Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

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

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition is illustrated by Johanna Basford and published and kindly sent to me to review by Virgin Books. This book contains 24 of the original images from the Lost Ocean colouring book all printed single-sided. The book is 25x33cm, paperback with thick card covers with beautiful gold foiling accents on the cover and blue text on the spine. The book has a lay-flat binding meaning there is no spine to contend with and that you can reach the whole image to colour it. The pages are all removable, they’re not perforated so there’s no risk of them not being fully perforated and you ripping a page when trying to remove it, they’re all glued onto the spine in the same way as postcard books so they’re easy to remove if you wish but they’re not stuck very strongly and in the process of colouring my page I’ve managed to detach nearly half of the pages so this book won’t stay together unless you’re extremely careful with it. The removable nature of the pages is ideal for two reasons, firstly, its main purpose, which is so that they can be displayed, framed, or gifted to friends or family so your colouring is no longer destined to stay hidden away in a book; secondly, it makes it much easier to colour if you remove the page first – the book is very large when fully open which makes it difficult to colour on your lap or even on a clipboard because it’s over A3 size when opened, but when you remove the page you can turn it to any angle you please so that you can colour each section easily without having to have your hand hanging off one corner or be rubbing over previously coloured areas and accidentally smudging bits. The pages are made of thick card which will hold up to just about any colouring medium (this is the same card as used in the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest Artist’s Editions). I tested my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and they didn’t even shadow onto the back and they also didn’t bleed sideways or into the card, they seemed to glide on top instead of saturating the paper like so often happens with thick pages. The card is cream which I know isn’t everyone’s favourite, however, I love it because it makes it feel like a classic book with age and luxury. It also means there’s a less harsh contrast between the colouring and the background if you leave the background uncoloured and also allows you to easily add white as highlights or as a colour where white paper simply doesn’t.

The images included are from the original Lost Ocean book and I think they’re a really good selection. There aren’t any pattern or filler images this time and they’re all definitely frame-worthy. Of the 24 illustrations, 5 are landscape and the others are portrait orientation, 3 are printed smaller than the original illustrations but the others are all printed larger to varying degrees from 4mm to the largest being the skull at an extra 7cm larger, 5 of the images are taken from double-page spreads where a section has generally been enlarged (a couple have been shrunk but not drastically so) and the rest are from single page spreads. Because the majority of the images have been enlarged, at least a little bit, they mostly have larger spaces to colour which allows you to really go to town and the possibilities for blending and shading are increased. If you’re new to using pencils and want to learn about blending and shading then the slightly larger print would be ideal for practising these techniques.

As with all of the Artist’s Editions, this book doesn’t have a treasure hunt aspect. The Secret Garden Artist’s Edition arrived wrapped in thin plastic film, but this one didn’t, however that may be because it’s a review copy so do be aware that it may have plastic film on it in the shop and you may not be able to look through it in stores, this means that the cover is well protected and won’t be at risk of staining or marking which I personally think is pretty sensible, though it’s a shame they didn’t do a preview on the back of what images are included. Because of this, I have included pictures of all of the images from inside the book below so that you can “see inside” before you buy it, as well as comparing the size to the original images.

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful. Colouring this book ready to review it has provided countless hours of calming distraction and the card is such a joy to colour that I’ve enjoyed every moment of colouring it and was almost disappointed when I finally finished my picture and had to move onto another review. This is a book where you really don’t notice the hours passing because you’re so engrossed and focused on colouring each section. Johanna’s books are not for the faint-hearted and are quite an undertaking and they’re not for those of you with poor eyesight or challenged fine motor control. However, for anyone who is mentally ill and doesn’t have poor eyesight, this book is ideal because not only are the images stunning but they’re also completely grounded in nature which is perfect for calming you down and relaxing you. When colouring these images, it feels like you’re going on a wonderful adventure into Johanna’s Lost Ocean, the journey is less obvious but the images are printed in the same order as they appear in the book so it does have a feeling of flow. It’s sure to lift your mood and focus your thoughts so that even the most racing of minds will be quietened, at least for a short while. The details and intricacies force you to concentrate and become immersed in a watery world filled with brightly coloured fish and enchanting sea creatures and you’re sure to feel your anxiety lessen and your dark thoughts soften a little. It’s by no means a cure, but this is a fabulous book for distraction and the fact that you can remove the pages and display them means that all of your hard work and creativity can be prominently displayed and used to brighten up your darker days and remind you that you can create beautiful things which I often find gives me a huge self-esteem boost.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you liked Johanna’s original books or want to delve into her inky world for the first time then I’d strongly recommend purchasing it. With the best paper quality that I’ve come across in a colouring book, it contains the most stunning images and the feature of removable pages is one that I personally love because it means you can decorate your walls with your work or give wonderful, thoughtful presents to family and friends. This book exudes quality and luxuriousness from its thick card pages, to the signature gold foil accents on the front cover and the small selection of shells printed on the reverse of each picture, it is a work of art in itself and will be transformed into a masterpiece once you unleash your creativity upon it. I truly can’t enthuse enough about this book, it is a must-have and one that if you have been umming and ahhing about whether you should purchase it should be bought at once because I can just about guarantee that you won’t regret it. This book is ideal for anyone who is struggling with their mental health and anyone who just wants something truly beautiful to colour. Do check the images below to ensure the selection is one that you’re happy with and then get ordering because this is a book you definitely need in your collection, it’s gorgeous and one I can’t wait to get working on again!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Lost Ocean Artist’s Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Lost-Ocean-Artists-Edition-Johann-Basford/9780753548134?ref=grid-view&qid=1491572389812&sr=1-1/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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

Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints – A Review and Comparison of UK and US Editions

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints is published in the UK by Batsford Books who kindly sent me a copy to review, and is published by Lark crafts in the US and I purchased a copy of this edition myself.

Comparison

  • The US edition contains 18 prints and the UK edition contains 20, the additional images are the octopus and the lobster.
  • The card in the US edition is MUCH thinner than the UK edition, it feels like school card and is very flexible whereas the card in the UK edition is thick and much less bendy, similar in thickness to the card used in Johanna Basford’s Artist’s Editions.
  • The spine on my US edition broke really quickly because it’s only very lightly glued and the pages are already completely loose from the book covers despite very careful handling, the pages in the UK edition are glued more strongly.

The book itself is 25 x 33cm, paperback with flexible card covers that have a re-jigged version of the Animal Kingdom book cover on the front. The book has a lay-flat binding which is quite stiff to begin with but loosens up over time, each card page is glued onto the spine and it’s therefore easy to remove them for framing or gifting so do be careful not to twist the spine if you wish for your pages to remain in the book. The images are each printed single-sided and are mostly portrait with 4 landscape images (2 in the US edition). The card is thick, white, lightly textured and lovely to use with any medium, my pencils were a dream to blend and shade with, water-based pens don’t bleed, shadow or spread and alcohol markers will work well too, just make sure you pop a protective sheet behind to ensure no bleed-through. The images are all taken from Millie Marotta’s debut colouring book, Animal Kingdom, and all are printed the same size as the originals. No text is added to any of the pages and the majority of them contain large open spaces around them so you’re free to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish but this certainly isn’t a requirement and with or without, the pages will look incredible. I’ve included photos below of all of the illustrations including the two additional images in the UK edition of the octopus and lobster. The images contain a good range of animals from the book and a really good range of Millie’s different illustration styles including full page designs, floral component parts, and centralised single animals.

In terms of mental health, this book is great because it offers a manageable project which you can frame or gift once finished, this is ideal for cheering up dark days or for boosting your confidence and self-esteem because you’ll have evidence and proof on your walls of just what you can create and achieve; the colouring projects I have displayed in my flat never fail to make me smile, even on really bad days. The line thickness, as with all of Millie’s work, is spindly thin and the images all contain really high levels of intricacy and detail so it’s really geared up for those of us with very good vision and fine motor control. The pages contain a range of amounts of content from a centralised animal to a page filled with leaves and a bird so there are some pages that will take much less time than others. Millie’s work has very natural stopping points but does require a lot of concentration so this is a book to either colour in small chunks or to save for your good days when you can focus well. While the images are all filled with huge amounts of detail, these sections don’t all have to be coloured individually and can easily be coloured over so that they show up as texture underneath (see my lobster below). The nature-themed imagery is very calming and distracting because there’s so much to look at on each page and Millie’s work is some of the best I’ve found to work on when I’m feeling anxious and need to really focus on something other than the thoughts swirling round my head.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to fans of Millie’s work and those who want to be able to frame or gift their finished pages. I would recommend the UK edition over the US edition as the card is much thicker, the binding is more sturdy and you get 2 extra images to colour. This is a lovely new format for Millie’s images and one that I hope will be reproduced for all of her other titles.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of either edition of the book, they’re available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Book-of-Prints-Millie-Marott/9781849944014/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom Book of Prints to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Animal-Kingdom-Millie-Marott/9781454710318/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to frame your work, you can find frames of the correct size here on Amazon.

The images below are coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners (Giraffes), and Prismacolor Premier Pencils (Lobster).

The Inspiring Colouring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Inspiring Colouring Book: Hand Lettered Botanical Designs of Motivational Phrases and Positive Affirmations is illustrated by Meg Cowley who kindly sent me a copy to review. This book is A4 and is hand-drawn by Meg, it’s published through Createspace and is therefore paperback with flexible card covers, and a glue-bound spine. The images are printed single-sided and are a mixture of portrait and landscape orientation, none of them reach the edges of the paper and therefore none of the images have any aspects lost into the spine. The paper is standard Createspace paper and bright white, thin and very lightly textured, it shadows with water-based pens and will bleed heavily with alcohol markers so do place some scrap paper behind your work; pencils blend and layer fine, especially if you’re patient with them. The book contains 20 images, each printed twice full size and then once a little smaller than A5 in pairs at the back of the book so you get 3 copies of each image. The illustrations each contain a hand-drawn motivational phrase or positive affirmation as well as beautiful botanical drawings; some of the phrases include Stay True To Yourself, Find Your Joy, Count Your Blessings, and Dream Big. At the bottom of each page is space to write your name, copyright information, and Meg’s web address. The illustrations are all drawn quite differently so there’s a good variety, their content is also quite varied and ranges from very busy, full-page drawings with flower-filled backgrounds to decorated text in the centre of the page, scenic images to poster-style depictions and more. While the images are all hand-drawn, the lines on very close inspection are ever so slightly pixelated during printing, however, this doesn’t affect enjoyment because it’s only noticeable if you get really close to the page so once coloured and framed you’ll just be dazzled by your artwork! A handy tester sheet has been included at the front of the book for you to test your colouring mediums on.

In terms of mental health, if you like affirmations and positive reminders then this book will be ideal, there’s a good mix of evocative words as well as inspiring phrases, I’m personally really picky about this kind of thing and there are a couple I’m not overly keen on and don’t agree with (e.g. Mind Over Matter), but we’re all different and I know that many people live their lives by these sayings so do check out the images below and don’t be put off by my niggles. The line thickness is varied and ranges from medium/thin to spindly thin, it’s also thinner on the smaller versions due to the downscale in size. The intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from large, open spaces to smaller, more detailed sections and everything in between, this book will suit people with most levels of vision or fine motor control though those with poorer levels of either might struggle with the smaller size prints. These illustrations would be ideal to remove from the book and frame once coloured so that they can inspire you throughout the day or be given as inspirational gifts to friends or family. Text is ideal to colour because you can use any colour scheme you fancy, there’s no right or wrong and it looks fabulous no matter what you choose. The natural aspects can either be coloured realistically if you want the choice taken away, or again, in any colours you fancy to complement the text or to contrast it. These pages have a manageable level of content and you can colour just one word or butterfly on a bad day, or a full page on a good day. The phrases and sayings are great for keeping you focused and inspiring you on bad days to remind you that good days will come again so this book is ideal for those of us with mental health problems.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who like inspirational sayings, who respond well to positive affirmations and want to be able to colour and possibly frame or gift these to spread some sunshine. The pages are drawn beautifully and look really lovely when coloured.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Inspiring Colouring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Inspiring-Colouring-Book-Meg-Cowley/9781537785820/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens and Prismacolor Premier Pencils, the white accents were created using a white Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils 150 Set – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Holbein Artists’ Colored Pencils aren’t very well known yet, but they really should be! These pencils are from my personal collection and I purchased them just a few weeks ago, since then, I’ve used them every chance I’ve had and I have to say, I love them, they’re quite possibly my favourite pencils! It was quite a risk clicking the buy button because they’re pretty expensive and I could find very few reviews so it was a bit of a leap of faith but the completed pages I’d seen were so beautiful that I just had to have them and see what they were like.

Availability, Cost and Set Sizes
The pencils are Japanese and are available in open stock in Japan but almost impossible to find out of sets anywhere else in the world, they’re also not available in shops worldwide and can therefore only be bought online outside Japan. There is a huge variety of set sizes and palettes ranging from a set of 12 all the way up to the full 150 set which is available either in a sturdy cardboard box (this is the set I bought and am reviewing), or in an incredibly beautiful looking wooden box with trays in wooden drawers. These pencils are expensive so they’re a real investment and it’s really worth shopping around as the set I bought I’ve seen ranging from £227 all the way up to well over £300, some places to look for them are Ebay, Amazon UK and US (check the US ships to you) and Amazon Japan which was where I bought my set (see bottom of post above photos for info about how to order from Amazon Japan and a direct link to the set).

Colour Range and Presentation
The pencils are available in 150 colours and what sets these apart from any other set I’ve seen is the sheer variety and range of pastel colours, you also get 6 metallic colours and 6 fluorescents as well. The colour range is very varied and doesn’t feel shade-heavy in any shades and I haven’t particularly found it lacking in colours either though I do always hanker for more browns but this is one of the easiest colours to make when mixing other shades together, I’ve just not got around to making a colour mixing chart yet. The pencils themselves look most similar to the Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils, they have a full colour round barrel which is thick and feels very well made, the wood casing is perfectly formed on all 150 of my pencils with no scratches, splits or off-centre leads. The non-colouring end is rounded and also coloured so your pencil lead can’t come loose from the casing and be pushed out the end like Prismas have been known to do. The pencils have gold writing, and a gold ring, similar to that on the Polychromos pencils but it’s much further from the end (see photos below), so they’re easy to tell apart. The pencils themselves are thicker than normal, the same thickness as Polychromos and they have a substantial, thick lead. Each pencil has a unique colour name and number printed on it and the lightfastness star rating.

Packaging
The packaging is superb and possibly the best I’ve seen for pencils (excluding the extortionately priced wooden box/drawer sets you can buy), the box is made of very thick cardboard and it doesn’t warp or twist at all, inside the lid it lists all of the pencils with their English and Japanese colour names, their unique colour number which is what they’re ordered by on this list and a chart with dots indicating which sets each pencil can be found in which is very useful for discovering the differences between sets and also being able to buy the smallest possible set when you start running low on certain colours! Each layer of pencils has a sheet of packing foam over it which helps absorb vibrations during transit, there is also an instruction manual which is sadly written in Japanese, though there are a lot of pictures so you can mostly guess at the techniques it’s teaching, and a small booklet containing the same packaging information as the box lid and opening out to show a colour sample of each pencil. The box contains three thick cardboard trays of pencils, each has a plastic insert that has individual slots for each pencil to sit in, the edges of two of my plastic inserts did arrive a bit broken however this isn’t affecting use, the cardboard trays have well-attached blue ribbon loops to aid lifting them out and this prevents warping and twisting of the trays. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened but not to a fine point, they all have a flattened end as if the tip has been cut off or they’ve been sharpened against something (see photo below), I’ve never seen this in a set of pencils before. A number of them also arrived with a strange residue on them that seemed a bit waxy, odd as the pencils are oil-based, this easily rubs, sands, or sharpens off though and it’s visible on the pencils it affects as the tip looks cloudy (see photo below) so there’s no reason to ruin your colouring page, just check the tip and clean it first and then you’re good to go.

Sharpening
The pencils sharpen beautifully, I use a T’Gaal Adjustable Pencil Sharpener which is arguably the best sharpener around (read my review of it here) and I’ve had no breakages and they sharpen to a nice point. The leads are relatively hard, significantly harder than Prismacolor Premiers and a tad softer than Faber-Castell Polychromos so they keep sharp for a good while during colouring and the tips don’t crumble. I personally use the “1” setting on my sharpener as I hate losing lots of wood at once and prefer to use a shorter point which is why in the photos below the point is short, these pencils hold up well on all of the T’Gaal’s settings including the longest point.

Blending
The pencils blend like a dream! Prismacolor Premiers are arguably the best and easiest pencils to blend due to their soft core but these Holbein pencils are a pretty close second and I found them a little bit easier to blend than Faber-Castell Polychromos. As yet, the only time I’ve needed to use a blending pencil has been when I’ve wanted to fade to white but haven’t wanted to lighten the colour by blending with a white pencil (see the blue, purple and pink gems in the photo below). They are really easy to layer, giving a good even coverage and being very sensitive to pressure, they have a beautiful vibrant pigment as you can see from the photographs of my colour charts below which I’ve not filtered or edited in any way, that’s truly how they look in real life! The pencil barrel colour is very similar and pretty accurate to the lead colour, but as always, I would still recommend creating a colour chart, it’s a great way of getting used to the pencils and how they perform on paper/card and it’s a really handy resource to have so that you can easily compare within and between brands so you can make perfect colour choices!

Erasing and Smudging
The pigment of the pencils erases pretty well, even when fully burnished, obviously you’ll never be able to completely remove all of the pigment, especially when burnished, but a surprising amount does come off, particularly when using a battery operated eraser which was what I used for the test below. As with all pencil pigments, it does smudge a little with pressure however, the smudge below was only created from deliberately rubbing at the pencil with my finger and will only smudge during normal use if you get any pencil “dust” which happens very little in use as these pencils really don’t crumble.

Overall, these are expensive and they’re not an item to purchase lightly, however, I can’t recommend them highly enough, there are no production issues at all in my set and none that I’ve heard of within the colouring community, the colour choices are unique and vibrant, they blend beautifully and are a great addition for those looking for more colours who already have any other pencil sets as these don’t contain a huge number of duplicate colour options. They sharpen well, with no issues and the packaging protects them well and makes them really easy to use without needing to decant them elsewhere unless you want to. These pencils would be a wonderful first artist’s grade set, or in addition to others and the pastel colours are just incredible! If you’re wanting to splash out on a new set then you should definitely consider these, I was so anxious about purchasing them but as soon as they arrived and I finished stroking the pretty colours and actually started using them, my fears were allayed and I instantly fell in love with them as has everyone else I’ve seen using them!

Purchasing
If you’d like to purchase a set then you could try out a set of 12 though these are still just over £2 per pencil but at least you’ll then know if you like them and have spares if you then splurge on the full set.

Amazon UK:
12 Colour Pastel Shade Set
12 Colour Basic Shade Set
24 Colour Set in Tin
36 Colour Set in Tin
50 Colour Set in Cardboard Box
100 Colour Set in Cardboard Box
100 Colour Set in Wooden Box with Drawers
150 Colour Set (as reviewed here) in Cardboard Box
150 Colour Set in Wooden Box with Drawers

Amazon Japan
150 Colour Set (as bought by me and reviewed here) in Cardboard Box
All Holbein Pencil listings on Amazon Japan

Amazon Japan ordering instructions
Google Chrome has a pretty accurate page translate tool which I used, you’ll first need to set up an Amazon Japan account and add your payment details and postal address, do this first or it’s really difficult to accurately find out prices. Don’t get too excited when you discover the pencils are mega cheap, the postage and import duties are an absolute killer, this set of pencils worked out at about £165 but the postage and import taxes left me paying another £60, this is all calculated by Amazon and paid upfront so there should be no unexpected fees when they arrive with you though I can’t guarantee this but I didn’t pay anything extra for mine. They also arrived ridiculously quickly, I was told it would take 7 days from Japan to the UK with standard delivery and in fact they took just 4 which is quicker than some UK deliveries I’ve had! The delivery packaging wasn’t great, just a thin bit of paper wedged in the box with no bubble-wrap or anything but my pencils seem to be absolutely fine and the set packaging itself is really good and protective which will help avoid any damage.

Safari Tavelbok (Artist’s Edition) – A Review

Safari Tavelbok is illustrated by Emma Fällman and published and kindly sent to me to review by Pagina Förlag. This book is an artist’s edition but there is no original colouring book, the images are only currently published in this format. This is another beautiful Swedish offering which is currently only available from international websites (links below, directly above the photos). The book itself measures 29.5x21cm (A4), it’s paperback with thick but flexible card covers which are a beautiful pale blue colour with greyscale images from inside the book with gold foiled text on the front and back. The book has a pale pink tape binding meaning the pages lie completely flat when the book is open and they can be removed for framing. The pages are made of thick cream card which is lightly textured and absolutely fabulous for using pencils on as they layer really well and blend seamlessly (my boyfriend thought I’d painted the page I coloured because the blending is so smooth). Water-based pens also work really well on this card and don’t bleed through or sideways and there isn’t even a hint of shadowing either. The illustrations are all single-page designs and are printed single-sided so you can use whatever medium you fancy without worrying about bleed-through. The 20 illustrations are drawn in a really unique style, they’re greyscale, but where most greyscale books are photographs that have been turned black and white, these images are all hand drawn by Emma but she’s added lots of shading in different levels of grey so that you know exactly where the shading on each part should be, she’s also added texture to fur and feathers which is really handy! The images are all really natural with a quirky twist, most of them are of animals but they’re wearing scarves, jewellery, fancy collars and even floral headpieces. The remainder are of exotic plants, flowers, and fruits. The illustrations are truly breath-taking, I’m not a fan of greyscale ordinarily, but these images are stunning and fascinating to look at, they’re so lovely in fact that they’d look wonderful framed just as they are, though they really do come to life when you add colour to them.

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

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

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

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

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.

Zemlja Snova (Land of Dreams) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Edit: Exciting news, Amazon UK have just listed Zemlja Snova and it can be found here – http://amzn.to/2e1G54M

Zemlja Snova roughly translates as Land of Dreams or Dreamland, it’s a Croatian book and has just been added to US Amazon and, as of today, UK Amazon which is super exciting because once you’ve read my review and seen inside this book, you’ll be dying for a copy! It was kindly sent to me to review by the publisher.

This book is one of the best I’ve ever seen. After reviewing over 200 books, there aren’t that many that manage to take my breath away, but this one does, it’s stunning and the illustrations are just incredible! Before requesting it I saw a flick-through of it and was absolutely hooked but once it arrived I was completely blown away so before I combust with compliments for this book, let me tell you about it. The book is just over 25cm square, the same size as the UK bestsellers, paperback, with flexible card covers and two-third French flaps which open out to reveal a white line drawing on a purple background, colourable black line drawings on the flaps themselves, and a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound and the binding is fairly tight on arrival meaning that it’s durable and hard-wearing but also a bit tricky to get to the very centre of some of the images. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick with a light texture, it’s perfect for pencils and my Prismacolor Premier pencils went on like a dream but sadly water-based pens do heavily shadow so this is definitely a book best kept for pencils and the illustrations certainly lend themselves well to beautiful blending and shading. The book contains 81 pages of illustrations and they are genuinely incredible! The images are all fantasy-based and include lots of dragons, mermaids, unicorns, fairies, tree-men, and so much more. Over half of the spreads are double-page designs which are either scenes, depicting all manner of things from castles to sea voyages, gnome villages to woodland, dragons to underwater scenes, or paired images that can be coloured separately but are strongly linked with the opposite page (see photos below). I could go on for days describing the imagery, there is just so much to look at, when you first look at each image you start to get a feel for the general theme of the spread whether it be a castle, village or underwater scene, but as you look closer you discover lots of hidden things from gnomes to mermaid tails, working animals or birds’ nests, flowers growing off dragons and even hidden villages. The illustrations are just packed full with details and stories and they will take you ages to colour so this book is certainly good value for money! The ink is very permanent and doesn’t transfer even with very hard pressure from pencils and the paper doesn’t dent or curl either so it’s very good quality. The line print quality is good too with smooth lines throughout and no pixelation to be found! While a few of the spreads do enter the spine, care has been taken in the majority for them to not enter it, or for there to not be much detail there which is ideal for people who can’t bear to break the spine in order to colour the entire page.

In terms of mental health, wowee, I found this book exceptional! It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. The more you look at the images, the more you see and the more you get drawn in and it’s done wonders for my anxiety during what has been a very challenging and anxiety-filled week. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined 2 of our favourite things into one incredible book! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin with spindly thin details (it’s pretty similar to the linework in Johanna Basford’s books), the illustrations are very detailed and intricate so there are lots of tiny spaces which you can colour within or colour over if you prefer to use them as texture underneath your colour. You will need pretty good vision and fine motor control in order to enjoy this book and you’ll need some good sharp pencils so that you don’t go over the lines too much. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! There are plenty of natural stopping points so this book is ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels as you can colour one flower, all of the bricks or an entire dragon, you can also focus on a single page or go all out on a double-page spread. The pages for the most part are pretty busy and there’s loads to see so it can be a little tricky at times to identify all of the parts and sections so you will need good concentration for that part to ensure that you’re colouring a petal and not a foot accidentally! The content of the illustrations is totally absorbing and this book will look just incredible when it’s finished cover to cover. I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a genuine work of art and while it’s a shame that pens can’t be used without shadowing, these illustrations lend themselves brilliantly to beautifully blended pencils. The artwork would appeal to male and female colourists and is highly fantasy-based with a strong storybook theme and lots of natural imagery. The drawings are incredible and you’ll be hooked once you’ve seen inside! I’ve included lots of images from inside below as usual but this book really has to be seen to be believed so I’ve also recorded a silent video flick-through which can be found HERE.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available below:
Amazon UK – Zemlja Snova
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Zemlja-snova-Tomislav-Tomic/dp/9533490322
Croatian Bookshop offering International Delivery – http://www.algoritam-mk.hr/zemlja-snova-bojanka-za-odrasle/PR/185373,11165

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils. I tested Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which heavily shadowed.

The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain is published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. LKP have teamed up with Ordnance Survey, historic map creators and producers of the UK, to produce this wonderful colourable map book. Ordnance Survey was established in 1791 and they have been creating detailed maps ever since, these were originally produced in black and white and colour wasn’t added until 1887. While their mapping processes have altered and become digitised over the decades, their maps are still known, used, and well-regarded all over the world and now we’ve been offered the chance to colour them ourselves.

This book is huge (the second largest colouring book I’ve seen) at 34.9 x 26.8cm. It’s paperback with thick flexible card covers with three-quarter French flaps. The cover of the book depicts a map of London which continues over the inside flaps with the front flap having a list of all of the towns and cities which are depicted within, and an outline of Great Britain. The flaps open out to reveal a red lined interior, I personally feel this space could have been better utilised and would have been lovely with an added map. The spine of the book is not attached to the cover and is supposedly lay-flat, it’s glue and string-bound and while you can get to the centre of the majority of the images, it’s a bit of a challenge on a few so I wouldn’t describe it as truly lay-flat binding but it’s not far off. The spine of the book is bound with green tape so your pages should remain secure and aren’t removable unless you use a blade of some sort. The pages are printed double-sided and contain a mixture of single and double-page spreads. The paper is a pale cream colour, similar to Secret Garden, it is very lightly textured which gives a smooth surface to colour on but there’s not a lot of tooth for building up pencil layers. Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow but do always test them somewhere inconspicuous first! The images are all as you’d expect, black and white line drawings of maps just waiting to be coloured. There is no key in the book so some of the symbols are a little confusing however a quick google search should help you identify any you’re stuck on. Nothing is named or labelled on the maps so the images are all text-free apart from a red outlined box that tells you what town or city the map is depicting, the source, location and a little information about the place and its most famous areas or landmarks. The maps show a really good cross-section of locations from coastal to inner cities, piers to stations, rivers to mountains. The book is split into sections, the largest of which is dedicated to England, followed by Scotland, and Wales. Heaps of places are mapped from Brighton to Loch Ness, Norwich to Aberystwyth, York to Lerwick and Blackpool to Margate. In the centre of the book is a single-sided 4-page fold out spread of Thames Valley, London showing the River Thames in the centre and spanning from Belgravia to the O2 Arena. This spread could easily be removed and would look stunning framed before or after being coloured.

In terms of mental health, this book doesn’t have much of an impact, the content is just as you’d expect and maps aren’t known for being calming or soothing. Due to lack of any writing on the maps, I found it quite difficult to identify what the map was specifically showing and what each section was meant to be. As a perfectionist, I wanted to colour my map in the correct colours and it took a surprisingly long time to find exactly where on the map I was looking at and what colour each section should be so this book certainly can’t be used for a quick colouring fix. The line thickness is pretty consistent throughout and thin with spindly thin details and bolder accents here and there. The levels of detail and intricacy varies throughout from large open spaces of fields or sea, to teeny tiny spaces showing residential areas and country roads. I would recommend this book for those of you with pretty good vision and fine motor control and I’d advise using fineliners or sharp pencils so that you can get into the details. This book requires a huge amount of concentration to identify each part and colour within some of the small sections so it’s definitely one to keep for your better days when you can focus well and not get frustrated by the process. Once you have managed to identify the sections, if you’re wanting to colour the map realistically it’s very easy and you don’t have to spend ages narrowing down your colour choices, you can just get going which may be useful for anxious colourers though I personally found this book quite stressful due to the sheer amount of difficulty I had with identifying symbols and areas. The pages are huge, especially the double-page spreads and centre fold-out so this book will certainly keep you distracted and occupied for long periods of time if you’re able to concentrate on it, progress is quite slow because there is so much detail included in each but this could be a real labour of love and for anyone who managed to finish colouring it cover to cover, I’m sure it will look truly fantastic! This book is pretty niche and I’ve realised that despite being interested in looking at maps, colouring them is not my forte, but for keen cartographers who fancy having a go, this is the best book to go for. The paper colour offers a real vintage feel and once finished, the maps do look beautiful!

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those with a keen interest in maps but for those, who like me, sort of like them, this book is just a bit too challenging to get started with. The production of it can’t be faulted and I truly believe it’ll look incredible when finished if you have the determination to persevere!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Great-British-Colouring-Map-Ordnance-Survey/9781780678597/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils.

Millie Marotta 2017 Diary – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta 2017 Diary was published and very kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. This diary is a smidge over A5 size, hardback, with white covers with a beautiful scaled down version of the Wild Savannah book cover with hints of colour added and touches of gold foiling on the front. The diary is kept closed with a black elastic strap and there is no writing on the covers apart from 2017 in gold foil, there’s also a removable thick wrap-around slip of green paper with gold foil writing stating it’s the Millie Marotta Diary with the bar code on the back. Inside the diary the front and back are black double-page spreads with the publishing information printed at the front, followed by the diary pages and 26 illustrations taken from Millie’s third colouring book, Wild Savannah. The pages are bright white and medium thickness for a diary, the pages are unlined and consist of a week to view on the left page and a blank page on the right that just shows the dates of the current month in the bottom right hand corner leaving you plenty of space to write notes, doodle, jot down lists etc. Each week starts on a Monday and the dates are separated by a line with Saturday and Sunday sharing one. The diary begins with a Personal Details page where you can write your address, work details, and useful numbers, following this are year views of 2017 and 2018 both sharing a single page. At the beginning of each month is a pair of images from Wild Savannah, some are double-page spreads and others are two separate single images. Sadly, the paper isn’t very thick for colouring and doesn’t have much texture at all, water-based pens bleed through (see photo below) and pencils are pretty difficult to work with, especially if you’re wanting to blend or shade, my wax-based Prismacolor pencils worked fairly well but my Polychromos pencils were difficult to use. When writing in the diary, I’d advise using a pencil or biro to avoid ruining the reverse of the page, I’d personally stick to pencil and write lightly so that you don’t get pressure marks and indentations affecting the colouring pages. The images are all scaled down from the originals and are mostly full page designs shrunk to fit on the A5 pages with a few that are the centre sections of the image, also scaled down to fit the page.

In terms of mental health, this colouring diary is a great combination of colouring pages and useful diary so that you can colour and plan your year all in one place. There’s plenty of space for writing so you won’t run out of space to write your plans and you could colour the designs as and when it takes your fancy or at the start of each month where the colouring page appears, you could complete them in order or randomly, the choice is yours! The illustrations are all vastly scaled down from the originals so the intricacy and detail levels are through the roof on most of the images so you will need perfect vision and fine motor control and some mega sharp pencils to enjoy colouring these pages. The line thickness is spindly thin throughout so there’s no margin for error! This diary has fewer colouring pages than most others I’ve seen and it’s definitely much more diary than colouring book, it sadly hasn’t been printed on great paper for colouring but it’ll be fine to write on so fans of Millie’s work may want to just leave the line drawings as they are, they look beautiful just in black and white.

Overall, I would recommend this diary but it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen with thinner, smoother paper than I’d like and fewer colourable pages. It’s a lovely addition to any die-hard Millie Marotta collection and it’s beautiful to look at but the pictures are pretty tricky to colour well due to not being able to use pens without bleed-through or blend pencils particularly well.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta 2017 Diary
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotta-2017-Diary-Millie-Marotta/9781849943932/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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