Mindfulness

Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. It is with a heavy heart that I have to write a less than positive review of these postcards. I had high hopes for them after detailing my criticisms of the Lost Ocean Postcards and raising these issues with the publisher and hoped things would be changed, but when they arrived I’m afraid to say I was very disappointed. This set of postcards contains 36 scaled down images from Johanna Basford’s hugely successful Magical Jungle adult colouring book (reviewed by me here). Each postcard is printed single-sided with a leaf-outlined stamp space and space for an address (left blank with no lines) on the back so that you can send them to family, friends and loved ones. The postcards arrive in a sort of box that doesn’t have a top or bottom and opens out to reveal the postcards inside with three black images drawn in a white line from inside the book, in two designs. The cover is cream with beautiful gold accents and a scaled down version of the book cover. The postcards are attached to the inside back cover of this box and have a glue binding which isn’t attached to anything other than the cards, it’s very sticky on the outside and also not very hard or strong, after the first careful look through the postcards I had already loosened a few and by the fourth time looking through them over half had completely detached. I’ve only had this set for two days and I’ve already had to completely remove the glue binding because so many postcards had fallen out and they’re now all loose in the box-type cover which they fall out the bottom of.

This time there is only one size of set including 36 postcards rather than the 50 we were offered for Lost Ocean. Of my 36 postcards, one was duplicated meaning I got 36 postcards with 35 designs and of the duplicated cards, one had a printing error with a centimetre gap of unprinted design at the top (see photo below), I’ve been in touch with a fellow reviewer whose set also has the duplicate. Four of the postcards didn’t have the design printed centrally and were drastically shifted to one edge of the card (see photo below) and a further one had some text printing at the very top which I assume should have been cut off during manufacturing. The majority of the postcards are landscape and a few are portrait (7 including the duplicate image twice), they measure 16×11.2cm (a little smaller than the SG and EF postcards). Some are of the whole original image scaled down (8) and others are of sections of the original image that have been shrunk so there is a variety of intricacy levels from very intricate to virtually impossible to colour – the majority of the postcards are nowhere near the same size as the original illustrations with some being shrunk from 22.5cm across to just 9.5cm so you can imagine just how small these are. All but one of the designs are unique and they’re a beautiful selection of images from the book.

The postcards are made of thick, cream card which doesn’t bleed with water-based pens. The cards are a much yellower colour than the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Postcards and books. There were issues with white circles and patches on the Lost Ocean postcards which haven’t continued with this set, however, the card is identical and as before, water-based pens don’t colour smoothly or evenly and are repelled by the surface causing a much paler colour and a patchy appearance (see photo below – I will definitely be avoiding pens on these cards because of this). The postcards are lightly textured but don’t take pencils well, when covering larger areas the pencils almost clump and won’t apply smoothly, no matter what brand I’ve used, and it’s difficult to get smooth coverage over any size of area. I’ve found my Holbein pencils the best on this card but even they struggle and burnish quickly. There isn’t much space within the designs to blend or shade unless you want to colour over the lines. The line thickness is spindly thin, I have very good vision for small, close things, and also have very good fine motor control but many of the images on these postcards are so tiny that they’re almost impossible to colour and I went over the lines a number of times on my card which was one of the larger designs. Fineliners would be best to colour such intricate images but can’t be used due to being repelled so you’ll need some super sharp pencils and patience to colour slowly and sharpen very regularly. It’s such a shame because I’m a huge fan of Johanna’s images and I just love her books but scaling down the images to postcard size really wasn’t a sensible choice because it’s so limiting. The postcards are beautiful to look at and would be gorgeous to send or display as they are but given that they’re sold as colouring postcards, I expect to be able to colour them and I just haven’t found that possible to do as neatly as I’d like to. I had assumed that the images would include full-size zoomed in sections of the original images so that you can still blend and shade with pencils but because the images have been shrunk, many of them are just too small to colour (see the photos below where I’ve shown a 0.4mm Stabilo nib for scale).

Unfortunately, from a mental health perspective I really can’t recommend these, I really struggled to colour them and found it quite stressful because I just couldn’t get it to look right. They require a huge amount of concentration and while they’re less intricate than the majority of the Lost Ocean postcards, this is because Magical Jungle was Johanna’s least intricate and detailed book and therefore had larger spaces but when scaled down this doesn’t make a huge difference. Though they’re really interesting to look at, I would have to say that they’re really not well designed for colouring (I coloured one of the largest, least detailed images and still really struggled). All in all, I’m afraid I’m really disappointed. It’s such a shame these postcards didn’t follow the format of the Secret Garden Postcards, or those of Millie Marrotta’s Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland which had very few uncolourable images due to them being zoomed in sections of the illustrations, a much more sensible and usable format. My recommendation would be to get the book of Magical Jungle instead, this is a fairly expensive set of postcards when you factor in that many of them aren’t colourable. These postcards would look beautiful framed as they are but for me, they’re just not suitable for colouring, a real shame!

If you’d still like to purchase them or view them online, they can be found here.
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle: 36 Postcards to Colour and Send
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753548158/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The book of Magical Jungle can be found here:
Review – Magical Jungle
Amazon UK – Magical Jungle
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Jungle-Johann-Basford/9780753557167/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended with a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.

Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is the fourth in the Harry Potter Colouring Book series and my reviews of the first, second, and third can be found here. Grab your wand, bring a lantern, swat up on your incantations and let’s get delving into the magical artefacts of the wizarding world. This book is paperback with a glossy accented cover and a pale blue spine, it’s A4 in size and glue-bound meaning that a little of some images is lost. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with many of the single pages having a thin border meaning that they’re not lost into the spine. The book contains 96 pages which are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick (they’ve sorted out the paper issues since the first book), and didn’t bleed or shadow when tested with water-based pens, it’s lightly textured and perfect for pencils, you can get plenty of layers for blending and shading! It also held up fine to light use of water when activating the Derwent Inktense Pencils.

The images are drawn by multiple illustrators so they’re cohesive in content but some are drawn quite differently from each other. The images themselves include almost no stills from the film this time. There are a number of images based on concept art for the films and a few patterns are included which do feel a bit like “filler” images but there are fewer of these in this book than the first two (about 4 full page patterns) however, at least 24 pages are images with a centralised object overlaying a repeating pattern, like my coloured page of the sorting hat, and these get quite samey and dull. A huge number of different artefacts are pictured from obvious inclusions of wands, brooms, a time-turner, the Sorting Hat and horcruxes, to many of the items sold by the Weasley twins, book covers, the Marauders’ Map, Delores Umbridge’s cat plates and lots more. There are single and double-page spreads of objects and posters. This time there aren’t many pictures of characters though a few are included  At the end of the book are a number of full colour pages of the images included in the book meaning you can either copy the colour schemes in those or pick your own, they’re also great for helping you re-live the magic of the films and get yourself back into the world of Hogwarts – as if any of us ever left! I have to say, this book feels quite samey when compared to the previous three and they haven’t been brilliantly represented as specific titles due to the first book containing a real mixture of images and then the following three being specific aspects, many of the most obvious of which had already been featured in the first book. It just feels like it’s lacking, we’ve already had images of wands in two books, we’ve already seen the quidditch balls and different brooms, the collection of images is just quite random and the most obvious wizarding artefacts aren’t pictured well due to being shown in previous books.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have an awful lot of impact on it unless you’re a Harry Potter Mega Fan in which case it’s likely to considerably lift your mood and give you hours and hours of distraction and enjoyment. The images take a long time to colour if you want them to look realistic so you will need fairly good levels of concentration. The line thickness varies from very thin to thick but mostly it remains thin so you will definitely need good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The best part of this book is that it has coloured pages at the back which can be used to copy or give inspiration for colour schemes, you can also easily google the objects and artefacts in order to work out exactly how to colour them so they look true to the film, or you can go it alone and try out your own colour schemes with purple broomsticks, glittery wands and rainbow time-turners – it doesn’t have to be realistic, remember it’s a magical world! Some of the illustrations are very intricate and detailed and others are much simpler with larger open spaces so this book does have a variety of difficulty levels to accommodate your good and bad days.

All in all, this is a good book, but I’m left disappointed, it feels samey and lacklustre and the image style gets boring quite quickly, I think a trick was missed by creating the first generic themed book, it really took away from the subsequent three specific titled books as the best bits of each had already been pictured. However, if you’re wanting to finish off the set, or you’re just a bit less picky than me then this book may be for you. The paper quality is good and there’s a wide range of objects and artefacts pictured, I just feel they could have been pictured in a better, more exciting and inspiring way.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Harry Potter Magical Artefacts Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Magical-Artefacts-Colouring-Book/9781783705924/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water.

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.

Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal is illustrated by Leila Duly and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. These journals often come shrink-wrapped in plastic so unfortunately, even if you’re able to hunt it down in the shops, you may not be able to see inside so here is my review to unlock its mysteries and show you inside so you can make an informed decision. This journal is beautiful, as you’d expect, those of you familiar with Leila’s first colouring book, Floribunda, will know just how stunning her artwork is and now some of the smaller elements have been collated into this journal. It’s really luxurious from its pale pink hardback cover with a beautiful floral scene from the book, to the black linen-style spine, this journal oozes class and specialness and will be perfect for using as a diary, writing special notes or taking down your life story, or even using as a scrapbook, this journal is certainly not for your run of the mill shopping or to-do lists! It is A5 in size and contains 144 pages which are plain and un-lined meaning you can write in it or even use it for doodling, the corners are rounded so there are no harsh lines or corners making this journal feel very warm and inviting. There is a handy shell pink ribbon bookmark so you can easily find your place each time and on every other double-page is a small image from Leila’s Floribunda colouring book. The 37 illustrations include lots of the single flower illustrations which were printed in colour on the inside covers of her original book, they are printed in a very similar size to those and therefore look very delicate on the page. Of these illustrations, around 5 are printed twice, first towards the front of the book and then towards the end, these include the freesia, iris, delphinium, and two others. They look beautiful left uncoloured or brightened up with splashes of colour. The cover has a paper strip which is folded over but not attached stating the title of the journal and the price and description on the back of it, which can be removed. The inside covers and first and last pages are pale pink and the first internal page of the book has a large floral image with a small lined space to write your name. The paper is cream adding to the luxurious, vintage feel of the book and it is smooth meaning it’s a little tricky to layer your coloured pencils but it is doable with a bit of effort. I tried out my water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed at all and only had the slightest hint of shadowing with very dark colours but I only noticed because I was closely inspecting it. The ink lines do transfer ever-so slightly when pressing hard with pencils so do use a spare piece of paper behind when burnishing the images to avoid image transfer. My recommendation would be to use pencil to write in the journal or water-based pens rather than ball-points which would dent the paper heavily and take away from its lovely smooth feel.

From a mental health perspective, this journal is lovely because it gives you small little colouring projects for the days when a whole page is far too overwhelming. The illustrations are small and can be completed in a short amount of time meaning you don’t need a good attention span or level of concentration to be able to enjoy each illustration though you do have to focus very hard to not colour over the lines. You could complete them one by one, in order, each time you get to writing on that page, or pick and choose your favourites. The images are very intricate and detailed, and the lines are possibly the thinnest I’ve seen with the illustrations much smaller than those in the original colouring book pages and a similar size to their coloured counterparts on the inside covers of it, therefore you will need extremely good vision and fine motor control, a steady hand and some sharp pencils or a trusty set of fineliners so that you don’t go over the spindly thin lines. When compared to the two previous colouring journals Laurence King have published, I was very slightly disappointed with this one as there are no foiled elements on the cover (apart from the title on the removable paper strip), no metallic coloured edging to the pages, and half the number of colourable designs also including 5 repeats. This seems a little bit of a shame, however, as a standalone product it’s simply beautiful, I just feel the two journals of Johanna Basford’s artwork were better value for money as they had double the number of illustrations but for Floribunda fans this journal will still be ideal.

I would highly recommend this journal for stationery addicts, those who love to write and ‘need’ a new notebook, and fans of Floribunda and the stunning work of Leila Duly. This is wonderfully luxurious, beautifully illustrated and ideal for mixing colouring and writing and it’s perfect for your bad mental health days when all you can cope with colouring is one little flower. This journal is delicate and beautiful and a lovely addition to the colouring journal range.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Floribunda: A Flower Colouring Journal
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Floribund-Leil-Duly/9781780679402/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Holbein Artists’ Coloured Pencils.

Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition is illustrated by Jessica Palmer and published and kindly sent to me to review by Search Press Publishing. This book is the artist’s edition of Jessica’s hugely popular debut colouring book, Tangle Wood, which I reviewed almost 18 months ago, she’s since gone on to produce two further titles, Tangle Bay and Tangle Magic. This artist’s edition is a different format from the original and contains 20 images, some originally single pages and others a full double-page spread, I’ve included photos of all of the pages below so that you can see if your favourites are included and decide if this book is for you. It’s currently listed on Amazon with a release date in the UK as the 31st of March but my contact at Search Press is expecting their own website to have stock by the end of January and Amazon doesn’t usually take long after that so do get your pre-order in (links below) and you’ll be sure to get a copy as soon as it’s available.

The book itself is very large, measuring 25 x 33cm (the same size as Floribunda and the JB artist’s editions), it’s paperback with covers made of the same card as the pages inside, it’s thick card which is a beautiful cream colour, lightly textured and perfect for use with water-based pens which don’t bleed sideways or through, and pencils which layer and blend beautifully. I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t shadow onto the back, they just seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper. Cream isn’t everyone’s favourite page colour but it definitely adds a vintage feel and seems more natural than pure white so it really fits the woodland theme and also means you’re left with a less harsh contrast if you decide to leave the background uncoloured. The 20 images are printed single-sided onto the card and all of them are landscape, some are single page images from the original book which are printed a little larger, and others are double-page spreads which have been shrunk to fit the new page size. 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, mine arrived pretty stiff. 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 all from the original version of Tangle Wood, unlike most artist’s editions, the majority of these images are actually smaller than in the original book, I personally don’t think this was the best decision as Jessica’s illustrations are some of the most detailed around and it would have been lovely to have slightly larger scale versions to get our teeth into. There are also some slightly odd image choices like the floral frame which doesn’t actually fill the page or have enough space in the middle to draw much of your own imagery, or the floral spray with a small hummingbird, I was very disappointed to see that the gingerbread house wasn’t included apart from as a faded background for the bio on the back page. However, those niggles aside, the book is lovely and the images are really beautiful. Of the 20 images, 3 are printed larger than the original, 11 are printed smaller than the original, and the rest are the same size (see comparison photos below). The illustrations are printed in a different order from the book and don’t show the journey through the wood as the original did, there also isn’t a treasure hunt aspect though there are jewellery pieces hidden in each illustration. On the back of each page it says “Hand Coloured By” with a line to write your name and then “On” followed by space to write the date, you could also add the colouring mediums you used as a great record for the future.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, Jessica’s work contains so much detail that there’s constantly something to look at and notice, there’s a really good mix of images from up-close plants and insects to more scenic pages and all of the chosen illustrations will look beautiful framed if you wish. The linework is fairly consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin, the detail levels do vary because the scale of the images varies and it ranges from the tiniest of details up to much larger open spaces. While you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control, don’t forget that you don’t have to colour in each tiny section individually and you can get great effects from colouring over sections and using the black linework as pattern or texture through your colouring, I often do this with Jessica’s illustrations and it’s really effective. The drawings themselves are really natural and evocative and are sure to spark your imagination as well as calm you down, Jessica’s illustrations feel very peaceful so they’re great for slowing down a racing mind. A number of the images have large spaces where you could add your own backgrounds but this is by no means necessary and the pages will look beautiful with or without any additions. There is also a variance in the amount of content on each page so you can tackle a simpler page on bad days or a more complex design on days where you can focus and concentrate more fully. Fans of the original book are sure to love this edition, it feels quite different from the original but it has many more uses and is ideal for using heavy/wet media that you can’t use on double-sided pages.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, while the image choice and layout is a little disappointing, this may just be my personal taste and what is here is very lovely and will look stunning finished and framed. The book itself would make a wonderful gift or you could colour and frame a page for a loved one, or just brighten up your own home with your wonderful creations, I will certainly be framing my own soon, I just love how my owl turned out!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available to pre-order here:
Amazon UK – Tangle Wood Collector’s Art Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Tangle-Wood-Jessic-Palmer/9781782214878/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Search Press Website – https://www.searchpress.com/book/9781782214878/tangle-wood-collector-s-art-edition

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils and the background with PanPastels.

Enchanted Forest Journal – A Review

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

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

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

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Enchanted Forest Journal
Book Depository Worldwide (cover shown is incorrect but item is right) – http://www.bookdepository.com/Johann-Basfords-Enchanted-Forest-Journal-Johann-Basford/9781780679181/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The images below were coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners and Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book is published by Hodder and Stoughton and is from my personal collection. It’s been a sad couple of weeks in the baking world after discovering that not only is our favourite baking show moving from the safety of the BBC to the big wide world of Channel 4 but that also 3 of our 4 presenters and judges won’t be relocating with it. I can’t be the only one who feels as if their world has been turned upside down and isn’t sure if they should be whisking or kneading the mess of dough before them. It’s therefore the perfect time for Tom Hovey, resident artist (at least for now) on the Great British Bake Off, to publish his wonderful colouring book filled with familiarity and nostalgia from the series we know and love! I was so worried that after the devastation of the past few days’ news, this book might disappoint, that it might not be a recipe for success and might have the dreaded soggy bottom! I can safely say it hasn’t, at least for me, it’s beautiful, filled with recognisable bakes and just begging to be coloured! So grab your aprons, preheat your ovens and “On Your Marks, Get Set, BAAAAKE!”!

This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with flexible card covers which have partially coloured designs from inside the book on the outside and on the inside covers are colourable pages of cream horns which are also pictured in the book. The spine is glue and string-bound and isn’t especially tight on arrival meaning it’s quite easy to get most of the way into the gutter so very little of the image edge is lost. The pages consist of a mixture of single and double-page spreads, the book contains 90 pages of designs and 12 (24 sides) of these are double-page spreads. Many of the images are centralised cakes which don’t have any aspects reaching the edges of the pages, for those that are full page spreads of double-page designs, a very thin border has been left down the centre of the spine so once you’ve worked the spine and can open the book completely flat you’ll be able to reach all aspects of the image to colour which is fantastic and very rare! The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, my water-based pens barely even shadowed though they did bleed through when I added water to them but that’s to be expected, the paper didn’t hold up brilliantly to water and did buckle a bit but I’m new to using water with pens so I wasn’t sparing enough with it. Pencils work really well on the paper, you can build up plenty of layers for blending and shading and this will be ideal for getting your chocolate looking perfectly tempered, icing superbly swirled, and fruit looking well glazed.

The contents of the book includes loads of Tom’s original illustrations from the series and they are instantly recognisable. There is no text through the book and on my first look through I was really worried about how I’d know what each bake was and who’d made it, I was very relieved and excited when I got to the final three pages of the book and saw that thumbnails of each image have been included and titled with what the bake is, who baked it and which series it’s from. This means a quick google search with those details, or a re-run of that episode if you’re a die-hard fan and have them all, will allow you to find the original bake and Tom’s original coloured illustration so that you can copy it if you wish or you can go to town and colour a unique baked creation. The bakes pictured include trifle, tiered pies, decorative loaves, 3D biscuit scenes, opera cakes, Swiss rolls, Charlotte Russe, eclairs, vol-au-vents, canapes, and even a povitica. All of the images are from Series 4-6 and there is a great cross-section with creations from all of your favourite bakers included, even Mary and Paul’s! Settle yourself down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (purely for research purposes of course), get your pens and pencils out and colour the perfect crumb, shiniest icing, and sauciest self-saucing pudding! None of the people are pictured in this book, no bakers, presenters or judges, but the tent and the beautiful Welford Park House are pictured and even the famous Bake Off squirrel!

In terms of mental health, I have 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 new ones each time you flick through the pages allowing you to become totally absorbed and I really noticed my worries melting away as I coloured Tamal’s Charlotte Russe. The images are all drawn in a consistently medium/thick line so this book would be ideal for almost anyone to enjoy regardless of vision impairment or issues with fine motor control. The detail level varies throughout from large pastry slices and meringue peaks on baked Alaska, to much smaller details in the garden scenes, and Chetna’s caramel covered Dobos Torte. This book will be ideal for those of you with varying concentration levels and symptoms because the illustrations are really varied in size and also have very natural stopping points so you could colour one chocolate covered strawberry or cream horn, a pastry or even a whole gateau, the choice is yours! The lines are quite black and heavy and at first I found this a little off-putting because I normally like to colour thin-lined images with delicate linework but I love how my page turned out and instead of just creating sections to colour within, the lines in this book are truly part of the artwork of the finished piece, the boldness of them means that your colours really pop so whether you use pens or pencils you’re liked to want to use some really bold colours so they stand out well and don’t disappear. These illustrations are almost identical to Tom’s originals from the show so if you’re not quite sure which section is nut, which is fruit or what colour dipping sauce has been used then just google the original and you can copy his colour scheme if you wish, this is ideal for anxious colourers like me because it’s like paint-by-numbers without the numbers and it takes all of the stress out of choosing colours and you can just pick the matching shade and get going, your symptoms can take a back seat and you can just enjoy colouring some deliciousness.

This book certainly contains some technical challenges and some pages that you can truly colour into your own signature bake and more still that will hopefully become showstoppers! It’s 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!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Bake Off Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Great-British-Bake-off-Colouring-Book-Tom-Hovey/9781473615625/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip pens and a Derwent waterbrush to create the macaron colour, bavarois colour and drips on the berries to create a mottled appearance.

If you’d like to see a silent video flick-through of the entire book then click here.

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.

Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards is published and kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Millie’s work and this set of postcards doesn’t disappoint! They come in a lovely presentation box made of very thick card and covered in the same green colour inside and out as the spine of the original edition of Wild Savannah (you can read my review of that book here) and a scaled down version of the cover, complete with gold foiling, on the front. There are two sets of postcards, one including 30 postcards and the larger set containing 50 which is the set I’m reviewing here (do check listings carefully to make sure you’re getting the set you want). As stated before, this set contains 50 postcards, I expected there to be some duplicates but they’re all different and all beautiful! Some of the postcards are portrait, others are landscape. Some are of the whole original image scaled down and others are of sections of the original image at the original size so there is a real variety of intricacy levels from intricate to VERY intricate – the majority of the postcards are the same size as the originals or thereabouts. A few of the images do look incredibly challenging to colour, especially those that are whole animals filled with flowers and leaves because they’re so teeny tiny. The postcards are all standard postcard size and are printed onto bright white, smooth, thick card which didn’t bleed or shadow at all when I used my water-based pens. The back is left completely blank with no address lines or anything and just the name of the book in the bottom left hand corner. These postcards would be ideal to send or frame or even be used for craft projects!

In terms of mental health, as with all of Millie’s illustrations, they are really calming and great for dealing with anxiety and low mood. Because all of the images are natural and animal based, they are great for relaxing you and the intricacy and detail levels are perfect for keeping you absorbed in the task and distracted from any difficult thoughts or feelings you may be having. The images used are a wonderful selection from the original images and I didn’t notice any of my personal favourites missing. The size of each image means that colouring one doesn’t have to take days and you could easily finish one in a couple of hours with pens or take a little more time with pencils and really get blending and shading. You could even practice some backgrounds on some of the images with larger open spaces. These postcards are definitely for those of you with good vision and fine motor control, as with Millie’s books, they’re very detailed and the linework is thin so there isn’t much room for error however, the majority are perfectly colourable for those of you that can cope with detail and thin lines and they’re ideal for those of you who are already fans of Millie’s work as they absolutely don’t disappoint. The postcards have a multitude of uses and can be coloured and kept in their beautiful presentation box, sent to friends and family (in an envelope to protect them whilst in the post), framed coloured or even uncoloured in single or multiple frames and could be incorporated into craft projects. They’re much more versatile than a book and there’s no need to worry about bleed-through because not only are they printed on thick card, they’re also single-sided. If you already have Millie’s books, these are the same illustrations as Wild Savannah, with no new additions, however, they don’t feel samey and are a really beautiful, new way of presenting the images and their versatility means that they’re almost given a new lease of life. These postcards were sent to me to review but even if they hadn’t been, I’d have bought them out of my own pocket (like I did with the Animal Kingdom postcards) despite already having a copy of the Wild Savannah book because they’re so lovely and have their own merits and uses.

I can’t recommend these postcards highly enough. I don’t know the difference between the 30 set and 50 set so I can’t advise whether getting both would be a good idea because it may be the case that the 50 set has 20 new images in comparison to the 30 set or they could both be completely different. My personal recommendation would be to get this, the larger set, because you’re getting so many more postcards for not a lot more money. The whole product feels luxurious from the gold foiling on the front to the green coloured inside and the golden ribbon that you can lift out the postcards with. The postcards are printed very crisply and no corners have been cut in production. This is a beautiful item that I’m so pleased I got to review because they’re just gorgeous!

If you’d like to purchase a set of postcards, they’re available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: 50 Colouring In Postcards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781454710103/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Studio Press. This book is huge at a whopping 28x35cms, it’s paperback with a flexible card cover that matches the original Harry Potter Colouring Book and has the same gold coloured spine and a picture of Buckbeak on the front. The spine has a lay-flat binding and the pages are removable if you wish but they’ll stay put in the book if you’re careful not to twist the spine too much. The posters are made of bright white, medium thickness card which is lightly textured so it’s ideal for use with pens or pencils and would be fine to use alcohol markers on too. The posters are single-sided and a mixture of portrait and landscape orientation. The majority of the images have a border around them so they’d be ideal for framing with minimal effort involved. The book contains 20 posters, most of these are images found in the original Harry Potter Colouring Book with a couple from the other two titles, 2 appear to be completely new and another is a new rendering of the four House crests and the Hogwarts crest in the centre, all of which have been pictured separately before but not all together. Sadly, three of the images are wallpaper-style designs which I always think is a shame in postcard and poster books because it feels like a waste but we all like to colour different things and these may be your favourite pages. Many of the images are the same as those pictured in the Harry Potter Postcard Colouring Book. The pictures include Harry and Hedwig; Aragog; Centaurs; the Crests; Harry, Ron and Hermione on Buckbeak; Dobby, Fluffy, Cornish Pixies and loads more. There is a good selection of different characters, objects and scenes depicted but do check the images below to decide if these image choices are ones you’re happy with.

In terms of mental health, this book will be ideal for Harry Potter fans who want some escapism and who love the idea of being able to frame or gift their work, or even just to work on a larger-scale project. The images are all upscaled so the intricacy and detail level is decreased from the original book and is easier to colour for those of you with poorer vision or fine motor control; there is a huge variance in these levels with some images having large open spaces and others having much finer detail to colour within. The line thickness also varies throughout from thin to thick and also varies within some of the images so this is certainly a book that would be ideal for those of you with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels. The image content doesn’t have much of an impact on mood or symptoms of mental illness or other conditions, however, it does offer escapism and would be ideal to colour while watching the films or listening to the audio books so that you can truly be transported off to Hogwarts and be fully immersed in the wizarding world.

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of Harry Potter and those who have already been enjoying the colouring books and postcard books. This is a great continuation of the series and while a few of the image choices are a little disappointing, it’s a very solid addition to the collection and one that’s sure to be a hit with those of you wanting to frame, display or gift your work, or to just try out wetter mediums on single-sided images.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this poster book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Harry Potter Poster Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Harry-Potter-Poster-Colouring-Book-Warner-Brothers/9781783705962/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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