Laurence King Publishing

Birdtopia Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Birdtopia: Colouring Book (Colouring Books) is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing; it’s illustrated by Daisy Fletcher. This book is one of the most unusually formatted books I’ve seen during my time reviewing and the content isn’t quite as I’d expected – to illustrate this I’ve recorded a video flick-through which can be found HERE as well as a full written review and photographs as usual. This book is a little larger than A4 at 23.5 by 31cm, paperback with sturdy card covers with a gold foiled title. The paper is bright white, thick and lightly textured, the paper takes pencil very well and allows for lots of light layers which makes blending a breeze and even better, there’s absolutely no shadowing or bleed-through with water-based pens which is a huge bonus! The really strange part of the formatting is that the paper is white and the colouring spaces are left white but all of the backgrounds are printed in a strong cream colour. These background don’t feel printed and there isn’t a weird surface to the paper so you can still add your own background with pencil or pastel or any other mediums you normally use, but it means the uncoloured pages look quite strange and different from any other book I’ve seen. The images are printed double-sided and some are full page images and others are small illustrations somewhere in the middle of the page. There is a mixture of single page and double-page spreads and the spine is glue and string bound and is very durable but a little of many of the images is lost into it though with some bending it does loosen up a lot.

The book starts with a This Book Belongs To… page and then contains 76 images of birds, flowers, and other wildlife. The images contain a huge number of different birds from blue tits to birds of paradise, eagles to hummingbirds, flamingos to swallows and flocks more! Some of the images are drawn to scale with the birds and flowers drawn in a realistic scale and others have varied scale with birds being the same size as rabbits and foxes and flowers being much larger. Each double-page spread includes at least one bird, usually many more, and at the back of the book there are thumbnail pictures of each image with the names of each of the birds and few other animals included which makes them easy to identify and research to discover realistic colour schemes for them. In addition to the line drawings, there are also a few, quite strange, greyscale and sometimes fully coloured animals and a couple of flowers which almost look photoshopped into the images (see photos below), the greyscale creatures could be coloured over but the others are already finished for you. These certainly aren’t on the majority of images but there are a fair few and some of the collections of things on a page are quite oddly arranged, such as a hare sat on a pine cone, or a barn owl perched on a poppy. In the centre of the book are 3 double-page spreads of fully coloured images and while sections of these are found uncoloured throughout the book, the exact arrangements are unique to these pages. None of this is a criticism, and I don’t dislike it, it’s just very unusual and different from anything I’ve seen before and therefore worth commenting on.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good because of the information at the back of the book identifying what each animal is so that you can head to google and get searching for the accurate colour schemes if you wish. This means that colouring can be very relaxing and thought-free as you’ve got a ready created colour scheme that nature has handed you on a plate that can be found with a quick internet search. The natural images are lovely and relaxing and are sure to ground you and calm you down. The sometimes unusual arrangements are quirky and intriguing and these are almost energising as you ponder the surrealism of them. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so you will need very good fine motor control to enjoy and fully utilise this book. The intricacy and detail level varies throughout from large open spaces to teeny tiny sections so this book will only really suit those of you with good vision. The images themselves vary in size hugely so this a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you can do some of the smaller images on your bad days or tackle a full double-page spread on your good days and everything in between. There are lots of large open spaces around the images where you could add your own drawings or backgrounds and there are no drawing hints to these images look and feel finished but you can add to them if you wish.

I would highly recommend this book to bird-lovers and those who love to colour nature and natural images, who don’t mind a bit of the surreal. This book is beautifully drawn and if the cream background don’t bother you then this book is sure to be a winner and the paper quality is fabulous!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Birdtopia: Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Birdtopi-Colouring-Book-Daisy-Fletcher/9781780677798/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards (Colouring Notecards) is published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This beautiful set of notecards is housed in a sturdy, thick card box which is cream with gold foil accents. It’s fully colourable and shows on the back what images are on the 12 cards (all are pictured below). The box has a little cardboard platform inside with a beautiful black and white leaf print which the cards and envelopes are sat on top of so that they don’t move around in the box. The 12 cards each contain a different scaled down image from Johanna Basford’s original Enchanted Forest colouring book and this means that the images are very intricate and detailed. The cards themselves are made from cream card which is a similar colour to the paper in her first two books, and the postcards so they match well as a set for those of you who like to collect things. The card is a medium weight, very similar to other colouring cards that are currently on the market, and it doesn’t bleed through or shadow at all with water-based pens however, I did have a very small issue with the ink occasionally spreading slightly sideways and going over the lines, this was a very minor issue but one that’s worth mentioning. The card is very lightly textured so would work fine with pencils though you won’t be able to build up lots of layers so you’ll have to blend carefully. The cards are 12.5 x 16.5cm so they’re between A6 and A5 size, and 9 of the cards have centralised circular or individual images and 3 have full page images which reach the edges of the cards, obviously there is no spine so there’s no issue in reaching all of these parts. The images are of course beautifully cohesive and are exact scaled down copies of the images in the books and a fairly good selection is included from the compass to the leaf boat, the dragonfly to the castle, the gate to the circular framed owl and squirrel. Almost all of the images on these cards were featured in the set of 20 postcards which you can read my review of here. The illustrations are all printed in a portrait orientation which is ideal because it means the cards will stay standing when displayed, landscape cards often slip and won’t stand after a few days. The cards are left blank inside for you to write your own messages and the back has a small dandelion motif and publishing information at the bottom. The set comes with 12 identical cream envelopes which have a small leafy design indicating where to put the postage stamp, and a little acorn drawing on the flap on the back.

In terms of mental health, these cards are lovely because not only do they give a wonderful small colouring project, you can also share the colouring love, either by colouring them and sending them to friends and family, or by sending the uncoloured cards so the recipient can colour it themselves (this would be a great way to convert newbies to colouring)! As with all of Johanna’s artwork, the illustrations are beautiful and have all been scaled down from the original images in order to make them fit on the cards, this means that they are much smaller than the original versions and are therefore only suitable for those of you with good vision and fine motor control. I was very disappointed with the Enchanted Forest Postcards because the designs were so small that they’re almost impossible to colour however, these cards are, luckily, a little larger (see comparison photos below). They’re still quite tricky to colour and do have a lot of very small and intricate details so fineliners and very sharp pencils are an absolute must! Although the images are small, they do require a lot of concentration so these cards are a project for your better days when you can focus well. The images are ideal for all sorts of mental and physical illnesses because they’re all grounded in nature which is great for calming you down, helping you zone out and lifting your mood. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is spindly thin so it’s pretty difficult to stay within the lines and you really will need very good vision for these. Unlike the Secret Garden notecards which I’ve not reviewed, but have seen online, these notecards don’t have any foiling added to them and are fully colourable which I personally think is much nicer. There is a fair amount of space on the majority of the cards to be able to add your own backgrounds or doodles if you wish, but they don’t look unfinished at all as they are because each image is a finished page, rather than an add your own drawing page from the book, but you have the option to add your own personal touches if you wish.

I would highly recommend these notecards to collectors of Johanna’s work, those of you with very good vision and fine motor control who would like beautiful, delicate cards to colour and send, and those who want an easy way of spreading the colouring love in order to convert non-colourers!

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest: 12 Colour-in Notecards (Colouring Notecards)

If you can’t get enough of Enchanted Forest then check out my reviews below:
Enchanted Forest Postcards
Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and the unicorns were coloured over with Clear Glitter Stardust Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens.

Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book (Colouring Books) is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. Laurence King are known for publishing beautiful, high-quality books and their production is, in my view, second to none, and this latest book from them is no exception. This is possibly the prettiest, most delicate, most realistic nature colouring book I’ve ever seen and I’m really excited to bring it to your attention. The book itself is large at just over 33cm by 25cm (the same size as the artist’s editions of Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest – also published by Laurence King) and the pages are thick card which is a beautiful cream colour, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which don’t bleed sideways or through, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. The 20 images are printed single-sided onto the card and all of them are portrait, apart from one landscape image. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but do stay put as long as you’re careful and don’t twist the spine too much. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images themselves are what makes this such a beautiful and unusual book. The 20 images are all realistic drawings of flowers and leaves and rather than being a scene, they’re more like you’d find in a flower-spotters guide or an old-fashioned nature guide. The main flowers are all named underneath with their common and (I’m guessing) Latin name so they’re easy to identify and this is perfect for helping you to pick out colour schemes. Once I’d chosen the page I wanted to work on I went straight online and put the names into Google Images and I had a ready-made colour scheme just waiting to be copied. I didn’t have to worry about what colours to choose or what would look good with what, I just went with the colour scheme nature has chosen and I’m incredibly pleased with the results. The images are various different shapes but are mostly circular or square and they feature 3 or more flowers in each. Sometimes a few random flowers or leaves are added in which aren’t named (a slight frustration I found because I really want to colour my pages completely realistically and I’m not sure what some of these unnamed plants are) but the most prominent flowers in each image are named and are very recognisable as soon as you search for images online. The illustrations are drawn beautifully in a very thin, delicate line which is consistent throughout and there are lots of intricate parts to colour whether they be veined leaves, sepals or spindly thin stamens, there’s a lot of detail to get your teeth into and these images are very realistically drawn. The inside of the front and back cover is filled with full colour illustrations of various different flowers that are included within the book and these are a great place to start when picking colours and are really useful inspiration. There is a border around all of the images so these pieces would be incredibly easy to frame and would look stunning on the wall. A huge number of flowers is included from poppies to freesias, lilies to roses, Michaelmas daisies to agapanthus and plenty more. This book is a botanical-lover’s dream!

In terms of mental health, this book is fantastic, even just leafing through the pages brings calmness and focuses your thoughts as you notice all of the detail contained in each drawing. Nature and realism is the best thing for lessening symptoms of mental and physical illnesses and this book is sure to calm you down, relax you, and refocus your attention on the present. The images are complex and intricate and require a lot of concentration so you can accurately pick out which bits are petals or leaves and which stem is connected to which flower so this is certainly a book that will provide a wonderful amount of distraction but not one to be used on your worst days because the concentration required will be too much. There are large open spaces (see the dahlias and peonies) and teeny tiny sections (see the daisies and allium) and everything in between but the spindly thin line that these illustrations are so beautifully drawn in will unfortunately prevent those of you with any vision or fine motor control issues from enjoying this book. These drawings would simply not be the same drawn in a chunkier line but this does mean that you need to have good vision and co-ordination. Fineliners and well-sharpened pencils will be your best friends for this book, and the images are very time-consuming to complete so you’re certainly getting a lot of colouring time for your money and you’ll wile away the hours without even realising! These illustrations are beautifully cohesive and really are wonderful to colour and the innate beauty of the flowers and the colours you can add to them is sure to lift your mood and brighten even the darkest of days, it’s certainly helped lift my mood whilst I’ve been colouring ready to review.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves flowers, nature, and realistic imagery, who has good vision and co-ordination and who would like to frame their work. This is one of the prettiest books I’ve seen and the card the images are printed on is fantastic for almost any medium. This is definitely the book for lovers of all things botanical.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Book (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780677767/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book (Pull Out & Frame Colouring Bks) is published and was very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. Enchanted Forest, illustrated by Johanna Basford is one of the worldwide bestselling colouring books and with good reason – the images are stunning, beautifully detailed, tantalisingly intricate and beautifully put together. However, many of us colourers found that the spine caused a problem because some of the middle of each image was lost into it and the double-sided printing meant that those of us who wanted to use pens of any kind had to sacrifice a number of images on the reverse or resort to colouring with mediums we weren’t so keen on. These issues were taken on board by the publisher and they have responded with this Artist’s Edition.

This book includes 20 of the original images from Enchanted Forest, printed single-sided. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden Artist’s Edition). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but do stay put as long as you’re careful and don’t twist the spine too much. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images included are from the original Enchanted Forest book but they are a slightly bizarre selection. I’m sure we each have our own favourites and preferred images, I’m personally a huge fan of the animals, the leafy scenes and double-page spreads but there are a fair few of the more ‘filler’ style images included. I feel terrible criticising this book and it really is my only criticism because the production is second to none and the artwork is beautiful, it’s just a shame that images such as the gate, the coat of arms and the leafy pattern were included instead of images like the hedgehog, toadstool, enchanted tree, and leafy boat that would have been so spectacular to colour and frame. The circular and square images are slightly smaller in size then the original book (under 1cm – see comparison photos below) but the (mostly) portrait and (couple of) landscape images are either zoomed in (see the fox which is much larger than the original image and has also been printed facing the opposite direction from the original book) or zoomed out double-page spreads with a little of the edges cut off but this means you can finally colour that elusive section that enters the spine of the original book (see comparison photos below). This means that a few of the images have slightly larger spaces meaning the ability to really go to town and blend and shade is increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print size in some of the images would be ideal for practising these techniques. The majority of the images are printed on the same, or similar, scale as Johanna’s original book meaning it’s packed full with delicate leaves and intricate details just crying out to have colour added to them.

I’ve already highlighted the majority of the ways in which this book is different from the original but a couple more things to note are that this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect and none of the included images are designed to be added to, though of course you may still wish to add backgrounds or borders, there aren’t any images with large spaces like in the original so just bear that in mind. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores. This means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Enchanted Forest, the journey is less obvious and the images don’t flow in this edition because they are printed in a different order from the original book, nevertheless, it’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a world filled with brightly coloured foliage and enchanting creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I hope will catch on with future publications because who wants to spend hours colouring a stunning image and then leave it in a book when you could be decorating your walls with your work or giving wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends?! This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the tiny lion head image printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this stunning book, then head over to Amazon where the UK edition is on sale, unfortunately you’ll have to wait until May for the US edition but there are pre-order links below.
Amazon UK (UK edition) – Enchanted Forest Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book (Pull Out & Frame Colouring Bks)
Book Depository Worldwide (UK edition) – https://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-Artists-Edition-Pull-Out-Frame-Colouring-Book-Johanna-Basford/9781780677842/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Book Depository Worldwide (US edition) – https://www.bookdepository.com/Enchanted-Forest-Artists-Edition-Johanna-Basford/9781780677859/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils.

If you have any further questions, comments or would like to show off your colouring then connect with me on Facebook – I love hearing from you all and getting feedback.

Secret Garden Journal – A Review

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

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

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

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basfords-Secret-Garden-Journal-Johann-Basford/9781856699853/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and Faber-Castell Polychromos Coloured Pencils.

Secret Garden 20 Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Secret Garden: 20 Postcards is illustrated by Johanna Basford, published by Laurence King Publishing and are from my personal collection. This book of postcards contains 20 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Secret Garden adult colouring book. Each postcard is printed single-sided with a beautiful leaf-outlined stamp space and address lines on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards are not perforated but are removable with a similar glue to that of note blocks which means they can be removed with a nice clean edge ready for sending or displaying, it also means the book lies nice and flat for colouring. The postcards are made of thick, off-white card which didn’t bleed at all with my water-based pens but will bleed with alcohol pens. The line thickness varies because the scale of the images varies and ranges from thin (the same thickness as the original book) to 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 a few of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and you’re certain to go over the edges. This was a major problem in the Enchanted Forest postcard book which I reviewed here and these aren’t as bad as those but there are at least 3 images that I am unlikely to even attempt because they’re the whole original images scaled down onto a postcard. 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 all of them and I just won’t find that possible with a few of them. That being said, in this postcard book, the majority of the images are full-size (or near enough) zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils and use felt-tips or fineliners quite happily.

In terms of mental health, I would recommend the majority of these postcards and I’d advise abandoning the three that are miniscule to avoid stress and anxiety about messing them up. You will need very good vision and fine motor control to enjoy these postcards because they are extremely intricate and detailed. You will also need pretty good concentration and focus because these postcards take a surprisingly long time to colour given the size of them. They take less time to colour than the images in the books do but they’re still very time-consuming and the image below took me a good few hours just to do with pens! I didn’t find them especially calming to colour in and I’d suggest leaving them for your better days when you can get stuck in and not be overwhelmed by the detail. They are beautiful when finished though and they’re definitely worth the effort!

All in all, I’m much less disappointed with these postcards than the Enchanted Forest ones. I’d recommend these as long as you know what you’re getting and realise that at least 3 of the 20 images are pretty much impossible to colour. The others however, will look beautiful coloured and would be lovely to send to people or frame and you could frame the uncoloured ones very nicely too. For the prices these and the books are available for, it makes much more financial sense to buy the book instead (links below), but I’m certainly not regretting buying these, especially if you find them reduced like I did. The card is lovely and thick and great for pens and pencils and it’s a nice format for Johanna’s images.

If you’d like to purchase a set of postcards they can be found here:
Amazon UK – Secret Garden: 20 Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-20-Postcards-Johanna-Basford/9781856699464/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book of Secret Garden, it can be found here:
Amazon UK – Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide (UK Edition) – http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-Johanna-Basford/9781780671062/?a_aid=colouringitmom

An Artist’s Edition of Secret Garden is also available printed singled sided on thick card. I’ve reviewed this below and it can be bought directly from the links below:
Review – Secret Garden Artist’s Edition
Amazon UK – Secret Garden Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-Artists-Edition-Pull-Out-and-Frame-Colouring-Book-UK-Edition-Johann-Basford/9781780677309/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images are also available in a beautiful calendar which I’ve reviewed below or can be purchased straight away from the links below:
Review – Secret Garden 2016 Colouring Calendar
Amazon UK (UK Edition) – Secret Garden 2016 Colouring Calendar
Book Depository Worldwide (US Edition) – http://www.bookdepository.com/Secret-Garden-Johann-Basford/9781449478407/?a_aid=colouringitmom

For the image below I used Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Enchanted Forest Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Enchanted Forest: 20 Postcardsis published by Laurence King Publishing and was kindly sent to me for review by Midas PR. This book of postcards contains 20 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Enchanted Forest adult colouring book. Each postcard is printed single-sided with a beautiful leaf-outlined stamp space and address lines on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards are not perforated but are removable with a similar glue to that of note blocks which means they can be removed with a nice clean edge ready for sending or displaying.

The postcards are made of thick, off-white card which won’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers but does bleed sideways a little with some water-based pens. 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. I used various fineliners that have 0.3mm and 0.4mm nibs and even these 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 photo below of the maze with my fingers on for scale – I don’t have giant hands).

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. 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. From what I’ve seen of the Secret Garden postcard book online, they are not full images and are zoomed in sections which is much more sensible and usable and it’s a real shame that they changed the format when publishing these Enchanted Forest postcards. My recommendation would be to get the book of Enchanted Forest which is currently half price on Amazon and over £2 cheaper than this postcard book and 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. If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found on Amazon here Enchanted Forest: 20 Postcards And the book of Enchanted Forest can be found here Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Colouring Book

For the image below I used Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Secret Garden Artist’s Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Secret Garden Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book is published by Laurence King Publishing and was very kindly sent to me to review by Midas PR. Secret Garden, illustrated by Johanna Basford is the worldwide bestselling colouring book and with good reason – the images are stunning, beautifully detailed, tantalisingly intricate and beautifully put together. However, many of us colourers found that the spine caused a problem because some of the middle of each image was lost into it and the double-sided printing meant that those of us who wanted to use pens of any kind had to sacrifice a number of images on the reverse or resort to colouring with mediums we weren’t so keen on. These issues were taken on board by the publisher and they have responded with this Artist’s Edition.

This book includes 20 of the most popular original images from Secret Garden. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in a similar way to memo blocks but these pages don’t end up with a curly corner when you remove them. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits.

The images included are a good selection from the original Secret Garden book and I didn’t notice any of my favourites missing but this will obviously vary for everyone (I’ve included plenty of images from inside below). The circular images are almost exactly the same size as in the original book but the (mostly) portrait and (couple of) landscape images are zoomed in sections of some of the single and double-page spreads from the book – I’ve shown this in the owl comparison photo below. This means that a few of the images have slightly larger spaces meaning the ability to really go to town and blend and shade is increased which I personally really enjoyed when working on my owl picture ready for this review. I’m very new to using pencils and have a lot to learn about blending and shading and the sizes of the leaves was ideal for practising these techniques and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. But rest assured, the majority of the images are printed on the same scale as Johanna’s original book meaning it’s packed full with delicate leaves and intricate flowers all just crying out to have colour added to them.

I’ve already highlighted the majority of the ways in which this book is different from the original but a couple more things to note are that this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect and none of the included images are designed to be added to, though of course you may still wish to add backgrounds or borders, there aren’t any images with large spaces or written suggestions like in the original so just bear that in mind. The book comes wrapped in thin plastic film so you won’t be able to look through it in stores but this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included a large number of images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Secret Garden was one of 3 adult colouring books that I purchased when I first developed my anxiety disorder 18 months ago and it’s provided countless hours of calming distractions and this new Artist’s Edition has been just the same. It arrived on Friday and I’ve spent all daylight hours since then (6 days) colouring in it, often forgetting to eat and not noticing the hours passing because I’ve been so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re taking a leisurely walk through a beautiful garden and this is sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a world filled with brightly coloured foliage and enchanting creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I hope will catch on with future publications because who wants to spend hours colouring a stunning image and then leave it in a book when you could be decorating your walls with your work or giving wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends?! This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the tiny flower image printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. I really hope that there will be Artist’s Editions created in the near future of Enchanted Forest and the soon-to-be-released Lost Ocean.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this stunning book, then head over to Amazon where it’s already selling for significantly less than the RRP. Secret Garden Artist’s Edition: A Pull-Out and Frame Colouring Book

The images below were coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

If you have any further questions, comments or would like to show off your colouring then connect with me on Facebook – I love hearing from you all and getting feedback.