus very hard to not colour over the lines. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are very intricate and detailed, and the lines are possibly the thinnest I’ve seen with the illustrations much smaller than those in the original colouring book pages and a similar size to their coloured counterparts on the inside covers of it, therefore you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. When compared to the two previous colouring journals Laurence King have published, I was very slightly disappointed with this one as there are no foiled elements on the cover (apart from the title on the removable paper strip), no metallic coloured edging to the pages, and half the number of colourable designs also including 5 repeats. This seems a little bit of a shame, however, as a standalone product it’s simply beautiful, I just feel the two journals of Johanna Basford’s artwork were better value for money as they had double the number of illustrations but for Floribunda fans this journal will still be ideal.

I would highly recommend this journal for stationery addicts, those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook, and fans of Floribunda and the stunning work of Leila Duly. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is one little flower. This journal is delicate and beautiful and a lovely addition to the colouring journal range.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780679402/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Holbein Artists’ Coloured Pencils.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enchanted Forest Journal – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book is published by Hodder and Stoughton and is from my personal collection. It’s been a sad couple of weeks in the baking world after discovering that not only is our favourite baking show moving from the safety of the BBC to the big wide world of Channel 4 but that also 3 of our 4 presenters and judges won’t be relocating with it. I can’t be the only one who feels as if their world has been turned upside down and isn’t sure if they should be whisking or kneading the mess of dough before them. It’s therefore the perfect time for Tom Hovey, resident artist (at least for now) on the Great British Bake Off, to publish his wonderful colouring book filled with familiarity and nostalgia from the series we know and love! I was so worried that after the devastation of the past few days’ news, this book might disappoint, that it might not be a recipe for success and might have the dreaded soggy bottom! I can safely say it hasn’t, at least for me, it’s beautiful, filled with recognisable bakes and just begging to be coloured! So grab your aprons, preheat your ovens and “On Your Marks, Get Set, BAAAAKE!”!

This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with flexible card covers which have partially coloured designs from inside the book on the outside and on the inside covers are colourable pages of cream horns which are also pictured in the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and isn’t especially tight on arrival meaning it’s quite easy to get most of the way into the gutter so very little of the image edge is lost. The pages consist of a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 90 pages of designs and 12 (24 sides) of these are double-page spreads. Many of the images are centralised cakes which don’t have any aspects reaching the edges of the pages, for those that are full page spreads of double-page designs, a very thin border has been left down the centre of the spine so once you’ve worked the spine and can open the book completely flat you’ll be able to reach all aspects of the image to colour which is fantastic and very rare! The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, my water-based pens barely even shadowed though they did bleed through when I added water to them but that’s to be expected, the paper didn’t hold up brilliantly to water and did buckle a bit but I’m new to using water with pens so I wasn’t sparing enough with it. Pencils work really well on the paper, you can build up plenty of layers for blending and shading and this will be ideal for getting your chocolate looking perfectly tempered, icing superbly swirled, and fruit looking well glazed.

The contents of the book includes loads of Tom’s original illustrations from the series and they are instantly recognisable. There is no text through the book and on my first look through I was really worried about how I’d know what each bake was and who’d made it, I was very relieved and excited when I got to the final three pages of the book and saw that thumbnails of each image have been included and titled with what the bake is, who baked it and which series it’s from. This means a quick google search with those details, or a re-run of that episode if you’re a die-hard fan and have them all, will allow you to find the original bake and Tom’s original coloured illustration so that you can copy it if you wish or you can go to town and colour a unique baked creation. The bakes pictured include trifle, tiered pies, decorative loaves, 3D biscuit scenes, opera cakes, Swiss rolls, Charlotte Russe, eclairs, vol-au-vents, canapes, and even a povitica. All of the images are from Series 4-6 and there is a great cross-section with creations from all of your favourite bakers included, even Mary and Paul’s! Settle yourself down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (purely for research purposes of course), get your pens and pencils out and colour the perfect crumb, shiniest icing, and sauciest self-saucing pudding! None of the people are pictured in this book, no bakers, presenters or judges, but the tent and the beautiful Welford Park House are pictured and even the famous Bake Off squirrel!

In terms of mental health, I have personally found this book fantastic! If you like cakes then this book has to be on your must-have list, it’s sure to cheer you up and improve your mood because the cakes are so beautiful and it might even inspire your baking (if you like to bake). I found the book really calming and very distracting, there are so many little details that you notice new ones each time you flick through the pages allowing you to become totally absorbed and I really noticed my worries melting away as I coloured Tamal’s Charlotte Russe. The images are all drawn in a consistently medium/thick line so this book would be ideal for almost anyone to enjoy regardless of vision impairment or issues with fine motor control. The detail level varies throughout from large pastry slices and meringue peaks on baked Alaska, to much smaller details in the garden scenes, and Chetna’s caramel covered Dobos Torte. This book will be ideal for those of you with varying concentration levels and symptoms because the illustrations are really varied in size and also have very natural stopping points so you could colour one chocolate covered strawberry or cream horn, a pastry or even a whole gateau, the choice is yours! The lines are quite black and heavy and at first I found this a little off-putting because I normally like to colour thin-lined images with delicate linework but I love how my page turned out and instead of just creating sections to colour within, the lines in this book are truly part of the artwork of the finished piece, the boldness of them means that your colours really pop so whether you use pens or pencils you’re liked to want to use some really bold colours so they stand out well and don’t disappear. These illustrations are almost identical to Tom’s originals from the show so if you’re not quite sure which section is nut, which is fruit or what colour dipping sauce has been used then just google the original and you can copy his colour scheme if you wish, this is ideal for anxious colourers like me because it’s like paint-by-numbers without the numbers and it takes all of the stress out of choosing colours and you can just pick the matching shade and get going, your symptoms can take a back seat and you can just enjoy colouring some deliciousness.

This book certainly contains some technical challenges and some pages that you can truly colour into your own signature bake and more still that will hopefully become showstoppers! It’s sure to make you hungry and get you hunting through your recipe books for inspiration and to make tasty treats to snack on when you need a break from colouring. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cake, baking, or the Great British Bake Off because this really is the ultimate book for cake-lovers, it completely transports you back to the Bake Off tent!

If you get a copy of this book then be sure to avoid Mel wearing your tuille as bracelets and Sue accidentally elbowing your English muffins. Keep your colouring area a disaster-free zone and for goodness’ sake, colour slowly so that nothing needs to be discarded and we can all avoid another episode of “bin-gate”, I’m still not sure I’m over the trauma of the Baked Alaska challenge! You can take your finished pages and offer them up on the Gingham Altar for Mary and Paul to poke, prod, and almost certainly tell you it’s under-blended or over-shaded, but perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, you might just get crowned Star Colourer for the week and receive the coveted handshake from Paul – we can all dream can’t we?! This book truly offers you a way to have your cake, and eat it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Great-British-Bake-off-Colouring-Book-Tom-Hovey/9781473615625/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens and a Derwent waterbrush to create the macaron colour, bavarois colour and drips on the berries to create a mottled appearance.

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

Millie Marotta 2017 Diary – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

Millie Marotta Journal – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

The Aquarium: Marine Creatures to Colour – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards is published and kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Millie’s work and this set of postcards doesn’t disappoint! They come in a lovely presentation box made of very thick card and covered in the same green colour inside and out as the spine of the original edition of Wild Savannah (you can read my review of that book here) and a scaled down version of the cover, complete with gold foiling, on the front. There are two sets of postcards, one including 30 postcards and the larger set containing 50 which is the set I’m reviewing here (do check listings carefully to make sure you’re getting the set you want). As stated before, this set contains 50 postcards, I expected there to be some duplicates but they’re all different and all beautiful! Some of the postcards are portrait, others are landscape. Some are of the whole original image scaled down and others are of sections of the original image at the original size so there is a real variety of intricacy levels from intricate to VERY intricate – the majority of the postcards are the same size as the originals or thereabouts. A few of the images do look incredibly challenging to colour, especially those that are whole animals filled with flowers and leaves because they’re so teeny tiny. The postcards are all standard postcard size and are printed onto bright white, smooth, thick card which didn’t bleed or shadow at all when I used my water-based pens. The back is left completely blank with no address lines or anything and just the name of the book in the bottom left hand corner. These postcards would be ideal to send or frame or even be used for craft projects!

In terms of mental health, as with all of Millie’s illustrations, they are really calming and great for dealing with anxiety and low mood. Because all of the images are natural and animal based, they are great for relaxing you and the intricacy and detail levels are perfect for keeping you absorbed in the task and distracted from any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The images used are a wonderful selection from the original images and I didn’t notice any of my personal favourites missing. The size of each image means that colouring one doesn’t have to take days and you could easily finish one in a couple of hours with pens or take a little more time with pencils and really get blending and shading. You could even practice some backgrounds on some of the images with larger open spaces. These postcards are definitely for those of you with good vision and fine motor control, as with Millie’s books, they’re very detailed and the linework is thin so there isn’t much room for error however, the majority are perfectly colourable for those of you that can cope with detail and thin lines and they’re ideal for those of you who are already fans of Millie’s work as they absolutely don’t disappoint. The postcards have a multitude of uses and can be coloured and kept in their beautiful presentation box, sent to friends and family (in an envelope to protect them whilst in the post), framed coloured or even uncoloured in single or multiple frames and could be incorporated into craft projects. They’re much more versatile than a book and there’s no need to worry about bleed-through because not only are they printed on thick card, they’re also single-sided. If you already have Millie’s books, these are the same illustrations as Wild Savannah, with no new additions, however, they don’t feel samey and are a really beautiful, new way of presenting the images and their versatility means that they’re almost given a new lease of life. These postcards were sent to me to review but even if they hadn’t been, I’d have bought them out of my own pocket (like I did with the Animal Kingdom postcards) despite already having a copy of the Wild Savannah book because they’re so lovely and have their own merits and uses.

I can’t recommend these postcards highly enough. I don’t know the difference between the 30 set and 50 set so I can’t advise whether getting both would be a good idea because it may be the case that the 50 set has 20 new images in comparison to the 30 set or they could both be completely different. My personal recommendation would be to get this, the larger set, because you’re getting so many more postcards for not a lot more money. The whole product feels luxurious from the gold foiling on the front to the green coloured inside and the golden ribbon that you can lift out the postcards with. The postcards are printed very crisply and no corners have been cut in production. This is a beautiful item that I’m so pleased I got to review because they’re just gorgeous!

If you’d like to purchase a set of postcards, they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781454710103/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.