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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.

Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints – A Review and Comparison of UK and US Editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints is published in the UK by Batsford Books who kindly sent me a copy to review, and is published by Lark crafts in the US and I purchased a copy of this edition myself.

Comparison

  • The US edition contains 18 prints and the UK edition contains 20, the additional images are the octopus and the lobster.
  • The card in the US edition is MUCH thinner than the UK edition, it feels like school card and is very flexible whereas the card in the UK edition is thick and much less bendy, similar in thickness to the card used in Johanna Basford’s Artist’s Editions.
  • The spine on my US edition broke really quickly because it’s only very lightly glued and the pages are already completely loose from the book covers despite very careful handling, the pages in the UK edition are glued more strongly.

The book itself is 25 x 33cm, paperback with flexible card covers that have a re-jigged version of the Animal Kingdom book cover on the front. The book has a lay-flat binding which is quite stiff to begin with but loosens up over time, each card page is glued onto the spine and it’s therefore easy to remove them for framing or gifting so do be careful not to twist the spine if you wish for your pages to remain in the book. The images are each printed single-sided and are mostly portrait with 4 landscape images (2 in the US edition). The card is thick, white, lightly textured and lovely to use with any medium, my pencils were a dream to blend and shade with, water-based pens don’t bleed, shadow or spread and alcohol markers will work well too, just make sure you pop a protective sheet behind to ensure no bleed-through. The images are all taken from Millie Marotta’s debut colouring book, Animal Kingdom, and all are printed the same size as the originals. No text is added to any of the pages and the majority of them contain large open spaces around them so you’re free to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish but this certainly isn’t a requirement and with or without, the pages will look incredible. I’ve included photos below of all of the illustrations including the two additional images in the UK edition of the octopus and lobster. The images contain a good range of animals from the book and a really good range of Millie’s different illustration styles including full page designs, floral component parts, and centralised single animals.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it offers a manageable project which you can frame or gift once finished, this is ideal for cheering up dark days or for boosting your confidence and self-esteem because you’ll have evidence and proof on your walls of just what you can create and achieve; the colouring projects I have displayed in my flat never fail to make me smile, even on really bad days. The line thickness, as with all of Millie’s work, is spindly thin and the images all contain really high levels of intricacy and detail so it’s really geared up for those of us with very good vision and fine motor control. The pages contain a range of amounts of content from a centralised animal to a page filled with leaves and a bird so there are some pages that will take much less time than others. Millie’s work has very natural stopping points but does require a lot of concentration so this is a book to either colour in small chunks or to save for your good days when you can focus well. While the images are all filled with huge amounts of detail, these sections don’t all have to be coloured individually and can easily be coloured over so that they show up as texture underneath (see my lobster below). The nature-themed imagery is very calming and distracting because there’s so much to look at on each page and Millie’s work is some of the best I’ve found to work on when I’m feeling anxious and need to really focus on something other than the thoughts swirling round my head.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to fans of Millie’s work and those who want to be able to frame or gift their finished pages. I would recommend the UK edition over the US edition as the card is much thicker, the binding is more sturdy and you get 2 extra images to colour. This is a lovely new format for Millie’s images and one that I hope will be reproduced for all of her other titles.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of either edition of the book, they’re available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Book-of-Prints-Millie-Marott/9781849944014/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Millie-Marott/9781454710318/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to frame your work, you can find frames of the correct size here on Amazon.

The images below are coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners (Giraffes), and Prismacolor Premier Pencils (Lobster).

Nordic Wilderness – A Review and Comparison to the German Edition, Nordische Wildnis

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Nordic Wilderness is illustrated by Claire Scully who co-illustrated The Menagerie, The Aviary, and The Aquarium, and is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book was originally published in Germany under the title Nordische Wildnis, you can find my review of that edition here, I expected the UK publication to be identical but I couldn’t have been more wrong, despite the content being almost identical, almost all aspects of the publication are different including the image order, formatting, paper colour and book size to name a few, therefore I will first review the UK edition here and then go on to compare the UK and German editions so that you know which to purchase if you want just one, or whether to buy this UK copy if you already have a German copy so buckle up, this is a long one folks!

Review

Nordic Wilderness brings us exactly the content you’d expect, beautiful images of animals and scenery from the Nordic countries, it’s gorgeous, drawn in Claire’s signature intricate style and really lovely! The book is just under 25cm square, paperback with flexible grey card covers with images from inside the book and silver foiled text, the spine is a dark teal/blue colour and the inside covers are also this colour. The spine is glue and string-bound and fairly strong but also pliable so you can get the book to lie quite flat. The pages are mostly printed double-sided but the book contains 9 fold-out pages each containing a single-sided double-page spread which is a fantastic feature as the spine doesn’t get in the way of colouring the centre of these pages and they could also be carefully removed to frame if you wish. On the backs of the fold-out pages are a unique small motif so there are no truly blank pages in the book. The paper is thick, cream and lightly textured, I’ve tested it with pencils and these blend and layer nicely and I coloured my double-page spread with water-based pens which didn’t bleed or shadow at all; alcohol markers will bleed through so either keep these to the fold-out spreads or avoid using them in this book. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and those that are most affected by the spine being down the centre have been printed on the 9 fold-out pages so you can finally colour the beaks of the two owls which disappeared into the spine in the German edition.

The images are beautiful and so cohesive! The illustrations are all of things you’d expect to find in Nordic countries from polar bears to pine martens, various species of owl to wolves, whales to horses, and squirrels to salmon. There are also a number of beautiful scenic images of fjords, log cabins, lots of trees, underwater creatures and even a stunning double-page spread of the Northern Lights over some icebergs which I can’t wait to get blending pinks and greens on to really make the scene come to life. Some of the images are animals on their own, others have backgrounds or objects with them, some are shown in groups and there are also a few double-page spreads of collections of natural items including lots of mushrooms, pine needles and pine cones, palm fronds, feathers, snowflakes and leaves. There are no filler images in this book and each illustration has absolutely earned its place, Claire’s style is beautiful and her hyper-detailed drawings of nature are just perfect to be coloured with pencils or fineliners. A fantastic new feature of the UK edition is that it contains an image key at the front, annoyingly this isn’t printed in the same order as the images in the book but it’s easy enough to find the picture you’re wanting to colour and find out what type of bear or fish it is you’re embarking on colouring, this is ideal for those of us who like to colour things realistically as it really aids with searching for the right colour schemes!

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful, it’s absolutely jam-packed with nature imagery and so it’s really calming and grounding. It also offers wonderful escapism as it creates a real sense of place from the first page and truly does transport you to the Nordic countries where it’s cold and snowy and bears and furry creatures are everywhere. Claire’s illustration style is very realistic so it’s well suited to colourers who like to stick to realistic colour schemes but equally, her images look fabulous in neon colours, metallics, or rainbows for those with an adventurous streak! The line thickness is consistently thin throughout but it’s not particularly difficult to stay within the lines as long as you have moderate to good vision and fine motor control. The images are highly detailed and intricate (on a par with Millie Marotta’s and Johanna Basford’s books) and there are lots of tiny spaces making up each image whether it be hundreds of leaves, or blades of grass, or feathers, fur or scales, there is a huge amount of detail in these illustrations which makes them so beautiful and a joy to colour but this does mean it’s not so suitable for people who don’t have good vision or fine motor control. However, while the images are really intricate and detailed, most of this detail is drawn into much larger spaces including landscapes and animals so you could very easily colour over these details with pens or pencils so that the linework shows up as texture rather than having to colour each tiny section separately so there is scope for most ability levels to really enjoy this book. There are also a number of larger spaces in some of the images that will be really well suited to using your pencils for blending and shading to really bring the animals and landscapes to life. There aren’t any designs for you to finish drawing but there are natural spaces left in a few of the designs where you could add your own creatures, foliage, scenery and backgrounds, this is a happy compromise for those who can and can’t draw because there is space to draw if you want it, without any written hints.  You will need a fair amount of concentration to really get the most out of this book as each image will take a good long while to colour but because of the subject matter you can always colour a few leaves or a flower to get your quick colouring fix on a bad day and tackle a whole image on days when you can cope with colouring for longer. I really can’t express how beautiful this book is or how amazing the production is. You’ll get absolutely lost in the Nordic Wilderness and if you like The Menagerie, you’re sure to love this book filled with Claire’s beautiful illustrations, the German edition made its way straight onto my list of favourites and this new formatting has possibly made me love it even more!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves colouring natural images of plants, animals and scenery, this book is beautiful and the added features of removable card pages, bookmarks and postcards is such a wonderful touch. The paper is great quality and If you love detail, intricacy and realistic images then this book will be perfect for you.

Comparison

  1. German edition has covers that open out revealing a colourable design, the UK edition has blue coloured inside covers and no design to colour.
  2. The covers are totally different between the editions.
  3. The UK book is almost 2cms larger in both dimensions than the German edition.
  4. The paper colour is very different, it’s bright white in the German edition and cream in the UK edition, it seems to be equal thickness and similar texture, neither bleed with water-based pens but pencils blend and layer better on the UK edition.
  5. The UK edition has a key at the front of the book with a thumbnail of most of the images and a written description of what they depict, there is no key in the German edition.
  6. In the UK edition many of the double-page spreads are printed on fold-out pages, especially those most affected by the spine in the German edition. The German book has no fold-out pages.
  7. The German edition contains postcards and 4 perforated card pages with single-sided images to colour. The UK edition does contain the images of 3 of these but there are no postcards or perforated pages in it.
  8. The images are either the same size of a little larger in the UK edition due to the larger size of the book, this isn’t a huge difference but if you have slightly poorer vision or fine motor control then you’d be best getting the UK edition rather than the German.
  9. The image order is completely different in each edition.
  10. The UK book is missing about 3 single pages of artwork compared to the original German edition, these include the twigs next to the beaver page and the fox tail but I’m yet to discover the third page that hasn’t been included, it’s not an obvious one though.
  11. The whale is printed totally differently, in the German edition it’s a double-page spread showing just half of the whale, in the UK edition it’s a triple-page spread spanning a single page and a double-page fold-out and it shows the whale in its entirety so it’s printed a fair bit smaller in terms of the detail and intricacy.
  12. The cover image of the German edition is a colourable page in the UK edition with the title removed, in the German edition is has the title intact and is the title page of the book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of either of the books then they’re available here:

Amazon UK
UK – Nordic Wilderness
German – Nordische Wildnis

Book Depository Worldwide
UK – https://www.bookdepository.com/Nordic-Wilderness-Claire-Scully/9781780679099/?a_aid=colouringitmom
German – https://www.bookdepository.com/Nordische-Wildnis-Claire-Scully/9783833852626/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re a fan of Claire Scully’s artwork then please join my new fan group and share your coloured pages from her book – The Menagerie and More

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

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.

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.

Escape to Oz: A Colouring-book Adventure – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Escape to Oz is published by Puffin Books and is from my personal collection. This book is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors who are a creative partnership of two Glasgow School of Art graduates – their Facebook page can be found here. This book is the fourth in the Escape to… series, first was Escape to Wonderland, second was Escape to Christmas Past and third was Escape to Shakespeare’s World, they’ve also illustrated a beautiful book with a German Publisher called Exotischer Urwald which is in a different format. Escape to Oz is based on The Wizard of Oz story documenting Dorothy’s trip from Kansas to Oz, her quest to find the wizard, and the characters she meets on the way. This is a wonderful book, essential for fans of the original story, but also for those who love GWAW’s work and who love imaginative and beautiful illustrations. It is the same size and shape as the others in the series at just over 18cms square, it’s a little smaller than other bestsellers but I think this adds to the charm and it means the images are a manageable size and the book is a perfect size for travelling and colouring on the go. The book has a softback cover which is almost all double thicknesses of cardboard as it folds in on itself and when opened up it reveals a beautiful green background with white line-drawn images of flowers and gems. The cover has silvery-gold foiling accents which really add to the luxury of the book and are a lovely bit of extra detailing. The book contains 96 pages of double-sided, borderless images and is glue and string-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. I found the spine pretty tight when it arrived but with some work it has now loosened up a lot and lies flatter than it did. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and a few of them have black backgrounds which is a really nice feature. The paper quality is very good and hasn’t bled or shadowed at all when I’ve been using water-based fineliners or fibre-tips. The paper is a creamy off-white which adds to the vintage feel of the book and is very lightly textured which I thought would be ideal for pencils but I did find it a little hard to get many layers as the tooth seemed to disappear quicker than I’d have liked or expected. However, it’s not impossible to layer and I did manage to get some nice blending. Do be sure to test the pens you’re using beforehand to avoid any disasters. Alcohol markers are a definite no because they will bleed terribly and ruin the reverse images.

The images themselves are drawn in a thin line that is pretty consistent throughout so the difficulty level doesn’t change, meaning this is not a book that will adapt to differing levels of concentration but this does lead to a really cohesive feel to the book. The images are arranged into chronological order to tell the story and a few pages contain quotes from the book to help guide you through. These quotes are helpful for letting you know where in the story you’re at, as well as hinting at what’s in the picture if you’re not quite sure. The illustrations include everything you’d expect from Dorothy and Toto, to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, to the Wicked Witch of the West and East, the Wizard of Oz himself, and even the munchkins and flying monkeys. Iconic scenes are pictured including the tornado that transports Dorothy and Toto from Kansas to Oz, the squashing of the Wicked Witch of the East, starting off on the yellow brick road, meeting the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, arriving at the Emerald City, meeting the Wizard of Oz, arriving back in Kansas, and so much more.

In terms of mental health, I found this book great because it’s just so beautiful, charming, and instantly transported me back to my childhood and happy memories of watching the film countless times. The illustrations are very pretty and most are of real things, that have colour schemes that you could copy realistically if you wish, or in any colours you choose. Good Wives and Warriors have done a wonderful job of bringing huge amounts of charm to their illustrations of even the darkest scenes and they’re all dispersed with flowers and other pretty things meaning the book doesn’t feel negative or sad at all and just lifts your spirits, even when the witch is trying to kill Dorothy and her friends! I really enjoyed just looking through the book and reliving the story of my childhood and poring over each image, all exquisitely drawn and waiting to be coloured. The images are quite detailed and intricate but they’re not overwhelming so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control, though it will need to be fairly good, and the size of the book means you don’t need really good concentration levels either. If you love The Wizard of Oz, or GWAW’s work then this book is sure to be beneficial to your mental health with its positive content and detailed images filled with hundreds of things to look at and colour. I adore the work of these talented illustrators and squealed with excitement when looking through this beautiful new instalment that they’ve created!

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who are fans of The Wizard of Oz story, or Good Wives and Warriors’ work because this book really doesn’t disappoint, not only is this a beautiful colouring book, it’s also a wonderful pictorial retelling of a classic story that so many of us love. The book is really cohesive and I found it great for my own mental health so hopefully it’ll be just as good for yours too as it transports you back to your childhood and off to the land of Oz.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Escape to Oz
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Escape-Oz-Colouring-Book-Adventure-Good-Wives-Warriors/9780141375489/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The picture below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils.

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: Deluxe Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: Deluxe Edition is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. This book is a genuine work of art and reviewing it has been really enjoyable because it is so beautiful to look through and to colour. You can read my review of the original edition of Wild Savannah here, I will be making comparisons to that version in this review for those of you who already have the original edition and for those of you who want to know the differences. The Deluxe Edition is a hardback book with a gorgeous fiery orange linen cover and a white screen-printed antelope on the front. The writing on the cover and spine is covered in beautiful gold foil and the book itself is very thick (see comparison photo below of original and deluxe editions) and hefty and just oozes luxury. The book arrives covered in thin plastic wrap to keep the cover safe which is a great idea so that it doesn’t get damaged or marked in any way. The book is a little larger than the original because of the hardback cover but the pages and images themselves are exactly the same size (I measured to check). The spine is stitched and lightly glue-bound so some pages are easier to colour into the spine than others. The images are printed single-sided on the right-hand pages and are borderless meaning a little is lost into the spine in the full-page images but it really is only a little. The pages are not perforated but could be carefully removed with a scalpel to frame or gift to others. The paper is thicker than the original (180gsm) and bright white, I used Stabilo water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed or shadow at all. The paper is a good thickness but it cannot be described as card-like and is thinner than the paper found in Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden original edition and Artist’s Edition. The paper is very smooth and gives a fairly good surface for colouring with pencils but does burnish quite quickly so you don’t get a lot of layers. Unlike the Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition, there are no gold ribbon ties or bookmark, I’m not sure why they’ve been removed but I thought it worth noting that they have been.

The book contains almost every image from the original and all are exactly the same apart from one bird image which has been reversed so that less of it is lost into the spine (see photo below). The images are almost all in the same order as the original book, a few of the images are swapped slightly or broken up by the fold out double-page spreads. The majority of the double-page spreads from the original book have been printed onto double-width paper which folds outwards to the left of the book so that the full image can be coloured without the spine running down the middle of the image like in the original. There are 14 of these double-page gatefolds. At the end of the book is an envelope attached to the back cover containing 5 square prints, all from the book with no new additions (these are all pictured below), these images include the lion, bird on a branch, panther, gazelle with a bird on its nose, and the jackal on a rock. These images are printed on the same paper as the rest of the book and would be ideal for framing so you can display your beautiful artwork. As with the original book, there are spaces on a number of the images to add your own backgrounds and details but there are no written hints which keeps the pages nice and neat. The line thickness is the same throughout and the same as the original and the lines are very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control.

This book has exactly the same content and mental health benefits as the original and the recommendations about that are also the same for this one so I won’t repeat it here but my review of the original Wild Savannah book can be found here. I personally feel that the price tag of £25 is a little steep but it is a genuine work of art and would make an excellent present or coffee table book, as well as the perfect book to display your artistic talent. Because the images are printed single-sided, I did find that this edition feels a little less cohesive than the original and feels a little more stilted rather than telling a story, however, it also really showcases your work because you only see one image at a time meaning you can really give it your time and attention when colouring and looking through it afterwards.

This is a stunning book which is a true work of art. I felt quite intimidated by it at first because it’s so perfect and I was worried about ruining it. At this price, I can’t afford multiple copies if I make a mistake so my advice would be to practice in a copy of the original book, found on Amazon for just £5 (link below), and then when you’re happy, colour your best version in the Deluxe Edition. If you’re a fan of Millie’s work or are new to it and wanting a luxurious colouring book then this book is ideal for you. It’s just gorgeous and definitely the most luxurious colouring book I’ve encountered so far and for fans of Millie’s work, it’s an absolute must-have!

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: Deluxe Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781849943871/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like a copy of the original version of Wild Savannah, it’s available below:
My Review
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781849943284/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners.