Staedtler

Exploratorium - Ideal for child and adult colourists, fans of Doodle Fusion and Kerby Rosanes's artwork will love this book. Click through for the review, video and photos!

Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission is illustrated by Lei Melendres and published and kindly sent to me to review by Michael O’Mara Books. This book is 25cm square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback with black covers and coloured elements from inside the book on the covers. The spine is glue and string-bound and relatively tight but it does become more pliable with use so that you can reach the majority of the image to colour it. The images are printed double-sided and all of them are double-page spreads. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, it takes pencil well and water-based pens don’t bleed but do shadow a little so you may not want to use these but it should get covered when colouring the other side. This book is primarily aimed at children, however, the images are pretty detailed and packed with content and therefore plenty of adults will love it too. The book starts with a short introduction explaining the premise of the book, it’s a search and find colouring mission so there are a list of objects depicted which can be found within the pages. Following this, each double-page spread is dedicated to a different world and these drastically range in theme from space and future-themed to prehistoric and historical, there are heaps and heaps of scenes from a circus to haunted house, alien invasion to science lab, candy land to the North Pole, skate park to volcano and time travel to under the sea and so much more, there is a really wide scope to the content and something to suit everyone. Lei’s art style is most similar to Kerby Rosanes’s and is very much drawn in a doodle style, the images are packed with alien creatures and strange forms and the content is really quirky, whimsical and fun. The search and find aspect is surprisingly difficult for a book that’s aimed at children, my boyfriend spent ages searching for the items in one of the spreads and in the end had to give up on the last one and look at the answers, luckily there are thumbnail pictures of the spreads at the back that identify where the hidden creatures and objects are so there’s no need for frustration if one or two elude you.

In terms of mental health, this book is pretty good, the pages are packed with content and are very distracting, there’s loads to look at, to hunt down, and then to colour and this book really will keep you occupied for hours. It’s certainly not a calming book so those of you with anxiety or a racing mind may want to keep this book for calmer days but the content is quite invigorating so those suffering from low mood may well be perked up by the humour often depicted and added into the scenes. The line thickness is fairly consistent within each page but differs between them as do the intricacy and detail levels, all have a lot of content but some are much more detailed and fine-lined than others so do check out the photos and video flick-through as you’ll need fairly good vision and fine motor control to get the most out of this book, it’s certainly not well-suited to young children, probably advanced 8 year olds and up. While the content isn’t nature-based, the fantasy elements and imagination of it all are great for absorbing you into a far off land in the past or future which is often better than the here and now and is great for keeping your mind busy and focused on the task at hand rather than any troublesome thoughts or symptoms you might be experiencing. A lot of the images are filled with wacky, surreal creatures and therefore don’t have a “real” colour scheme that you need to follow so you can really go to town and use any colour you fancy and it’ll look equally fabulous and even the realistic aspects can be spiced up by unusual colour schemes like trees with blue trunks and orange leaves, purple pumpkins or red rocks, just grab a pen or pencil and get colouring and you’ll soon be fully immersed in this intricate, doodle-filled world.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to older kids and adults, it’s great fun to hunt the hidden items and to colour and the different scenes make for a really varied colouring experience with each scene being different from the last and transporting you to a far off place. This book is surreal, wacky and a joy to colour for the young, the old, and everyone in between!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Exploratorium: A Search and Colour Mission
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Exploratorium-Lei-Melendres/9781910552759/?a_aid=colouringitmom

You can see my silent video flick-through of the book here.

The page below was coloured using Staedtler Fibre-Tip Pens.

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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 – Colour Serene: Adult Art Therapy Colouring to Calm and Relax

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Colour Serene is illustrated and self-published by Faunia Smith who kindly sent me a copy to review and a copy to give away (UK giveaway instructions at the bottom, directly above the photos). Faunia is a Naturopath from Australia who strongly recommends art therapy for relaxation and to reduce stress and it was just this that she created her book Colour Serene for. This book is A4, landscape and paperback with flexible card covers with a partially coloured image from inside the book. The spine is glue-bound and all of the illustrations are bordered and don’t reach the page edges. The pages are all printed single-sided and the book contains 24 images, 13 are landscape, 11 are portrait and all are perforated so that you can remove them from the book if you wish to display or gift them. The paper is bright white, thick, and lightly textured, the paper isn’t card-like but it is thick and didn’t bleed or shadow with my water-based pens; pencils blend and shade well and alcohol markers will be fine to use as long as you pop a protective sheet behind your work as the pages are single-sided. The illustrations themselves are very varied, from landscapes to abstract, patterned to nature and more. Some of the images show scenes, others are more random and none are particularly similar to each other. You can find photos from inside below the review.

In terms of mental health, this book is lovely, it contains such variety that you’re sure to find something to suit any mood, any symptom level and any difficulty you fancy. The line thickness is varied from medium to spindly thin and the intricacy and detail levels vary hugely from large open spaces to teeny tiny ones, generally these variances are between pictures rather than within them so there is a good range of difficulties for different levels of concentration or symptoms. Many of the images will be fine for those with moderate levels of vision or fine motor control with a few most suited to those with good or very good levels. The range of images will be ideal to cover those with fluctuating conditions who like to colour variety of content as well as a range of difficulty levels, there are illustrations suited to days where you can’t focus well and might want to block colour and others where you’ll need to be having a good day so that you can really focus on colouring within all of the teeny tiny sections of an abstract page, or others where you can really keep your hands and mind busy with meticulous blending and shading. The hand-drawn images have a calm feel to them and aren’t perfect so they don’t feel intimidating to start, some of the more realistic scenes have ready-made colour schemes that would suit them so you can colour trees in green in brown and the sun in yellow if you’re feeling anxious and unable to make decisions, on better days you can craft your own colour scheme for some of the abstract pages where you can really go all out with your choices.

I would recommend this book for those who like variety and those who like to use alcohol markers as the single-sided perforated pages are ideal for this medium. The illustrations are wide-ranging in content and feel calm and not so perfect that they’re intimidating to colour.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here.

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

UK Giveaway – Faunia very kindly sent me a second copy of her book in order to run a competition so you can win a free copy. This giveaway will run Wednesday the 29th of March at 8pm GMT. Please enter via this Facebook post, full instructions can be found there. Good luck!

Po Drugiej Stronie Snu (On the Other Side of Sleep) – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Po Drugiej Stronie Snu is a Polish colouring book illustrated by the very talented Karolina Kubisowska who kindly sent me a copy to review. This book is periodically on Amazon UK though it’s currently very expensive there (I’m not sure why as it hasn’t always been) and Book Depository (links below, above the photos). The title translates as On the Other Side of Sleep which I’ve guessed to mean that it’s showing a dreamy fantasy land and that’s exactly what you get inside, surreal, weird, wonderful and ethereal images that would fit right in to a dream land.

The book itself is 22cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with a partially coloured image from inside the book, the inside covers are a sage green colour. The spine is glue-bound and you will need to be a little careful with it to avoid loosening the pages over time. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads with the majority being single pages, they are all full-page designs that reach the edges so a little of some of the images can be lost into the spine. The paper is bright white, medium/thick and smooth but not shiny, though, in most of the images the paper looks a little grey due to the printing (this isn’t a negative, more on this later). Water-based pens don’t bleed or shadow and pencils work well on the paper despite it not having much texture, I used Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with water and the paper held up very well with almost no warping or buckling and any that did occur was because of my inexperience and lack of ability to be sparing enough with water!

The artwork is really unusual, in fact everything about the content and style of this book is unlike anything else I’ve seen hence the whole paragraph dedicated to it. Karolina’s art is a cross between normal line art and greyscale, it’s not fully shaded or photographic but it does have heavy black shading which makes the illustrations really dramatic and really easy to make look amazing with little to no knowledge of blending or shading. In addition to this some of the pencil lines are left showing and the pen lines aren’t pristinely, accurately drawn, they feel more chaotic and haphazard but you can see that they’re all meticulously placed to give a sketched look and this creates a real feeling of movement rather than a flat, static drawing.  The backgrounds aren’t left plain, they mostly show some sort of texture from canvas-like texture to toothy watercolour paper and plenty of others, hardly any have totally white backgrounds. This book is very much like looking through an artist’s sketchbook, it isn’t perfect, it’s not polished but that’s what’s so good about it, it feels inviting, less intimidating and all it needs is some vibrant colour to finish it off. Interspersed through the colouring pages are a number of pages with text written on them, sadly this is written in Polish so I have no idea what it says but I understand that it tells the story of the dreamy land that Karolina has created. Some of these pages are black and white and others are printed in full colour. The last two colouring pages have some splashes of colour added around the edges but these aren’t intrusive to the main designs; a few of the images have black backgrounds. The image content is very wide-ranging and contains some realistic images and others which are much more imaginary, there are lots of mushrooms and gems, plants and animals as well as dolls, three-eyed girls, crying unicorns and even a haunted-looking house, there’s nothing particularly horror-themed or grotesque, but there is a little of the dark and bizarre which could be the subject of bad dreams but not nightmares.

In terms of mental health, this book is ideal, at first it appears really intimidating because the artwork is different from anything you’ll have seen before and the dark lines and shading can be off-putting but as soon as you put colour on the paper your fears will melt away and you’ll realise just how easy it is to bring Karolina’s art to life. This would be an ideal book for beginners because the shading is already added for you so you can learn about light and shade and add your darker colours where the heaviest lines are and your lightest colours in the emptier spaces but it’s also easy enough for advanced colourists to challenge themselves and make their own mark on the pages. The line thickness is varied throughout the book and each page, and ranges from medium/thin to very thick. The intricacy and detail levels also vary throughout from large open spaces to much smaller sections and everything in between meaning this book would be suitable for most people with most levels of vision and fine motor control, those with poor levels of either may struggle with a few of the images but this isn’t a book where you need to stick rigidly to colouring between the lines, Karolina’s beautiful haphazard drawing style will be very forgiving of any slips or spills so if you like the artwork then take the plunge and get a copy! The content of the images is very unusual and while none of it is nightmareish or horror-themed, some of it is quite dark and a little eerie so do check the images below if you can be affected by dark themes to ensure that it won’t negatively affect you. In terms of concentration level, this book will adapt to those with good or poor concentration, there are plenty of natural stopping points and if using watercolours you can use sweeping strokes to colour quite quickly if you so choose, you certainly don’t need to spend hours and hours on each page unless you wish to.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, it contains a huge variety of images and they’re really fun to colour and let loose your wildest colour schemes on, it’s great for pencils, pens and watercolours and ideal for those who want to learn more about light and shade or who don’t want to be restricted by “perfect” drawings where you have to stay inside the lines, this book is really freeing, even for those of us who are anxious and perfectionists and the finished pages look amazing!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Po Drugiej Stronie Snu
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Po-drugiej-stronie-snu-Karolin-Kubikowsk/9788379452040/?a_aid=colouringitmom
Karolina’s Website – http://www.karolinakubikowska.pl/po-drugiej-stronie-snu-karolina-kubikowska-prod258962.htm

Karolina has also recently published a second book called Ticket to Dreams which is spiral-bound and available to purchase here – http://www.radostpromaminku.cz/product/omalovanky-pro-dospele/ticket-to-dreams—karolina-kubikowska/927

The image below was coloured using Derwent Inktense Pencils activated with minimal amounts of water.

Time of Memory: A Coloring Book – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Time of Memory: A Coloring Book is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. It was originally published in Korea and has been translated into English, this is one of a series of three books, the other two can be found reviewed by me here: The Story of Pandora, The Land of Dreams. All of them are written by Kim Sun Huyn and Time of Memory is also illustrated by her, whereas the other two are illustrated by Song Geum Jin so their illustration style and content is very different. Just bear this in mind and check out reviews of all three to ensure you like them all.

This book is 25cm square, paperback, with soft feel flexible card covers with beautiful coloured imagery from inside the book and half page French flaps which are left blank on the insides. The spine is glue-bound which makes it fairly durable but does mean that you’ll lose a little of each image into it unless you crack the spine which will give you better access to the centre but could eventually lead to pages falling out so do be careful. The images are printed double-sided and are a mixture of single and double page spreads, a large number of them do enter the spine. The paper is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured, water-based pens ever so slightly shadowed when using dark colours but didn’t bleed at all, alcohol markers will bleed through, pencils layer and blend well as there’s a little bit of tooth. The images themselves are a very different style from the other two books in this series on account of them being drawn by a different illustrator, the cover image is included inside but is not indicative of the majority of the images which are more basic and open-spaced. The book is split into the four seasons with the pages each including scenes, objects, and imagery indicative of that season in a Northern hemisphere country. The images include: Spring flowers, butterflies, berries, goslings, fans, umbrellas, a beach, acorns, pine cones, Winter clothing, snow scenes, and a Christmas tree. Each season is titled and a short paragraph is written about what that season means to Kim and some of her memories from childhood. At the back of the book is advice written by Kim, an Art Therapist, where she describes ways in which art therapy can be used, and the effects of different colours and what they can be used to elicit. Following this are thumbnails of each image along with the title of the spread, and a double-page spread where you can create your own illustrations.

In terms of mental health, this book is good for a whole range of conditions or symptoms, the content is wide-ranging and very natural so it’s calming and soothing to colour. The line thickness varies from thin to medium thickness and the intricacy and detail levels vary hugely from large open spaces in quite blocky designs to much more detailed pictures on a level with the cover image and everything in between. This book would suit colourists with most levels of vision and fine motor control, neither will need to be perfect for you to enjoy this book. The season theme gives this book a great level of continuity and the written childhood memories as well as pictured scenes offer a good level of nostalgia for childhood holidays at the beach, rainy summer holidays and snowy Christmasses. Many of the pages have great natural stopping points so it’s well suited to good and bad days where you want to colour just one item or section, or a whole page. You won’t need high levels of concentration to enjoy this book and while it is distracting and absorbing, it’s not hugely mentally taxing so it’s good for a range of abilities. I personally found the art a little basic, particularly when compared to the other two books in the series and it feels like a slightly adult version of a children’s book, however, that might just be me, having reviewed over 200 books you do get picky and this isn’t one of my favourites though I’m sure it would be some people’s.

Overall, I would recommend this book to those who don’t have perfect vision or fine motor control who want to colour natural images. The content is well-suited to pen or pencil colourists and is nostalgic both for childhood memories and for its similarities with children’s colouring book art.

If you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Time of Memory: A Coloring Book
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Time-of-Memory/9781250112477/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens and Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Nordic Wilderness – A Review and Comparison to the German Edition, Nordische Wildnis

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Nordic Wilderness is illustrated by Claire Scully who co-illustrated The Menagerie, The Aviary, and The Aquarium, and is published and very kindly sent to me to review by Laurence King Publishing. This book was originally published in Germany under the title Nordische Wildnis, you can find my review of that edition here, I expected the UK publication to be identical but I couldn’t have been more wrong, despite the content being almost identical, almost all aspects of the publication are different including the image order, formatting, paper colour and book size to name a few, therefore I will first review the UK edition here and then go on to compare the UK and German editions so that you know which to purchase if you want just one, or whether to buy this UK copy if you already have a German copy so buckle up, this is a long one folks!

Review

Nordic Wilderness brings us exactly the content you’d expect, beautiful images of animals and scenery from the Nordic countries, it’s gorgeous, drawn in Claire’s signature intricate style and really lovely! The book is just under 25cm square, paperback with flexible grey card covers with images from inside the book and silver foiled text, the spine is a dark teal/blue colour and the inside covers are also this colour. The spine is glue and string-bound and fairly strong but also pliable so you can get the book to lie quite flat. The pages are mostly printed double-sided but the book contains 9 fold-out pages each containing a single-sided double-page spread which is a fantastic feature as the spine doesn’t get in the way of colouring the centre of these pages and they could also be carefully removed to frame if you wish. On the backs of the fold-out pages are a unique small motif so there are no truly blank pages in the book. The paper is thick, cream and lightly textured, I’ve tested it with pencils and these blend and layer nicely and I coloured my double-page spread with water-based pens which didn’t bleed or shadow at all; alcohol markers will bleed through so either keep these to the fold-out spreads or avoid using them in this book. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and those that are most affected by the spine being down the centre have been printed on the 9 fold-out pages so you can finally colour the beaks of the two owls which disappeared into the spine in the German edition.

The images are beautiful and so cohesive! The illustrations are all of things you’d expect to find in Nordic countries from polar bears to pine martens, various species of owl to wolves, whales to horses, and squirrels to salmon. There are also a number of beautiful scenic images of fjords, log cabins, lots of trees, underwater creatures and even a stunning double-page spread of the Northern Lights over some icebergs which I can’t wait to get blending pinks and greens on to really make the scene come to life. Some of the images are animals on their own, others have backgrounds or objects with them, some are shown in groups and there are also a few double-page spreads of collections of natural items including lots of mushrooms, pine needles and pine cones, palm fronds, feathers, snowflakes and leaves. There are no filler images in this book and each illustration has absolutely earned its place, Claire’s style is beautiful and her hyper-detailed drawings of nature are just perfect to be coloured with pencils or fineliners. A fantastic new feature of the UK edition is that it contains an image key at the front, annoyingly this isn’t printed in the same order as the images in the book but it’s easy enough to find the picture you’re wanting to colour and find out what type of bear or fish it is you’re embarking on colouring, this is ideal for those of us who like to colour things realistically as it really aids with searching for the right colour schemes!

In terms of mental health, this book is wonderful, it’s absolutely jam-packed with nature imagery and so it’s really calming and grounding. It also offers wonderful escapism as it creates a real sense of place from the first page and truly does transport you to the Nordic countries where it’s cold and snowy and bears and furry creatures are everywhere. Claire’s illustration style is very realistic so it’s well suited to colourers who like to stick to realistic colour schemes but equally, her images look fabulous in neon colours, metallics, or rainbows for those with an adventurous streak! The line thickness is consistently thin throughout but it’s not particularly difficult to stay within the lines as long as you have moderate to good vision and fine motor control. The images are highly detailed and intricate (on a par with Millie Marotta’s and Johanna Basford’s books) and there are lots of tiny spaces making up each image whether it be hundreds of leaves, or blades of grass, or feathers, fur or scales, there is a huge amount of detail in these illustrations which makes them so beautiful and a joy to colour but this does mean it’s not so suitable for people who don’t have good vision or fine motor control. However, while the images are really intricate and detailed, most of this detail is drawn into much larger spaces including landscapes and animals so you could very easily colour over these details with pens or pencils so that the linework shows up as texture rather than having to colour each tiny section separately so there is scope for most ability levels to really enjoy this book. There are also a number of larger spaces in some of the images that will be really well suited to using your pencils for blending and shading to really bring the animals and landscapes to life. There aren’t any designs for you to finish drawing but there are natural spaces left in a few of the designs where you could add your own creatures, foliage, scenery and backgrounds, this is a happy compromise for those who can and can’t draw because there is space to draw if you want it, without any written hints.  You will need a fair amount of concentration to really get the most out of this book as each image will take a good long while to colour but because of the subject matter you can always colour a few leaves or a flower to get your quick colouring fix on a bad day and tackle a whole image on days when you can cope with colouring for longer. I really can’t express how beautiful this book is or how amazing the production is. You’ll get absolutely lost in the Nordic Wilderness and if you like The Menagerie, you’re sure to love this book filled with Claire’s beautiful illustrations, the German edition made its way straight onto my list of favourites and this new formatting has possibly made me love it even more!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves colouring natural images of plants, animals and scenery, this book is beautiful and the added features of removable card pages, bookmarks and postcards is such a wonderful touch. The paper is great quality and If you love detail, intricacy and realistic images then this book will be perfect for you.

Comparison

  1. German edition has covers that open out revealing a colourable design, the UK edition has blue coloured inside covers and no design to colour.
  2. The covers are totally different between the editions.
  3. The UK book is almost 2cms larger in both dimensions than the German edition.
  4. The paper colour is very different, it’s bright white in the German edition and cream in the UK edition, it seems to be equal thickness and similar texture, neither bleed with water-based pens but pencils blend and layer better on the UK edition.
  5. The UK edition has a key at the front of the book with a thumbnail of most of the images and a written description of what they depict, there is no key in the German edition.
  6. In the UK edition many of the double-page spreads are printed on fold-out pages, especially those most affected by the spine in the German edition. The German book has no fold-out pages.
  7. The German edition contains postcards and 4 perforated card pages with single-sided images to colour. The UK edition does contain the images of 3 of these but there are no postcards or perforated pages in it.
  8. The images are either the same size of a little larger in the UK edition due to the larger size of the book, this isn’t a huge difference but if you have slightly poorer vision or fine motor control then you’d be best getting the UK edition rather than the German.
  9. The image order is completely different in each edition.
  10. The UK book is missing about 3 single pages of artwork compared to the original German edition, these include the twigs next to the beaver page and the fox tail but I’m yet to discover the third page that hasn’t been included, it’s not an obvious one though.
  11. The whale is printed totally differently, in the German edition it’s a double-page spread showing just half of the whale, in the UK edition it’s a triple-page spread spanning a single page and a double-page fold-out and it shows the whale in its entirety so it’s printed a fair bit smaller in terms of the detail and intricacy.
  12. The cover image of the German edition is a colourable page in the UK edition with the title removed, in the German edition is has the title intact and is the title page of the book.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of either of the books then they’re available here:

Amazon UK
UK – Nordic Wilderness
German – Nordische Wildnis

Book Depository Worldwide
UK – https://www.bookdepository.com/Nordic-Wilderness-Claire-Scully/9781780679099/?a_aid=colouringitmom
German – https://www.bookdepository.com/Nordische-Wildnis-Claire-Scully/9783833852626/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’re a fan of Claire Scully’s artwork then please join my new fan group and share your coloured pages from her book – The Menagerie and More

The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-Tip Pens.

Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia: A Colouring Book to Keep Your Favourite Moments – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia is published and kindly sent to me to review by Promopress and illustrated by Toc De Groc – a Barcelona based trio of ladies who run a design studio. They were the creators of the stunning book Hidden Nature and this second book is just as beautiful with a different theme but similar style. This book is square (the same size as the bestsellers), paperback, with a beautiful floral embossed white card cover and removable paper slip with the title and coloured illustrations from inside the book. The spine of the pages isn’t attached to the cover apart from at the back and it’s a lay-flat binding meaning you can access the entirety of the page, and that you can remove them if you wish. The book contains 45 single-sided images with a frame in each one that you could cut out and then add a photo or your own drawing and then frame the whole thing for yourself or others. The paper is bright white and really thick (160gsm), it’s not card-like but it’s some of the thickest paper I’ve seen in a colouring book and there isn’t even a hint of bleed-through or shadowing with water-based pens so it’s perfect with all of your water-based markers and with pencils whose colours will show up beautifully on the paper. The images are borderless and all contain nature-themed illustrations with lots of hidden features throughout and each one contains a frame of varying size, shape, and number. One of the things that stands out most about this book is the little cat who is hidden within each page (bar one – the motorcycle page). He’s shown in various different sizes throughout and sometimes he’s the main feature of the image and other times he’s hidden somewhere for you to find. The image content is really varied, all nature-themed, but with loads of different objects and animals added in, all covered in florals. The themes range from love to music, Christmas to under the sea, tropical to afternoon tea, travel to makeup and so much more. Great numbers of animals are also included from unicorns to birds, turtles to flamingoes, butterflies to dogs and of course lots and lots of cats! Some of the images are of scenes, some are set up like still life, some are object shapes made out of lots of flowers and leaves, and others have animals hidden within them. Each one is single-sided with a peach coloured back page with co-ordinating white line art. At the very back of the book is a double page spread of beautiful lettering in both upper and lower case which you could trace over to add greetings or initials to your frames if you wish.

In terms of mental health, this book is great, it’s filled with nature which is ideal for calming you down and helping you to relax and zone out but it’s all drawn in a cartoony style which brings character and whimsy to the images. The frames are a really novel concept and they’re ideal because they give you a project with a goal at the end and the finished pages, once removed from the book, would be fantastic to add photos, greetings or drawings to and then gifted either as they are or framed. The illustrations are drawn in a consistently thin line throughout so this isn’t an ideal book for those of you with poor vision or fine motor control issues, but the line isn’t spindly thin so it’s manageable to stay within the lines when you’re colouring. The intricacy and detail levels vary throughout but range from medium to high levels of intricacy and most of the images contain a lot of details meaning there are lots of different parts to colour on each page though you can of course colour over these in blocks if you choose. The images are quirky and fun and will be sure to bring a smile to your face, they don’t take themselves too seriously and this book doesn’t feel intimidating or too perfect to colour in like some others do. This is a friendly book that starts off with a page where you can write your name and continues into a beautiful, floral-filled world where you can get lost and colour in whatever colours you fancy without realism forcing you to colour everything a specific colour. I personally found this book very calming and relaxing and it really did cheer me up on some of my darker days while I was colouring it ready to review. The images are varied and often made up of lots of component parts so if you’re having a bad day and your concentration is poor you could colour just one flower, or cupcake, or heart and then go back to it when you’re feeling better, or on good days you can plough your way through the pages that are filled with detail and intricacy.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes nature based images, and anyone who likes cartoon-style drawings. The images are quirky and whimsical and are a great combination of objects and animals intertwined with natural florals and they’re drawn so beautifully that they’re just crying out for colour to be added. This is a fabulous book for pen fans who want to be able to use their water-based pens without having to worry about the dreaded bleed-through and those who want to colour pretty floral images.

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Hidden Nature Frame Fantasia
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Hidden-Natures-Frame-Fantasi-Toc-de-Groc/9788416504442/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you like the look of this book then check out the first one in the series here:
Review – Hidden Nature
Amazon UK – Hidden Nature: A Colouring Escape for Grown-ups
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/Hidden-Nature-Toc-de-Groc/9788415967729/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was colouring using Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners and Stabilo 68 fibre-tips.

Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencils – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Staedtler are a hugely well-known brand worldwide and they produce a large range of stationery products ranging from kids’ products all the way up to artist grade products, with a huge selection in between. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils (not to be confused with the Staedtler Noris Club Pencils) are a budget option at around £4/5 for the full 24 colour set. These are some of the cheapest pencils around so how do they stack up against some of the slightly pricier options like the Staedtler Ergosoft pencils (reviewed here) and the Marco Raffine pencils (reviewed here)?

The Noris Colour pencils are available in up to 24 individual colours and come in sets of 6, 12, and 24 and come in standard Staedtler packaging, or Johanna Basford themed packaging (do hunt around as prices for the packaging can vary and the contents is exactly the same). The pencils themselves have a hexagonal barrel with two black sides, black-lined corners, and 4 coloured sides that are the same colour as the pencil lead. They arrive pre-sharpened and have flattened ends which show the perfectly centred cores which are a standard thickness. The barrels have a soft feel to them and they’re not slippery. The colours cover a good range of shades in the 24 pack and include white, black, grey, a flesh tone, 3 browns, 3 greens, a true red, one purple and plenty of pinks and blues, and two each of yellow and orange. The pencils are wax-based. Sadly, I’m really not a fan of these pencils. The leads are extremely hard, the hardest I’ve come across and they’re very waxy with very little pigment. I found it really difficult to get an even coverage that didn’t have streaks through it and I just couldn’t get any vibrancy. Even when creating my colour chart I struggled to not have huge lines through the fully burnished sections and I pressed so hard whilst colouring with them that I ended up with a blister and nearly went through the page. The pencils do blend ok if you use very light layers, but again, there’s no vibrancy from them. The pigment does erase well, especially when using a battery-operated eraser so these would be useful for those of you who go over the lines a fair bit, and for those wanting to create highlights. Sadly, any of you who suffer from joint pain, have weak grip, or are elderly, will really struggle to use these pencils unless you’re wanting to just do light block colouring and no blending or shading. The sheer amount of pressure needed to get any level of pigment on the page is higher than I’d ever want for a pencil and I ended up with dents and blisters on my fingers after colouring one full page.

The pencils do sharpen well and don’t crumble at all or create dust. The hardness of the lead means it keeps a good point which lasts for ages, mostly because so little of the pigment goes onto the paper when colouring. I haven’t had any issues with breakages or splintering so the lead and pencil barrel seem to be well-made. For the price, you can’t expect a lot but for me, even at this price, I wouldn’t buy them unless they were literally all I could afford. These pencils would be ideal for school children but I can’t recommend them for anyone else, the colours are so pale, the leads are so hard, and they’re so difficult to get colour onto the page how and where you want it. While the Staedtler Ergosofts and Marco Raffines are both a fair bit more expensive, I’d strongly advise opting for those pencils because they’re both highly pigmented, easy to blend and you don’t get an achy blistered hand just by looking at them. I really don’t like writing negative reviews but honestly, I can’t really find anything positive to say about these pencils, they made colouring really stressful for me and the only reason I finished the picture was to show a fully coloured page for this review.

If you’d still like to purchase a set of these pencils they’re available below:
Amazon UK: Staedtler Noris Colour 24 Pencil Set

Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: Deluxe Edition – A Review

Disclaimer – Please read this disclosure about my use of affiliate links which are contained within this post.
Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: Deluxe Edition is published and was kindly sent to me to review by Batsford Books. This book is a genuine work of art and reviewing it has been really enjoyable because it is so beautiful to look through and to colour. You can read my review of the original edition of Wild Savannah here, I will be making comparisons to that version in this review for those of you who already have the original edition and for those of you who want to know the differences. The Deluxe Edition is a hardback book with a gorgeous fiery orange linen cover and a white screen-printed antelope on the front. The writing on the cover and spine is covered in beautiful gold foil and the book itself is very thick (see comparison photo below of original and deluxe editions) and hefty and just oozes luxury. The book arrives covered in thin plastic wrap to keep the cover safe which is a great idea so that it doesn’t get damaged or marked in any way. The book is a little larger than the original because of the hardback cover but the pages and images themselves are exactly the same size (I measured to check). The spine is stitched and lightly glue-bound so some pages are easier to colour into the spine than others. The images are printed single-sided on the right-hand pages and are borderless meaning a little is lost into the spine in the full-page images but it really is only a little. The pages are not perforated but could be carefully removed with a scalpel to frame or gift to others. The paper is thicker than the original (180gsm) and bright white, I used Stabilo water-based fineliners and they didn’t bleed or shadow at all. The paper is a good thickness but it cannot be described as card-like and is thinner than the paper found in Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden original edition and Artist’s Edition. The paper is very smooth and gives a fairly good surface for colouring with pencils but does burnish quite quickly so you don’t get a lot of layers. Unlike the Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition, there are no gold ribbon ties or bookmark, I’m not sure why they’ve been removed but I thought it worth noting that they have been.

The book contains almost every image from the original and all are exactly the same apart from one bird image which has been reversed so that less of it is lost into the spine (see photo below). The images are almost all in the same order as the original book, a few of the images are swapped slightly or broken up by the fold out double-page spreads. The majority of the double-page spreads from the original book have been printed onto double-width paper which folds outwards to the left of the book so that the full image can be coloured without the spine running down the middle of the image like in the original. There are 14 of these double-page gatefolds. At the end of the book is an envelope attached to the back cover containing 5 square prints, all from the book with no new additions (these are all pictured below), these images include the lion, bird on a branch, panther, gazelle with a bird on its nose, and the jackal on a rock. These images are printed on the same paper as the rest of the book and would be ideal for framing so you can display your beautiful artwork. As with the original book, there are spaces on a number of the images to add your own backgrounds and details but there are no written hints which keeps the pages nice and neat. The line thickness is the same throughout and the same as the original and the lines are very thin so this is definitely a book for those of you with good vision and fine motor control.

This book has exactly the same content and mental health benefits as the original and the recommendations about that are also the same for this one so I won’t repeat it here but my review of the original Wild Savannah book can be found here. I personally feel that the price tag of £25 is a little steep but it is a genuine work of art and would make an excellent present or coffee table book, as well as the perfect book to display your artistic talent. Because the images are printed single-sided, I did find that this edition feels a little less cohesive than the original and feels a little more stilted rather than telling a story, however, it also really showcases your work because you only see one image at a time meaning you can really give it your time and attention when colouring and looking through it afterwards.

This is a stunning book which is a true work of art. I felt quite intimidated by it at first because it’s so perfect and I was worried about ruining it. At this price, I can’t afford multiple copies if I make a mistake so my advice would be to practice in a copy of the original book, found on Amazon for just £5 (link below), and then when you’re happy, colour your best version in the Deluxe Edition. If you’re a fan of Millie’s work or are new to it and wanting a luxurious colouring book then this book is ideal for you. It’s just gorgeous and definitely the most luxurious colouring book I’ve encountered so far and for fans of Millie’s work, it’s an absolute must-have!

You can purchase a copy here:
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah: Deluxe Edition
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781849943871/?a_aid=colouringitmom

If you’d like a copy of the original version of Wild Savannah, it’s available below:
My Review
Amazon UK – Millie Marotta’s Wild Savannah
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/Millie-Marotts-Wild-Savannah-Millie-Marott/9781849943284/?a_aid=colouringitmom

The image below was coloured using Stabilo Point 88 fineliners.