Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils

Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour (UK Edition) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour is illustrated and very kindly sent to me to review by Johanna Basford, it is published by Virgin Books. I have also been sent a US edition of the book and will write a comparison post just as soon as I can, do subscribe to my blog on the right-hand side to be the first to know when it’s live. This book is the sixth colouring book illustrated by colouring queen, Johanna Basford and this meant it was time for a bit of a change, this time it’s a different shape, somewhat different style and contains a story that she’s written based on a bedtime story she’s told her daughter Evie but what isn’t different is the charm, beauty and wonderfulness that we’ve come to expect from Johanna’s books, this book has those in spades!

The book itself measures 21.5 x 25cm making it the same height as the UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas but almost 4cm narrower as it’s not square. It’s paperback with flexible card covers with ½ French Flaps which open out front and back to reveal a flower, leaf and butterfly design that is fully colourable, this isn’t waxy and is very smooth so it should be fully colourable with most mediums including pencils and water-based pens, be very careful with alcohol markers bleeding through to the external covers. The spine and covers are white with black text, the cover has coppery/bronze foiling accents which is quite subtle and very luxurious and aids the traditional storybook feeling! The spine is glue and string-bound which makes it very durable and easier to open out flat so you can reach the majority of the gutter and colour it. The paper is the same as that used in UK editions of Magical Jungle and Johanna’s Christmas, this paper was found through a global hunt and it’s beautiful, it is not the same paper as used in the US editions of these books which was created specifically for Johanna’s books and named after her. The paper is a very pale ivory colour, it’s a medium thickness and lightly textured and it’s perfect for pens and pencils; pencils are a dream to blend and shade with and pens go on really smoothly, they don’t bleed through unless you use alcohol markers and water-based pens only shadow if you colour too much in one spot, as always, do check all of your mediums on the colour palette test page to check how your mediums behave.

Upon opening the book, you find the beautiful title page, followed by the introduction and name page, the copyright page is at the back at the bottom of the End page. There isn’t an official treasure hunt in this book but Johanna has hidden over 200 butterflies throughout the pages for you to find, some are very obvious and some are much better hidden and there aren’t any answers or clues to where they are so you may be left scratching your head if you can’t find them all. The images are printed double-sided throughout, I know lots of people aren’t a fan of this but it really wouldn’t have worked with single-sided pages as the story wouldn’t have flowed and the book would have weighed a ton, as it is it contains 120 pages so it’s much thicker than all of the previous titles and has so much content packed in that this could be a lifetime project!  The story has been written by Johanna and it’s thoroughly lovely, exciting and far more complex than I expected. I’m not sure what age range it’s aimed at but there is some fairly complex language included so at a guess I’d suggest probably age 6-8 and above, and possibly older if the children are wanting to read it themselves, depending on their reading ability. The text isn’t on every page and those it is on it’s been very cleverly incorporated and illustrated around so that it doesn’t feel like a colouring book with text shoe-horned it, it feels like an illustrated storybook with images on every page and text on the vast majority. The images vary a huge amount, this book has by far the largest range of content of any of Johanna’s books and it’s absolutely packed with different items to really challenge you to learn to colour all sorts of types of things including gems, metal, feathers, fur, skin, water, and so much more. The images are also drawn in a huge range of styles including ribbons, centralised images, full double-page scenes, mandalas, symmetrical sections, portrait-style images, illuminated manuscripts, borders, frames and more. The content of the images matches the story and without giving too much away, this involves Ivy following an Inky Butterfly out of a portrait, through a hidden door and into a magical world where she meets some lovely friends and creatures and encounters a gigantic flower garden, a magpie shop owner, a mouse, elves, dragons and more. The images contain all manner of things including flowers, leaves, mushrooms, food, lanterns, trinkets, bees, tree houses, stilted water houses, jewellery, maps, stars, berries, a griffin, treasure, and owl, I could go on forever! This book does still have a lot of flowers, leaves and trees but there are so many other things interspersed that you can certainly give your green pencils and pens a bit of a rest and start learning all sorts of techniques to really challenge yourself and make things look realistic if you wish. The images are truly beautiful, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit flicking through this book for the last few days and every single time I find more items I didn’t notice before. One thing I really noticed and which I’m absolutely in love with about this book is the subtle nods to all of Johanna’s previous books, from a picture of flamingos on the wall in the Wonder Room and another of elephants (both from Magical Jungle), to the cuckoo clock on the wall that was pictured in Johanna’s Christmas, a crab postcard, fish and ships in bottles like those found in Lost Ocean, there are dragons, castles and treehouses similar to those in Enchanted Forest and flower upon flower from Secret Garden (as well as heaps of new ones, don’t panic), none of the content feels samey, boring, or repetitive, but it’s so lovely to have little reminders of the previous books which really helps tie them all together and certainly made me wonder if all of those previous books might have been places and lands that Ivy, or her grandfather might have travelled to in the past. Some of the images are really packed with illustrations and others are much more open with space to add your own imagery or backgrounds if you wish. There aren’t a great deal of images of Ivy because Johanna knows that a lot of us struggle with colouring skin tone and she’s not a fan of drawing people though she’s done a fabulous job of all of the images of Ivy that there are but this book certainly isn’t intimidating for those of us whose current level of skin-tone colouring is a block of peachy-pink!

In terms of mental health, I’m not sure this book could be better, it offers a great project in a number of ways and it is so distracting. The story itself is absolutely lovely and very absorbing, the images follow it really well but also leave plenty of room for you to use your own imagination and get lost in Ivy’s journey to Enchantia. The images are all different sizes so this book is really adaptable for those with fluctuating conditions and these range from small motifs of one bee or a couple of fish, all the way up to completely packed double-page spreads that have almost no un-illustrated spaces and everything in between, no matter how you’re feeling you’ll be able to find a section that’s suitable and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can really use this book to challenge yourself to learn new techniques if you wish but it’ll look equally beautiful block coloured in your brightest, weirdest colour combinations, the sky really is the limit! For those of us who often struggle to know what to colour or pick a page it could be a great idea to work through this book cover to cover and just colour each page in turn so that you don’t have to keep deciding, or you can just dive in to your favourite page and start there, it really doesn’t matter. I know a lot of people want to fully colour a copy of this book as a gift for children in their life and having now seen the book, this would make the most amazing gift and heirloom that children for years to come would adore and cherish but my goodness is it an undertaking, it’ll take such a long time to complete but it’ll be so worth it and you could even start it off for a child and then get them to carry it on. What a wonderful experience it would be to read the story and colour the book together! The line thickness is the same as always, thin and sometimes spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels have increased again since Magical Jungle and are much more similar to Secret Garden and the less detailed parts of Lost Ocean so you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control because while the intricacy and detail levels do vary throughout, the majority are quite high because of the sheer amount of content and objects in each image. I have personally found this book really calming, the story is very reminiscent of those from my childhood and nostalgia can be very comforting, it’s just really heart-warming both in the words and the imagery and it really helps your worries melt away, it lifts your mood and the world doesn’t feel like such a dark place for a while, it’s perfect!

Overall, I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s beautiful and I know some people were a bit upset about it having text added this time but it adds so much to the book and loses none of the illustrative content because of the larger number of pages. You don’t need to have kids or be a child to enjoy this book, I don’t have kids and my goodness have I been enjoying it, especially knowing that no one will be “adding” to my colouring or dog-earing the pages but it’ll make a wonderful project or gift for the children in your life if you choose to share it with them. Johanna really has outdone herself, the new objects and types of imagery are fantastic and really add a lot to the book and I honestly can’t express just how beautiful and perfect this book is when it’s actually in your hands, I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with it!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
UK Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Colour
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780753545652/?a_aid=colouringitmom
US Edition
Amazon UK – Ivy and the Inky Butterfly: A Magical Tale to Color
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Ivy-and-the-Inky-Butterfly-Johann-Basford/9780143130925/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured with Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

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Staedtler Ergosoft Pencils: 36 Set Click through to see the 12 new shades and read my review!

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Colours – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils: 36 Set are made and kindly sent to me to review by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based, I usually prefer oil-based but these (and Prismacolor Premiers) are definitely changing my mind. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are now available in 36 different colours and I was sent the 36 set to review which come in a single layer tin (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box and 24 set in a blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes them very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I have used these pencils for a long time and have had no issues with breakage or problems with sharpening so these are very well-made. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely a great wax-based pencil.

The pencils used to only be available in 24 colours and there have been lots of questions in the colouring community about what shades are now included in the new 36 set. A really good range of colours have been added across the spectrum and pretty much one of each colour has been added in to help fill in the gaps that were there before so there is now a better range of greens, we have a lilac, a beautiful turquoise and two new browns amongst others. You can see the added colours in the photos below as well as the mandala page which I coloured exclusively with the 12 new colours, they look a little strange on their own because none of them are core colours, they’re all in-between shades to fill in the gaps but in conjunction with the other 24 pencils they look beautiful and the set covers a really good selection of colours with very few shades now missing that you can’t ‘mix’ by combining a couple of the pre-existing colours. For those who already have the 24 set, who are wondering whether it’s worth investing in this new set (sadly the 12 new colours aren’t available as a set on their own though you can buy all of them open stock), I would suggest that yes, it’s definitely worth getting them, the new shades are really useful, the tin is a great way of storing them and having extra colours is always a huge bonus, I think we’re all hoping that Staedtler will add further colours at a later point though this hasn’t been announced but there are 60 colours in their watercolour set so we can dream!

If you’d like to purchase a set, they’re available here:
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in tin

To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again: The Longest Colouring Book in the World – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again is illustrated by Good Wives and Warriors of the Escape To… series and published and kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book is a really unusual format with only two others that I’m aware of on the market like this, both of which are smaller. This book is paperback with flexible card covers, the covers are portrait but the pages are landscape, they are all attached together and folded in a concertina so that they make one continuous strip of images stretching out for a full 17ft, I’ve never seen anything like it (you can view my silent video flick-through of the whole book here)! The pages fold into A4 size and the book consists of 15 pages in total, all joined together, they’re easy enough to colour because you can keep them folded and therefore just have two pages ‘showing’ at once which makes it a much more manageable size to contend with though it is still a little tricky and may require a table or a large lap tray. The images are printed single-sided and make up one continuous scenescape. The paper is white apart from the sky in the images which gradually changes colour through the pages from white to a dark teal-blue, this transition is seamless and I didn’t actually notice it until the second time I looked through, the backs of all of the pages also fade through from white to the same dark teal-blue colour which is a nice touch. There is no spine to contend with, just folds and these are very easy to colour over so you don’t lose any of the image and can colour its entirety. The paper is white, thick and smooth, it doesn’t have any visible texture but seems to take pencils well and you can happily blend, shade and layer them, water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and you can use alcohol markers if you wish as the pages are single-sided and therefore bleeding won’t matter, just pop some protective sheets behind so that it doesn’t bleed through to any other pages. The image is a continuous scenescape journey that takes you from a house with a pretty garden around various landmarks from around the world and delves into folklore and mythology and pictures of all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There is such a wealth of imagery that it’s hard to even know where to start when describing it all, there are llamas, dragons, jackalope, wolves, deer, mountains, the pyramids, a sphynx, totem poles, an Aztec calendar, peacocks, rivers, Chinese dragons, sea serpents, lizards, turtles, otters, walruses, Easter Island statues, cacti, snakes, the Arctic, elk, polar bears, geese, igloos, penguins, and finally ends back at the house which is filled with animals and souvenirs from the trip and a space to write your name in a This Adventure Belongs To box.

In terms of mental health, this book isn’t for the faint-hearted, it really is one hell of a project and will be better suited to those of you without concentration problems and those who don’t mind spending time on a project for a really long time as there’s no quick way of getting this book coloured. That being said, it offers a great level of distraction, there is so much to look at within each section and I know I’ve not yet seen even half of what’s pictured despite looking through it heaps of times, there’s just such a lot of content packed in that you always notice new things. The line thickness is consistent throughout and remains thin. The intricacy and detail levels vary a little within the scenescape but mostly remain at a very high level with some really small sections and lots and lots of components making up each section, you will therefore need very good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book. The content is a great mixture of realistic animals and scenery and mythological creatures and surreal settings, this combination lends itself well to realistic or outlandish colour schemes and you could even mix media and colour each page differently or even each type of imagery, the sky is the limit! The images are so wide-ranging that it’s almost like loads of different colouring books in one and you’ll always be able to find something you fancy colouring in here if you have a look through. There are lots of natural stopping points because the whole scenescape is made up of lots of component parts so you can easily colour just one creature or type of flower or work through it systematically from beginning to end, it really is up to you.

Overall, this book is amazing, it’s unlike any others and it’s just packed with content and different things to colour. It offers an amazing project which isn’t for the faint-hearted but it’ll look amazing when it’s finished and be so worth all of the time and effort you’ll need to put in.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/the-Ends-of-the-Earth-and-Back-Again-Good-Wives-And-Warriors/9781786270351/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like to see the full book then you can find my silent video flick-through here.

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

UK GIVEAWAY and Review – Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults) is published by ZenGalaxy Coloring Books and was kindly sent to me to review. If you live in the UK and would like to enter my Giveaway for a copy then head over to my Facebook page HERE where you have until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8PM GMT to enter on the pinned post.

This book is filled with a variety of images and is a great one to start your colouring journey with or to use for fluctuating conditions and interests. This book is A4, paperback, with a soft-feel cover with a dark grey background and a full colour mandala wrapped around the front and back cover. The images are printed single-sided onto standard CreateSpace paper which is bright white, thin and toothy making it pretty good for layering and blending pencils and fine for pens which will all bleed through so pop a spare piece of paper behind to protect the image on the next page. The spine of the book is glue-bound, however, none of the images are lost into it because they are all either centralised or have a border around them preventing them from entering the spine. The book contains almost 60 images of a multitude of things including mandalas, patterns, paisleys, henna style images, flowers and lots of animals. They are drawn in quite differing styles and look like they’ve been created by a number of different artists though it’s unclear how many.

In terms of mental health, this book has a real variety of images both in content and in intricacy ranging from fairly large open spaces to incredibly detailed and intricate, so much so that a few of these designs will be very challenging to colour without going over the lines. The line thickness varies throughout from medium to spindly thin and the majority of the images are extremely intricate and drawn in a spindly thin line. This book is definitely not one for those of you with any issues with vision or fine motor control and it would be much more suited to those of you with good to perfect levels of both. The images don’t feel especially cohesive because they’re clearly created by different artists and are arranged in quite a random order with a lot of the patterns near the front of the book and the animals being nearer the back but these are interspersed with other images so they’re not arranged into any order or collections. The animals contain huge amounts of pattern and zentangling so there are lots of small spaces to occupy yourself with colouring, or you can colour over them to make it an easier task. This book will require a fairly good level of concentration because of the sheer amount of detail and intricacy and there aren’t really any separate small sections to tackle on bad days so I’d suggest this book for those of you that can colour for a few hours at a time rather than a few minutes. The images are very distracting and the patterns keep you absorbed and busy thus taking your mind off symptoms of any kind.

I would recommend this book to new colourers who are interested in a good variety of image styles and who have good vision and fine motor control. This book contains most themes of image and is a great trial book for narrowing down your interests or for those of you who like to colour lots of different things. Don’t forget that I’m running a UK Giveaway for a copy over on the pinned post on my Facebook page until Wednesday the 23rd of March at 8pm GMT.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Flowers, Mandalas and Animals: Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns for Grown-Ups (Stress Relieving Coloring Books for Adults)

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.

Kutsuwa Stad T’Gaal Adjustable Pencil Sharpener – A Review

This is my first ever review of a pencil sharpener and potentially my last too because this one is so fantastic. I’ve never had issues with sharpeners and have always just used cheap, standard ones, including my favourite which is a Lego sharpener from a kids’ stationery set, but I didn’t realise what I was missing out on, until now! The T’Gaal sharpener has incredible reviews within the colouring community and I can vouch for these because it’s amazing, easy to use, and adjustable for all of your sharpening needs. I was very kindly supplied with this sharpener by Cult Pens, in exchange for an honest review.

The sharpener is available in a number of colours including: black, pink, blue, orange and green. It is small, but larger than a regular sharpener and has a dial on the front with numbers to adjust the length of the point. It has a small plastic shutter which goes over the pencil opening to keep it closed (mine is very loose and when tipped it moves and allows small pencil shavings out so do be careful if transporting it). The dial is numbered from 1 to 5 and this indicates the length of the point you’ll get, from 1 which is a short point that doesn’t cause you to lose lots of the wood of the pencil, all the way up to 5 which is a much longer point with more of the wood coating sharpened away.

The T’Gaal sharpener is by far the smoothest and easiest to use sharpener I’ve come across. There’s no dragging or catching which means it’ll be ideal for your tricky pencils that are prone to breakage. It’s almost silent to use because there’s so little friction and my only slight criticism is that it doesn’t have a clear viewing window so you can’t see when to stop sharpening but this isn’t a major problem and with practice you do work out when it’s roughly ready. Unfortunately you can’t replace the blade when it eventually blunts but the sharpener is a very reasonable price and it’s so fabulous that you truly won’t mind purchasing a new one when you eventually have to. One tip I’ve read online that’s meant to help prolong the life of sharpener blades is to regularly sharpen a normal graphite pencil which will help keep the blade sharp. I’ve no idea if this works but have been reliably informed it does so grab yourself some cheap graphite pencils and sharpen them after every few coloured pencils to keep your T’Gaal in the best shape possible!

Another great feature of this sharpener is that it contains a compartment to hold sharpenings, it’s not very big so won’t last more than a few pencils at a time but it is much more convenient than having to hunt down a bin every time you want some pointy pencils. The compartment has a slide cover which closes firmly which is a welcome change from most sharpeners which have a pull off lid (we’ve all experienced the heartbreak of throwing sharpenings all over the floor when the lid has been too stiff to easily pull off). If you’re still not convinced, check out the pictures below of the silver pencils – the first was sharpened with a cheap Derwent sharpener (yes that’s as sharp as it got), the middle one was sharpened with my favourite Lego sharpener, and the final one was sharpened with the T’Gaal (soon to be known as King of Sharpeners). The points this sharpener creates are almost painfully sharp and are absolutely ideal for using in even the most intricate colouring books. The picture below showing 5/6 pencils shows before and after shots of some blunt pencils that I’ve then sharpened using the 5 different settings of point length so you can really see the difference between setting 1 and setting 5. You can also see the difference in amounts of wood casing that are lost which is worth noting and bearing in mind when choosing what setting to sharpen your pencils with. This sharpener is a great size to hold because it’s not tiny or difficult to grip if you have joint problems. The smoothness and ease of sharpening also means that it’ll be ideal for those of you who struggle with standard pencil sharpeners because this is just so easy to use and needs barely any strength at all!

All in all, this is genuinely the best pencil sharpener I’ve used by a country mile, and judging by other reports and reviews, it’s the best on the market. If you have pencils that you’re struggling to sharpen without breakage, or you’re wanting needle-sharp points, or the ability to adjust the length of your points then this is absolutely the sharpener for you. I can’t rave about it enough, I now love sharpening my pencils and it’s so satisfying getting a perfect point on your beautiful pencils.

If you would like to purchase the only pencil sharpener you’ll ever need, it’s available here from Cult Pens – https://www.cultpens.com/i/q/KT29109/kutsuwa-stad-tgaal-adjustable-pencil-sharpener

Staedtler Ergosoft Triangular Coloured Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
These pencils are made by Staedtler, a well-known German Stationery brand and they were kindly sent to me to review by Cult Pens and subsequently by Staedtler. These pencils are endorsed by Johanna Basford (colouring queen) so I was very excited to see what all the fuss is about and if they’d live up to expectations. The pencils are wax-based which I normally don’t get on well with but these pencils are definitely the exception to that rule of mine now. They have triangular barrels which are entirely coated in the exact colour of the pencil lead so they’re very easy to identify with little need for a colour chart. Each side of the pencil carries printed information: Staedtler ergosoft, space to write your name (ideal for kids or those going to art classes who want to identify their own supplies easily), and the colour number. The pencils arrive pre-sharpened and are very easy to sharpen in a normal sharpener, despite the triangular shape and they sharpen to a really nice point. The pencils are currently available in 24 different colours and I was sent the 24 set to review which come in a blue stand-up box (ideal for having out whilst colouring and not losing your pencils). Other sets available are the 12 set in a blue stand-up box, the 12 set in a cardboard box, and the 24 set in a Johanna Basford themed cardboard box which is lovely, but nothing like as useful as the blue stand-up box, the pencils are also available as open stock meaning you can order one or two to trial before buying a full set if you’re unsure. The ergosoft pencils are also available in watercolour so do check what you’re ordering, I will be reviewing the watercolour ergosoft pencils at a later date (the major visible difference between the two is that the watercolour pencils have a blue barrel and a coloured tip – see photo below).

The pencils themselves are smooth to touch and the ergonomic triangular design makes it very comfortable to hold which is ideal for those of us with joint problems, issues with grip strength or easily dented fingers, I have lots of problems with the shape of pens and pencils, especially when colouring for long periods of time for reviewing, and these are one of the comfiest sets I’ve come across. The pencil leads have a white coating which adheres the leads to the wooden pencil sheath and this protective coating helps to reinforce the lead core in order to prevent breakage. I tried out almost all of the pencils whilst colouring images for reviews and had to sharpen most during this and didn’t experience any breakage at all. The leads are quite hard but they have a good vibrant pigment meaning you get a bright colour without needing a lot of pressure. However, because the leads are quite hard, you do need to use quite a bit of pressure when colouring toothier paper so I’d advise these for smoother paper if you have joint problems or you’re going to have to press quite hard to get a bold, full colour with no white gaps. I also noticed that while the pigment is very vibrant, you do get a wax bloom when using the hardest pressure and this makes blending more difficult than with oil-based pencils because you can’t get many layers before the wax bloom builds up so much that it interferes with colour lay down.

The pencils do blend fairly well together but you will need to be careful with your layering because the wax builds up quickly. Because the pigment is so bright, it’s quite difficult to get a pale even coverage with a thin layer on toothy paper so these pencils are much better for vibrant, burnished colouring, rather than pale, thin layers. They erase very well, even when coloured and burnished, obviously some pigment is left but a surprising amount is removed with very little effort so these pencils would be ideal for those who regularly colour over the lines, or who want to create highlights in their work. These pencils are in the mid-range price category and vary hugely in price. They’re quite expensive when full-price but when on sale they’re much more affordable and better value for money and if you can get a set on sale then I’d highly recommend them. These are definitely the best wax-based pencils I’ve used so far and I will be using them in my future colouring.

Update: Hugely exciting news! Staedtler have added an extra 12 colours to the ergosoft range and these will be arriving soon. I will be getting a set to review so as soon as I have them I’ll be posting about them and giving you the scoop on what new colours have been added so do click “follow” on my blog so that you’re updated as soon as my blog post is live!

The pencils are available to buy here :
Amazon UK:
Set of 24 in blue stand up box
Set of 12 in blue stand up box
Set of 36 colours in brand new tin

Colour Therapy: 20 Notecards and Envelopes – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colour Therapy Notecards are published and were kindly sent to me for review by Michael O’Mara Books. I’ve had so many people asking me about colourable greetings cards and until now I hadn’t seen any but the search is over and these are well worth the wait! The set comes in a cardboard case which is fairly sturdy but isn’t magnetised so it does move freely (be aware of this if you’re taking them with you in a bag) and it opens out flat to reveal a sturdy cardboard slot on the left which the envelopes are slotted into and on the right the cards are in a stack with their backs face up and they’re lightly glued on the left (the open edge of the cards) with a similar binding to postcard books so that they can be carefully removed. I would suggest removing them in order rather than doing what I did and picking my favourite one which happened to be in the middle and was a struggle (but still doable) to remove. You’ll want to remove the cards before colouring because the kit is quite difficult to manhandle around when you’re colouring if it’s still attached. The kit contains 20 identical envelopes which are a natural cream colour with a small pink design in the bottom left and on the flap at the back. The cards come in 10 designs, 2 of each and they are all different colours so each one will look different even though the designs are in pairs. As with all of the Art Therapy range, these notecards each contain a splash of colour in the form of a coloured border or background and are stacked in rainbow order so each design is printed in complimentary colour pairs such as red and green and yellow and lilac, this means that you could easily create opposition colour schemes to really make the colours pop and it’ll help a little with learning colour theory (if you’re interested). The cards are left blank and aren’t themed so they can be used for any occasion. The colourable spaces on the cards are bright white and lightly textured so they’re prefect for blending and shading with pencils, and for using water-based pens which don’t bleed or shadow and are ideal for the smallest spaces on the cards. Once removed, the cards do often have a bit of glue still attached but this is easily peeled off, with no damage to the cards. The cards are a mixture of portrait and landscape styles, with the majority being portrait and the designs are varied throughout but mostly nature-inspired from lions to wolves, birdhouses to landscapes, peacocks to fish and Indian doorways to patterns. These cards would be perfect to spread the colouring love with your friends and family to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries or just to say hello, I’m thinking of you, they’re sure to brighten up the darkest of days and show people you care. They could even be sent uncoloured to try and get your friends hooked on colouring – we all need more colouring buddies!

In terms of mental health, these notecards are fabulous. You all know by now how much I love postcards and small colouring projects, and that I think colouring images of nature is the best for calming you down and settling your mood, so these notecards are perfect! Not only are they small enough to take a couple of hours to colour rather than days, they’re also amazing because you get to colour and enjoy them and then post them to a loved one to share the joy and what’s better than something hand-coloured to put a smile on someone’s face?! These cards are a great project for those of you with poor concentration because they don’t take ages to colour and you get results quickly. They are all fairly intricate and detailed with a bit of variance but some of the spaces are quite tiny so I’d advise these for people with moderate to good vision and fine motor control. The line thickness remains thin throughout but it’s not spindly so it’s not too difficult to stay within them. The images are really cohesive and I found them very calming and positive and they’re a lovely project to work on in between larger, more complicated pages in books. The sections of pre-added colour aren’t intrusive and are mostly not on the designs themselves so you’re free to choose whatever colours you like but you could also choose a complimentary colour scheme that matches it, or even just use shades of that colour for a beautiful monochrome look.

I would highly recommend these notecards for any colourers with moderate to good vision and fine motor control and people with any level of concentration. These are a bargain with an RRP of £9.99 that makes them just 50p a card and think of the hours of fun you can have colouring them and sending them off to friends and family. The designs are lovely, the added colour is great for inspiring colour schemes and just making them less daunting to start and I hope this is the first in a long line of colourable cards! Michael O’Mara have published a second set of notecards which you will find reviewed by me here.

If you’d like to purchase a set they’re available below:
Amazon UK – Colour Therapy Notecards
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Colour-Therapy-Notecards-Chellie-Carroll-Lizzie-Preston/9781782435303/?a_aid=colouringitmom

My reviews of other items in the Art and Colour Therapy range can be found below:
Colour Therapy Colouring Book
Art Therapy Colouring Book
Art Therapy Postcards
Art Therapy Coloring Kit

The image below was coloured using Staedtler Ergosoft Coloured Pencils.