Book Review: Adult Colouring Books by Daria Song & Johanna Basford 

IMG_0500_Fotor2015 has seen the rise and surge in demand for adult colouring books. Fun, stress busting, and did I say fun?  If you’ve started on these, you know you won’t be stopping anytime soon.

As much as the joy of these books lie in your colouring them in and bring them to life, the huge array of adult colouring books in the market warrants some (very painstaking) decision making (re. I WANT THEM ALL! and TAKE MA MONEY!). Sadly, after much trial and error, I humbly feel that it’s really best (for my wallet) to purchase those that really fit with one’s idea of relaxation in order to maximise the fun (and stress relief). I’ve personally bought a few (with also another few on their way *shifty eyes*) to try out and I’ve found that I love to colour in moderately spaced/drawn pictures. Intricately drawn illustrations whilst beautiful to look at, actually cause me stress rather than relieve it. At the same time, pictures that are too sparsely drawn (i.e. lack of details) are not my cup of tea either. What do you mean I’d have to fill them in with my lack of creativity?! I’m a difficult customer to please. Also, I much prefer animals, inanimate objects and landscapes, rather than architectures or portraits of cities (i.e. Fantastic Cities, you beautiful, beautiful piece of art). Hence, do keep in mind the kind of pictures you yourself would be more inclined to colour in before purchase! Or just blow your money like I did, that’s cool too.

Now onto the review! In order to enable accurate representations and hence review of the illustrations, the photos of each drawings are unfiltered. A separate post will be made for the medium I use to colour (:

The Secret Garden by Johanna Basford 26248204

Goodreads, Book Depository 

What: Illustrations of insects, flowers, gardens and more insects.

Intricateness: 4/5. Probably only usurped by Animorphia and Fantastic Cities in terms of Intricateness. Can be very tedious to colour (look at those minute sized leaves!), but still very beautiful to look at.

Paper: Thick, lightly yellow coloured pages. I personally don’t like the colour of the paper since it can tone down the intensity of the colour pencils. As such, the paper is a little more difficult to work with student grade colour pencils.

Suggested medium: I used colour pencils and markers for this and the latter did not seep through the page. The paper is quite thick hence, watercolours shouldn’t be a problem but if you’re concerned, you can put a piece of thick paper behind the page you’re colouring in to reduce/prevent colour transfer.

Rating: 3/5

The Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford 26574262

Goodreads, Book Depository

What: Largely-drawn animals, castles and some tree trunks.

Intricateness: 3/5. Anything by Basford is gonna have at least a few pages of intricate detailing but The Enchanted Forest is largely moderately intricate at best, which is perfect if you have tastes similar to mine!

Paper: Cream coloured, and slightly thinner than that of The Secret Garden. Markers may (it did leak through on mine) seep through if you press them in too hard or repeated colouring in the same spot.

Suggested Medium: Coloured pencils. Markers if you want. Watercolour for the adventurous daredevil.

Rating: 3.5/5. Basford’s drawings are gorgeous but can get a little repetitive after a while.

The Time Garden by Daria Song 25430759

Goodreads, Book Depository

What: Tells the story of a girl climbing into a cuckoo clock and discovering a whole new world (think Narnia). Unique in that story telling aspect since it isn’t just random illustrations of a certain place/theme. Mostly covers pictures of rooftops, bird eye views of landscape/cities, clocks, clock gears, and a little girl running around.

Intricateness: 3.5/5. Can get very detailed in drawings of shopfronts and cityscapes.

Paper: White, thick paper.

Suggested Medium: I used coloured pencils only. Markers would be ok I guess. I’ve seen pictures using watercolours and they look beautiful (duh), but attempt at your own risk.

Rating: 3.5/5. I love Song’s style but 1 star is taken off due to the many repeated drawings. For instance, a picture of a detailed clock on the left page, followed by the exact same clock on the right page minus the details so you can fill them in. Repeat this for about 5-6 illustrations and you get a dissatisfied consumer. The same thing happened with images of the protagonist so you’d have her running in say page 3 and the exact same girl with the exact same posture running down another scenery in page 20. I’m someone who likes to have my money’s worth thank you.

The Time Chamber by Daria Song 25430760

Goodreads, Book Depository

What: Mandalas featuring out-of-this-world clock gears, little girl running around part 2, teacups and pottery sets, and lots of stars. And of course, all these featuring a story about the fairy in the cuckoo clock.

Intricateness: 2.5/5 (=perfect!)

Paper: White, thick paper.

Suggested medium: I used coloured pencils and markers, with the latter not seeping through despite repeated colouring of the same spot. However, markers do not blend as well here as compared to The Secret Garden (I used the same type of markers for both books in comparison.)

Rating: 4/5. I don’t really like colouring in mandalas but Song’s mandalas are really unique and gorgeous. The many illustrations of stars in this book was also very delightful and fun to work with. Thank God for the reduced amount of repeated drawings in this (see The Time Garden Rating’s section)

Overall, I do like Song’s style a little more over Basford’s but Song has a habit of falling into drawing repetitive images. Basford on the other hand, does not do this (Thank You!) but rather emulates a certain familiarity in her books. I also noticed that Basford’s Lost Ocean is even more intricate than her previous works (think 5/5 intricateness rating), which is a no go for me though obviously it is still a stunning piece of work.

…And that’s it! Another post will be coming up soon on the mediums I use (think colour pencils, markers, watercolours) and maybe, another updated adult colouring book review a few months down the road (the addiction is real).

I hope you find this post useful and happy colouring!

Have you coloured in these books before? How did you find them? What other books are you colouring in? Let me know (:


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