Michael O’Mara

The Labyrinth: Mythical Beasts to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Labyrinth is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the fourth book created in this series, all illustrated by Richard Merritt who this time has been joined by Sabine Reinhart. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary and The Aquarium) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful teal and purple foiling on the cover. The pages are not perforated but they are easy to remove by cutting as close to the spine as possible so you can still frame them if you wish. There are 32 images, all printed single-sided and very little of the image enters the spine so hardly any of it is lost. The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens didn’t bleed or shadow at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils, you could also use alcohol markers as long as you pop some protective sheets of paper behind your work. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a mythical beasts instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on, all are pictured individually. The images are beautifully drawn and very varied as Richard and Sabine’s art styles are quite different from each other, if you’re a fan of mythology and mythological beasts then you’re sure to love this book! This new instalment to the The Menagerie series is just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Aviary and The Aquarium, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images and this title is no exception.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue mountains, pink and purple thistles, lilac clouds, and yellow lightening bolts, but the creature itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of mythological beasts included but some of my personal favourites are the faun, gnome, jackalope, unicorn, and fairy, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book none of the beasts are naturally black though I’m not sure what colour many of the creatures are “supposed” to be so it’s worth going all out with your colour schemes and get your brightest colours working!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images are best, very closely followed by fantasy-based images and you’ve got an abundance of those in this book so it’s a great one for getting lost in! I found it great fun to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when I need energising or feel like my mood needs a boost. The images aren’t of real animals so you can really go to town with your colour schemes and there are really no wrong choices though there will be plenty of depictions of most of these creatures if you have a quick search online so you could copy someone else’s colour schemes if you wish or you can do what I did and just pick a colour and roll with it. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the previous books’ pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The mythical beasts themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a mythological masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love mythology and mythological beasts and really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of mythological creatures that I’ve seen. The Labyrinth is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again.

I have recently created a fan group for artwork by Richard Merritt and Claire Scully (and now Sabine Reinhart too) which you can find here, please do join and share your finished pages from this and the other books in the series.

***This book has been published under the title Mythologica in the US and their edition has perforated pages whereas ours in the UK doesn’t. If you’d prefer perforated pages, I’ve included purchase links for the US edition as well as the UK edition below.***

If you’d like to purchase a UK edition it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a US edition it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Mythologica
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Mythologic-Richard-Merritt-Sabine-Reinhart/9781438009520/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips.

The Aquarium: Marine Creatures to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aquarium is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This is the third book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie and The Aviary. This book is exactly the same size and format as the predecessors (it’s non-perforated like The Aviary) but in case you missed those here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and magenta foiling on the cover. The pages are not perforated but they are easy to remove by cutting as close to the spine as possible so you can still frame them if you wish. There are 31 images, all printed single-sided and very little of the image enters the spine so hardly any of it is lost. The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens barely shadowed and didn’t bleed through at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils, you could also use alcohol markers as long as you pop some protective sheets of paper behind your work. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a fish or sea creature instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are drawn side on and others are pictured front on or even in pairs or shoals. The images are beautiful and if you are a fish or underwater creature fan then you’ll love this book! Michael O’Mara are incredibly proud of this new title and quite rightly so, it’s just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Menagerie and The Aviary, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images, I think this might actually be my favourite so far because you can use such an array of bright colours.

Each picture (except the walrus, clown fish and seal) has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of blue or purple bubbles, red seaweed, turquoise waves and lilac jellyfish silhouettes but the animal itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of sea creatures included but some of my personal favourites are the orcas, lined seahorses, chambered nautilus, and common octopus, but that’s just to name a few. Unlike in the previous books where a few of the animals were naturally black which made it difficult to colour them realistically if you so chose, in this book only the orcas and penguins are naturally black and as you can see from my finished page, I decided to go all out and use as many colours as possible to create rainbow orcas which I really wish were a real thing!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images and those of things in nature are by far the most relaxing to colour and animals are absolutely top of my list for that so this book is ideal! I found it really calming to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when my anxiety peaks and I need to get control of it quickly. Because the images are of something real, you can either colour them realistically meaning you can have a quick google and find out exactly what pens and pencils to use to make it come alive and practice your blending and shading, or you can do what I did and really spice things up with your brightest pens and wildest colour schemes. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The sea creatures themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, because the images are of fish, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. A number of the images really lend themselves to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over and look like scales through my coloured pencil. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a scaly, tentacled masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love sea creatures, like colouring natural things, or if you really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of fish and marine life that I’ve seen. The Aquarium is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available for less than the RRP here:
Amazon UK – The Aquarium
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Aquarium-Richard-Merritt/9781910552322/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A Fourth book has also been announced called The Labyrinth which will be filled with mythical creatures and can be pre-ordered here but you’ve got a long wait as it doesn’t publish until May 2017!
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White 11 inch square frame
Oak 11 inch square frame
Beech 11 inch square frame

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

Creative Colouring Techniques – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Creative Colouring Techniques is published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is a wonderful compilation of hugely varied colouring pages, arranged into collections to practice the different colouring techniques which are described and illustrated within. This book is A4, paperback with brightly coloured and patterned flexible card covers. The spine is glue and string bound so it’ll be pretty hard-wearing but it does make it quite tricky to get the book to lie flat until it’s eased up with use. The images are printed double-sided and each has a 1cm border all the way around which prevents any of the image being lost into the spine. The paper is bright white and smooth but I’ve tested my pencils on it and they went down well and I was able to build up plenty of layers for blending and shading. The paper is thick and didn’t bleed through at all with water-based pens and only shadowed when I pressed too hard. The book contains 128 pages, which includes 100 colouring pages split into 20 chapters of 5 images which each start with a colouring or doodling technique which can then be practiced on the subsequent pages. This book contains heaps of techniques, suggestions and bits of advice about colour theory, different types of patterns and different filling techniques. Obviously I can’t give too much away or it’ll ruin the book for you but I have shown some of the technique pages in the photographs of the book so that you can see examples. I’ve also shown the contents page so that you can see the full list of techniques that are included. The images are so varied that it’s difficult to describe them briefly but there are images of everything you can imagine from buildings to fruit, weather to patterns, flowers to skulls and loads and loads of animals and birds. There really is something for everyone and you certainly won’t get bored or find any of the images samey.

In terms of mental health, this book is truly fantastic because it’s like an instruction manual for colouring. A lot of people with mental health problems get stuck sometimes and lack inspiration, especially those who are new to colouring because it can be daunting to know where and how to start. This book solves that problem completely and you could easily work through it from cover to cover because it’s somewhat arranged into difficulty level so you can increase your techniques as you work through the book. The images in each section do mostly lend themselves well to that specific technique and have clearly been chosen for this purpose, however, as you work through the book you could easily mix and match techniques and even add your own ideas as you grow in confidence. The line thickness varies throughout from spindly thin all the way up to medium/thick; the majority of the lines are medium/thin so this is a very usable book for anyone who doesn’t have poor vision or fine motor control. The intricacy and details levels also vary throughout from huge open spaces to teeny tiny details so this book will adapt really well to your good and bad days and you can focus on the larger images when your concentration is poor and the more intricate images when you’re feeling well. The techniques range from helping you to choose colours in various different ways, to using dots, dashes, patterns and more to fill the spaces instead of block colouring and even gives you hints for simple doodling too and as someone who really can’t draw, none of this was impossible for me to achieve so this is an ideal book for those of you who want to spice up your colouring but sometimes feel unable to due to lack of inspiration or lack of drawing talent.

I would highly recommend this book to beginner colourers as a great place to start and to those of you who want to learn new colouring and doodling techniques, this book is filled with all sorts of hints, tips and tricks and it’s beautifully organised so that you can learn a technique and then practice it on specially chosen colouring pages. I love it and think it’s one that you definitely need to add to your collection!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Creative Colouring Techniques
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Creative-Colouring-Techniques/9781782435532/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was doodled using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

The Menagerie Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Menagerie Postcards is illustrated by Claire Scully and Richard Merritt, and published and very kindly sent to me to review by LOM art, an imprint of Michael O’Mara Books. This book of postcards contains 20 scaled down illustrations from the hugely popular The Menagerie (reviewed by me here). The postcards are standard size and have a lay flat binding which makes them easy to remove when you wish but is sturdy enough to keep the postcards in place while you’re colouring and for if you wish to keep them as a complete book. The covers are made of thick card with black tape down the spine, the signature bear image is pictured on the front with bronze foiling. None of the image is lost into the spine and the whole thing is fully colourable. The back of each postcard has a dotted outline for a stamp and four address lines. Each of the 20 images has elements of the animal and in some cases the background foliage embellished with bronze foiling which really adds a touch of luxury to these postcards. The card itself is bright white and smooth, water-based pens colour brilliantly on this with no sideways bleeding, bleed through or shadowing. Unfortunately, pencils don’t colour well on this card because it’s just too smooth and there’s no tooth so they don’t layer or blend well and I found my normally vibrant colours looked very dull and flat. The images are printed single-sided and are a great selection from the original images from The Menagerie, most of the favourites are included from the bear to the fox, tiger to lion, elephant to rhino and even the llama! The only original image that I personally was disappointed isn’t included was the highland cow because I think that would have looked wonderful with bronze foiling but we can’t have it all! The images have been scaled down well and are of course much smaller but they’re definitely still colourable though you may need to change your technique for these smaller versions.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it’s really natural and there is so much detail that it really draws you in and focuses you on the here and now rather than your symptoms or thoughts. The line thickness is consistent throughout at spindly thin so there is no room for manoeuvre and you’ll easily colour over the lines so this is definitely a postcard set for those of you with very good vision and fine motor control. The intricacy and detail levels do vary from very detailed to extremely, super teeny tiny, microscopic detail that is a struggle to see, let alone colour. However, don’t despair, while you certainly won’t be able to colour within each teeny tiny section, you can easily colour over the smallest details and use them as texture underneath your colouring. Many of the images are fully colourable but around 50% of them do have areas that are filled with miniscule detail and while this didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the postcards at all, it’s just something to be aware of, especially as pencils don’t work so well on this card. These illustrations are so detailed that you can’t help but practice mindfulness and focus intently on colouring each section carefully and neatly and this really helps you to get out of your head and away from difficult thoughts. While these images are small in size, they take a surprisingly long time to colour so you’re certainly getting value for money and you will need pretty good concentration and lighting to get the most out of these. As a side note, they would look beautiful framed either coloured or uncoloured, especially with the luxurious bronze foiling.

I would highly recommend this postcard book to fans of The Menagerie who have very good vision and fine motor control. Pen lovers will find these postcards ideal but you’ll definitely need to stick to the finest of fineliners to stay within the lines and keep the images looking crisp. These postcards are beautiful and other than not being well suited to pencils, they’re pretty much perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Menagerie-Postcards-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552346/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of The Menagerie then you can get the book here:
My Review – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Scandia: A Colouring Book Journey – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Scandia: A Colouring Journey is illustrated by Zeena Shah, and published and kindly sent to me to review by LOM Art. This gorgeous book is filled with Scandinavian style art and is cute, quirky, fun and pretty in equal measure! The book itself is 25cm square, paperback with flexible card covers and the front cover has an incredible flower and leaf papercut design which shows the beautiful turquoise first page through it (I’m extremely tempted to remove the cover of my book and frame it because it’s so beautiful). The spine is glue and stitch-bound but it’s pretty pliable and not very many of the images enter the spine so it doesn’t cause much of a problem. The paper is bright white and thick, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which only vaguely shadow if you colour over the same area more than once, and coloured pencils which you can build up multiple layers with for blending and shading, alcohol markers will bleed through but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind your work. This book contains 46 single-sided images which are all drawn in a Scandinavian style and would all make great Nordic jumper patterns. The images are almost entirely of natural items such as food, plants, animals and scenery and they’re all drawn in a cute, cartoon-y style so they’re not overly realistic and are therefore really charming. They have a childlike quality to them (not childish) and are full of imagination from the leafy antlers of a deer to a jumper-wearing bear, the illustrations are all filled with patterns making them very interesting to look at, as well as colour and these would look lovely coloured, removed and framed for a Scandinavian themed room, especially a child’s room as you could use really bright colours for this. The illustrations include mountains, a whale, deer, fruit, birds, a lighthouse, a rabbit, sailing boats, and lots of Scandi-style patterns, it really is beautiful!

In terms of mental health, this is a book that offers great escapism. The images aren’t drawn too realistically so they don’t feel restrictive; you don’t have to use realistic colours to make them come to life, you can easily colour a pink rabbit or some blue fruit and this would look just as good as brown or green. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin with thinner lined details and the intricacy and detail level is also consistently moderate to high throughout. This means that this book would be ideal for anyone, apart from those with particularly poor vision or fine motor control. The lines are thick enough that you won’t easily colour over them by accident and the details aren’t teeny tiny there are just a lot of smaller sections because of the patterns Zeena has added to each larger section. These patterns are really lovely and definitely add a huge amount of interest and charm to the images and can either be used to colour within, or to colour over in blocks to create texture. The fun and light heartedness of these images means that they’re great for lifting your mood and brightening your day and because they’re all single pages, they don’t take hours and hours to colour so this is a fantastic book for your bad days when your concentration is poor or when you want a quick and rewarding colouring experience. The illustrations are beautiful and the papercut front cover is such a wonderful, unique touch of luxury that puts this colouring book right up there with the current bestsellers.

I would highly recommend this book to those of you who like Scandinavian art, and those who like to colour all things cute! This is a beautiful book filled with whimsy, charm and fun and I’m absolutely blown away by the front cover which is definitely worthy of framing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Scandia: A Colouring Journey
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Scandia-Zeena-Shah/9781910552315/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

The Aviary: Bird Portraits to Colour – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Aviary (Colouring Books) is published by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is from my personal collection. This is the second book created by the super talented illustrators Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, known for The Menagerie. This book is exactly the same size and format as The Menagerie but in case you missed that here are the specs. The book is huge at 29cm square, it’s paperback and has beautiful blue and silver foiling on the cover. The pages are perforated for easy removal meaning you can display them or gift them to others. There are 31 images, all printed single-sided and because the pages are perforated, the image doesn’t enter the spine so none of it is lost (do check your copy is actually perforated as my copy isn’t and has no signs of perforation either, this is a fault with mine but I doubt mine’s the only one that slipped through). The paper is bright white, fairly thick and lightly textured. My water-based pens heavily shadowed but didn’t bleed through at all and there was no sideways bleeding so these images are ideal to be coloured with fineliners or fibre-tipped pens as well as coloured pencils. Each image is just like a portrait of a person but each one is of a bird instead, some are zoomed in a little, some are sat diagonally facing the artist and others are pictured front on or even in pairs. The images are beautiful and if you like the Art Therapy series (reviewed by me here) also published by Michael O’Mara, and like me, longed for a book of just the bird images then this is the book for you. Michael O’Mara are incredibly proud of this new title and quite rightly so, it’s just gorgeous and a worthy sequel to The Menagerie, this series is really different from any other books I’ve seen in the way it’s presented and the content of the images.

Each picture has a bit of colour added to the background in the form of brown branches, lilac flowers, green plants and orange leaves but the animal itself is always colour-free ready for you to make your mark. These images would look stunning framed on their own or as a set and I’m already making grand plans for some of my favourites! I have put a photo below of the list of birds included but some of my personal favourites are an Atlantic puffin, Indian peafowl, macaw, swallow-tailed hummingbird, mallard ducks, red-billed toucan, and the emperor penguin chick but that’s just to name a few. My only, very slight, gripe is that some of the birds are naturally black (raven), or white (albatross), or both (penguin) and this means that you either have to pretty much leave them as they are if you want them to look realistic, or go all out with your outlandish colour schemes (see my toucan below) in order to be able to colour them. It’s not a problem and you’re certainly getting a lot of other images which you could colour very realistically (or break out your neons and rainbow pens like I did) I just think it’s a slight shame. Other than that though the book is perfect!

In terms of mental health, this book is fabulous! As seasoned readers of my reviews will know, I think natural images and those of things in nature are by far the most relaxing to colour and animals are absolutely top of my list for that so this book is ideal! I found it really calming to colour ready for review and this is sure to be one of my go-to books when my anxiety peaks and I need to get control of it quickly. Because the images are of something real, you can either colour them realistically meaning you can have a quick google and find out exactly what pens and pencils to use to make it come alive and practice your blending and shading, or you can do what I did and really spice things up with your brightest pens and wildest colour schemes. There’s no right or wrong way of colouring this book and having seen other people’s finished versions of the pictures online, I’m still not sure which I prefer out of realistic or outlandish and I’m intending to mix and match through my copy! The birds themselves are drawn with a varying line thickness which ranges from thin to medium but none of it is spindly thin which is ideal. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout but mostly these images are pretty intricate and are made up of lots of teeny tiny sections. However, because the images are of birds, you don’t have to colour in each section a different colour and could easily colour whole chunks and just use the black lines as texture behind that rather than guides for where you must colour within. The flamingo in particular I think lends itself to beautifully blended pencils and I most certainly won’t be colouring within every section and will instead be using those to colour over and look like feathers through my coloured pencil. There are loads of possibilities with these images so this is one book that you don’t need to be put off from just because at first glance it looks too intricate. You will need a moderate level of fine motor control and good-ish vision but neither need to be perfect for you to be able to create a feathered masterpiece! These images will take ages to colour so they’re great for keeping you distracted from difficult thoughts and calming you down when your mind is racing and your anxiety is off the chart. The size of the images means that you’ve really got something to get your teeth into and you can just colour small sections on bad days when your concentration isn’t so great, or the whole image on days where you’re feeling more focused.

I would highly recommend this book if you love birds, like colouring natural things, or if you really like intricate, detailed books with plenty of different sections to colour. This is one of the nicest colouring books of birds I’ve seen. The Aviary is a fantastic book for keeping you focused and distracted from mental illness and I found it really helpful for calming down my anxiety and slowing down my thoughts so I could focus again. This is a perfect book for bird-lovers. Scroll down to below the links for loads of photos of inside.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available for less than the RRP here:
Amazon UK – The Aviary (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can read my review of The Menagerie here, or purchase it below.
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A third book will be joining the series in September 2016 called The Aquarium which will be filled with all things fishy. You can pre-order here:
Amazon UK – The Aquarium (Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aquarium-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully/9781910552322/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A Fourth book has also been announced called The Labyrinth which will be filled with mythical creatures and can be pre-ordered here but you’ve got a long wait as it doesn’t publish until May 2017!
Amazon UK – The Labyrinth
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Labyrinth-Richard-Merritt-Claire-Scully-Sabine-Reinhart/9781910552612/?a_aid=colouringitmom

I scoured the internet looking for places that sold frames that fit these images and found these ones on Amazon were perfect and are available in various colours to suit your image no matter how it’s coloured.
White – WHITE WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Oak – OAK WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE
Beech – BEECH WOODEN EFFECT PICTURE PHOTO SQUARE FRAMES SIZE: 11″x11″, PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE READYMADE

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

Imagimorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Imagimorphia is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, and published by Michael O’Mara Books, this book is from my personal collection and while it’s not due on sale in the UK until May the 5th and the US until the 21st of June, it’s currently shipping worldwide from Book Depository (link at the bottom) and from a number of UK bookstores (my copy is from WHSmith and it’s also available in Waterstones). This book is the sequel to the incredibly popular Animorphia, reviewed by me HERE. The first thing I said when flicking through the book, and still now, is WOW! I really liked Animorphia but I love this book! It’s even more unusual and quirky and there is far more variety in the image content too (more on this later). While Animorphia wasn’t to everyone’s taste, it’s one that grows on most people, and Imagimorphia even more so because of the sheer variety of themes and objects found within each picture. I found it a little less overwhelming to know where to start and a bit easier to just dive in and get colouring with this book. The quirkiness and unusual style is absolutely its selling point but this book is also prettier and more nature-filled than the first which was a huge bonus for me.

The book is square, the same size as Animorphia and other bestsellers by JB and MM, it’s paperback with a black card cover with bright yellow lettering and an eagle (UK copy: there is bright green lettering and an owl on the US cover) in Kerby’s signature style which hints at what’s inside. The paper is bright white, very lightly textured and medium thickness, it does shadow with water-based fineliners but doesn’t bleed so you could use them very carefully but always check your pens somewhere inconspicuous to make sure you don’t ruin any reverse images. The paper is good for pencils and allows for a few layers for blending and shading. The ink does transfer a little when pressure is applied so when you’re using pencils pop a scrap piece of paper behind to avoid transfer. The book contains 80 images which are printed double-sided and include single (6) and double-page spreads (including 13 paired images which don’t enter the spine and have separate but similar designs on each page, and 24 traditional double-page spreads which do enter the spine and aren’t stand-alone images). The book has a glue- and stitch-bound spine which is fairly tight on arrival and the images are borderless so you do lose a strip of each image into the spine and unfortunately a couple of the images haven’t been designed very well for this type of spine, most notably the tree image (photographed below). Unlike Animorphia, not all of the images are focused around a realistically drawn animal which then morphs into lots of different creatures and objects, there are still a lot of these but there is much also more variety. Rather than just having alien doodles and objects, there are a number of images with a real steampunk theme including cogs and wheels, others including wires and metal, others still including lots of leaves, flowers, fish, birds and more. There is a much more industrial feel to some images with a gorilla morphing into a skyline of buildings, snails with actual houses on their backs, a camel hump being the setting of a whole city as well as scarab beetles filled with cogs, a metalwork butterfly and even robots and airships. The prettier images are very nature-themed and include a bird morphing into butterflies, a chrysalis pouring out all sorts of leaves and birds and other objects, and the typical animal morphs similar to Animorphia where the morphing is done so seamlessly that it’s difficult to tell where the animal stops and the creatures start. A whole host of animals and objects are featured from a leopard to a train, a birdcage to a tyrannosaurus rex, castles to a horse, skulls to swans, a panda to pineapples and so many more! Kerby’s signature alien creatures don’t feature quite so heavily in this book and the content is spiced up a lot more, for those of you who weren’t a fan of them, you’re sure to like this book a lot more and for those of you who loved them, there are still plenty to keep you interested and entertained so I think the level of them is just right!

In terms of mental health, this is one book that’s absolutely fantastic for distraction! It takes quite a lot of concentration to identify all of the parts of the picture let alone start choosing colours so this really is a book that will help you get through the days when your mind is racing and you need to be able to switch off. It’s not a book for the faint-hearted because each image takes a very long time and a lot of work but it’s so worth it and the effects you can create are amazing! Kerby appears to have taken note of the feedback about the add your own doodle pages and these have been drastically reduced to just two, a tiger where you can doodle the stripes, and a double-page spread of feathers to fill in. I’m really pleased about this because I can’t draw at all so I’m glad that all but 3 of the pages are finished and ready to colour! The images are very cohesive and they’re prettier than those in Animorphia and a bit less dark, most of the images have some shading and texture drawn in but not loads (check out the pictures below to decide if you like this feature or not). The line thickness varies throughout but mainly sticks around the thin mark so you need fairly good vision and fine motor control, but definitely not perfect to enjoy this book! There is also a treasure hunt with 3 pages at the back of the book showing all of the items you can hunt for within the images, followed by thumbnails showing the answers. This book is ideal for those of you who have a fairly good attention span so that you can really get involved in the images and the content is so absorbing that you really do get out of your head and away from your thoughts and become immersed in what you’re colouring. The images have a variety of intricacy and detail levels so you can use simpler images on bad days and more detailed images on days where you’re able to focus better so it’s a great book for those of you with fluctuating conditions.

I would highly recommend this book for male and female colourers who love all things weird, wonderful, and quirky, and who love animals and nature mixed with alien creatures, foliage and metalwork. This book is packed with amazing images that are great fun to colour and I was thrilled to hear that Kerby is currently working on another sequel called Mythomorphia which will be published in 2017 so isn’t available to be pre-ordered yet. This book is stunning, overwhelming at times and one that really gets your creative juices flowing so grab your pencils and get colouring yourself quirky!

Imagimorphia can be purchased here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552148/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9780399574122/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re late to the party and don’t yet have Animorphia then check out my review below or go straight ahead and order it here:
Review – Animorphia 
Amazon UK – Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552070/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils and the background with Pan Pastels and Marco Raffine pencil blended with Zest-It Blending Solution (Gamsol in the US).

Tierzauber (Animal Magic) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Christophorus Verlag GmBH (Recht herzlichen Dank für deine Großzügikeit Tina). This book is illustrated by the highly talented Richard Merritt who is one of my Top 5 favourite illustrators (I’m terrible at decisions and can’t pick just one). You may not know his name but you’re sure to know his work because he’s one half of the incredible duo who illustrated The Menagerie and upcoming titles The Aviary and The Aquarium. He’s well-known for his stunning drawings of highly intricate, hyper detailed and patterned animals and these have been featured in the Art Therapy series of books which was where I first discovered his work. You can imagine my excitement when one of my readers discovered Tierzauber and asked me to investigate and review it. Tierzauber roughly translates as Animal Magic, a very apt title as this book is crammed full with images of animals, all drawn in Richard’s distinctive style. If you liked The Menagerie, or the Art Therapy series, you’ll LOVE this book because it contains 60 pages of incredible animal images!

This book is 22.5cm square, a little smaller than the bestsellers, paperback, with thick card covers that are double-thickness and open out to reveal pairs of animal images at the front and back that are contained within the book. The covers are soft-feel and have gold foiling accents on both the front and back images. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but a little tight, however this will ease up with use. All of the images are single pages, but some of these do cover the whole page and therefore a little is lost into the spine. The images are printed double-sided onto bright white, medium thickness paper which shadows a bit with dark coloured water-based pens and looks as if it might bleed through at points so do be very careful with these and always test the ones you’re using first. The paper is lightly textured so you can get a few pencil layers but not loads so blending and shading is a little tricky. The images are of a huge range of animals and run in a vague order where similar animals are grouped together from cats and dogs to British wildlife like badgers, foxes, squirrels and rabbits, to more exotic animals including an elephant, lion, warthog, meerkats, koala, and then onto sea creatures including lots of different fish, dolphins, an octopus, a seal and an otter, then onto reptiles including a tree frog, chameleon, tortoise, and finally on to birds and insects including penguins, a toucan, flamingos, a butterfly and dragonfly. So many things from the animal kingdom are pictured including lots of unusual animals that aren’t often found in other colouring books. For a full look through of the book CLICK HERE to watch my video flick-through on Facebook.

In terms of mental health, if you love animals, or at least love colouring them, then this book is sure to help! I have always found Richard’s illustrations wonderful for my own mental health because there are so many small sections to colour and really focus your mind on which is ideal when I’m very anxious and need to get out of my head. The images are all filled with lots of patterns creating small sections that you can colour within or colour over and leave as texture behind your work so although this book is very intricate and detailed, it doesn’t have to be used in that way so it’s ideal for almost anyone, regardless of vision or fine motor control depending on how you wish to use it. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin so again, it’s suitable for almost anyone but not those with particularly poor vision or dexterity. Unlike in The Menagerie, there is no added colour so you’re free to add your own backgrounds and colour schemes to every image. While a number of the animals are featured in both books, they are all drawn differently (see comparison photos below) so you won’t be getting any duplicates if you want copies of both. Images of nature and animals are fantastic for calming you down and these images are particularly good because there are so many sections to attend to. The size of the book means the pages are a bit more manageable which is great for those of you with poor concentration as these pages will take less time to colour than The Menagerie which is much larger. While these illustrations are all of realistic animals, the patterns within allow you to use natural or totally outlandish colour schemes as and how you wish and both will look equally fabulous! The images are really cohesive and great fun to colour and they would look amazing removed from the book and framed for a really funky office or a cutesy nursery.

I would highly recommend this book to people who love colouring animals, to fans of Richard’s work and The Menagerie or the Art Therapy series, and to anyone who likes intricate and detailed images. This is a beautiful book which you’ll need to be a bit careful colouring with pens but is perfect other than that! Even the inside and outside covers are colourable with alcohol markers so this book is a true example of a fully colourable colouring book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Tierzauber: Ausmalmotive für mehr Gelassenheit
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tierzauber-Richard-Merritt/9783862303441/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Menagerie it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Menagerie: Animal Portraits to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Menagerie-Richard-Merritt/9781910552155/?a_aid=colouringitmom

A second book will be joining the series in June 2016 called The Aviary which is set to be every ornithologist’s dream! I’ll bring you a review as soon as I can and in the meantime, here’s where you can pre-order it:
Amazon UK – The Aviary
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Aviary-Claire-Scully-Richard-Merritt/9781910552216/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners, Stabilo 68 Fibre-tips and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners all of which bled through the paper.

Relaxing Art Therapy: Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books) is the fifth in the Art Therapy series, and is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara publishing. There are 4 other titles in the series, all of which I’ve reviewed – Art Therapy, Creative Therapy, Colour Therapy and  Calming Art Therapy.

These books truly have worked as therapy for me and I fell in love with this one as soon as I opened its pages. I was sent the paperback copy of this book but if you want to know about the hardback versions then the information is in all of my reviews of the previous 4 titles. This is an A4 paperback book which is glue and string bound so it’s sturdy, but this binding does mean that it’s pretty difficult to get the book to lie flat without a bit of a workout (if this is an issue for you then I’d recommend the hardback version which starts off a little too tight but quickly loosens up and lies flat for colouring). The images cover the full page and are borderless so a little of each image is lost into the spine of the paperback copies. The images are printed double-sided but as with all of the Michael O’Mara books I’ve encountered, the paper quality is fantastic and I’ve never experienced any bleeding despite using a multitude of different felt-tips and fineliners though do be a little careful about over-colouring as it can start to show through after a few strokes or holding in the same spot. The 100+ images are drawn by a number of very talented illustrators so there is a huge variety but in this book it’s not instantly obvious that it’s not been created by one person and the drawings flow really well giving a very cohesive feel to the book. There are lots of swirling lines, geometric patterns and abstract shapes but in equal measure there are captivating animals, flowers and scenes all stylised and just begging to be coloured.

So, what makes this series so special? For me, as an anxious colourer, this series is different from any other I’d seen before because many of the images have some colour already added to them. This book is a little different from the first 4 titles which all had lots of splashes of colour added to the drawings themselves, in this book the majority of the backgrounds are coloured but very few of the images have coloured sections added and where they do, they’re often in less conspicuous places like down the centre of the spine rather than all over. I personally think this is a little bit of a shame because I really loved that feature in the previous titles but for those of you who really weren’t keen this title might be a happy medium. When I first flicked through the books I felt that the added colour limited me because it forced me to use a colour that I would never have chosen, however, this feature actually changed the way I colour forever because until I had these books I had always felt forced by the perfectionist in me to colour everything in realistic, natural colours. This series stopped me being able to do that and really freed up my imagination so that I felt able to add outlandish colours instead of just realistic ones. This has been very therapeutic for me and has really expanded my creativity and I’m sure it would expand yours too. Another thing that makes this, and the others in the Art Therapy series, unique is the Doodling section at the back. There are a number of pages with huge sections left blank for you to doodle in however you wish. They are all started for you so again, there is no issue with staring at a blank page and not being able to narrow down a colour scheme. You can choose the same colours, contrasting colours, colours that clash, all of the colours even. This book has been wonderful for me as someone that’s never doodled in their life because it shows so many examples of adding colour to a page without simply colouring in a block and then colouring the next block in a different colour. These techniques don’t just have to be used in the doodling section, they can be added to any of the other images in the book and you’ll find that they free up your creative juices when colouring in other books too as the number of possibilities for your colouring just expands.

The images have varying line thicknesses, different coloured backgrounds and some lines are printed in colour rather than black. A huge range of themes is contained within this book and while it’s not the most delicate, it really is an essential book to add to your collection. I find these books particularly calming and often colour them in bed when my insomnia kicks in and I find they really help to settle my mind so that I can finally get to sleep. Some images are more intricate than others but actually this book is very well suited to the majority of you because of the wide-ranging content. It really is fantastic for all of you anxious colourers out there who agonise about colours and often feel increased tension at the sight of a blank white page with black lines on. This book is already started for you so you’re just continuing the process and somehow, that makes it so much easier to just pick up a pen or pencil and start. Of all of the colouring books I now own, this series is the one that has helped my mental health the most. It’s not so intricate that it’s frustrating but is definitely for adults, not children and when I’m feeling really anxious the lines are just thick enough that I can colour without having to concentrate on every single pen stroke for fear of going over the lines. This book is beautiful, bold and full of colour and it really is a joy to colour and doodle in. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough and strongly urge you to purchase a copy just as soon as you can because it does exactly what it says it’ll do on the cover – Doodle and Colour Your Stress Away and provides Relaxing Art Therapy – What more could you want?!

This book is available to purchase in hardback here (paperback copies should be available later in the year):
Amazon UK – Relaxing Art Therapy (Art Therapy Colouring Books)
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Relaxing-Art-Therapy-Richard-Merritt-Lizzie-Preston-Sam-Loman-Laur-Kate-Chapman-Hannah-Davies-Cindy-Wilde/9781782434993/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens.

Animorphia Notebook – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Animorphia Notebook is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara books. Colouring notebooks and journals are becoming increasingly popular as people are wanting to combine their love of colouring with their desire to write. Many people associate journaling or writing a diary with adding doodles, but for those of us with no drawing or doodling talent, the colouring notebook solves the problem of wanting to be creative, but not being able to draw. This notebook is fun, quirky, neon, and filled with incredible illustrations from the hugely popular Animorphia colouring book which I’ve reviewed here. This notebook is A5 in size, softback (with a soft-feel, sturdy cover which I’m guessing would be wipe-clean), flexibound (meaning it’ll take some working to get to the centre of the spine but that it’ll hold up to lots of use), and it has a neon orange elastic band to keep it closed when transporting it and to prevent it getting damaged in a bag. The paper is bright white and medium thickness so it is mostly fine with water-based pens but it does shadow a little and can bleed if you’re not careful so do test somewhere inconspicuous. The paper is pretty smooth so it’s not ideal for pencils but you’ll be able to build up a few layers. The pages are double-sided so I would recommend using pencil to write in the journal, or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel. The notebook contains 128 pages and these are a huge mixture of: plain white pages with some small animals and doodles; a few black background pages with animal illustrations; lined pages with doodled borders; and a few double-page spread images with illustrations dotted around,  drawn over a corner, or one half. The notebook starts with a “This book belongs to…” page and then continues into the plain paper and lined paper pages (lots of photographs of these below). The images are borderless and do enter the spine which can be reached with some hefty manipulation and patience. The illustrations are all from the original book and sections of these are displayed throughout, with lots of whole animals, as well as alien people on paper aeroplanes, and all sorts of other quirky scenes. One major difference to note is that a large number of the images have splashes of neon orange added to them. I wasn’t keen on this to begin with because it may well interfere with my desired colour schemes, however, this feature has grown on me and it’s quite easily disguised when colouring with bright pens and will be a bright accent on more subtly coloured pages.

In terms of mental health, this notebook would be ideal for those who journal and like to write down their thoughts, feelings, memories and ideas, who also love to colour, because you can seamlessly combine the two without the need for two separate notebooks. The images are quirky, fun and sure to put a smile on your face which is ideal for your dark days. There are spaces around some of the designs where you could add your own doodles and creations but this is by no means necessary and the pages all look finished without the need for doodles. The line thickness is consistent throughout and is medium/thin, so you don’t need perfect vision or fine motor control to enjoy this notebook. The images are intricate and detailed and pretty consistent throughout, but there are large open spaces on some of the animals like the toucan, chameleon and fox where you can go to town with your blending and shading. You will need a fair amount of concentration for the larger images but most of them aren’t huge so they don’t take days and days to complete and you could easily colour them alongside your journaling so that once you get to the end of the notebook the whole thing becomes a beautiful keepsake. There is a huge range of drawing sizes from a little alien on its own, to small scenes, all the way up to double-page spreads so there really is something for any level of functioning – good, bad, and everything in between. The illustrations are ideal for people who also own the book to attempt colour schemes that they might not be brave enough to do their first version of in the book.

I would highly recommend this journal for all Animorphia fans, stationery addicts, and those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook. This is wonderfully quirky, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is a few alien creatures. This journal is well-made, sure to be hard-wearing and with its splash of fluorescent orange throughout it’s sure to brighten up the darkest of days.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this notebook it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Animorphia Notebook
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphia-Notebook-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552230/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of the Animorphia images then check out these beautiful postcards:
My Review of the Animorphia Postcards
Amazon UK – Animorphia Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Postcards-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552247/?a_aid=colouringitmom

And if you’re late to the Animorphia party and haven’t got yourself a copy of the book yet head here:
My Animorphia Review
Amazon UK – Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Animorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552070/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you can’t get enough of Kerby’s work then you can pre-order his next title Imagimorphia in both the US and UK versions which have different covers and publishing dates:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9781910552148/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Imagimorphia: An Extreme Coloring and Search Challenge
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Imagimorphi-Kerby-Rosanes/9780399574122/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.