Marco Fine

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.

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Sudee Stile 120 Coloured Pencils: The New Marco Raffines? – A Review and Comparison

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

EDIT: Since writing this post a set of 150 individual colours has been released in the UK and US. I don’t have this set yet and at the time of writing and photographing the maximum set size was 120. If and when I get the full 150 set I will update the whole review but in the meantime I have just added this edit and a purchase link here and at the bottom for the full 150 set.

These pencils were kindly sent to me free in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance as I’ve been hearing about these pencils increasingly often in the Facebook colouring groups and I wanted to see what they were like. The biggest and most common claim I’ve seen made about them is that they’re the new Marco Raffines and on a par with their quality, but with a whopping 48 extra colours is this true? Read on to find out what I think.

One thing worth mentioning before I continue is that I’ve extensively read the reviews of these pencils on both the UK and US Amazon sites and it appears that while the majority of people love them, a few hate them due to there being some significant production issues with some sets having shattered leads, arriving dirty or used, with the incorrect packaging etc. I can only review the one set that I’ve got and the only real issue I’ve had is that I received a duplicate pencil and was missing one. Please do bear in mind that this review is just my opinion of my set and obviously isn’t representative of those sets that have arrived broken or badly damaged.

Availability, Cost and Set Sizes
The pencils are not available in stores and are currently only available on Amazon. They are not available in open stock, neither are the Marco Raffines, so you will sadly have to buy a new set when you start running low on some colours, however, the price of these pencils is brilliant, at 30p a pencil, they’re a bargain and while they’re not the cheapest option of pencils, this is by far the best quality, largest range of colours for the least amount of money that’s available. They’re currently £35 for the full 120 set and have been as low as £27 though that listing has been unavailable for a while, do hunt around for the best price! The pencils are available in 120 colours and in sets of 24, 48, 72, 96 and the full 120 set.

Colour Range and Presentation
On first inspection these pencils are identical to the Marco Raffiines apart from the writing on them which obviously says Sudee Stile rather than Marco Raffine. I assumed, like many others, that these were just Marco Raffine pencils re-branded with a different name printed on them but they’re definitely not. Marco Raffines have an oil-based lead whereas the Sudee Stiles are almost certainly wax, it doesn’t say anywhere on them or the Amazon listings what the lead is made of and I originally thought they were oil-based because they behave so similarly to the Marco Raffines, however, I noticed a few days after colouring that a slight wax bloom had built up on my heavily burnished coloured areas and this has never happened with my finished Marco Raffine pages. This wax bloom isn’t a problem and is very common with any wax-based coloured pencils, it can usually be avoided by spraying your finished work with a fixative spray, many people use hairspray as a cheap option, please avoid doing this as it can yellow over time and ruin all of your hard work! The pencils themselves are hexagonal with a silver barrel and a colour-dipped end which is relatively true to the colour of the lead, but not so in all cases so do make a colour chart! Each pencil has black text on it stating Sudee Stile Color and a unique identifying number but these are not done in any sensible colour order so you’ll need to try and create your own or copy my order on the photo of the colour chart I created below. The pencils are available in 120 unique and individual colours, sadly my set arrived with one missing and a duplicate of the number 39 pencil but the colours cover a great range of shades and hues and are a really good selection with no specific colour being over-represented like in some sets. A lot of the colours are pretty similar to the Marco Raffines but you get so many more colours that even if you already have those, these are absolutely worth having too and I would highly recommend getting the full set as you’ll only wish for more if you get the smaller sets. There is another set of Sudee Stile pencils which is externally different but the colours and leads are reportedly exactly the same (information taken from the seller in the questions section on the pencil listing). This other set has a full colour barrel with a gold-dipped end and the writing on the pencils is written in gold rather than black. The Amazon listings have altered over time so sometimes both sets are available, often for different prices from each other, and currently only the silver set I have is available, don’t be alarmed, they’re both the same so just go for the cheapest version of the set size you wish to purchase unless you have a particular preference for the external look of the pencils. There is no mention of lightfastness and due to it being Winter here in the UK I can’t test this currently, the Marco Raffines aren’t very lightfast, especially the light shades so I would expect these to be the same due to the price point so I’d avoid using these to colour pictures that you’re wanting to display rather than keeping in the book.

Packaging
Originally, these were all packaged in a plastic screw-lid tub and they are pretty wedged in against some bubblewrap, this tub will surely last a while but is likely to break with a lot of use and it’s very difficult to identify the pencil or even pick one out, especially once you’ve started sharpening them and they become shorter so I’d strongly advise investing in a pencil case or pencil wrap for ease of use. The 120 set is now available in a thick cardboard box with three trays of pencils and two pencil sharpeners inside. There are reports of them occasionally arriving with no packaging in just a plastic bag, in this case always contact the seller or Amazon and I’m sure they’ll get it resolved.

Sharpening
The pencils arrive pre-sharpened with a blunted point. One thing to note is that they really need sharpening before use, for some reason there seems to be some sort of coating on them which makes them a bit scratchy to start with but this pretty much goes as soon as you sharpen them so don’t lose hope, they’re completely different once sharpened! None of my pencils arrived with broken leads. They have strong leads and sharpen well. I use a T’Gaal adjustable pencil sharpener which is known to be very good for not breaking leads but these are well-made pencils with nice smooth wooden barrels so there shouldn’t be any sharpening issues, regardless of what you use, I’ve had absolutely no breakages so far. The pencils can be used to colour very intricate images because they sharpen to such a good point which is really handy for some of the more detailed adult colouring books out there! They work well on lots of different types of paper and I really haven’t had any issues with them, a few of them feel a little gritty and scratchy at points but that’s something you expect when buying pencils for these kinds of prices and usually it’s a fragment of grit which will sharpen out and then the pencil is fine again (I have also found this to be the case with Marco Raffines).

Blending
The leads aren’t super soft but they’re not hard either, they’re most similar to Faber Castell Polychromos in terms of hardness, and they’re almost identical in feel to the Marco Raffines. They provide very vibrant and even coverage with no need to press hard, they are really easy to blend and shade with, very comparable to Marco Raffines, and they keep a good point so you don’t have to sharpen too regularly. Do check out the comparison blending photos below, the only visible differences are due to my changes in technique rather than the pencils.

Erasing and Smudging
The pigment does erase pretty well (see photo below), especially with a battery-operated eraser so these are ideal for those of you who frequently colour over the lines and want to clean up the edges, as well as for creating highlights that aren’t that uncoloured white type! Obviously, you’ll never be able to completely remove all of the pigment, especially when burnished, but a surprising amount does come off. I haven’t noticed these pencils crumbling at all so you’re unlikely to get any pencil dust, if you rub hard on the pigment it does smudge but this is always the case with a pencil that blends well.

Overall, I fully expected to use these pencils once and then never again because I have full sets of Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier, and Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils, however, I’ve already used these to colour images in 3 different book reviews because I love them so much! The pencils are really versatile and if used properly you can get the palest hint of colour all the way up to a completely filled vibrant colour, they can be used to blend and shade or for block colouring and it’s easy to colour without streaks if you’re careful. They are really pigmented so even light colouring gives a good level of colour without hurting your hands, I have very problematic joints in my hands and end up in a lot of pain if I have to grip or press too hard whilst colouring, I’m also currently suffering from repetitive strain injury in my right thumb, however, these pencils really haven’t exacerbated any of this because they’re soft enough and give a good vibrant coverage without having to force the lead into the paper, this is great for books with thinner paper that you don’t want to create identation on. These pencils would be ideal for beginner colourists all the way up to experts and artists. The colours are a fantastic range, there’s a really good mix of light, bright, pale, and dark shades within each colour group and none are over-represented. The leads are hard enough to keep a good point and not need sharpening too often, but soft enough that they’ll be suitable for the elderly, those with weak grip, and those suffering from arthritis, sore joints, and any other hand complaints (they can be made even more comfortable and chunky by adding pencil grips when colouring). Marco Raffines are the go-to budget pencil option for most people and the Sudee Stile pencils give them a really good run for their money and with the addition of 48 more colours what’s stopping you? These pencils are easy to use, great value for money, and honestly, they’re just a joy to colour with, I love them, they’re a bit more expensive than the Marcos for a 72 set but most of us have been craving more colours in Marcos and now you have the option of 48+ extras in the Sudee Stiles!

If you’d like to purchase a set then they’re available here:
Sudee Stile 24 (Silver) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 24 (Colour) 3 Pack
Sudee Stile 48 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 48 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 72 (Silver)
Sudee Stile 72 (Colour)
Sudee Stile 96
Sudee Stile 120 Set
Sudee Stile 150 Full Set

The images below were all coloured using Sudee Stile Coloured Pencils.

Beautiful Creatures – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Beautiful Creatures is compiled and very kindly sent to me to review by Nicole Stocker AKA Huelish. This book is unlike any other colouring book that I’ve reviewed and is filled with greyscale images which is one of the latest crazes within the colouring community. Greyscale colouring usually involves taking a photograph and removing all of the colour so that the whole image shows shades of grey, this is done with the purpose of being able to create very realistically coloured images and it is also a really helpful tool for learning about light and shade for your regular colouring. You colour straight over the grey which partially shows through the pens or pencils you use and the image looks photo-realistic when you’re finished.

This book is slightly smaller than A4, paperback with card covers and it’s very thick! The images are printed single-sided onto beautifully thick paper which is bright white and lightly textured so it’s perfect for almost any medium you can throw at it. Bleeding isn’t an issue so just pop a protective sheet behind if you’re using particularly heavy mediums and you’ll be good to go. The images are all surrounded by a thick white border and none of them enter the spine which is glue-bound and does require a fair bit of bending to get it to lie flat. The images are all perforated and have a section on the back where you can write who completed the image and on what date. The book contains 48 photographs of animals which are very cohesive because of the greyscale nature of them. The images are of a huge range of animals from horses to dolphins, spiders to squirrels, cows to dogs and loads more.

In terms of mental health, this book is quite niche because greyscale colouring isn’t something that everyone will be interested in. However, as someone that had no interest in greyscale colouring until I was sent this book to review, I have to say, it’s worth giving it a go, because it’s a pretty different experience from what I expected. I really didn’t know where to start or how to do it and eventually bit the bullet and started with the blue and it was actually much easier than I expected and you really do what the cover says and colour over the grey and it brings your image to life. The image I chose didn’t require lots of blending or shading and each section is coloured with just one pencil and the shading is all from the original grey image behind. I’m surprised about how well it came out and it was surprisingly calming so I would definitely recommend greyscale colouring for those of you who suffer from anxiety disorders or other conditions that require relaxation and calming effects. Line thickness and intricacy aren’t really applicable in greyscale colouring books because they’re as intricate as you make them, you can colour over the images in blocks or you can individually draw on each hair, scale or feather, it’s entirely up to you. Difficulty level is also quite difficult to assess because again, it’s entirely up to you how difficult you make it, you could colour the images in shades of one colour, lots of different colours, realistic colour schemes or outlandish and what I might struggle with, another colourist might find easy when working out how to colour a greyscale image. One really handy aspect of greyscale colouring is that because the images start off as full colour images you can often have access to the original, full colour image, or it’ll be of a real animal, as is the case in this book which means you can use a ready-made colour scheme after having a quick google of the animal itself which is exactly how I chose the colour scheme for my red-knobbed hornbill pictured below. This is ideal for mentally ill colourers because you don’t have to dream up colour schemes if you don’t want to and can instead use the colours nature has inspired. Being a book filled with natural images, it is inherently calming and the different textures of fur, scales, wet, dry, shiny, rough and more of the animals means that it’s very interesting to look at and interesting to colour. I’ve heard from a lot of greyscale colourers and the general consensus is that this book is the best greyscale colouring book currently on the market and I would have to agree that this is an ideal book to get you in to greyscale colouring.  If you need any inspiration for colouring, Nicole has created a wonderful gallery on her website of coloured images which can be found here.

I would recommend this book to anyone who already loves or wants to venture into the world of greyscale colouring. The paper is wonderfully thick, the images printed single-sided and the perforations make it easy to remove your page for easier colouring or for framing.

If you’d like to start greyscale colouring then this book is available below, it’s very expensive on UK Amazon currently and isn’t available on Book Depository but you can get it for a decent price on Amazon.com.
Amazon UK – Beautiful Creatures: A Boundless Coloring Book Adventure
Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Creatures-Grayscale-Coloring-Adults/dp/099486230X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459801832&sr=8-1&keywords=beautiful+creatures+coloring+book

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils, Marco Raffine pencils and Zest It Blending Solution.

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.

Adult Colouring: Where to Start

So you want to start colouring? Don’t know where to start? Then this is the post for you!

Adult colouring has well and truly taken off since the craze was kick-started in April 2015 and it’s currently showing no signs of stopping. New books are arriving on Amazon every day and artists and illustrators all over the world are jumping on the band wagon and offering up their drawings ready for you to add your personal touch of colour to. There are some stunning books on the market and some that really aren’t so great. The market is becoming very saturated and I can imagine that for those of you who are just entering the world of adult colouring, this must be very daunting and impossible to know where to even begin! So here is where you need to start, what you need to know and where to get your colouring goodies from so that you can get started as quickly as possible. For those of you that are new to my blog, you can read more about me and my colouring journey here.

Pens or Pencils

So, let’s get you started on your adult colouring journey. The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to colour with pens or pencils. There are a number of different types of each to help you narrow down further but firstly you need to decide whether you want pens, pencils or both. The pros of pencils are that mostly they’re erasable or at least partially erasable so if you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. They can be used to shade and blend and give more depth to pictures. They don’t bleed so you can use them on single-sided and double-sided books without any issues. The cons are that they’re fairly tough on your joints so you’re better sticking to pens if you have joint problems or pain, they’re also very time-consuming to use if you’re wanting to create impressive effects. The pros of pens are that they’re really vibrant, quicker to use, easier on your hands, come in a range of nib sizes for different sized areas on the page, and you don’t have to blend or shade, you can just colour in blocks. The major con with pens is that they bleed, some bleed sideways over the lines, some bleed through the paper (or shadow, where you can clearly see the coloured sections on the reverse of the page without it fully bleeding through), and this is often a big problem in double-sided books, they’re also much harder to blend and shade with and they’re more expensive and run out faster. Once you’ve decided on pens or pencils (or both), you’re ready to decide which type you want.

Pencils

Pencils are usually made of wax (like Crayola, and any pencils your kids or you will have used at school and growing up) or oil. Everyone has their own preference, some like wax, I’m a huge fan of oil, and others seem to get on well with both. If you can get to an art shop then I’d suggest trying out some of each to decide which you prefer, if you’re unable to attend a shop then the following info will hopefully help. Within the wax and oil-based pencil brands are harder and softer pencils. If you have any joint problems or issues with grip etc then you need a soft pencil (look out for this description in reviews). I have poor grip and achy joints in my hands and I tried various brands of wax-based pencils and just couldn’t get on with them, I found them hard, sticky and very difficult to get vibrant colour without having to press really hard. Others have had much better experiences with wax-based pencils than me and as I said before, it’s unfortunately entirely down to personal preference. Oil-based pencils are generally a bit pricier but in my opinon they’re well worth the money because they’re so much easier to use and much softer and more vibrant with less pressure needed.

Wax-based Pencils

If you’re wanting wax-based pencils then the budget option is often Crayola coloured pencils, the mid to high range that I’d recommend would be Derwent Coloursoft which I’ll review at a later date and these are highly blendable, vibrant and come in up to 72 beautiful colours. I would also recommend the Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils which come in 24 colours and are very easy to use and vibrant. The artist’s grade, high-end price option is Prismacolor Premiers which are the Marmite of the pencil world, people either love them and create stunning pieces of art with them or hate them because of the wax bloom that builds up and the lead breaking which these pencils are notorious for, I’ve never used these so I can’t vouch for them, they are often used beautifully, but there are major issues with people sharpening inches off them trying to just get a point to colour with!

Oil-based Pencils

If you’re after oil-based pencils then there isn’t really a budget option but the most cost-effective and cheapest are the Marco Raffine pencils which I’ve reviewed here. There are plenty of mid to high range pencils and my recommendation would be the Lyra Rembrandt Polycolors which I received just yesterday which are available in 70 colours and seem to work beautifully. The artist’s grade high-end pencils with a price tag to match are the Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils which are pricey but as the proud owner of the full set, they’re worth every penny and truly are the crème de la crème of the pencil world. When choosing pencils, have a think about whether you’re wanting to just colour in blocks or whether you’re wanting to blend and shade and create artist’s style work, if you’re wanting the former then definitely stick to the low-end pencils because they’re ideal for that, whereas if you’re wanting to blend and shade then I’d opt for the mid or high-end pencils. The majority of colouring and the effects you can create are based on talent and practice rather than tools. I’ve seen amazing work coloured with Crayolas and some fairly dodgy work created with Polychromos pencils so if you can’t afford a pricey set, don’t despair, just get practising! It’s easier to create good effects with pricier pencils because they’re better made and easier to use but it really is mostly about talent and the best way to learn is to practice and to look on YouTube for tutorials, that’s where I’ve learnt all of my techniques from!

Pens

If pencils aren’t for you and you want to venture into the inky world of pens instead then this is the section for you. Broadly speaking, pens are broken down into water-based ink and alcohol based ink.

Alcohol Pens

Alcohol pens ALWAYS bleed. Unless you’re using super thick card they will bleed through the paper so you will be limited to books that only have images printed on one side or you’ll have to sacrifice half of the pictures to bleed-through. That being said, alcohol pens are very popular within the adult colouring world but a word of warning, they smell very strongly of solvent and if you have issues with headaches or migraines you might want to avoid them or colour in short bursts, near a window! Alcohol-based pens are more versatile than water-based pens because they can be layered and blended, either with each other on the page using similar shades, or using a clear blending pen (most brands sell these separately). Alcohol markers come with a significant price tag and the cheapest are usually unbranded permanent markers which can be found in the UK in stores like Poundland and The Works. The low to mid range are Sharpies and these come in a multitude of set sizes and colours and are world-renowned for their quality. Most others are mid to high or high-end prices and these include Spectrum Noir, Promarker and Copic. I don’t use alcohol markers because I suffer from migraines, often induced by environmental stimuli, so if you’re interested in using them I’d suggest searching for other reviews online, there are plenty of great ones to be found so that you can invest in the right set for you.

Water-based pens

Water-based pens are my personal favourites. I love colouring in pencil but when I’m colouring because I’m anxious or colouring just for me, I love nothing more than to get out my water-based fineliners and just get colouring! Water-based pens come in a huge variety of nib thicknesses and you need to bear in mind the size of the spaces you’ll be colouring when purchasing pens – there’s no point getting chunky felt-tips (markers) if you’re planning on using really intricate books because you’ll ruin them.

Water-based Fineliners

Fineliners are usually 0.3 or 0.4 mm’s and they’re ideal for small spaces and intricate parts. They are available all over the place and the cheapest are usually own-brand sets from UK shops like Poundland, The Works, WHSmiths and most major supermarkets, the mid-high range sets that I’ve found to be best are the Stabilo Point 88 fineliners which I’ve reviewed here and the Staedtler Triplus fineliners which I’ve reviewed here.

Water-based Fibre-tips/Felt Pens

Alongside these are water-based markers/ felt/fibre-tip pens which have a huge variety of shape and size nibs and are used for colouring larger areas. They are often a bit streaky, especially if you colour over the same spot twice and the cheaper they are, the streakier they usually are. There are hundreds of brands that do low-range sets for kids and adults but there aren’t any I’d recommend because they’re so streaky. My advice would be to invest in a mid-range set of Staedtler Triplus Fibre-tips (reviewed by me here), or Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips (review coming soon) because they’re much less streaky, last for ages and they are colour-matched with the fineliner sets so you can seamlessly colour small and large areas of the same picture with different pens. For high-end water-based markers I’ve heard great things about the Tombow Dual Brush Pens and the Faber-Castell Pitt Pens but I’ve not had the budget to try these out yet so be sure to test them in an art shop or buy a single pen first to test out and see what you want to invest in.

Books

Now you’ve decided what you’re going to colour with, you need to decide what you’re going to colour! The first thing to decide is whether it has to be single-sided or whether the colouring medium you’ve chosen will allow you to use double-sided books. If you’ve opted for alcohol markers then it must be single-sided, water-based pens you’ll want single-sided or thick paged double-sided and for pencils you can use any book you like. Paper quality is only an issue for water-based pens where it needs to be thick if it’s double-sided and pencils where you want a bit of texture (known as tooth – the grooves and textures in the paper that stop it being smooth and flat) if you’re wanting to blend and shade because you need to build up layers and the tooth allows you to do that. Shiny or incredibly smooth paper makes using pencils very difficult and if it’s waxy then steer clear of using anything other than alcohol markers because nothing else will stick, it’ll simply wipe off. After narrowing down the printing and paper quality, you then want to decide on what content you’re interested in – fantasy, people, animals, nature, patterns, abstract, scenes, mandalas, etc. There are so many books on the market now that you won’t find it difficult to find a book that fits all of these criteria, even if you want really niche content like rats, dragons or shoes.

Health Impacts

Finally, you want to think about your health which is a huge part of why I review colouring books and if you’re a reader of my blog already you’ll know, a huge part of each review I write. Whether you’re physically or mentally ill, your condition may affect your ability to colour and therefore your ability to enjoy a particular book. Things to bear in mind are whether your condition fluctuates, whether you have good vision, whether you have good fine motor control, whether the content of the book’s images may affect your mood in any way, whether your concentration levels alter, and what level of intricacy and detail you can handle. This might sound like a lot but in every review I write I describe all of these aspects so you can find books that will suit your level of functioning and ability so that you don’t get a book that’s so basic you get bored, or so intricate that it increases your levels of panic. You can find all of the reviews I’ve written in alphabetical order here and product reviews are at the bottom of that list, and I’ve grouped them into intricacy levels here.

One last thing I feel I really ought to make you aware of is that adult colouring is highly addictive. You may go into it thinking that you’ll buy just one book and one pack of pens, that’s how we all started, but trust me, it’ll never be enough and you’ll end up always chasing the next release and that next colouring fix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous addiction and one that I’m personally quite proud of as I survey my ever-growing collection of pens and pencils and bookshelf that is full to bursting, but nonetheless, it is addictive and you quickly feel that you have to collect books and seek out the perfect colouring pencil. Check out my pre-order list here for all of the books I’m pining for that are being released over the next few months!

I really hope this post will have helped explain the basics to all of the new people joining the adult colouring world who were unsure where to start. If you can’t find what you’re looking for or would like specific help finding books or colouring mediums to suit you then please don’t hesitate to contact me by clicking here and filling out the contact form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I like nothing more than matching people up to their ideal colouring books and mediums and the more specific you are, the easier it is. I’ve reviewed over 90 books and products so far and the number is rising weekly and on top of all of those, I’m aware of a great deal more books and products and have read countless reviews from others so I can hopefully point you in the right direction even if I’ve not reviewed the item myself. Last but not least, please do follow me in some way so that you can be kept updated with new blog posts, reviews, and colouring news etc. Links to everything are down the right-hand side of this page or you can click here to find me on Twitter, or click here for Facebook, or you can follow my blog via email at the top right of this page.

Where to Buy

Adult colouring books and colouring mediums can be found in most book, art and craft shops and can also be found in a host of places online. My favourite places to order books from are Amazon UK and Book Depository who do free shipping worldwide and links to both of these can be found on every review I post. To get you started here are the links to their adult colouring book sections.

Amazon UK – Amazon Adult Colouring Books

Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/adult-colouring-books/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Dragon World Adult Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Adult Coloring Book: Dragon World is published by Blue Star and illustrated by Mark Coyle and was kindly sent to me by them to review. This book is ideal for any dragon-lovers and it really does exactly what it says, it includes loads of images of different dragons. The book itself is A4, paperback and glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine. The illustrations are printed single-sided so there are no issues with bleeding and they are all portrait-oriented designs. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured so it’s great for pens and pencils. The images are all drawn by one illustrator so the book has a very cohesive feel, the dragons are pictured alone, in groups, on mountains, flying, in space, and they are all drawn to look like different species, in different poses. Many are winged, some are not, some are fire-breathing, some are three-headed, some are scaly, others are smooth or horned, there really is a very wide variety so it doesn’t get boring at any point despite all 34 images being dragon-themed.

In terms of mental health, the content itself won’t have much bearing on it but if you’re a fan of dragons then you’re sure to really enjoy colouring this book. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is a medium/thin line meaning this book is ideal for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control because you’ll be able to stay within the line without much difficulty. The images do have varying levels of intricacy and detail but they range from basic to under an intermediate level meaning it’s suitable for anybody, you’d be able to colour the blocks solidly or use it to really hone your blending and shading skills with your coloured pencils to practice colouring with light sources, colour changes, detail and textures. This book would suit anyone from beginners to advanced colourists and because the gaps are fairly large, you don’t need amazing concentration levels so this would be ideal for bad days and good days. You could even add your own detailing to some of the plainer dragons and practice your zentangle patterns and doodle anything you fancy on them from scales to feathers or even stars and hearts. The dragons are drawn in quite a realistic style (yes, I know, dragons aren’t real but if they were, they’d look like this), they’ve not been made ‘pretty’ so this is definitely a book for male or female colourers alike. This would be an ideal book for some of you ladies to try and lure your men-folk into colouring with!

I’d highly recommend this book for dragon-lovers, the fact that the images are printed one-sided makes it ideal for using any colouring mediums you fancy. This is a great book for practising your colouring techniques over large spaces and sections and would be ideal for male or female, beginner all the way up to advanced colourers. If you like dragons, you’ll love this!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Adult Coloring Book: Dragon World

The image below was coloured using Marco Raffine Coloured Pencils.

The Great British Cake Off: The 100% Unofficial Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Cake Off is illustrated by Harriet Popham, published by Harper Collins and is from my personal collection. I was extremely excited about the prospect of this book as soon as I found out about its publication and had to wait weeks until its publishing date to see what it was going to be like. I saw a few photos of inside and was really disappointed but after managing to find it reduced a few days after launch, I decided to give it a go and I’m SO glad I did as the images I saw weren’t representative of the contents at all! Get your apron on, oven pre-heating and let’s head into the Great British Bake Off tent and see if this book is a recipe for success. Without further ado – on your marks, get set, colour! Get yourself ready for a truly cake-tastic review!

This book is paperback, 25cm square (the same size as JB and MM’s books) and contains 96 pages of beautiful cake-y illustrations. The best thing about these cakes? They’re calorie free so you can colour to your heart’s content and not worry about gaining those extra pounds, you might even lose a few as you become so engrossed in colouring that you forget to have your teatime snack. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine but this does improve as the spine loosens up with use. The images are mostly single pages but a few double-page spreads are included too. The majority of the images are baked goods including cakes, cupcakes, tiered cakes, macarons, and page upon page of novelty cakes. Interspersed with these, are images of oven gloves, baking equipment, kitchen scenes and tea party spreads, many of which are very Cath Kidston-esque. The images also include many of the bakes featured through the series of the much-loved tv show The Great British Bake Off, including tarte tatin, croquembouche, gingerbread sculptures, Charlotte Royale, Kransekake, Schittorte, Swedish Princess cake, Povitica, battenberg and many more (if you remember all of those and already know what they all look like then you’re a true die-hard Bake Off fan, congratulations, you get a Special Commendation – Just like Paul in series 6 got for his Lion bread)! The paper is bright white, fairly thick and very lightly textured, I checked my water-based fineliners and fibre-tips and they rarely bled through but did heavily shadow so this book is definitely one to be kept for pencils (also, the black ink transfers under pressure so pop a protective sheet behind your work or pressing too hard will leave you with design transfer on the pages behind). However, don’t despair, the image content is so well-suited to pencils that you won’t mind not being able to use your pens because it really calls for pastel shades and you can get practising your blending, shading and highlighting skills to make your tempered chocolate have the perfect shine and your pieces of fruit looking really juicy. Settle yourself down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (purely for research purposes of course), get your icing-coloured pencils out and start decorating those cupcakes and macarons.

In terms of mental health, I personally found this book fantastic! If you like cakes then this book has to be on your must-have list. It’s sure to cheer you up and improve your mood because the cakes are so beautiful and it might even inspire your baking (if you like to bake). I found the book really calming and very distracting, there are so many little details that you notice each time you flick through the pages allowing you to become totally absorbed and I really noticed my worries melting away as I coloured my lovely three-tiered cake. The images are fairly detailed and intricate and are all drawn in a thin or medium thickness line so you need fairly good, but not perfect, vision and fine motor control. You need a fairly good level of concentration in order to stay within the lines, focus on the recipe fully, get your measurements right and be able to colour the images to the best of your ability, but this is great because it means your symptoms can take a back seat and you can just enjoy colouring some deliciousness. Twelve of the images have small written hints telling you what some of the more obscure bakes are and suggesting you pipe the frosting in your favourite colours or asking what flavour sponges you might concoct. I’m not a fan of written hints in books because I don’t like having text on the page as I find it detracts a little from the finished look of the page, however, I do make an exception for this book because the cake-naming is actually really useful for those cakes that you’d have no idea what they were without the text.

There are certainly some technical challenges and some that you can truly colour into your own signature bake and more still that will hopefully become showstoppers! This book is sure to make you hungry and get you hunting through your recipe books for inspiration and to make tasty treats to snack on when you need a break from colouring. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cake, baking, or the Great British Bake Off because this really is the ultimate book for cake-lovers, it completely transports you back to the Bake Off tent!

If you get a copy of this book then be sure to avoid Mel wearing your tuille as bracelets and Sue accidentally elbowing your English muffins. Keep your colouring area a disaster-free zone and for goodness’ sake, colour slowly so that nothing needs to be discarded and we can all avoid another episode of “bin-gate”, I’m still not sure I’m over the trauma of the Baked Alaska challenge! You can take your finished pages and offer them up on the Gingham Altar for Mary and Paul to poke, prod, and almost certainly tell you it’s under-blended or over-shaded, but perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, you might just get crowned Star Colourer for the week and receive the coveted handshake from Paul – we can all dream can’t we?! This book truly offers you a way to have your cake, and eat it! Happy Colouring and Happy Baking – I’d love to see your attempts at either activity over on my Facebook page which can be found here.

If you’d like to purchase a copy then head below:
Amazon UK – The Great British Cake Off
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Great-British-Cake-off-Harriet-Popham/9780008159535/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils which are the crème de la crème of the pencil world and I would highly recommend them for this book. If you’re on a tighter budget then I would also highly recommend the Marco Raffine coloured pencils which you can read my review of here.

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.

Wings & Things: Colouring For Grown Ups – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
wings and things: art therapy is illustrated and was kindly sent to me for review by Edwina Mc Namee. This gorgeous book is filled with 50 images of all things winged, feathery, mystical and magical. The book is paperback, glue-bound and printed single-sided with no border so a little of each image is lost into the spine but this really is only a little.  The book is slightly smaller than A4 and has a gorgeous aqua coloured cover that can almost certainly be coloured in so you’ve practically got an extra colouring page on the front and it also has a lovely “This book belongs to” page. Almost all of the images are portrait but a few are printed landscape so that more can be fitted onto the page. The book has a lovely cohesive image style because it’s all been hand-drawn by the very talented Edwina who clearly has a love of all things feathery. The images include all sorts of birds, headdresses, bats, butterflies, insects and unicorns. They are drawn with varying line thicknesses from thin to thick with most being medium/thick, they don’t look overly heavy though. The paper is bright white and pretty thin, my fibre-tip pens which hardly ever bleed did bleed through all over the back of the page so if you’re using anything that bleeds do put a scrap sheet behind your work so that you don’t ruin the next picture.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it’s grounded in nature and while it contains images of fantastical things, the majority are birds and feathered creatures. I found this book really calming and relaxing to colour, so much so that I coloured two full pages instead of the usual one. The images are fairly detailed but not overly intricate so they’re really well suited to anybody because you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control in order to be able to enjoy it. The spaces are large enough that you can practice shading and blending but not so large that the book feels basic or childish. The images feel very positive and the level of complexity varies meaning the book can be used on good and bad days as your concentration comes and goes. The images in this book are well-suited to any colouring medium and I found it lovely to use pens and pencils on. The images below were coloured using Staedtler Fibre-tip pens and Marco Raffine Oil-based pencils which were really easy to shade and layer on the paper.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who like animals or birds and anyone who struggles to colour the very intricate books but doesn’t want to colour very basic images. The images are lovely, calming and very charming and being printed one-sided means that you can use any medium you like without having to worry about ruining any images. In my opinion it’s great for mental health and well worth adding to your collection. Thank you very much to Edwina for sending me a copy of her gorgeous book and if you’d like to get your hands on a copy, head over to her Etsy shop where you can find the book in two parts: part 1 and part 2. It is also available on Amazon here wings and things: art therapy

Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book With Hidden Jewels – A Review

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Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me by Search Press Publishing. I’ll start off by saying that this is one of the most beautiful colouring books that I’ve ever seen and it’s now firmly in my list of favourite books. It’s somewhat similar to the books created by Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford but it has a unique style of its own and seamlessly blends animals, plants and zentangle into a stunning work of art that you’ll be clamouring to colour by the end of this review. The book itself is square (slightly smaller in size than other square books) and softback (it’s not especially bendy so it’ll keep protected in a bag if you transport your books but also isn’t rigid and hard). The pages are thick, off-white and lightly textured and the 75 stunning images are printed double-sided. The outlines of each picture can be seen through the pages so I assumed that pens would be a no-go in this book but actually, I experienced no bleeding when using my water-based fineliners so these should be fine for you to use (always test on an inconspicuous area to avoid ruining any designs). Pencils add colour smoothly and because the paper is textured you can add plenty of layers so you’ll be able to blend and shade beautifully. Some of the images are single pages and others are double-page spreads and the book is relatively tightly glue-bound so some of the image near the middle is lost into the spine and it does take some stretching of the spine to be able to get it to lie flat or stay open without being held. With time though, I’ve found that spines like this do loosen up and with a book like this, it’s so worth the wait so don’t be put off, just be patient and keep working the spine so that you can reach the middle of the images.

This book is truly beautiful and the images are unlike anything else I’ve seen because they’re so detailed, patterned and charming. I hope you’ll get some of the atmosphere through the images attached at the bottom but truly you need to see this book to realise just how wonderful it is. If you like colouring nature images that are highly detailed then you’ll just love this book. It takes you on a journey rather than being a collection of similarly themed images. You start off seeing some of the jewels that have been hidden within the wood and are greeted by a large tree and a friendly looking fox, you discover a gingerbread house and walk past all sorts of species of birds. You walk further into the trees and happen upon all manner of woodland creatures including badgers, rabbits, foxes, deer and hedgehogs, you encounter a family of owls and a kingfisher who’s caught his lunch. By the end of the walk you’ve reached what’s probably the heart of the wood and night has fallen and your path is lit by a smiling full moon. This book is so much more than a colouring book. It tells a story, it has hidden elements in the form of jewels and jewellery pieces and it sparks your imagination and creates a wonderful world of escapism. The images are highly detailed and intricate and many encompass typical zentangle patterns that you can either colour between so you’re colouring teeny tiny sections or colour over to create patterned blocks and sections. Some of the images aren’t complete or have large sections around them that have been left blank and while I was confused by these at the beginning and it felt a little unfinished on certain pages, after reading the introduction page it explained that these spaces are left so that you can add your own details, backgrounds, and to continue the picture on in your own way. I think this feature is great because it means that you can add to the book or leave it without there being text in the way and detracting from your beautiful colouring. There are also a number of floral and faunal frames that are circular, square and even heart-shaped that you could either leave as they are or add to if your drawing skills are honed!

In terms of mental health, this book has a lot of detail and intricacy so it’s ideal for those of you who like complicated images that keep you distracted and focused for hours. The line thickness varies from spindly thin to medium thickness but mostly it’s thin throughout like the majority of intricate colouring books are. The line colour varies throughout and some are blackest black and others are much paler and grey. One thing to note is that the lines of some the images are kind of fuzzy and seem out of focus, I wasn’t too keen on this to begin with but as time has gone on it’s bothered me less and less and now it doesn’t worry me. It did make me think my eyes were having a problem to begin with though so do be aware of it if you have vision problems and be careful if you get migraines (like I do) as it can make you feel a little strange. That’s the only slight issue I had with the book though, it is absolutely stunning and completely captivating and the more I look through it the more I notice and discover and the more I fall in love with it. I think this book is absolutely ideal for anyone with mental health problems because it’s so natural and calming and the subject matter is really relaxing and beautifully drawn. This book contains hours and hours of enjoyment and I’m sure it’s set to become a bestseller because it’s so gorgeous so if you’re wanting a copy I’d get your hands on one soon before everyone catches on to how unmissable this book is. I for one, am hoping that Jessica will be creating a new book soon because her artwork is beautiful and an absolute joy to colour! The images below are coloured with Marco Fine Coloured Pencils and Stabilo Point 88 fineliners. If you’d like to get a copy of this wonderful, woodland treasure hunt follow the link to Amazon Tangle Wood: A Captivating Colouring Book with Hidden Jewels