Staedtler

Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes them very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

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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.

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler are a hugely well-known brand worldwide and they produce a large range of stationery products ranging from kids’ products all the way up to artist grade products, with a huge selection in between. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils (not to be confused with the Staedtler Noris Club Pencils) are a budget option at around £4/5 for the full 24 colour set. These are some of the cheapest pencils around so how do they stack up against some of the slightly pricier options like the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils (reviewed here) and the Marco Raffine pencils (reviewed here)?

The Noris Colour pencils are available in up to 24 individual colours and come in sets of 6, 12, and 24 and come in standard Staedtler packaging, or Johanna Basford themed packaging (do hunt around as prices for the packaging can vary and the contents is exactly the same). The pencils themselves have a hexagonal barrel with two black sides, black-lined corners, and 4 coloured sides that are the same colour as the pencil lead. They arrive pre-sharpened and have flattened ends which show the perfectly centred cores which are a standard thickness. The barrels have a soft feel to them and they’re not slippery. The colours cover a good range of shades in the 24 pack and include white, black, grey, a flesh tone, 3 browns, 3 greens, a true red, one purple and plenty of pinks and blues, and two each of yellow and orange. The pencils are wax-based. Sadly, I’m really not a fan of these pencils. The leads are extremely hard, the hardest I’ve come across and they’re very waxy with very little pigment. I found it really difficult to get an even coverage that didn’t have streaks through it and I just couldn’t get any vibrancy. Even when creating my colour chart I struggled to not have huge lines through the fully burnished sections and I pressed so hard whilst colouring with them that I ended up with a blister and nearly went through the page. The pencils do blend ok if you use very light layers, but again, there’s no vibrancy from them. The pigment does erase well, especially when using a battery-operated eraser so these would be useful for those of you who go over the lines a fair bit, and for those wanting to create highlights. Sadly, any of you who suffer from joint pain, have weak grip, or are elderly, will really struggle to use these pencils unless you’re wanting to just do light block colouring and no blending or shading. The sheer amount of pressure needed to get any level of pigment on the page is higher than I’d ever want for a pencil and I ended up with dents and blisters on my fingers after colouring one full page.

The pencils do sharpen well and don’t crumble at all or create dust. The hardness of the lead means it keeps a good point which lasts for ages, mostly because so little of the pigment goes onto the paper when colouring. I haven’t had any issues with breakages or splintering so the lead and pencil barrel seem to be well-made. For the price, you can’t expect a lot but for me, even at this price, I wouldn’t buy them unless they were literally all I could afford. These pencils would be ideal for school children but I can’t recommend them for anyone else, the colours are so pale, the leads are so hard, and they’re so difficult to get colour onto the page how and where you want it. While the Staedtler Ergosofts and Marco Raffines are both a fair bit more expensive, I’d strongly advise opting for those pencils because they’re both highly pigmented, easy to blend and you don’t get an achy blistered hand just by looking at them. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but honestly, I can’t really find anything positive to say about these pencils, they made colouring really stressful for me and the only reason I finished the picture was to show a fully coloured page for this review.

If you’d still like to purchase a set of these pencils they’re available below:
Amazon UK: Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencil Set

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.

Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: Deluxe Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: 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 Tropical Wonderland 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 dark blue linen cover and a white screen-printed crested pigeon 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 with the exception of half of two double-page spreads (the monkeys in the trees, and patterned elephant pages that are pictured 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 13 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 crested pigeon, butterfly, symmetrical foliage design from the first page of the book, panther, and the peacock centralised into a square image. 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 unlike the original, there are no written hints of what to add which I personally much prefer because it leaves the page a lot neater. 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 Tropical Wonderland 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 of the Deluxe Edition here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: Deluxe Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marottas-Tropical-Wonderland-Deluxe-Edition-Millie-Marotta/9781849943734/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can purchase a copy of Millie’s original book here:
Review – Tropical Wonderland
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marottas-Tropical-Wonderland-Millie-Marotta/9781849942850/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners.

UK Giveaway and Review – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2 is published through CreateSpace and illustrated and kindly sent to me to review by Jo Shiloh. I have been sent multiple copies of this book and so I’m running a UK giveaway (due to postage costs) over on my Facebook page which you can enter until Sunday the 10th of April at 8pm. This is Jo’s second colouring book offering, the first can be found reviewed by me here. This second instalment is similar in layout but the images are more detailed, intricate and floral. This book is A4, paperback, with a full colour front and back cover and it contains 88 pages of 40 single-sided designs. The paper is typical createspace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy so it’ll bleed with water-based markers but pop a protective sheet behind your work and you’re good to go. The paper texture is pretty good for blending and layering with pencils. The book has a glue-bound spine so it won’t lie especially flat but all of the images have a border and are contained to a single page so they don’t enter the spine so there is no image loss. The images are very cohesive and the majority are mandalas drawn in various different styles from circular scenes to traditional mandalas, to repeating sections or patterns.

In terms of mental health, this is a great book for those of you who like to colour mandalas, patterns, abstract images and not realistic images of ‘things’. The images do vary but mostly they’re pretty intricate and detailed so there’s plenty to get your teeth into and keep you focused, and occupied outside your anxious thoughts or low mood. You’ll need a moderate level of concentration so this would be a great book for practising mindfulness techniques because you can focus on your breath and the task at hand. The line thickness varies a little but mostly it’s thin so you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to stay within the lines and to colour the small sections. I’m personally not a fan of colouring patterns because I like to colour realistic images, however, colouring patterns can be particularly good for those of us with anxiety disorders because there are no right or wrong colour schemes and you can just pick a pen or pencil and go without worrying about getting the perfect cherry red or wood brown. Patterns offer a perfect distraction from having to actively think and they’re great for just doing sections of when you’re having a bad day or completing a whole page when you’re up to a longer colouring session. The images are quite swirly and flowing rather than having lots of blocky, sharp edges so they’re great for relaxing and calming you down.

I would recommend this book for those of you who love to colour patterns and mandalas and who prefer single-sided books for using mediums that bleed through in double-sided books. This is a really nice mandala book with plenty of detail to get your teeth into but not so much that it’ll put you off.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures: A Relaxing Coloring Book For Adults: Volume 2
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Color-and-Relax-Jo-Shiloh/9781518790416/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Triplus Fibre-Tip pens.

Nordische Wildnis (Nordic Wilderness) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Nordische Wildnis: Ausmalen und entspannen is illustrated by the very talented Claire Scully whose work you’ll recognise from The Menagerie and this new book is published and was very kindly sent to me by Gräfe Und Unzer Verlag (Recht herzlichen Dank für deine Großzügikeit Andrea). Nordische Wildnis translates to Nordic Wilderness and this book gives you just that, beautiful images of animals and scenery from the Nordic countries. This book is absolutely beautiful and so intricate and cohesive, it’s just lovely! It is significantly smaller than The Menagerie and a more manageable size at just over 23cms square and the quality of the book is second to none, it’s just beautiful! The book is paperback with a thick card cover that is double thickness and opens out front and back to reveal a beautiful leafy scene at the front, and two beautiful colourable postcards at the back that can be carefully cut out with scissors. This book also has the unusual and amazing feature of 4 perforated card pages at the back which are printed single-sided with 3 additional designs and 2 giant bookmark-style images that are half a page each. The book is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page designs, the spine is glue-bound and the images are borderless so a little of each image is lost into it. The binding is quite tight and unfortunately the image placement in a few cases wasn’t very well thought through with most of the face of an owl being obscured in the spine and a couple of other pictures being heavily affected, however, spines of this type do ease up with use and become more flexible so you can reach more of the image, so be patient and get working it! The paper is thick and bright white and is lightly textured so it’s perfect for water-based pens which didn’t bleed or shadow at all (they only started to shadow when I accidentally coloured a section in the wrong colour and had to colour over it again and it didn’t even vaguely bleed through), and it’ll be perfect for blending and layering with pencils.

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 stunning and perfect to be coloured with pencils or fineliners.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it is the absolute definition of nature-filled and you all know that I think that’s the best thing for calming an anxious mind, improving low mood and making you feel more in tune with nature and the outside world. The images are drawn very realistically which is ideal for those of you who like to colour in realistic colours, but will equally suit those of you who want to spice things up with red leaves, blue wolves and neon pink otters. The illustrations are easy to identify so you’ll easily be able to find pictures online of the things you’re colouring if you want to match your colour palette to those found in the wild. 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, feathers or mushrooms 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. The paper will bleed with alcohol markers but it stands up brilliantly to water-based pens and it’s just a dream to colour no matter what mediums you choose. The pictures are beautiful, so delicate and detailed and they’re wonderful to colour with whatever mediums you fancy. 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, it’s made its way straight onto my list of favourites and I can’t wait to get colouring more pages.

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 truly fantastic and a dream to colour. If you love detail, intricacy and realistic images then this book will be perfect for you.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Nordische Wildnis: Ausmalen und entspannen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Nordische-Wildnis-Claire-Scully/9783833852626/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you like this art work and haven’t yet purchased a copy of The Menagerie it’s available here:
Review of The Menagerie
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I’ve also recently reviewed another beautiful book published by the same company but different illustrators and if you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Review – Exotischer Urwald (Exotic Jungle)
Amazon UK – Exotischer Urwald: Ausmalen und entspannen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exotischer-Urwald-Good-Wives-Warriors/9783833852619/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Exotischer Urwald (Exotic Jungle) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exotischer Urwald: Ausmalen und entspannen is illustrated by the highly talented duo Good Wives and Warriors who brought us Escape to Wonderland and Escape to Christmas Past and this new book is published and was very kindly sent to me by Gräfe Und Unzer Verlag (Recht herzlichen Dank für deine Großzügikeit Andrea). Exotischer Urwald roughly translates to Exotic Jungle and this book gives you just that, images of jungles and rainforests from all over the world. This book is an absolute work of art and has definitely made it onto my ever-growing list of favourite books. It is significantly larger than their first two books at just over 23cms square and the quality of the book is second to none, it’s just beautiful! The book is paperback with a thick card cover that is double thickness and opens out front and back to reveal a beautiful jungle foliage scene at the front, and two beautiful colourable postcards at the back that can be carefully cut out with scissors. This book also has the unusual and amazing feature of 4 perforated card pages at the back which are printed single-sided with 3 additional designs and 2 giant bookmark-style images that are half a page each. The book is printed double-sided and contains a mixture of single and double-page designs, the images are borderless and the spine is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into it which is a shame but this will ease up a little with use. The paper is thick and bright white and is lightly textured so it’s perfect for water-based pens which didn’t bleed or shadow at all (they only started to shadow when I accidentally coloured a section in the wrong colour and had to colour over it again and it didn’t even vaguely bleed through), and it’ll be perfect for blending and layering with pencils. The images are wonderfully cohesive and are absolutely stunning! The illustrations are organised into different jungles and rainforests of the world with a cleverly titled page for each one where the lettering is worked into the design as clouds, twigs, star constellations and signposts. The images following each are then different scenes, animals, plants and so on from that specific place making for a beautiful collection of images. So many different things are included from passion flowers to quetzal birds, lizards to duck-billed platypuses, vines to monkeys, the Northern Lights to the life cycle of a butterfly, this book just contains so so much and it’s all absolutely beautiful! There are no filler images, each page deserves to be there just as much as the last and they’re so beautifully drawn. I love the previous two books created by Good Wives and Warriors but this is definitely my favourite, even with being a huge Alice fan and falling in love with their take on the story. This book transports you all over the world from the Amazon river to the Alaskan Black Rainforest, and beautiful areas of Australia, Borneo, Liberia, and Ecuador and so much further, it’s a true worldwide tour of jungles and rainforests.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it is the absolute definition of nature-filled and you all know that I think that’s the best thing for calming an anxious mind, improving low mood and making you feel more in tune with nature and the outside world. The images are drawn very realistically which is ideal for those of you who like to colour in realistic colours, but will equally suit those of you who want to spice things up with purple leaves, orange clouds and burgundy beetles. Everything is obvious and easy to identify so you’ll easily be able to find pictures online of the things you’re colouring if you want to match your colour palette to those found in the wild. 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 intricacy levels do vary throughout but mostly stay around the moderate to high range with lots of small spaces and details which you can really get your teeth into. There are a number of larger spaces in some of the images though that will be really well suited to using your pencils for blending and shading to really bring the animals and plants 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. The paper will bleed with alcohol markers but it stands up brilliantly to water-based pens and it’s just a dream to colour no matter what mediums you choose. The pictures are exquisite and absolutely stunning and this is right up there with Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford’s books for beauty and cohesive nature imagery. You’ll get absolutely lost in these beautiful jungles of the world and it’s sure to join your list of favourite books, it’s stunning!

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 truly fantastic and a dream to colour. What are you waiting for? Grab your binoculars, insect repellent, and camera, and head into the jungle!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exotischer Urwald: Ausmalen und entspannen
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exotischer-Urwald-Good-Wives-Warriors/9783833852619/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
These pencils are made by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand and they were kindly sent to me to review by Cult Pens and subsequently by Staedtler. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based which I normally don’t get on well with but these pencils are definitely the exception to that rule of mine now. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are currently available in 24 different colours and I was sent the 24 set to review which come in a blue stand-up box (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, and the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box which is lovely, but nothing like as useful as the blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes it very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I tried out almost all of the pencils whilst colouring images for reviews and had to sharpen most during this and didn’t experience any breakage at all. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely the best wax-based pencils I’ve used so far and I will be using them in my future colouring.

Update: Hugely exciting news! Staedtler have added an extra 12 colours to the ergosoft range and these will be arriving soon. I will be getting a set to review so as soon as I have them I’ll be posting about them and giving you the scoop on what new colours have been added so do click “follow” on my blog so that you’re updated as soon as my blog post is live!

The pencils are available to buy here :
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in brand new tin