Derwent Inktense Pencils

Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This calendar contains images from Daisy Fletcher’s gorgeous colouring book, Birdtopia. This calendar is huge, it’s 30.5cm wide by 35.5cm long, when closed, making it a whopping 71cms long when it’s opened and hung on the wall so it really will be pride of place no matter where you hang it. It is significantly larger than the book (see photos below) and contains 12 of the images, each enlarged to fit the larger pages, one for each month of the year. 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 image sizes. The images are printed a fair bit larger in the calendar than in the book so this is a great purchase for those of you who found Daisy’s illustrations just a little too detailed and small, under each illustration is a small note stating what birds are drawn so that you can easily identify them and colour them realistically if you wish. The cover of the calendar is yellowy-cream card with the same images and design as the book cover, the title is printed in gold foil lettering and on the back are thumbnail pictures of all of the images inside; the calendar arrives wrapped in protective plastic wrap so you can’t look inside. The paper is cream and medium weight with a little bit of tooth and it’s perfectly possible to get a number of layers and to blend well, I tested Holbein and Polychromos pencils and these worked really well; water-based pens don’t bleed and will only shadow if you press too hard but do be sure to test in an inconspicuous area. I completed my page using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water and the paper held up very well to this with minimal warping or buckling. 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. As with the Birdtopia book, this calendar has the quirky feature of having white colouring spaces but cream background printed throughout (except for the peacock page which is entirely white due to being a full page design), this isn’t a bad thing and many people think that this feature was one of the things that made Birdtopia so special but it’s worth mentioning and taking note of my photos below as it doesn’t suit everyone and is a bit of a surprise when you first look through the calendar.

The calendar pages themselves are beautifully arranged with a large month title at the top and the dates all neatly spaced in a grid. There is plenty of space to write plans into each box and a notes section at the bottom consisting of five lines. The calendar lists all major holidays and dates as well as the country that celebrates them in brackets and the moon phases are also shown. At the bottom of each calendar page is a small coloured bird illustration, sometimes accompanied by a flower or plant. 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 calendar is stitch-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 hole at the top that you can either hang directly on a nail or thread string through to hang on a hook.

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 larger image size means it’s more suitable for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control, there are still some small and intricate sections but these are much more manageable. 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. The majority of Daisy’s images 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, they’re also nature-themed, realistically drawn (though not realistically composed in terms of accurate plants or comparative sizes of things) and truly beautiful and just looking through the calendar is sure to lift your mood. These 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 and spindly thin throughout so you’ll need to colour slowly in order to keep within the lines but this is perfectly doable if you’re patient.

I would highly recommend this for any colouring fan who needs a calendar in their life. If you like Daisy’s previous work, or if it’s new to you and you love birds and nature then this calendar will be perfect for you, it’s an absolute joy to colour and it looks amazing when you finish a page. With its beautiful selection of designs and great paper quality, it will brighten up the darkest of rooms and moods. It would also 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:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia 2018 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-2018-Colouring-Calendar-Daisy-Fletcher/9781786270498/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

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Fairies: The Colouring Book of Secrets – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Fairies: The Colouring Book of Secrets is illustrated, published, and kindly sent to me to review by Russell Ince. Russell is best known for his beautiful story books, Fairies: The Book of Secrets and Santa Claus: The Book of Secrets, he received heaps of requests to turn his beautiful illustrations into a colouring book so that people could make the illustrations their own and Russell very kindly responded with these two beautiful colouring books. I’ve not actually seen the story books themselves so I’m unable to comment on whether these illustrations are the originals with the colour removed, or new ones in a similar style to those found in the story books.

The book itself is 21.4 x 14.9cm, landscape, paperback with a medium thickness flexible card cover with a black and white line drawing of an illustration from inside the book with gold foiling on the text set on a black background. The spine is lightly glue-bound and is pretty easy to break so that the pages lie-flat, this does mean that you’ll need to be careful to ensure that your pages don’t accidentally become loose and fall out though this would make removing them to frame very easy if you wish. The images are printed full page and double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is thick, white, and lightly textured, pencils blend and shade smoothly, it feels thick enough that pens shouldn’t bleed but sadly my water-based pens did shadow a bit onto the reverse so do check yours in an inconspicuous area before diving straight in; alcohol markers will bleed through. Due to not having the original books, I didn’t know what to expect from the illustrations but I was hoping for lots of fairy scenes and images of them, their houses etc, sadly I was a little disappointed, there are surprisingly few fairies pictured and a large number of the images are actually wallpaper style images rather than scenes. These wallpaper designs are very nice and I really can’t fault them, they just weren’t the imagery I was expecting so do be aware of this and check out the photos below before ordering a copy. That being said, the fairies that are pictured are very lovely. The content ranges from wallpaper-style patterns to mirror image spreads, centralised fairy images and a lot of repeating patterns. The fairies are a mix of male and female and all have pointy ears with all but one having wings, they’re very pretty and nicely drawn and have quite a variety of outfits and wing styles so they don’t feel samey.

In terms of mental health, this book is a bit of a mixture, the illustrations are beautiful and if you like patterns and wallpaper style images then this will be ideal for your symptoms, however, if you’re wanting escapism and to be transported to another world then this may not be the book for you. The fairies are sadly lacking, 32 of the pages don’t contain fairies at all and only 13 do which seems like a low number in a fairy-specific book. However, this is a great mixture of images for pattern-lovers and the pages really offer a great variety of pattern styles to really go to town on and make your own and they’ll be ideal for anxious days as they can be coloured in any scheme you like and they’ll look fabulous. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so you don’t have much wiggle room at all. The intricacy and detail levels vary from large open spaces of fairy faces to much smaller sections of tiny berries and other details, you’ll therefore need very good vision and fine motor control as the majority of the images contain a lot of intricate parts. The images will mostly require a good level of concentration and focus so it’s best to save it for your good days. Patterns can be great for helping you zone out and re-focus your mind so those who suffer from anxiety may well like this book as the patterns are also very organic and nature-based which is ideal for all mental health problems.

Overall, this is a nice book and I’d recommend it as long as you look at the internal images first, I was left disappointed by the lack of scene pages and lack of actual fairies or magical objects but the content that is here is very nice it’s just very pattern-focused.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Fairies: The Colouring Book of Secrets
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Fairies-The-Colouring-Book-of-Secrets-Russell-Ince/9780957577060/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Rhapsody in the Forest – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Rhapsody in the Forest is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Menuet de Bonheur which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful thick paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from food to flowers, postage stamps to books, circus and nautical scenes and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis from very animal-like, possibly wearing a hat, to very anthropomorphic and doing human jobs like decorating cakes, trick-or-treating, and even going to a ball. They are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. I’m not entirely sure what the specific theme of the book is but it seems like it’s following the lives of lots of woodland and more exotic creatures and their travels, tales, exploits and even parties! It’s a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful! Five of the pages have black or grey backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book.  Of the two books, I personally prefer this one as it’s more natural and less anthropomorphic which suits my tastes more, however, both are just gorgeous! At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and what they might be baking a cake or wearing their best outfits for and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s forest of creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s second book, Menuet de Bonheur, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.

Amazon UK – Rhapsody in the Forest

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

Menuet de Bonheur – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Menuet de Bonheur is illustrated by Kanoko Egusa, a Japanese artist, who very kindly sent me a copy to review. Kanoko’s work is yet to be picked up by a US or UK publisher which is a real shame because her work is truly stunning, it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the UK but is similar to many of the other beautiful Japanese books on the market, they have such a lovely quality to them and are very whimsical and cute with plenty of detail. Kanoko has created two books so far, this one and a second called Rhapsody in the Forest which I’ve reviewed here.

The book itself is just under 25cm square, paperback with very flexible card covers and a beautiful, thick, dusky pink, paper dust jacket with linework from inside the book. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound, the images are printed full-page and therefore do enter the spine so you’ll need to be careful when trying to reach the centre of the pages not to break the spine or you may end up loosening the pages. The paper is white, medium/thin and very lightly textured, it doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens but do make sure you check this somewhere inconspicuous as we all colour differently, pencils blend and shade well despite the lack of tooth in the paper and sparing amounts of water were tolerated very well and didn’t cause bleeding when I used my Derwent Inktense Pencils. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and the content is all heavily nature-based with lots of animal characters. The book is printed in Japanese so it’s not possible to read the text at the beginning of the book which I assume explains what’s happening through the pages but most of the scenes are pretty self-explanatory.

The illustrations contain all sorts of imagery from flowers to teacups, baby clothes to fruit baskets, fireworks to vegetables and lots and lots of animals in various stages of anthropomorphosis. This book contains many more human-like animals than Rhapsody in the Forest and it appears to show family life from bathing the children to hanging up washing, reading a bedtime story to food shopping, preparing dinner to going on holiday and even depicting a wedding! The images are very natural and filled with detail, objects, and plenty to look at and the content is really wide-ranging and very pretty. Animal family life is a really lovely theme for a book and the pictures are truly exquisite and beautiful, it feels like you’re taking a peek into their life and stepping into their story. Three of the pages have black backgrounds which is quite novel and a nice addition to the book. At the back of the book are two light brown pages, the first has two postcard sized images which can be cut out and coloured, the second has 5 illustrations each with dotted lines drawn around them so that they can be cut out and attached to cards or used as gift tags etc either coloured or uncoloured.

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, it’s so calming and distracting and there’s just so much to look at in each picture so it’s really absorbing. It also offers wonderful escapism because you can create stories about what the animals are doing and immerse yourself in their lovely world. The book feels really peaceful and reminds me of my childhood reading Beatrix Potter’s wonderful stories about animals, I’m sure Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle would fit right in with Kanoko’s creatures and you could have great fun naming all of the characters depicted in this beautiful book. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and is thin but not spindly thin so it’s perfectly colourable. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout from very detailed sections with lots of intricate parts to much larger sections where you can really go to town with your blending and shading if you wish; this book would be suitable for those with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you can colour for as little or as much time as you want and still get a good sense of accomplishment. The amount of content in each page varies so some are centralised single page images, others are fully covered double-page spreads and a few have spaces where you could add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book and Kanoko’s first book, Rhapsody in the Forest, both are truly beautiful, really natural and calming and just charming to look through. Having seen lots of coloured images from inside, these illustrations are really brought to life with colour and they look spectacular when finished, they’re also ideal for practising colouring fur!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon but price varies so do check there as well as Amazon Japan (postage is steep but does reduce per item if you buy more than one thing) and check Etsy too where an increasing number of Japanese and other International colouring books are being stocked for a reasonable price.
Amazon UK – Menuet de Bonheur

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

Twilight Garden Artist’s Edition (Blomstermandala Tavelbok) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Twilight Garden Artist’s Edition is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Gibbs Smith Publishing. Twilight Garden is the English title of the hugely successful series of colouring books called Blomstermandala by Swedish artist, Maria Trolle. I have previously reviewed the Blomstermandala Colouring Book HERE and this is the Artist’s Edition of that book, it’s identical in format to other Artist’s Editions published by Gibbs Smith and Pagina (the Swedish publisher of all of these books) and therefore much of my review is identical to those, this Artist’s Edition is also identical to the Swedish version of it apart from the language. The book measures 29.5x21cm (A4), it’s paperback with thick but flexible card covers which are black with muted coloured flowers from inside the book and gold foiled text on the front, back, and spine. The book has a matte gold tape binding meaning the pages lie completely flat when the book is open and they can be removed for framing. The pages are made of thick cream card which is lightly textured and absolutely fabulous for using pencils on as they layer really well and blend seamlessly. Water-based pens also work really well on this card and don’t bleed through or sideways and there isn’t even a hint of shadowing either. For my page I used Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal water which worked brilliantly with absolutely no buckling or warping at all. The illustrations are all single-page designs and are printed single-sided so you can use whatever medium you fancy without worrying about bleed-through.

The content is a little strange, the book contains 20 pages, 16 of which are illustrations from the original book, 1 is a floral alphabet where each letter shape consists of a single flower (oddly the letter W is missing), and 3 of which are black-background images with full colour printing of what look to be photographed petals, leaves and flowers so these 3 pages are unable to be coloured, a strange choice I feel. However, the other 17 images are lovely choices and are all single-page spreads from the book printed either the same size as the originals or a little larger. 7 of the images have white backgrounds and 10 have black backgrounds (some of these were printed with white backgrounds in the original book). The images are all of flowers and plants and none contain any animals, birds or objects so if those were you favourites then this Artist’s Edition may not be for you. A huge range of flowers are included from daffodils to tulips, lupins to forget-me-nots, foxgloves to grape hyacinths, and fuchsias to peonies and so many more! I’ve included photos of all of the pages below so that you can see the range and make an informed choice. None of the images reach the edges of the page and those with a white background have space where you could add your own backgrounds or imagery if you wish, though this is by no means a requirement, and this will make all of them very easy to frame for yourself or to gift to others.

In terms of mental health, this book is just wonderful, seasoned readers of my blog will know that I strongly believe that natural images, and those depicting nature are the best for mental health and calming you down and this book is no exception, the images are very relaxing and very realistic and details have been added to these that weren’t in the original illustrations (see photo comparisons below). The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains medium/thin so it’s definitely manageable to colour. The intricacy and detail vary throughout from medium to high and this is higher than the original book due to the added details in the larger spaces of each section, these are easily coloured over if you prefer larger sections to colour or they’re manageable to colour within so this book is good for a range of levels of vision and fine motor control depending on how you want to use it. I found this book and the illustrations within it great for my mood, just looking through it and noticing all of the different flowers and leaves made me feel calmer and the images are just beautiful so they’re sure to lift your mood and keep you distracted from any difficult thoughts or persistent symptoms. The images do vary a little in size and difficulty and they mostly consist of a collection of components which is ideal for good and bad days because you can work on one tiny flower or leaf on a bad day, or a whole page on a good day so it’s ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels. The fact that the pages are printed single-sided and are removable is fantastic because it means you can remove your works of art and frame them or gift them which is a great way of reminding yourself of what you can achieve and brighten up the darkest of days.

I would highly recommend this book (despite the inclusion of three uncolourable images) to those of you who like to colour flowers and plants, those who have the original book, those who love to gift or frame their colouring, and those who like to use alcohol markers or wet media as there’s no worry about ruining any reverse images. The illustrations chosen are beautiful and very calming.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Twilight Garden Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Twilight-Garden-Mari-Trolle/9781423647072/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Po Drugiej Stronie Snu (On the Other Side of Sleep) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Po Drugiej Stronie Snu is a Polish colouring book illustrated by the very talented Karolina Kubisowska who kindly sent me a copy to review. This book is periodically on Amazon UK though it’s currently very expensive there (I’m not sure why as it hasn’t always been) and Book Depository (links below, above the photos). The title translates as On the Other Side of Sleep which I’ve guessed to mean that it’s showing a dreamy fantasy land and that’s exactly what you get inside, surreal, weird, wonderful and ethereal images that would fit right in to a dream land.

The book itself is 22cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with a partially coloured image from inside the book, the inside covers are a sage green colour. The spine is glue-bound and you will need to be a little careful with it to avoid loosening the pages over time. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with the majority being single pages, they are all full-page designs that reach the edges so a little of some of the images can be lost into the spine. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and smooth but not shiny, though, in most of the images the paper looks a little grey due to the printing (this isn’t a negative, more on this later). Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and pencils work well on the paper despite it not having much texture, I used Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water and the paper held up very well with almost no warping or buckling and any that did occur was because of my inexperience and lack of ability to be sparing enough with water!

The artwork is really unusual, in fact everything about the content and style of this book is unlike anything else I’ve seen hence the whole paragraph dedicated to it. Karolina’s art is a cross between normal line art and greyscale, it’s not fully shaded or photographic but it does have heavy black shading which makes the illustrations really dramatic and really easy to make look amazing with little to no knowledge of blending or shading. In addition to this some of the pencil lines are left showing and the pen lines aren’t pristinely, accurately drawn, they feel more chaotic and haphazard but you can see that they’re all meticulously placed to give a sketched look and this creates a real feeling of movement rather than a flat, static drawing.  The backgrounds aren’t left plain, they mostly show some sort of texture from canvas-like texture to toothy watercolour paper and plenty of others, hardly any have totally white backgrounds. This book is very much like looking through an artist’s sketchbook, it isn’t perfect, it’s not polished but that’s what’s so good about it, it feels inviting, less intimidating and all it needs is some vibrant colour to finish it off. Interspersed through the colouring pages are a number of pages with text written on them, sadly this is written in Polish so I have no idea what it says but I understand that it tells the story of the dreamy land that Karolina has created. Some of these pages are black and white and others are printed in full colour. The last two colouring pages have some splashes of colour added around the edges but these aren’t intrusive to the main designs; a few of the images have black backgrounds. The image content is very wide-ranging and contains some realistic images and others which are much more imaginary, there are lots of mushrooms and gems, plants and animals as well as dolls, three-eyed girls, crying unicorns and even a haunted-looking house, there’s nothing particularly horror-themed or grotesque, but there is a little of the dark and bizarre which could be the subject of bad dreams but not nightmares.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal, at first it appears really intimidating because the artwork is different from anything you’ll have seen before and the dark lines and shading can be off-putting but as soon as you put colour on the paper your fears will melt away and you’ll realise just how easy it is to bring Karolina’s art to life. This would be an ideal book for beginners because the shading is already added for you so you can learn about light and shade and add your darker colours where the heaviest lines are and your lightest colours in the emptier spaces but it’s also easy enough for advanced colourists to challenge themselves and make their own mark on the pages. The line thickness is varied throughout the book and each page, and ranges from medium/thin to very thick. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout from large open spaces to much smaller sections and everything in between meaning this book would be suitable for most people with most levels of vision and fine motor control, those with poor levels of either may struggle with a few of the images but this isn’t a book where you need to stick rigidly to colouring between the lines, Karolina’s beautiful haphazard drawing style will be very forgiving of any slips or spills so if you like the artwork then take the plunge and get a copy! The content of the images is very unusual and while none of it is nightmareish or horror-themed, some of it is quite dark and a little eerie so do check the images below if you can be affected by dark themes to ensure that it won’t negatively affect you. In terms of concentration level, this book will adapt to those with good or poor concentration, there are plenty of natural stopping points and if using watercolours you can use sweeping strokes to colour quite quickly if you so choose, you certainly don’t need to spend hours and hours on each page unless you wish to.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it contains a huge variety of images and they’re really fun to colour and let loose your wildest colour schemes on, it’s great for pencils, pens and watercolours and ideal for those who want to learn more about light and shade or who don’t want to be restricted by “perfect” drawings where you have to stay inside the lines, this book is really freeing, even for those of us who are anxious and perfectionists and the finished pages look amazing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Po Drugiej Stronie Snu
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Po-drugiej-stronie-snu-Karolin-Kubikowsk/9788379452040/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Karolina’s Website – http://www.karolinakubikowska.pl/po-drugiej-stronie-snu-karolina-kubikowska-prod258962.htm

Karolina has also recently published a second book called Ticket to Dreams which is spiral-bound and available to purchase here – http://www.radostpromaminku.cz/product/omalovanky-pro-dospele/ticket-to-dreams—karolina-kubikowska/927

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

Romantic Country: The Second Tale – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Romantic Country: The Second Tale is published by St Martin’s Griffin and is from my personal collection. Ever since Romantic Country was published in April, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this second instalment in the three-part series. I didn’t think it was possible to love a book more than Romantic Country, but I do love The Second Tale more, it feels more in depth and has even more exciting content as well as all of the beauty and charm of the first book. It’s illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 1200 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with a wraparound line drawing from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in Romantic Country), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also held up well to water and didn’t bleed through at all with my Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with. The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. The Glow of Beautiful Old Castles; 2. Magnificent Lakeside and Mountain Landscapes; 3. Fairies and Works of Nature; 4. The Witch and the Hidden Secret Forest; 5. Cheerful Town Scenes. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of Cocot (the name of the land in which the book is set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of the landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of mushroom villages, shopping streets, witches’ houses, shop interiors, vegetable gardens, interiors and exteriors of castles, windmills, churches, underwater scenes including a mermaid, holiday scenes including Halloween and Easter, fairy houses, village markets and so much more! Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life in Cocot, you will truly want to move there and never leave! At the back of the book is a removable fold-out poster featuring the main character who is followed through the book (a little girl called Elena) and her duck friend Joset, which is fully colourable and can be cut out and glued together to create two beautiful 3D scenes showing a castle interior and the forest.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces of the stained glass window page I coloured and scenery, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are really cohesive and almost tell a story as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited Cocot and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen and I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite with its charming illustrations and beautiful thick paper. This book is cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours, if you don’t already have Romantic Country then get that too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Second Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Second-Tale-Eriy/9781250117281/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can find my review of Romantic Country here. Or it’s available to purchase here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-Fantasy-Coloring-Book-Eriy/9781250094469/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Romantic Country: The Third Tale will be published in May 2017 and is available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Romantic-Country-The-Third-Tale-Eriy/9781250133830/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water which I applied as sparingly as possible.

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.