Lost Ocean

Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition: 24 Illustrations to Colour and Frame – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. This book contains 24 of the original images from the Lost Ocean colouring book all printed single-sided. The book is 25x33cm, paperback with thick card covers with beautiful gold foiling accents on the cover and blue text on the spine. 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 they’re not stuck very strongly and in the process of colouring my page I’ve managed to detach nearly half of the pages so this book won’t stay together unless you’re extremely careful with it. 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 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 and Enchanted Forest Artist’s Editions). 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 images included are from the original Lost Ocean book and I think they’re a really good selection. There aren’t any pattern or filler images this time and they’re all definitely frame-worthy. Of the 24 illustrations, 5 are landscape and the others are portrait orientation, 3 are printed smaller than the original illustrations but the others are all printed larger to varying degrees from 4mm to the largest being the skull at an extra 7cm larger, 5 of the images are taken from double-page spreads where a section has generally been enlarged (a couple have been shrunk but not drastically so) and the rest are from single page spreads. Because the majority of the images have been enlarged, at least a little bit, they mostly have larger spaces to colour which allows you to really go to town and the possibilities for blending and shading are increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print would be ideal for practising these techniques.

As with all of the Artist’s Editions, this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect. 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, as well as comparing the size to the original images.

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 Lost Ocean, the journey is less obvious but the images are printed in the same order as they appear in the book so it does have a feeling of flow. 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 watery world filled with brightly coloured fish and enchanting sea 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 personally love because it means you can decorate your walls with your work or give 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 small selection of shells 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 book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Artists-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753548134?ref=grid-view&qid=1491572389812&sr=1-1/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache blender pencil.

Lost Ocean 2017 Colouring Wall Calendar – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Bookis published by Virgin Books and illustrated by the very talented Johanna Basford. It has been released early in some UK stores (including WHSmiths, Waterstones and Sainsbury’s but do phone ahead as not all of them have stock yet) and is set for general release in the UK on the 22nd of October and worldwide on the 27th of October. This book is the most hotly anticipated colouring book of the year and is from my personal collection.

So, without further ado, here’s my review of it. In short, Johanna’s done it again – it’s fabulous and everything you’d want from a watery-themed colouring book. It is worth noting here that the UK and US editions are different and I’m reviewing a UK edition. I have written a comparison of the UK and US versions because there are a number of obvious and subtle differences and this can be found here. The biggest difference is that the dust jacket in the UK version is removable, like the previous two books by Johanna, but it is not removable on the US edition. Both versions are sold on Book Depository and the links to each are at the bottom of this review.

Lost Ocean is a paperback, square book (25cm x 25cm) which is exactly the same size as Johanna’s previous two titles, Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. It has a black spine with white text, the same as Secret Garden and it looks beautiful with the other titles on the shelf (see photo below). The UK edition has a removable dust jacket which has gold foiling accents on the front and back, really adding to the luxurious feel of this book. The jacket is made of thick paper which you can colour and the inside of it is covered with a beautiful fish pattern which has a waxy finish and can be coloured but only with certain mediums because most pens and pencils are repelled by the shine. This dust jacket is a little looser than the previous two and feels a little thinner, it is also bright white and not cream (see the photo below to see the difference) so it does look a little different from the other two. Under the dust jacket, the book is paperback with bright blue card covers which have an inky black seaweed and coral design on the outside and inside covers. The paper is NOT the same as in any of the Secret Garden or Enchanted Forest editions. They had thick (almost card-like), cream, lightly textured paper; Lost Ocean has bright white medium thickness paper which cannot be mistaken for card and is smooth. I found blending and shading with coloured pencils quite a bit more challenging in Lost Ocean than in Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest, it’s not impossible but the tooth dies pretty quickly so you can’t create as many layers as you might like to. Water-based pens don’t bleed but they do shadow so be very careful when using them and always test each brand in an inconspicuous place to make sure you don’t ruin any pictures. The images are printed double-sided with no border and the spine is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into it which is a real shame because the images are so beautiful that you want to be able to colour all parts of them. However, this is a minor niggle in an otherwise near perfect colouring book. The book contains 80 pages of stunning images, fewer than Johanna’s first two books (96 Secret Garden, 84 Enchanted Forest) but I have to say, I didn’t notice this at all until I looked at the specs on Amazon.

The book starts with a “This book belongs to …” page where you can add your name and then goes on to show all of the items of treasure that are hidden within the pages for you to find (at the back of the book all of the items are listed under a miniature image of each page they are contained within). You are then transported into Johanna’s Lost Ocean where you will encounter jellyfish, octopuses, mermaids, shipwrecks, seaweed, coral and fishes galore. The images range from double page sea life scenes, to mandala style images of sea creatures, fishy repeating patterns, to single creatures taking centre stage in bordered images, and so much more. Your journey into the ocean starts with patterns of octopuses and turtles before you happen upon the fishy seabed where crabs and lobsters lurk. You board a ship before encountering pirates and becoming shipwrecked amongst the jellyfish, seahorses and sharks and get your first glimpse of what lies ahead. Travelling past starfish and eels, you find a beautiful double-page spread of the stunning underwater city. As you leave, you swim through beds of seaweed, coral reefs and even visit a pair of friendly dolphins, a gorgeous patterned whale and shoal upon shoal of fish before being escorted home by some mermaids. Finally, at the very end of the book is a fold-out 4 page spread which is very different in format from the one in Enchanted Forest – no spoilers here but if you’d like to see it then click here where I have taken photos of both sides of it if you’d like to see. A number of the images in the book have large blank spaces where you can add your own inky seaweed and fish or just leave them blank if drawing isn’t your forte and unlike in Secret Garden there are no written hints so you’re free to create whatever your imagination can conjure up. If you need inspiration then head online to google, pinterest and Facebook colouring groups where there will be finished pages cropping up daily from people worldwide who are delving into the deep and colouring their own watery world.

In terms of mental health, this book is brilliant because it is so intricate and detailed and requires a lot of concentration thus distracting you from anxious thoughts and low mood. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin so you will definitely need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. Not only is it drawn in a spindly thin line, the images are also created with lots of teeny tiny parts so you’ll definitely need to invest in a decent set of fineliners and/or some easily sharpened coloured pencils to really get into all of those detailed nooks, crannies and crevices. The detail and intricacy in Lost Ocean has definitely increased in comparison to Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest – not all of the images are more intricate but those that are will be a real challenge to colour because they are just so tiny. I personally think you’d struggle to use even the sharpest pencil to colour a few of these images successfully so I’d strongly recommend investing in a good set of fineliners – you can read my reviews of the two bestselling brands here Stabilo and Staedtler. The nature of the imagery in this book is superb for calming you down and helping you to zone out. I find nature scenes the best thing for calming down my anxious racing mind and this book really does that. Do be aware though that if you don’t like intricate books then this won’t be for you and may actually increase your stress and anxiety levels so don’t push it if it’s not for you! Generally though, this book is wonderful for keeping you occupied and distracted but you will need a pretty good attention span and ability to concentrate.

If you like Johanna’s previous two books then you’re sure to like this one. It took a little bit of getting used to because instead of leaves and flowers, this is filled with seaweed, coral and fish and contains quite a number of patterned images at the beginning however, the further through the book you get, the more traditional it becomes and very inkeeping with Johanna’s previous titles. If you like underwater themed books then this is perfect for you and I’d highly recommend it to anyone with good vision and fine motor control who wants the next instalment from the worldwide bestselling illustrator. This book is truly beautiful and I congratulate you if you’ve managed to make it all the way through this epic review – as you can tell, I’m hugely enthusiastic about it and I have loved looking through it and reviewing it. If you’d like to pre-order a copy then head over to Amazon here Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book

UK Edition Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Johanna-Basford/9780753557150/?a_aid=colouringitmom

US Edition Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Johanna-Basford/9780143108993/?a_aid=colouringitmom

SPOILER ALERT: 4 Page Spread from Lost Ocean WITH photos – Do Not Open if you don’t want Spoilers!

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.

DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

Following on from my review of the newly published Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford. I’m showing those of you that want to see it, the 4 page spread at the end of the book. This tradition was started in Enchanted Forest with a pair of double-page spreads at the back with a wonderful mirror image picture of a mythical creature on each. This feature was hotly anticipated in the newly published Lost Ocean and many of us die-hard Johanna Basford fans were trying to guess what it might be. I found the reveal a little disappointing. It’s not a pair of double-page spreads, it’s one 4 page length spread which unfolds to the right of the book and can be carefully removed if desired. On the back of it is a fishy, seaweedy pattern which would look beautiful coloured and you could easily add your own details and background as it only goes across the middle of the pages. On the front is a scene depicting fish, seahorses, turtles, jellyfish and even a ray. It is sure to look stunning once coloured but it is very different in style from the end pages in Enchanted Forest as you’ll see in the photos below.

You can read my Lost Ocean review here. Or purchase a copy of it here Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book