Crayons

Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is huge at a whopping 28x35cms, it’s paperback with a flexible card cover that matches the original Harry Potter Colouring Book and has the same gold coloured spine and a picture of Buckbeak on the front. The spine has a lay-flat binding and the pages are removable if you wish but they’ll stay put in the book if you’re careful not to twist the spine too much. The posters are made of bright white, medium thickness card which is lightly textured so it’s ideal for use with pens or pencils and would be fine to use alcohol markers on too. The posters are single-sided and a mixture of portrait and landscape orientation. The majority of the images have a border around them so they’d be ideal for framing with minimal effort involved. The book contains 20 posters, most of these are images found in the original Harry Potter Colouring Book with a couple from the other two titles, 2 appear to be completely new and another is a new rendering of the four House crests and the Hogwarts crest in the centre, all of which have been pictured separately before but not all together. Sadly, three of the images are wallpaper-style designs which I always think is a shame in postcard and poster books because it feels like a waste but we all like to colour different things and these may be your favourite pages. Many of the images are the same as those pictured in the Harry Potter Postcard Colouring Book. The pictures include Harry and Hedwig; Aragog; Centaurs; the Crests; Harry, Ron and Hermione on Buckbeak; Dobby, Fluffy, Cornish Pixies and loads more. There is a good selection of different characters, objects and scenes depicted but do check the images below to decide if these image choices are ones you’re happy with.

In terms of mental health, this book will be ideal for Harry Potter fans who want some escapism and who love the idea of being able to frame or gift their work, or even just to work on a larger-scale project. The images are all upscaled so the intricacy and detail level is decreased from the original book and is easier to colour for those of you with poorer vision or fine motor control; there is a huge variance in these levels with some images having large open spaces and others having much finer detail to colour within. The line thickness also varies throughout from thin to thick and also varies within some of the images so this is certainly a book that would be ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels. The image content doesn’t have much of an impact on mood or symptoms of mental illness or other conditions, however, it does offer escapism and would be ideal to colour while watching the films or listening to the audio books so that you can truly be transported off to Hogwarts and be fully immersed in the wizarding world.

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of Harry Potter and those who have already been enjoying the colouring books and postcard books. This is a great continuation of the series and while a few of the image choices are a little disappointing, it’s a very solid addition to the collection and one that’s sure to be a hit with those of you wanting to frame, display or gift your work, or to just try out wetter mediums on single-sided images.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this poster book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Poster-Colouring-Book-Warner-Brothers/9781783705962/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is the third in the Harry Potter Colouring Book series, you can find my reviews of the other two here: Harry Potter Colouring Book and Harry Potter Magical Creatures Colouring Book. A fourth title is due later in the year called Artefacts. Grab your wand, bring a lantern, swat up on your incantations and let’s get delving into the classrooms of Hogwarts and the nooks and crannies of Diagon Alley. This book is paperback with a glossy accented cover and a red spine, it’s A4 in size and glue-bound meaning that a little of some images is lost. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with many of the single pages having a thin border meaning that they’re not lost into the spine. The book contains 96 pages which are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick (they’ve sorted out the paper issues since the first book), and didn’t bleed or shadow when tested with water-based pens, it’s lightly textured and perfect for pencils, you can get plenty of layers for blending and shading! N.B. The US edition is published by Scholastic and has creamy-yellow paper which is lightly textured and does bleed and shadow with water-based pens, this seems to be the same paper as was used in the first print runs of the first book (more information about this can be found here). I would strongly advise all colourists to order a UK edition to avoid disappointment with paper, these can be purchased via Book Depository (link below).

The images are drawn by multiple illustrators so they’re cohesive in content but some are drawn quite differently from each other. The images themselves include many stills from the films which are drawn very realistically so it’s very obvious who each character is and they look just like the actors in costume playing them. There are also images based on concept art for the films and a few patterns are included which do feel a bit like “filler” images but there are fewer of these in this book than the previous two (about 5 versus 15+). A huge number of different places and characters are pictured from obvious inclusions of Hogwarts, Dumbledore’s office and various classrooms, to less familiar places such as the Weasleys’ shop, the Hogwarts Express, and the library. There are single and double-page spreads of film scenes such as Harry and Hagrid visiting Diagon Alley, the Sorting Ceremony in The Great Hall, Delores’s introduction in The Great Hall, Transfiguration class, repotting the mandrakes in Herbology, Delores’s office including her many plates of cat portraits, a Quidditch match, Hagrid’s cottage, and even scenes from inside Gringotts. All of your favourite characters are pictured too including all of the main students and teachers, portraits of the Fat Lady and Dumbledore, Voldemort, Fred and George Weasley, the Dursleys, and even Professor Trelawney. At the end of the book are a number of full colour pages of the images included in the book meaning you can either copy the colour schemes in those or pick your own, they’re also great for helping you re-live the magic of the films and get yourself back into the world of Hogwarts – as if any of us ever left!

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have an awful lot of impact on it unless you’re a Harry Potter Mega Fan in which case it’s likely to considerably lift your mood and give you hours and hours of distraction and enjoyment. The images take a long time to colour if you want them to look realistic so you will need fairly good levels of concentration. The line thickness varies from very thin to thick but mostly it remains thin so you will definitely need good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The best part of this book is that it has coloured pages at the back which can be used to copy or give inspiration for colour schemes, you can also easily google the scenes, objects or creatures to find images of them from the films to work out exactly how to colour them so they look true to the film, or you can go it alone and try out your own colour schemes with bright pink robes, green snow and yellow broomsticks – it doesn’t have to be realistic, remember it’s a magical world! Some of the illustrations are very intricate and detailed and others are much simpler with larger open spaces so this book does have a variety of difficulty levels to accommodate your good and bad days.

All in all, this is a good book, it’s better than the last because it’s more specific with fewer gaps in content and fewer “filler” images however I do find it less cohesive and a little more random. If you liked the first two Harry Potter colouring books then you’re sure to like this one and if you weren’t so keen on them then check out the photos of inside this one below before writing it off. The paper quality is better than the first and it’s great that you can use pens and pencils in it to really go to town! I would recommend it for any Harry Potter fans but do look at the images below so you can see if you’ll like it. A number of people have stated online that they were deeply disappointed with the content of the first book and I have to say I was a little disappointed myself, I expected more scenes and few, if any, patterned or object-focused images, with the focus of this book being on places, there are a lot more scenes so you’re more likely to like it if that was what you were hankering for. Pop on your robes, wrap up in your scarf (house colours of course), hop on your broomstick and fly straight to Hogwarts and get colouring the magical places and characters that reside there and beyond.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK (UK Edition) – Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide (UK Edition) – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Magical-Places-Characters-Colouring-Book-Warner-Bros/9781783706006/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent a US edition of this page-a-day calendar and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This page-a-day calendar arrives in shrink-wrapped plastic which keeps the keepsake box clean and free from damage. The keepsake box is made of thick white card which is covered all over (including the bottom) with a black line drawn flower and foliage pattern most similar to the flower scenes in Secret Garden, the top and all four sides of the box have gold foiling accents. The box opens with a hinge-style (the lid remains attached at the top) with two pieces of black ribbon holding it open at a >90degree angle; the inside of the lid and the box are lined with black paper with white flower and foliage designs drawn in Johanna’s signature style; the box is fully colourable if you wish. A black ribbon allows easy access to lift out all of the loose calendar pages which aren’t bound in any way so it’s easy to pick out which ones to colour, move them around, leave them out to dry if using wet media and so on. The pages are the same size and format as any other page-a-day calendar, the illustration is on the left and takes up two thirds of the page and on the right at the top is a leafy-lettered title of the month and at the bottom is the date and day, above this in small text are written the important festivals and celebrations and the country they’re celebrated in; as with all others, Saturday and Sunday share a page so there are approximately 312 pages of colouring for you to complete over the year. The pages are bright white, thin (slightly thicker than copier paper), and lightly textured, pencils don’t build up many layers on this paper but I’m sure those of you who are more talented than me will have more luck with this and create wonderful masterpieces; water-based pens do heavily shadow and may bleed through if you’re particularly heavy-handed but the images are printed single-sided so really you can use whatever mediums you like, these pages would be ideal for testing out new mediums or trialling colour schemes.

The illustrations themselves are all taken from Johanna Basford’s three currently published colouring books, Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and Lost Ocean, I have carefully looked through all of the images and there is one tree that I couldn’t find in any of her books and appears not to be from one and a couple of butterfly images that have been adapted from the originals to have line drawn butterflies and blacked out ones too but apart from these 3/4 images all of the images are directly from the books. Some of them are the whole page scaled down, others are sections of the page printed at the original size, others are zoomed in sections which are printed larger than the original so there is a really good mix of detailed sections, larger spaced illustrations to practice blending and shading on, and whole pages which you’ll need your finest of fineliners and sharpest of pencils to colour accurately. The lid is designed to display the current day’s page in but it will hold plenty more pages than this so you could easily place a month’s worth in there before having to move them under the proceeding days’ pages. At the bottom of the stack are 4 pages for you to test your colouring mediums on so that you can see how the paper behaves so you don’t have to accidentally ruin any proper pages.

In terms of mental health, this page-a-day calendar is fantastic because it provides you with a manageable size of project to attempt each day, you could colour the page in a few minutes or really take your time to try out new techniques and spend much longer, it’s entirely up to you. You could colour the day’s page ahead of time or on the day itself, you could even spend the next 6 months colouring the whole thing ready to look at your beautiful work throughout the coming year, or even to gift to someone else (what a labour of love that would be and it would make an incredible present if you could bear to part with your work, perhaps you could start if off for them to finish?). The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copies of the actual books, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The loose pages make it easy to access the page you need without having to move the whole block around all the time and it means you don’t have to worry at all about bleed through. At the end of the year you could even cut out all of the images and create collages, small framed pictures or gifts or even add them to cards or craft projects so this is a really versatile product that goes way beyond just being a calendar! There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this calendar and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This page-a-day calendar is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this calendar if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order and there are no duplicates, a number of the calendar pages show parts of the same original image but these are all of different aspects of it, with varying size or depicting different areas (see images below) and this is by no means the majority of the pages, most are of entirely separate illustrations or aspects within them. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are much quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration, they’re also fantastic for trying out new things without worrying about ruining a whole page in your books.

I would highly recommend this page-a-day calendar to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great size and format, ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s also great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the year it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them or even using them in craft projects and the box will make a wonderful keepsake.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition (Publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017 Colouring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (Publishes 12th of July)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2017 Coloring Day-To-Day Calendar in a Keepsake Box
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2017-Coloring-Day–Day-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478803/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean and Enchanted Forest Wall Calendars, and a 16-month weekly planner too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Weekly Colouring Planner

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent a US edition of this planner and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This planner is the perfect combination of organisation with space to write plans, appointments and notes, whilst also having weeks and weeks of colouring for you to do too. This planner is paperback with flexible card covers which have a beautiful black floral and foliage design on the front and back with the negative image drawn in white on the insides of the covers, the front cover has gold foiling accents and the front and back cover have removable brown card strips with the information about the planner and the barcode etc printed on them. The planner is spiral-bound and measures 21.6 x 19.6cm, the covers aren’t especially sturdy so I’d be careful about travelling with it much and you’ll want to keep it safe somewhere rather than stuffing it in a bag or it’ll get damaged very quickly. This isn’t the best planner I’ve seen in terms of features and organisation, but for the combination of colouring and organising, it’s perfect and strikes a really good balance. The planner runs for 16 months and starts from the 29th of August 2016 all the way to the 31st of December 2017. The planner is printed double-sided and starts with a one-page overview of the year 2017 and then the planner itself starts with an image on the left of each double-page spread from one of Johanna’s three colouring books, images from all three (Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean) are included, and the week’s days and dates with writing space for each on the right (this is in the same style as normal planners with added leafy accents and leafy lettering for the month title at the top). Each week runs from Monday to Sunday with equal space to write for each day, the dates are on the right and important festivals and bank holidays etc are written in small text on the left of the page, as well as the country it’s celebrated in. After the planner pages, which make up the vast majority of the book, there is a double-page spread with sections for each month of 2018 for you to add your advance plans to. Following this is a full page of 2016 dates and a full page of 2018 dates, followed by 7 lined pages where you can write notes (all with added leaf accents) and the final page is a colouring test page where you can test out your mediums to check for bleed through.

The paper is bright white, lightly textured and medium thickness, sadly it does shadow a fair bit with water-based pens but it doesn’t bleed through; I’d strongly advise writing in pencil throughout or you’ll ruin the image on the reverse either with shadowing or indentation from ballpoint pens. Pencils work well on this paper so I’d suggest mostly colouring with pencils and using water-based pens if you don’t mind the shadowing showing through on the planner pages. A great selection of images from Johanna’s books are included with some being sections of original images at the original size and others being the whole page shrunk down to fit on the planner page so some of the illustrations are quite tricky to colour neatly but almost none look impossible as long as you use a good set of fineliners or sharp pencils. All of my favourites from the three books are included and I didn’t notice any of the best or most iconic illustrations missing so there’s no disappointment to be had with this planner and it really is a great mix between organisation and colouring (two of my favourite things)!

In terms of mental health, this colouring planner is ideal. It gives you a manageable goal of colouring one page per week which could either be next week’s page so that it’s coloured ready for that week or this week’s page so you can colour as you plan. You could even colour it ahead if you’re quick but you’ll need to get a wriggle on with just 5 weeks until it starts. The pages are a great size to practice colour schemes for your copy of the actual book, or even to try out colouring mediums on a smaller page. The spiral-binding makes it easy to access the whole page and none of the images go into the spine, it’s also ideal because once you’ve finished using the planner at the end of 2017, the pages are easy to remove for framing or gifting if you want to get more use out of your works of art. There isn’t a treasure hunt element in this planner and there are no written hints for drawing though there are plenty of spaces on a number of images to be able to add your own details or backgrounds to really make the pages your own but this of course isn’t necessary and it’ll look finished without the need to draw at all. This planner is perfect for fans of Johanna’s work and it is a beautiful new way of using her illustrations. The line thickness varies a little throughout from thin to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels are higher than in the books because many of the images are shrunk down to fit the pages so you will most definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this planner if you’re wanting to colour it; you could of course leave it blank and just admire the illustrations because they really are beautiful to just look at with no need to add colour if that’s too challenging. The images aren’t arranged into any order but a few have been cleverly chosen to fit celebrations like a heart for the week of Valentine’s Day and a Christmas tree shape design for Christmas week. The page size is much more manageable and less daunting to colour and this is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels because these pages are quicker to finish and likely to cause less frustration.

I would highly recommend this colouring planner to fans of Johanna’s work and to those who love to be organised. It’s a great combination of planner and colouring pages and the size and format is ideal for those who find the full-size book pages too daunting. It’s great for practising colour schemes or using new colouring mediums and it’ll be a lovely keepsake to work through from beginning to end and see how you’ve progressed over the 16 months it runs for; you can even remove the images afterwards and frame or gift them.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
UK Edition (Publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Colouring Weekly Planner
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (Already published)
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford 2016-2017 16-Month Coloring Weekly Planner
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basford-2016-2017-16-Month-Coloring-Weekly-Planner-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478797/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean and Enchanted Forest Wall Calendars, and a page-a-day calendar too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent US editions and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more.  This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the 2016 Secret Garden Colouring calendar. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her second colouring book Enchanted Forest (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2016. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick white paper which is good quality – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only very very slight shadowing when using my darkest fineliners and none with my lighter colours. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, but I feel this was a bit of a pointless venture because some of the items you’re expected to find are the entire subject of the image e.g. one owl, one rabbit or one dragonfly, rather than hidden within the image. As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
UK Edition (publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/JOHANN-BASFORD-ENCHANTED-FOREST-2017-W-null/9781449479855/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition (publishes 12th of July)
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest 2017 Coloring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-2017-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478780/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Lost Ocean Wall Calendar, a 16-Month Planner and a page-a-day calendar too.
Lost Ocean 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Colouring Planner
Page a day calendar

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Andrews McMeel Publishing. I was sent US editions and am awaiting confirmation from the publisher about any differences (other than spelling) between the UK and US editions, I will update as soon as I know more. This calendar is beautiful and is the same format as the 2016 Secret Garden Colouring calendar. The calendar itself is the same size as most others at 12 inches square, making it significantly larger than Johanna’s books. It includes 13 of Johanna’s signature and most well-known designs from her third colouring book Lost Ocean, reviewed by me here (this calendar doesn’t include any new images), an illustration for each month of the year and one at the beginning for a 4-month overview of September to December 2016. I have included pictures of all of the calendar pages below so that you can decide if this is for you, as well as comparison photos of the book and calendar size. The whole calendar, including the covers, is made of thick white paper which is good quality – I thought it was going to bleed with water-based pens but there was no bleed-through at all and only very very slight shadowing when using my darkest fineliners and none with my lighter colours. Do bear in mind, when writing on the calendar I’d strongly advise using pencil so that you don’t get bleed through onto the next month’s image, or indentation from using a biro. The images are printed larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Johanna’s books just a little too detailed and small. You definitely can’t use alcohol markers because the images are all printed double-sided with the dates for the previous month on the back of the page which will get ruined by bleed-through if you colour ahead but would be fine if you colour month by month. The paper is quite smooth but has a little tooth and I didn’t have any issues with getting a few layers built up with my Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The calendar is spiral-bound so you can easily fold it back on itself for easier colouring as it’s a little unmanageable when it’s not folded in half. Each page has a small hole at the top, this is smaller than on normal calendars and doesn’t fit a nail through it so you’ll have to very carefully hang it up with string (be careful so you don’t rip the pages). The cover has signature gold foil accents and is fully colourable, as always, and each calendar page has lots of tiny leaf accents and each month has a leafy lettering title.

In terms of mental health, this calendar is ideal because not only does it give you hours of colouring fun and distraction, you can also easily display it on your wall to brighten up even the darkest of days and you’ll get satisfaction every day looking at all of your beautiful hard work. The slightly larger image size means it’s more suitable to those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control. It’s a great project that will help motivate you with a deadline of making sure each image is ready for the first day of the following month. The pages could also be removed at the end of the year once you’re done with the calendar and could be easily framed or gifted to others to bring enjoyment for years to come. There is a small inky treasure hunt within the pages, like in the book, unlike the Secret Garden 2016 Calendar and the 2017 Enchanted Forest Calendar, these are actually properly hidden objects though there is no key so it can be a little tricky to know exactly what you’re looking for! As with all of Johanna’s images, they are intricate and detailed and do require a fair amount of concentration which is great for keeping you occupied when you’re feeling anxious or low. Johanna’s images are really good for practising mindfulness techniques because they require a lot of focus and time to complete meaning this calendar is ideal for those of us who are mentally ill and needing to zone out. The line thickness is thin throughout but it’s not spindly so there is a little leeway when colouring.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. Johanna fans won’t be disappointed with this calendar, it’s beautiful with a lovely selection of designs and great paper quality and it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would make a fabulous gift either as it is, or fully coloured for someone and it’s not only useful for the coming year as a calendar, but for years to come when you can frame your pictures to continue the joy.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it can be found here:
UK Edition (publishes 1st of August)
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide –
US Edition (already published)
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean 2017 Coloring Wall Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-2017-Wall-Calendar-Johann-Basford/9781449478773/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Can’t get enough of Johanna’s illustrations and the ability to organise your life? Then check out the following reviews for the Enchanted Forest Wall Calendar, a 16-Month Planner and a page-a-day calendar too.
Enchanted Forest 2017 Wall Calendar
16-Month Colouring Planner
Page a day calendar

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

The Menagerie Postcards – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Ocean: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. It is with a heavy heart that I have to write a less than positive review of these postcards, I had high hopes for them but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This box of postcards contains 50 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Lost Ocean adult colouring book (reviewed by me here). Each postcard is printed single-sided with a leaf-outlined stamp space and space for an address (left blank with no lines) on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards arrive in a beautiful presentation box made of very thick card and covered in cream paper with a scaled down version of the book cover, complete with gold foiling on the front, and a black background white line drawn pattern inside and around three quarters of the outside edge.

There are two sets of postcards, one including 36 postcards in a book and the larger set containing 50 in a presentation box which is the set I’m reviewing here (do check listings carefully to make sure you’re getting the set you want). As stated before, this set contains 50 postcards, all of which are unique with no duplicates and they are beautiful to look at. The majority of the postcards are landscape, and a few are portrait (5), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards – see photo below). Some are of the whole original image scaled down and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk a little so there is a real variety of intricacy levels from very intricate to virtually impossible to colour – the majority of the postcards are nowhere near the same size as the original illustrations with some being shrunk from 22.5cm across to just 9.5cm so you can imagine just how small these are.

The postcards are made of thick, cream card which doesn’t bleed with water-based pens. The cards are a much yellower colour than the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Postcards and books (see comparison photo below). I’m personally not overly keen on this yellowy cream colour and feel that it makes the cards look almost dirty. Strangely, the cream appears to have been printed onto originally white card because in a few places it’s blotchy and there are even small white circular printing errors on a few (see image below), the edges of the cards are white. Because the colour has been printed on, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are almost repelled by the surface causing a much paler colour and a patchy appearance (see photo below – I will definitely be avoiding pens on these cards because of this). The postcards are lightly textured and take pencils well so you can build up plenty of layers though there isn’t much space within the designs to blend or shade unless you want to colour over the lines. The line thickness is spindly thin and sadly, this is where the problem is. I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and I went over the lines a number of times. Fineliners don’t colour well on this card and even those with 0.3mm and 0.4mm nibs were sometimes too thick to colour the pictures neatly. This is such a shame because I’m a huge fan of Johanna’s images and I just love her books but scaling down the images to postcard size really wasn’t a sensible choice because it’s so limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour them and I just haven’t found that possible to do as neatly as I’d like to. I had assumed that the images would include full-size zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils and use felt-tips or fineliners but because the images have been shrunk they’re just too small to colour (see the photos below where I’ve shown a 0.4mm Stabilo nib for scale).

Unfortunately, from a mental health perspective I really can’t recommend these. I have perfect vision (no glasses needed yet) and fine motor control and really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Intricate is an understatement when describing these images – they’re so detailed and tiny and while this makes them really interesting to look at, I would have to say that they’re really not well designed for colouring (I coloured one of the largest, least detailed images and still really struggled). You can’t even make copies of them and blow them up larger because the copyright instructions strictly prohibit this. All in all, I’m afraid I’m really disappointed. It’s such a shame these postcards didn’t follow the format of the Secret Garden Postcards, or those of Millie Marrotta’s Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland which had very few uncolourable images due to them being zoomed in sections of the illustrations, a much more sensible and usable format. My recommendation would be to get the book of Lost Ocean which is currently half price on Amazon and half the price of this postcard set, it contains many more images, none of which are impossible to colour. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, I’m deeply disappointed.

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Postcard Edition: 50 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Postcard-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753557372/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Lost Ocean can be found here:
Review – Lost Ocean
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Johann-Basford/9780753557150/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils. The partially coloured image was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which were repelled by the surface of the card.

The Aviary: Bird Portraits to Colour – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tierzauber (Animal Magic) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Christophorus Verlag GmBH (Recht herzlichen Dank für deine Großzügikeit Tina). This book is illustrated by the highly talented Richard Merritt who is one of my Top 5 favourite illustrators (I’m terrible at decisions and can’t pick just one). You may not know his name but you’re sure to know his work because he’s one half of the incredible duo who illustrated The Menagerie and upcoming titles The Aviary and The Aquarium. He’s well-known for his stunning drawings of highly intricate, hyper detailed and patterned animals and these have been featured in the Art Therapy series of books which was where I first discovered his work. You can imagine my excitement when one of my readers discovered Tierzauber and asked me to investigate and review it. Tierzauber roughly translates as Animal Magic, a very apt title as this book is crammed full with images of animals, all drawn in Richard’s distinctive style. If you liked The Menagerie, or the Art Therapy series, you’ll LOVE this book because it contains 60 pages of incredible animal images!

This book is 22.5cm square, a little smaller than the bestsellers, paperback, with thick card covers that are double-thickness and open out to reveal pairs of animal images at the front and back that are contained within the book. The covers are soft-feel and have gold foiling accents on both the front and back images. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but a little tight, however this will ease up with use. All of the images are single pages, but some of these do cover the whole page and therefore a little is lost into the spine. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white, medium thickness paper which shadows a bit with dark coloured water-based pens and looks as if it might bleed through at points so do be very careful with these and always test the ones you’re using first. The paper is lightly textured so you can get a few pencil layers but not loads so blending and shading is a little tricky. The images are of a huge range of animals and run in a vague order where similar animals are grouped together from cats and dogs to British wildlife like badgers, foxes, squirrels and rabbits, to more exotic animals including an elephant, lion, warthog, meerkats, koala, and then onto sea creatures including lots of different fish, dolphins, an octopus, a seal and an otter, then onto reptiles including a tree frog, chameleon, tortoise, and finally on to birds and insects including penguins, a toucan, flamingos, a butterfly and dragonfly. So many things from the animal kingdom are pictured including lots of unusual animals that aren’t often found in other colouring books. For a full look through of the book CLICK HERE to watch my video flick-through on Facebook.

In terms of mental health, if you love animals, or at least love colouring them, then this book is sure to help! I have always found Richard’s illustrations wonderful for my own mental health because there are so many small sections to colour and really focus your mind on which is ideal when I’m very anxious and need to get out of my head. The images are all filled with lots of patterns creating small sections that you can colour within or colour over and leave as texture behind your work so although this book is very intricate and detailed, it doesn’t have to be used in that way so it’s ideal for almost anyone, regardless of vision or fine motor control depending on how you wish to use it. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so again, it’s suitable for almost anyone but not those with particularly poor vision or dexterity. Unlike in The Menagerie, there is no added colour so you’re free to add your own backgrounds and colour schemes to every image. While a number of the animals are featured in both books, they are all drawn differently (see comparison photos below) so you won’t be getting any duplicates if you want copies of both. Images of nature and animals are fantastic for calming you down and these images are particularly good because there are so many sections to attend to. The size of the book means the pages are a bit more manageable which is great for those of you with poor concentration as these pages will take less time to colour than The Menagerie which is much larger. While these illustrations are all of realistic animals, the patterns within allow you to use natural or totally outlandish colour schemes as and how you wish and both will look equally fabulous! The images are really cohesive and great fun to colour and they would look amazing removed from the book and framed for a really funky office or a cutesy nursery.

I would highly recommend this book to people who love colouring animals, to fans of Richard’s work and The Menagerie or the Art Therapy series, and to anyone who likes intricate and detailed images. This is a beautiful book which you’ll need to be a bit careful colouring with pens but is perfect other than that! Even the inside and outside covers are colourable with alcohol markers so this book is a true example of a fully colourable colouring book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tierzauber-Richard-Merritt/9783862303441/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Menagerie it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A second book will be joining the series in June 2016 called The Aviary which is set to be every ornithologist’s dream! I’ll bring you a review as soon as I can and in the meantime, here’s where you can pre-order it:
Amazon UK – The Aviary
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners all of which bled through the paper.