Book review – Creative Haven Curious Creatures by Amy Weber

Creative Haven has a ton of coloring books, I will not even hazard a guess as to how many. I only have this one, Curious Creatures by Amy Weber. So lets take a look at it.

Details: Paperback, Dover Publications Inc, 2013
Pages: 203.2 x 271.78 x 7.62mm, 64 pages, rather thin paper, single-sided
ISBN10: 0486492699
ISBN13: 9780486492698
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Curious Creatures is filled with whimsical steampunk imagery, crazy creatures and items. The pages are perforated, which I find to be very cool. All the books in the Creative Haven series should have that to my knowledge. The paper is quite thin and not all that great, it’s basically standard copy paper. But the images are printed on one side only so for markers, it’s okay. With pencils, you’ll probably struggle a bit if you want tons of layers.
The images in this book are seriously fun and crazy and childlike in the best of meanings. I had two copies of this by accident and I have a friend who frowned upon this whole coloring business but when she saw this book, she had to have the second copy and well.. I now get excited messages from her when she has finished another page. So that’s what this book has done to at least one person 😀
If you like this sort of style, grab this, you’ll love it. Even with the sub-par paper. The book is cheap so that’s how they keep the production cost and subsequently the price down. Can’t have cheap AND quality paper most of the time plus keep the artist fed as well.

Overall, it’s a fun and cute book that will charm your socks off 🙂

In other news, I’m having problems with the new lighting for my videos, seems nobody has thought to order daylight temperature LED strips here, shop number five is investigating currently, whether they can help me. So fingers crossed! Until then my current WIP is the platypus for Millie Marotta’s contest. If you haven’t seen it, she is holding a contest in Facebook, go check it out and enter as well! The prizes are cool. I do admit I was secretly hoping the prize would be a signed copy of Curious Creatures but can’t have it all 😀

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions

Book review – The Magical Journey by Lizzie Mary Cullen

Following my love for The Magical City, I picked up The Magical Journey by Lizzie Mary Cullen through a preorder before it was released. Since that was in June, I guess it’s high time I finally show it to you guys as well.

Details: Paperback, Penguin Books Ltd, 2016
Pages: 248 x 249 x 11mm, 96 pages, good smooth paper, double-sided
ISBN10: 1405927984
ISBN13: 9781405927987
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I’ll get this right off my chest, when I preordered it, I was expecting another The Magical City, with it’s twirly cities and landscapes. This is not it. Well it has pages that are but many aren’t. To me that was a disappointment because I was expecting it to be something else. However, that said, it is a wonderfully illustrated book and has tons of personality and the same fun factor that The Magical City has. So this is just a personal thing that I wanted more of the same and got something new instead, which is actually what most people would want 😀
Anyway the concept of this book is that you can go along on a journey with Lizzie and Paddy the Pug through different countries around the world. There are cities, people and even food in this book (sushi anyone?), all drawn in Lizzie’s recognizable fun style. And hey, someone do the double page with trees, I dare you!
The paper is very nice, like The Magical City has. You can use water sparingly in this book. Pencils love the paper, easy to work with surface.
The images are on both sides of the page.
Lizzie Mary Cullen also has The Magical City which I’ve already reviewed HERE, The Magical Christmas which I don’t own and Bon Voyage, which I will cover at a later date. There will soon be a Spanish themed book out as well and English themed one is scheduled for early next year. So loads of interesting things coming from Lizzie’s talented hand, I’m excited for it all.

But back to The Magical Journey, for example I’ve done this geisha:
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Overall, it’s a great book, full of variety, not only the cityscapes we’ve all come to love from The Magical City, but also everything from sushi to people.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions

Spiderwebs, Sommarnatt

I started a video project with this one and in one majestic swoop of stupid fail, I deleted the files for the first part and thus, no video. But well, I’ll do a video soon anyway so stay tuned for the next color with me. But anyway, back to the spiderwebs from Sommarnatt by Hanna Karlzon:
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Colored with Prismacolor Premier pencils, some white Posca and Sennelier soft pastels for the background.

I was in a not so happy place coloring the spiders since I just got bitten by one last week 😀 Let it be noted that I live in a country where nothing (aside from bears and such) is dangerous and spiders don’t bite humans. One sure did bite me and completely derailed me from reading the new Harry Potter, drat that spider! Anyway this was a bit personal to color as a result.

Book review – Wild Savannah by Millie Marotta

As the release date for Curious Creatures approaches (and seems Bookdepository already has it in stock), lets look at the third book from Millie Marotta, Wild Savannah.

Details: Paperback, Pavilion Books, 2016
Pages: 250 x 250 x 17mm, 96 pages, good smooth paper, double-sided
ISBN10: 1849943281
ISBN13: 9781849943284
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

This is the third book from Millie Marotta, the first two being Animal Kingdom and Tropical Wonderland (both reviews available HERE). The pictures are savannah-themed and the same recognizable style of hers. She has an interesting way of doing her pictures in single line width, it creates this rather interesting effect with these sort of geometric images of animals and nature.
The paper of this book is very nice, it takes pencils beautifully. Probably would handle a bit of water just fine as well. The images are on both sides of the pages so consider that if you want to use alcohol based markers.

Example picture, which has seen some cool places like Amelia’s Magazine and Jo-Ann craft store blog interviews with Millie Marotta:
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Overall, it’s a gorgeous book and if you loved the other two, this will not disappoint for sure 🙂

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions

Book review – Romantic Country by Eriy

Who hasn’t heard of the Romantic Country series by Eriy? I bet everyone and their grandma and favorite cat have. But lets look at it once more regardless because it’s just worth an eighteenth look. The Romantic Country series has three books so far, the first of which will be covered here and has been published in English. The other two are available in Japanese, the second has been announced to be released in English. But lets look at the first one today.

Details: Paperback, St Martin’s Press, 2016 (for the English version)
Pages: 249 x 251 x 18mm, 96 pages, good thick paper, double-sided
ISBN10: 1250094461
ISBN13: 9781250094469
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Romantic Country was a book that kept popping up everywhere and I didn’t really look at it all that much. But at some point it kind of grew on me and now I’m one of the many fans of these books. What blows my mind is that Eriy draws the illustrations with a toothpick. Seriously. How awesome is that? The inking is not black, more like a soft brownish grey which makes the coloring really pop and the linework fades into it.
This book is about a made-up kingdom and there’s a storybook feel to it, the images are very happy and warm and childlike in the best of ways. There’s a duck fellow who keeps showing up on images as well which I really like.
The paper is very good, takes pencils like a champion and it can probably take a bit of water. The images are on both sides of the pages.
If you want to watch awesome videos on coloring in this book, check out Chris Cheng on Youtube. And while you’re there, why not subscribe to the Coloring Addict channel as well 🙂
Anyway, this is a keeper. I do hope she does more, even though I will never be able to color all the books. Her images take a long time for me, they’re quite detailed and I take my time with them.

Example picture I’ve done:
_DSC3572

Overall: it’s a gorgeous book, that’s all there really is to it. There’s nothing to fault it. The images never fail to make me a tad bit happier, even when just looking at them and not coloring. And that is a real keeper 🙂

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions

Staedtler Ergosoft review

I’ve been asked to do reviews on budget-friendly pencils as well, namely the Staedtler Ergosoft and Marco Raffines. I’ll note right away that I’ll also do Marco Renoir but that will probably be the extent of it. But anyway, lets jump into it!
All reviews done so far for pencils can be found HERE.

Staedtler Ergosoft is a student grade pencil so it will not compare to artist grade pencils reviewed so far, lets get that disclaimer off the table. And to give credit where credit is due, my daughter helped me with this review since she has loads more experience with student grade pencils. And another disclaimer, on the box it says ergo soft but on their website ergosoft so… beats me as to which one is correct, I went with one word.
staedtlerergosoft1
Staedtler Ergosoft comes in sets of 24 and 12, they come in either a cardboard box or a plastic box that acts as a stand as well. While your pencils are long, the plastic case is a lot more convenient. When they wear down… Well, it will probably be pretty annoying to use. Anyway I went with the cardboard box, nice and Lost Ocean-y 🙂
staedtlerergosoft2
The pencils are triangular with a soft rubber coating that makes them very nice to hold. The coating doesn’t have a color name but is colored. There is a numbering system for the colors and that is printed on the casing. There’s also a place where you can write your name, in theory, good luck writing on the rubber though. Around the lead is their ABS, anti-breakage-system or something like that. It’s there to protect the lead from breaking, that’s the white stuff.
staedtlerergosoft3

Pros:

  • Decent pigmentation, specially for a student grade pencil
  • Sturdy little things, I didn’t experience breakage
  • The rubber coated triangular barrel is very comfortable and doesn’t slide off my angular drafting table
  • Nice and vibrant bright colors
  • There’s also somewhat of a skintone-y peach
  • Readily available
  • Blending and erasability are decent
  • Wood is from sustainable forests, always a plus for me, I care about these things

Cons:

  • Black is really not black, it’s more of a gray
  • For student grade pencils, they are on the expensive side, to the point that it might be worthwhile to consider paying a little extra and getting artist grade pencils
  • The ABS system is great and all but you get less pigment in a pencil since that takes up room
  • 24 colors is the maximum range which I find a little limiting
  • You can’t really blend well with the white provided in the set, at least I didn’t have much luck with that
  • The lead is 3mm but that counts in the white anti-breakage layer so you don’t really get all that much lead in them
  • Not available open stock but at this price, it’s really not a problem

Comparison:
As said, they don’t compare with artist grade pencils and so this part is what my daughter said: “for student grade pencils, these are very good, above average for sure and better then most others, however if you can, you would be better off with Marco Raffines, you’ll spend roughly the same amount of money and will get not only 72 pencils but 72 better pencils. But if you can’t shop online or don’t want to wait, these are a very solid option. Very comfortable to hold and nice colors.”
I am yet to test drive Marco Raffine pencils so I will comment on that at a later date and add that here as well.

Color chart:
chartstaedtlerergosoft

Official color chart:
Staedtler doesn’t provide one as a downloadable file but you can check their website for tiny thumbnails of the colors.

Example coloring piece:
magicalcitystaedtler
Picture from The Magical City by Lizzie Mary Cullen.
Note, this is without a blender, with blending the result is better but I wanted to show you how it performs by itself. The white in the set does not work as a blender well.

Overall:
To be quite honest with you, I couldn’t wait to be done with the test picture, I didn’t particularly enjoy them. That said, I am used to artist grade pencils and in this unfair comparison, these just didn’t cut it. However they’re really not as bad as I expected them to be, frankly I was surprised at their quality for the price, they’re really not bad at all.
So my suggestion is, if you want to go to the store right now and exit with a good set of pencils and start coloring right away, this is a good option if you don’t want to spend a little extra on artist grade pencils (you really don’t need to buy the whole 120 range, 24 is a decent variety already or 36 if you can afford that).

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience with these pencils

Book review – The Magical City by Lizzie Mary Cullen

While I’m picking out the next color along project, lets take a look at The Magical City by Lizzie Mary Cullen.

Details: Paperback, Penguin Books Ltd, 2015
Pages: 254 x 254 x 12mm, 96 pages, good smooth paper, double-sided
ISBN10: 1405924098
ISBN13: 9781405924092
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

I’ll say it right away, this is one of my favorite books of all time. I love the puzzle-like images. At first glance they seem insane and confusing but once you start to color them, they start to make sense. I love the aha moments and watching the dramatic change when the picture pops to life. And I also love the curved crazy drawings, they really do free you from realism, you can do whatever you like. My favorite thing to do tends to be pink smoke as you can see. The sky is the limit.
Also a great bonus is that she has written the names of places on the pages but in a very subtle manner, it doesn’t scream at you when looking but you can see it in case you want to look the place up and see how it looks in real life.
The paper is very nice, people love to use Inktense in this book, the paper does buckle with water a bit but if you’re very careful, it won’t be bad. I like to use Prismacolors in this book, they’re so happy and vibrant and work with this fun book. This is also the only book I freely use blender pencil in. I’m not really against blenders, I just tend to forget about them and reach the blended result with tons of layers. But in here I like the pure single color look.

Example pictures I’ve done:
_DSC3331

Overall, if you like this sort of free fun puzzle-type thing, you’ll adore this book. Lizzie Mary Cullen also has Magical Journey and Bon Voyage which I will show you in the future. There’s also a Magical Christmas book but that one I don’t own.

Disclaimer: all of the above opinions are mine, you might have a different experience and opinions