Quarto Group

Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes is published and kindly sent to me to review by Racepoint Publishing, an imprint of Quarto. This book is illustrated by Kerby Rosanes, best known for Animorphia and Imagimorphia, but this book is different both in function, format and purpose. It is not actually a colouring book, though all of the illustrations are black line drawings in Kerby’s signature style so of course they can be coloured if you wish, it is actually a reproduction of his own sketchbook with illustrations chronologically organised from 2012 up to early 2016. It is hardback with a soft feel cover which is black with a white wrap around illustration of a whale with a few of his signature alien doodles, it closes with a black elastic strap. The paper is cream, lightly textured and thick, while you can see the black lines of the illustrations of the following pages through it, it held up fantastically to my water-based pens without even the slightest hint of shadowing so you can easily colour this book with water-based pens or pencils, if you wish to colour it at all, alcohol based markers will bleed through. The spine is flexibound, with glue and string and is fairly tight, the images are printed double-sided with some being partial pages, single-pages spreads, double-page spreads or even three-quarter page spreads so a fair number of the images do run across the spine and these can be a little difficult to access though the spine will ease up with use. While I absolutely love this book and it wasn’t designed with colourists in mind, I think it’s a shame that it is so small and that so many of the images enter the spine because it does make them difficult to colour and even to fully appreciate the image because there’s a line down the middle breaking it up. The production quality is really high but I wish it was available as a colouring version in the same format as Animorphia and Imagimorphia. Each image is titled and dated and a few state what or who they were commissioned for but there is very little written commentary aside from the 4 page introduction, the 1 page preface written by Kerby himself, and a double-page spread briefly describing his drawing process; it would have been really interesting to read more information about the design briefs, the purpose of the work, and also the rationale behind the finished piece, and to see them on a larger scale as some of these images are extremely small and really lose their impact when shrunk down (it is unclear what scale any of these images were originally drawn in).

The image content is really varied but it all has Kerby’s signature style. There are lots of morphing animals, objects and scenes that show vast contrast between nature and mechanics, softness and structure, ethereality and reality. There are small drawings and large drawings, some which are much more realistic and others which are filled with alien creatures and the surreal. The images contain a huge number of different animals from deer to bats, birds of all types to sea creatures, foxes to giraffes and so much more. Interspersed with these are skulls, feathers, buildings and structures, mechanical images and doodles. As with all of Kerby’s work, the majority of the images include heavy black shading which isn’t to everyone’s taste but I personally find that it really adds to the movement and reality of the image. Some of the images have black backgrounds and some are drawn entirely in black with thin white lines that could be coloured if you wished, there is a real variety within this book and it truly shows off the versatility and talent of this illustrator.

In terms of mental health, this book is just fascinating to look through let alone colour! The images are so interesting to look at and ponder over and the more you look, the more you notice and see so this is definitely a book that keeps on giving and you’re unlikely to ever tire of it! In many ways, this book is almost too beautiful to colour, but it would look truly stunning if you chose to, though it does of course look finished as it is. The line thickness varies throughout from thin to spindly thin and some are verging on microscopic because the images have been shrunk from the original drawing scale. The intricacy and detail levels also massively vary from large open spaces of animal faces to the teeniest tiniest details that are difficult to even see, let alone to contemplate colouring, this means that it’s essential that you have very good vision and fine motor control if you’re wanting to colour this book, though this won’t be necessary if you’re wanting to just view it as a finished piece of art. I personally found this book to be ideal for mindfulness and distraction, the images are so packed full of detail that you can’t help but become completely immersed and absorbed within this fantasy world and you quickly feel your anxiety and other symptoms melt away. The artwork is breathtakingly beautiful and it really does have to be seen to be believed!

This book is ideal as a work of art, but would also be beautiful for adult colourers to fill with their own colour. You will need very good vision and motor control but the size of these images makes them ideal for bad days as small colouring projects, the format could have been improved for the colouring community but as a reproduction of Kerby’s sketchbook it’s beautifully produced and just fascinating to look through!

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Sketchy Stories: The Sketchbook Art of Kerby Rosanes
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Sketchy-Stories/9781631061752/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re new to Kerby’s work then you can read my reviews of his adult colouring books here: Animorphia and Imagimorphia.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.

Just Add Color: Botanicals and Mid-Century Modern Mania

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

Just Add Color: Botanicals and Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania are published by Rockport, a sub-company of Quarto Publishing who kindly sent me copies to review. They are part of a large “Just Add Color” series which continues to be added to and already contains a huge variety of titles and themes including Carnival, Day of the Dead, Folk Art, and Circus . These books are soft-back with a normal thickness card cover, they are lightly glue-bound and the book can be fully opened to enable colouring of the full page but it doesn’t lie flat on a surface without being held. The images are printed one-sided onto beautiful, thick, heavyweight white paper (almost thick enough to be described as card) and the pages are perforated meaning they can be removed easily from the book before or after colouring. I coloured using Staedtler fibre-tips and experienced no bleed-through and only very slight bleeding when using various brands of fineliners but this isn’t an issue as the images are one-sided. The paper is very smooth with little texture meaning coloured pencils lay on even colour easily with little effort or need to change direction to fill in gaps. Each book contains 30 images created by one illustrator (different illustrators for each book in the series) which leads to a lovely cohesive image style within each book. Because each book is created by a different illustrator, the line thickness varies between books, but not within. The books are almost square in shape but smaller than the usual square-booked bestsellers. Each book varies in style and content so I have included sample images as well as a coloured page from each for you to see in the links below. In addition, I give a more detailed description of what each book contains and how your mental health may affect and be affected by the book.

Just Add Color: Botanicals – Review
Just Add Color: Botanicals – Buy it here

Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania – Review
Just Add Color: Mid-Century Modern Mania – Buy it here

Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas, Buddhism, The Enchanted Forest, Mandalas, Extraordinary Gardens, Celtic, My Fashion Colouring Book, Stained Glass – A Review

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

Art Therapy is a series of themed adult colouring books each containing 100 designs for colouring in and relaxation. These books are published by Jacqui Small LLP and I was kindly sent the following 8 titles by Quarto Group to review for you all: Aztecs and Mayas, Buddhism, The Enchanted Forest, Mandalas, Extraordinary Gardens, Celtic, My Fashion Colouring Book, and Stained Glass. All of the books are A4 and hardback with a really thick cardboard front and back cover meaning they’re very sturdy and give a great base to colour onto, particularly for those of you who colour on your lap (like I do) without the use of a table/desk/tray. Each book contains 100 images, printed double-sided onto bright white, thick paper which I found didn’t bleed when using various brands of felt-tips including WHSmith’s own brand and Staetdler fibre-tips, and fineliners including those by Staedtler and Stabilo. The paper is lovely and flat, without much grain so colouring with pencils gave a beautiful bold colour without paper texture showing through. Thanks to the way the books are bound, there are no issues with images disappearing into the spine and the few images that are double-page spreads have a thin border down the middle to prevent image loss (all except Buddhism, My Fashion and The Enchanted Forest whose images are printed full page). Each book is very different in style as they are all created by different illustrators so I have included sample images as well as one or two coloured pages from each for you to see in the links below. In addition I give a more detailed description of what each book contains and a recommendation about how each may affect your mental health and what symptoms/traits may interfere with your enjoyment of each book. All of the books in the Art Therapy series are ideal for those with fluctuating conditions because they contain such a variety of image content, line thickness and intricacy as you’ll see in the individual reviews below. Enjoy!

Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas – Review
Art Therapy: Aztecs and Mayas: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation – buy it here Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Aztecs-Mayas/9781910254219/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: Buddhism – Review
Art Therapy: Buddhism: 100 Designs Colouring in and Relaxation-buy it here from Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Buddhism/9781910254226/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: The Enchanted Forest – review
Art Therapy: Enchanted Forest – buy it here Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Enchanted-Forest/9781910254042/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art therapy: Mandalas – review
Art Therapy: Mandalas: 100 Designs for Colouring in and Meditation-buy it here Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Mandalas/9781909342767/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: Extraordinary Gardens-review
Art Therapy: Extraordinary Gardens-buy it here Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Extraordinary-Gardens/9781910254066/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: Celtic-review
Art Therapy: Celtic-buy it here Amazon UK
http://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Celtic-Michel-Solliec/9781910254073/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: My Fashion Colouring Book-review
Art Therapy: My Fashion Colouring Book: 100 Designs for Colouring In-buy it here Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-My-Fashion-Colouring-Book-Marie-Perron/9781910254059/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Art Therapy: Stained Glass-review
Art Therapy: Stained Glass: 100 Designs for Colouring in and Relaxation-buy it here from Amazon UK
https://www.bookdepository.com/Art-Therapy-Stained-Glass/9781909342750/?a_aid=colouringitmom – buy it here from Book Depository Worldwide

Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy: A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colour Me Calm and Color Me Happy are part of the Color Me.… series published by Race Point Publishing and kindly sent to me by Quarto Publishing. They are lovely square books with nice sized borders around each picture to avoid losing any of the image into the spine. Each of the 100 images are printed on one side only so you don’t need to worry about bleeding from pens and a lovely repeating image is printed on the reverse of each page which you could colour if you really fancied. These books are each split into 6 chapters of images that fall into the following categories: Color Me Calm: Mandalas, Water Scenes, Wooded Scenes, Geometric Patterns, Floral & Fauna, Natural Patterns; Color Me Happy: Nature, Animals & Babies, Music, Food & Drink, Whimsical Imagery and Art & Architecture.  Unlike with many series of books, none of the images in these were repeated between the books and the categories are different in each too.

In terms of mental health, these books certainly made me feel happier and calmer with Color Me Happy’s sunny yellow cover and light-hearted, positive images and Color Me Calm’s peaceful cover, soothing patterns and natural scenes. The pictures are calming and not too intricate meaning they are perfect for using pencils, felt-tips or even paints or watercolours on, just slip a sheet of scrap paper underneath to protect the subsequent pages. The nature scenes are lovely and very varied with some looking quite realistic and others more surreal. I found that my Stabilo 88 fineliners worked well for some of the more intricate details (hot air balloons above) but these and my felt-tips did bleed through but as mentioned before, this doesn’t damage any of the images as they’re printed one-sided. These are great books for those of you who find intricate images fiddly or too difficult and frustrating to colour. They’re also great for inspiration because at the beginning of each chapter a couple of the pictures are shown coloured in so you can follow their colour schemes or brave it and add your own funky colour combinations. The books are a nice size and you get a good sense of satisfaction because each image is small enough that it doesn’t take hours or even days to complete meaning these books are perfect if you don’t have a great attention span or high level of concentration. Don’t worry though, these books are also good for those of you who can sit and colour all day, it just means you’ll get plenty of pictures completed!

Sadly, there are a couple of downsides to these books to make you aware of. A few of the images are not printed well and are fuzzy and look out of focus (see picture below), pencil lines from the illustrator are also visible in a few though mostly these get hidden if the colours you add are vibrant enough. It certainly shouldn’t put you off purchasing these books but personally I would want to be aware of it before buying it and expecting a perfect book and receiving one that’s not 100% there.

I would recommend these books as a great purchase for those of you who like simpler, less intricate images to colour, those of you using pens that bleed easily, and those of you that maybe don’t have the patience or desire to sit colouring one image for days in order to get it finished. They’re great starter books and contain really good images for practising shading with coloured pencils (I am teaching myself new techniques with these books – note the hills above). These books are lovely and work well on their own or as companions and I look forward to seeing Color Me Stress-Free when it’s released in September – watch out for my review as I’m already signed up to write one when it comes out.

Happy Colouring!

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You can buy your copies of the books here-
Color Me Calm: 100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation (Coloring for Thinkers)– Amazon UK

https://www.bookdepository.com/Colour-Me-Calm-Lacy-Mucklow/9781937994778/?a_aid=colouringitmom – Book Depository

Color Me Happy: 100 Coloring Templates that Will Make You Smile (Coloring for Thinkers)– Amazon UK

https://www.bookdepository.com/Colour-Me-Happy-Lacy-Mucklow/9781937994761/?a_aid=colouringitmom – Book Depository