Mandalas

Fåglar & Fjärilar (Birds and Butterflies) – A Review

Fåglar & Fjärilar is illustrated by Nadja Wedin, and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This is another beautiful Swedish offering which is currently only available from international websites (links below, directly above the photos). This book is landscape, measuring 29x20cm, paperback, with thick flexible card covers with partially coloured images on the front and back covers which are featured within the book. It has gold foiling on the title and matte gold tape covering the spine which has a lay-flat binding meaning the book will lie completely flat and that the pages can be removed if you wish, this also means you need to be careful not to twist the spine to avoid pages accidentally falling out. The book contains 20 single-sided images and every other one has a black background, the last 6 pages are the same 3 images printed first with a black background and second with a white background, the other 14 pages in the book are all different images. The pages are a pale cream colour, made of thick card and are lightly textured, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow, alcohol markers do bleed to the back of the page but not through onto the next as the card is so thick. Pencils apply smoothly but are a tad tricky to layer at points due to lack of tooth, it is manageable though and I’ve seen some beautiful finished pages done in pencil so do persevere. The images themselves are exactly as you’d expect given the translation of the title, the pages are filled with birds and butterflies, as well as berries, flowers, leaves, trees, cats, hedgehogs, pine martens, and heaps more. Some of the images are scenes and others are a bit more like a random collection of items all pictured on the same page. 7 of the images are portrait, the other 13 are landscape. A few elements of some of the images are drawn in a greyscale style where they’re not just black and white line drawings, they have lots of shading and texture added in the form of fur on a few of the animals, this is quite unobtrusive and is fantastic for those of us who’ve not yet mastered colouring realistic fur!

In terms of mental health, this is a lovely book and because it’s nature-based it’s great for calming you down. The imagery is almost like walking through a garden and this is great for those who are housebound like I am, one of the things I miss most is being outside watching the birds and looking at flowers and this book really offers up a sense of those things. The line thickness is consistent throughout the book with thin lines and some spindly thin details. The intricacy and detail levels are varied within each image and range from very small details all the way up to much larger open spaces, the majority are small so you will need reasonable vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book. The images are all made of lots of component parts which is ideal for those of you with concentration problems of fluctuating conditions, you can colour just one or two items at once or colour all of one type of flower, or berry, or more on a better day. There is plenty to look at on each page so it’s very absorbing and you do need to focus well in order to decipher what each section is to ensure you’re colouring things the correct colour. These illustrations look truly stunning when they’re completed in a number of mediums and they are absolutely worthy of framing which means the removable pages are ideal. You could display your completed creations in your home to brighten things up and remind you on bad days of exactly how much you can achieve, or they would make a stunning and very personal gift, if you can bear to part with any!

Overall, this is a beautiful nature-themed book which really does take you on a walk through a garden of birds and butterflies. The black and white background pages are lovely and the card is great for just about any medium and when you’re done you can frame your creations and show off all your beautiful hard work. What could be better?!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s currently only published in Swedish and available for International delivery from the following stores:
Pen Store – https://www.penstore.com/art-design/faglar-fjarilar-tavelbok-artist-edition
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612947/birds-butterflies-20-ark-att-farglagga-riva-ut-och-rama-in/

If you need some inspiration or want to see some more coloured pages then check out this lovely Facebook Fan Group.

The page below was coloured using Sharpie Fine Point Alcohol Markers.

Safari Tavelbok (Artist’s Edition) – A Review

Safari Tavelbok is illustrated by Emma Fällman and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This book is an artist’s edition but there is no original colouring book, the images are only currently published in this format. This is another beautiful Swedish offering which is currently only available from international websites (links below, directly above the photos). The book itself measures 29.5x21cm (A4), it’s paperback with thick but flexible card covers which are a beautiful pale blue colour with greyscale images from inside the book with gold foiled text on the front and back. The book has a pale pink 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 (my boyfriend thought I’d painted the page I coloured because the blending is so smooth). 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. 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 20 illustrations are drawn in a really unique style, they’re greyscale, but where most greyscale books are photographs that have been turned black and white, these images are all hand drawn by Emma but she’s added lots of shading in different levels of grey so that you know exactly where the shading on each part should be, she’s also added texture to fur and feathers which is really handy! The images are all really natural with a quirky twist, most of them are of animals but they’re wearing scarves, jewellery, fancy collars and even floral headpieces. The remainder are of exotic plants, flowers, and fruits. The illustrations are truly breath-taking, I’m not a fan of greyscale ordinarily, but these images are stunning and fascinating to look at, they’re so lovely in fact that they’d look wonderful framed just as they are, though they really do come to life when you add colour to them.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the natural aspects of the imagery are really calming and grounding while the quirky aspects of the illustrations are quite energising and intriguing and give you plenty to look at which is a great distraction. It might just be me, but I really enjoyed just looking through the images and wondering why the animals were wearing jewellery or clothing and started imagining them in real life and what scenarios a flamingo might want to wear beads for. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is very thin. The intricacy and detail level varies from whole flamingos to tiny leaves and everything in between, this also varies depending on how you want to colour the images e.g. whether you want to colour each scale on the snake separately, or colour over them and use them as texture underneath. You’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book as there are some very fiddly bits. This book would be ideal for beginner colourists who want to learn about blending and shading, it can be really tricky to work out where light and shade should be in an image but the greyscale nature of Emma’s illustrations takes out the guesswork and you simply colour the darkest grey parts in the darkest shades and the white areas in the lightest shade and blend them in between. You will need fairly good concentration but there are lots of natural stopping points so you won’t feel obliged to finish a whole page and can colour one banana, one leaf or a whole chameleon and then stop if your symptoms are plaguing you. I found that this book was great for escapism, I often struggle to concentrate for too long when using pencils to blend and shade but I managed to complete my giraffe in one sitting because once I started I was hooked. There is plenty of space on most of the pages to add your own drawings or backgrounds if you wish but this is totally optional, there are no written hints and the pages will look beautiful with or without added extras.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who like or want to try greyscale, those who want to learn to blend and shade, and those who love colouring natural images of plants and animals with an added bit of quirkiness. This is a really unusual book, different from anything else I’ve seen and the production is fantastic, making it ideal for users of any colouring medium and the artwork would look incredible framed as it is let alone with your own colour added!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available for International delivery at the following stores:
Pen Store – http://www.penstore.com/art-design/safari-tavelbok-artist-edition
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612930/safari-tavelbok-20-illustrationer-att-farglagga/

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Min Mandala en Målarbok – A Review

Min Mandala en Målarbok is a beautiful Swedish colouring book illustrated by Maria Ljungeld of Black White Mustard, and published and very kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This book is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers that are made of recycled style card with a beautiful embossed coloured mandala on the front, with ¼ French flaps with more coloured embossed mandalas on the flaps and blank covers inside. The spine is glue and string-bound so it doesn’t lie completely flat but all of the mandala designs are contained to a single page so none of them enter the spine and the entirety is colourable. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are single page designs with a small border around them which would make them ideal for framing if you don’t mind sacrificing the design on the reverse. The paper is the same paper as is always used in the Pagina published books (e.g. dagdrommar and sommarnatt), it’s cream and medium thickness, it’s pretty smooth so coloured pencils go on evenly, water-based pens don’t bleed at all and only slightly shadowed but this won’t be visible once you colour the reverse image. The book contains 85 images, the majority of which are mandalas and a few are more obscure patterns or scenes. The mandalas mostly aren’t your typical mandalas, a few are but many consist of themed objects with themes including dentistry, music, leaves, jewellery, DIY, hair, sewing, breakfast, cookery, sport, travel, bugs, Christmas, and so much more, the variety is honestly astounding! At the back of the book are 4 grey lined templates for you to have a go at drawing your own mandalas if you wish.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it mixes mandalas with easily identifiable objects. This concept is really useful because many of us use mandalas to calm ourselves down so repetitive pattern is ideal for this, and having identifiable objects means that you can use their natural colour scheme if you wish so there’s no need to think or deliberate over colour choices, you can just pick out the correct colours and get colouring you stress and anxiety away. The line thickness is consistently thin throughout and the intricacy and detail level varies from large open spaces to very detailed and small parts with the majority of the images consisting of a lot of detail and small parts. You’ll need pretty good vision and fine motor control but it’s also worth noting that while intricacy can put people off, as long as it’s not too intense it’s very good for getting you to focus properly and get out of your head and away from your anxious thoughts. The content of the mandalas and patterns is mostly pretty neutral and natural and you can really zone out and just colour in each section in the colours you’ve picked out. The object focused pages would be ideal for your bad days because you can focus on colouring just one item, or two or three, rather than the whole thing which you could focus on during better periods. They do require a fair bit of concentration but most of them are very clear to see what the content is so you don’t have to do much deciphering. The mandalas are all hand-drawn so they’re not perfect, they have a lovely friendly quality to them and they don’t seem quite as intimidating as the perfectly precise, entirely spherical kind. As seasoned readers of my blog will have noticed I almost always colour mandalas in rainbow colours and this isn’t just because I like rainbows, it’s because when I’m anxious it’s really hard for me to make decisions and with a rainbow you don’t have to make any, you just colour each consecutive section in the next colour and somehow mandalas always look awesome like that!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It’s the most varied mandala book I’ve seen and it’s got a great mix of traditional patterned mandalas and more obscure object filled mandalas so there really is something for everyone.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s currently available in a few international stores which do ship to most places worldwide, just use Google Translate or the translate feature on Google Chrome to check you’re ordering the correct things and check the conversion so you know how much you’re paying too.
Pen Store – http://www.penstore.com/art-design/min-mandala
Bokus – http://www.bokus.com/bok/9789163612558/min-mandala-malarbok/
Aldibris – http://www.adlibris.com/

The One and Only Mini Mandala Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The One and Only Mandala Postcard Colouring Book (One and Only Colouring / One and Only Coloring) is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Yard Books. This book is part of their One and Only series and I’ve reviewed 6 of their titles already which can be found HERE. This book is the only mini mandala book I’ve seen and while it’s small, it packs a mighty punch and is an absolute must-have for mandala fans. Many of my seasoned readers will know that I’m mandala’d out after colouring too many during a hospital stay, but I loved colouring this ready for my review so much that I coloured a second one, just because I could!

This book is small at just 15cm square so it’s perfect for colouring on the go and popping in your bag or colouring in small spaces while travelling or even at work. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with a full colour leafy mandala design on the front and back which oddly isn’t included within the book. The book contains 30 mandalas which are printed single-sided onto thick, bright white card which is fairly smooth and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens, does bleed through a bit with alcohol markers and is great for use with coloured pencils. On the reverse of each image is space for a postage stamp, address lines and blank space for your message. This is quite an odd shape and size for a postcard so you may not want to actually post them and if you do make sure you pop them in an envelope so they don’t get damaged in the post, but they’d also look brilliant framed. The spine is glue and stitch-bound and the postcards are perforated so they’re easy to remove but will also stay securely in the book if you wish. One small gripe I have is that the mandalas aren’t accurately centred on the page and are slightly shifted towards the right which is a shame but not overly noticeable unless you’re a perfectionist like I am, some are also shifted upwards a little too. The mandalas themselves are quite varied within the typical circular pattern from pointy to rounded, perfectly circular to flower-shaped and detailed to more open, the designs are very cohesive and sure to satisfy all mandala fans!

In terms of mental health, this book is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, the size is ideal for colouring on the go and for giving a small project for days when you want a quick colouring fix, or when you’re not feeling so well and don’t have the focus to be colouring for hours. Secondly, the designs are ideal because they are fairly small and so require a fair amount of concentration to colour them which will distract well. Thirdly, mandalas are ideal for anxious colourers and those with other mental health problems because there is no correct colour scheme and they’re almost impossible to mess up so you really can just pick up a pen or pencil and get colouring. The line thickness varies between designs from spindly thin to medium thickness lines so these images are fairly good for those of you with fluctuating conditions and you can use the thinner lined images on your good days and the thicker lined images on your bad days when you’re more likely to colour over the lines. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout the designs from very detailed to a little less intricate but none are particularly sparse so you will definitely need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book.

I would highly recommend this book to people who love colouring mandalas, those looking for a small and manageably sized colouring project, and those who like to colour on the move. You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to fully utilise this book but the mandalas are really lovely and will suit any colour scheme you throw at them, as you can see, rainbows are my personal favourite and always look great!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The One and Only Mandala Postcard Colouring Book (One and Only Colouring / One and Only Coloring)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/One-Only-Mini-Mandala-Colouring-Book/9781907912962/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using: 1. Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens; 2. Sharpie Fine Point alcohol markers.

UK Giveaway and Review – Color and Relax: Tranquil Treasures

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

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

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

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

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

UK GIVEAWAY and Review – Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults) is published by ZenGalaxy Coloring Books and was kindly sent to me to review. If you live in the UK and would like to enter my Giveaway for a copy then head over to my Facebook page HERE where you have until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8PM GMT to enter on the pinned post.

This book is filled with a variety of images and is a great one to start your colouring journey with or to use for fluctuating conditions and interests. This book is A4, paperback, with a soft-feel cover with a dark grey background and a full colour mandala wrapped around the front and back cover. The images are printed single-sided onto standard CreateSpace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy making it pretty good for layering and blending pencils and fine for pens which will all bleed through so pop a spare piece of paper behind to protect the image on the next page. The spine of the book is glue-bound, however, none of the images are lost into it because they are all either centralised or have a border around them preventing them from entering the spine. The book contains almost 60 images of a multitude of things including mandalas, patterns, paisleys, henna style images, flowers and lots of animals. They are drawn in quite differing styles and look like they’ve been created by a number of different artists though it’s unclear how many.

In terms of mental health, this book has a real variety of images both in content and in intricacy ranging from fairly large open spaces to incredibly detailed and intricate, so much so that a few of these designs will be very challenging to colour without going over the lines. The line thickness varies throughout from medium to spindly thin and the majority of the images are extremely intricate and drawn in a spindly thin line. This book is definitely not one for those of you with any issues with vision or fine motor control and it would be much more suited to those of you with good to perfect levels of both. The images don’t feel especially cohesive because they’re clearly created by different artists and are arranged in quite a random order with a lot of the patterns near the front of the book and the animals being nearer the back but these are interspersed with other images so they’re not arranged into any order or collections. The animals contain huge amounts of pattern and zentangling so there are lots of small spaces to occupy yourself with colouring, or you can colour over them to make it an easier task. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration because of the sheer amount of detail and intricacy and there aren’t really any separate small sections to tackle on bad days so I’d suggest this book for those of you that can colour for a few hours at a time rather than a few minutes. The images are very distracting and the patterns keep you absorbed and busy thus taking your mind off symptoms of any kind.

I would recommend this book to new colourers who are interested in a good variety of image styles and who have good vision and fine motor control. This book contains most themes of image and is a great trial book for narrowing down your interests or for those of you who like to colour lots of different things. Don’t forget that I’m running a UK Giveaway for a copy over on the pinned post on my Facebook page until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8pm GMT.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults)

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

Doctor Who Colouring book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Doctor Who: The Colouring Bookis a BBC colouring book published by Puffin Books an imprint of Penguin Random House. This book is from my personal collection so get ready for some terrible Doctor Who puns that will have you groaning by the end but a lot more enlightened about what’s included in this book and whether you’ll like it or not. So, without further ado, grab your sonic screwdriver, jump aboard the TARDIS and travel through time and space into my review. Allons-y! *Sorry*

Just like Bad Wolf, messages about this colouring book have been scattered throughout time and space, or at least the last couple of months on the internet since its publication was announced, and all of it was leading up to 3 days ago – publishing day! Rest assured, River Song would be pleased, because there aren’t any ‘spoilers’ within this review. This book is the perfect colouring ‘companion’ to the entire television series of Doctor Who, not just the newer series that got many of us (me included) hooked. This book is paperback with a card cover and has lots of gorgeous blue foiling on the front, it is 25cm square, the same size as other leading colouring books. It contains 45 images, though it feels like many more (one could describe it as almost TARDIS-like), which are all printed single-sided onto off-white medium thickness, fairly smooth paper. Water-based pens do bleed but this doesn’t matter because the only thing on the reverse of each image is a quote, the episode name, doctor number and year, so just put a protective sheet behind in case of bleed through and ‘fantastic’ you’re good to go! The spine of the book is glue-bound and tight, but it will ease up with use and the images are borderless so a little is lost into the spine but this is very small and pales into insignificance when battling aliens and trying to patch up cracks in the space-time continuum.

The Doctor Who Colouring Book starts with a lovely “This book belongs to…” page and then shows a number of items that are hidden within the images for you to hunt down in a time-travelling treasure hunt. This book contains images of everything you’d expect, and more! There are Daleks, Cybermen, Sycorax, Ood, Adipose, alien planet landscapes and images of inside and outside the TARDIS. There are also images of each Doctor in order from the first to the current, twelfth. These images are all of a right-facing portrait outline of each Doctor and contained within are images of that Doctor, their assistant/companion and some of the main features from their episodes, be that accessories, technology or even their nemeses. The final one of these is of Missy, because who could forget her?! The Doctor’s biggest enemies are featured in multiple images each so you’ll certainly get your fill of Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels. Some of the images are scenes as you’d expect but they’re not specific stills from the TV series, more representations. There are mandalas (“The round things, I love the round things, What are the round things?, No idea!”) of various characters including Daleks, Ood and the TARDIS and many more images, a good cross-section of which are photographed below.

In terms of mental health, this book isn’t geared up to be calming or relaxing but if you’re a Whovian then you’re sure to get a huge amount of enjoyment out of it and that can only be good for your mental health. The images are drawn in a variety of line thicknesses which range from thin to medium thickness and are mainly thin, but not spindly so they’re all very colourable as long as you’ve got fairly good vision and fine motor control. None of the lines in the book are wibbly-wobbly, but they’ll all take plenty of timey-wimey (I’m not even sorry about that one). This book would not only be good for adult fans but also older children who can cope with the intricacy and detail which is fairly considerable in a number of images, “Don’t Blink” or you’ll go over the lines. Again, there is variety within this which means this book is ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions who need simpler and more intricate images for days of different ability when you’re weary from time-travel, or buoyed up by another victorious battle. The image content is ideal for anxious colourers because most of the images are of characters that have specific colour schemes and you could easily either colour them from memory or google them in order to find out what colours they “should” be. Of course, this is just a guide and you could definitely colour your cyber men green and have a neon pink TARDIS if you chose and I’m sure it would look spectacular (if you colour your TARDIS neon pink then please send a photo to my Facebook page, I’m not quite brave enough to mess with the colour of my time machine yet).

As you can tell from my pun-tastic review, I’d highly recommend this book for all Whovians and I’m sure Matt Smith would say that “Colouring Books are cool”, especially this one! Exterminate your boredom and worries and get stuck in to this book which is nowhere near as bad as ‘yoghurt, baked beans, bacon or bread and butter’ and perhaps it’ll become something amazing in your life like ‘fishfingers and custard’. Grab your jelly babies, break out the fez (wrap up in your mega long scarf for good measure) and get out your sonic colouring pencils and ‘Geronimo!’ you’re in for some Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey fun!

No need to ‘run’ to the nearest bookshop, no need to be ‘the girl, or boy, who waited’, just ‘reverse the polarity of the neutron flow’, point your sonic screwdriver in the general direction of the internet and purchase a copy of this book from the comfort of your own TARDIS from one of the links below:
Amazon UK: Doctor Who: The Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide: https://www.bookdepository.com/Doctor-Who-Colouring-Book-Unknown/9780141367385/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A quick thank you to all of my Whovian friends, without whom, you’d have had nothing to groan at throughout this review, if you need someone to blame, blame them!

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and the background was created using PanPastels. For a perfect TARDIS blue I used the Helioblue-Reddish Polychromos pencil.

Doodle Artist Fanciful Rats – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Doodle Artist – Fanciful Rats: A colouring book for grown ups is a lovely book illustrated and kindly sent to me by Annette Rand. This book is filled with 30 full-page spreads of images of rats and they’re lovely! I’m personally not a fan of rats in real life, their tails put me off I’m afraid but, you can’t help but be enchanted by Annette’s charming drawings of them. This paperback book is A4 size, with a portrait cover and a mixture of portrait and landscape images. The book is glue-bound so it’s a little difficult to get it to lie flat but the images are printed single-sided with a large border around them so none of the image is lost into the spine. What I really noticed about this book, apart from the stunning images, is the paper quality. Many self-published books are printed on thin paper that you can see half the proceeding images through. Not-so in Annette’s book, the paper is bright white and thick enough that my water-based fineliners didn’t bleed at all or chew up the paper in any way so it was a joy to colour and would be perfect for pens or pencils and you could even use your sharpies or alcohol pens with a protective sheet behind so that the next image doesn’t get spoiled.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely. It’s really calming and has various different levels of intricacy to suit your good and bad days. The line thickness is the same throughout and I would describe it as thin but not very thin (approximately fineliner thickness). The lines are crisp and accurate with no fuzziness, blurring or not quite joining up so this is a really professional looking book. The images of the rats are very varied ranging from mandalas to scenes, steampunk to patterns, there is a surprising amount of variety added to a single, potentially limiting subject! Some of the rats have larger open spaces to colour in blocks and others have intricate patterns covering them that create lots of small spaces for you to take your time over colouring in. I really enjoyed colouring this book ready for review and it was a great design to use my glitter gel pens on. The rats are beautifully drawn – some are swirly, some are patterned, some are furry and a couple are steampunk themed. This really is the colouring book bible for all those who love rats. The majority of the images aren’t drawn like real-life rats, because they’re covered in patterns or hidden within mandalas but this means that you can use any colour scheme you like, as you’ll see from my glittery rainbow rat below!

I found this book really calming and relaxing. As with all nature themed books, I find them the most relaxing and the best at reducing my anxiety levels and this book was no exception. The pictures are beautiful, there are no filler images and each has definitely earnt its right to be there and you could even cut them out once you’re done and frame them.The variation in levels of detail and intricacy means that as long as you have fairly good vision, you’ll be able to enjoy this book on your good and bad days and those of you with moderate to good fine motor control will definitely get a huge amount out of this book. The image below was coloured using UK supermarket own-brand glitter gel pens.

If you’d like to get a copy of Fanciful Rats then head over to:

Amazon UK –  Doodle Artist – Fanciful Rats: A colouring book for grown ups

Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Doodle-Artist-Fanciful-Rats-Annette-Rand/9781517244781/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my reviews of Annette’s other titles below:
Doodle Artist Butterflies
Doodle Artist Peaceful Patterns
Doodle Artist Pets
Doodle Artist Rabbits and Hares
Doodle Artist Simply Snowflakes

 

The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book: Second Mandala Colouring Book 2015 (One and Only Colouring) is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Phoenix Yard Books. This book is HUGE and every mandala fan’s dream! As many of you know, I’ve really gone off mandalas after spending way too long colouring them when I was an inpatient in hospital when I was 17, and normally I find reviewing mandala books a bit of a chore because I simply don’t enjoy colouring them, however, this book was different. As soon as I opened the cover and flicked through, I realised that I wasn’t going to struggle with colouring a page and knowing what to say, I was going to struggle with picking which image to colour first!

This book is large (larger than the typical books) at 30cms square and is paperback with a card cover. It has bright white, thick paper that is great for using multiple types of media and according to the publishers you can even use paint on it though I’d be very careful about how wet you get the page. I found that my water-based fineliners ever-so slightly shadowed but I experienced no bleeding and the shadowing is so slight that it would easily be covered by colouring the next image. The images are printed double-sided and because of their circular shape, they go nowhere near the glue-bound spine so nothing is lost and all of the images can be completely coloured. This book contains 70 stunning mandala images which vary in complexity levels and line thickness and while some are simpler than others, this is definitely a book for grown-ups not children. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to thick and chunky (see the photos below) and everything in between and there isn’t a majority thickness, there are a number of images in each line thickness so this book is really one that adapts to your concentration level.

In terms of mental health, I found this book fantastic for my own. As I said before, I really don’t like mandalas normally and I tend to find them very boring but despite these images being really large and detailed, I was totally absorbed whilst colouring the image ready for the review and I really enjoyed it to the point where I was disappointed when I’d finished that it was over! These images do have a variety of intricacy and levels of detail but they are generally complex and will take a number of hours to colour. They’re very calming and distracting and I think they’d be great for people with anxiety or mood disorders because they’re so absorbing and they force you to concentrate on the task rather than unwanted thoughts and feelings. Some of the images are super detailed and will be almost impossible to colour with pencils so I’d definitely suggest investing in a decent set of fineliners (you can read my reviews of the two bestselling brands here – Stabilo and Staedtler). Others you’d be able to really practice your blending and shading with pencils in the larger spaces and this difference in intricacy levels means that this book is perfect for those of you with fluctuating conditions because you’ve got mega fiddly images to really channel your concentration into and simpler designs for days when you’re feeling rough. The nature of the images being mandalas means that there’s no pressure to colour anything realistically so you really can just pick up a pen or pencil of any colour and just get going – you can plan out the colour scheme ahead of time, or pick up a random colour and fill in the next section with it and if in doubt, do what I do, and colour in rainbows, it’s easy, it’s fun and it always looks bright and cheerful which is perfect for brightening up the dark days so many of with mental health problems experience! You will need fairly good vision and fine motor control to fully enjoy this book but it doesn’t need to be perfect as long as you’re ok with not being able to colour a few of the most intricate designs. This book is also perfect for practising mindfulness!

I’d highly recommend this book for any mandala fans, anyone that likes patterns and anyone that really wants to zone out and just colour away their stress. This is a gorgeous book on a large scale that I genuinely loved colouring in and it will be remaining firmly on my shelf ready for the days when I just need to chill out and colour a rainbow. If you’d like to get a copy then you can find it here.
The Second One and Only Mandala Colouring Book: Second Mandala Colouring Book 2015 (One and Only Colouring) – Amazon UK
http://www.bookdepository.com/Second-One-Only-Mandala-Colouring-Book-Second-Mandala-Colouring-Book-2015/9781907912917/?a_aid=colouringitmom – Book Depository

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and a couple of Staedtler triplus fineliners.

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