Quarto Publishing

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.

Color Me Stress-Free – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book) is published by Race Point Publishing and was very kindly sent to me by Quarto Group to review for you all. This is the third instalment in the Color Me series and you can find my review of its predecessors Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy here. This book is the same shape (almost square) and size as the previous two books and matches them perfectly so it looks and feels like a beautiful set on the shelf. The book is flexibound with a stiff cover. The binding in these books is pretty tight so they don’t like lying flat however all of the images are printed with a large border around them so you don’t have to contend with trying to colour into the spine. This book contains almost 100 images, all split between 7 differently named chapters that are areas of our lives that can stress us: Disorganisation, Relationships, Finances, Work, Health, Time, and Travel and Commuting. Unlike the first two books in this series whose images were related to each chapter title (Music, Children, Water etc), the images in this book aren’t obviously related to the chapter titles and there are far more abstract and random patterns than scenes which I personally think is a shame. The images are printed single-sided onto bright white medium thickness paper which does bleed with water-based pens but this isn’t an issue as long as you put a protective sheet behind when you’re colouring. This paper is also fairly well-suited to alcohol markers and when I tested mine the ink obviously bled through but didn’t especially spread as long as I was careful so this is a good book for all of you Copic, Spectrum Noir and Promarker colourers. All of the images are created by one illustrator Angela Porter so this book has a lovely cohesive style and flows really well.

In terms of mental health, this book is great for calming you down in an effort to become stress-free. 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. This is a great book for those of you who find intricate images fiddly or too difficult and frustrating to colour. It’s 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. This book is 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 this book is perfect if you don’t have a great attention span or high level of concentration. Don’t worry though, it’s also good for those of you who can sit and colour all day, it just means you’ll get plenty of pictures completed! The images mostly consist of patterns which are known to be very calming because many of them are repetitive and this really keeps you concentrating and distracted from any negative thoughts. There is huge variety within the patterns from swirling and flowing to sharp corners and harsh lines, geometric shapes to abstract designs, symmetrical to random, it’s all in there. There are a few scenic images but they are much fewer in number than the previous two titles in the series which is great for those of you that preferred the patterned designs but not so great for those of you who preferred the scenes. The line thickness is medium throughout and this book is perfect for those of you who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control but don’t want to colour simple or basic images. This is a really happy medium between intricate and detailed and simple and basic and would be ideal for elderly colourers and those who struggle with small images or thin lines.

I would recommend this book and the others in the series 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. These books are lovely and work well on their own or as a set and I look forward to seeing Color Me Fearless when it’s released in March 2016 – I hope to be reviewing it!

You can get purchase a copy of Color Me Stress-Free here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Stress-Free: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Unplug and Unwind (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Stress-Free/9781631061608/?a_aid=colouringitmom

And you can pre-order a copy of Color Me Fearless here:
Amazon UK – Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (Zen Coloring Book)
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Color-Me-Fearless-Lacy-Mucklow/9781631061950/?a_aid=colouringitmom

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