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Friday, August 5, 2016

Another Look At: Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book

I think I owe Tuttle Publishing a huge apology… well, maybe not a huge one… but I’ll apologize nonetheless.

They sent me the Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book to review, and I said that while a pretty good book, I didn’t find it a relaxing activity as the stress of not being a good artist took its toll on my fragile eggshell mind (see HERE).

But… I am happy to say that I was wrong.

Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book is a coloring book for adults, with 96 pages - 23 of which are yours to color. Along with each page to color, the book offers a tear-out page for a full color representation of what the drawing should look like.

Although the Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book is meant as a coloring book for adults, I noted that most adults haven’t physically colored in (add your own despondent number here) years. For me, that’s a lot of years, though I have, in the interim done painting of plastic model kits and Dungeons & Dragons figurines, and done so with a bit of panache… though admittedly, I am not the best painter. Period.
Attempt No. 1 with Crayola markers. I only did partial ink outlines in black.
So… I began my initial review of the book with a complaint that there should be some instruction on HOW to color the book. An offering from the authors on how to prepare yourself using whatever medium you chose to use… whether it was crayons, pencil crayons, markers, water paints…. advice…

I had to scan deep back into my memories to note that when coloring/painting, it was best to put down the lighter colors first… because after the dark colors are applied, those light colors like yellow or white can not properly be applied OVER the dark.

See… good advice.

Crayola Waterpencils on attempt No.2 (dark blues used the pencil crayon actually wetted with water). This actually came out pretty close to the example in the book. Instead of clouds of white in the front, I gave it a green tinge for a different look akin to fog.

Also… I found it quite useful to actually trace over the the black lines on the coloring page. It makes the colors pop!

I applied the black ink trace AFTER I had finished coloring, and as the FIRST thing to do on the page. Both came out well in the end, but I think spending the time to do an outline BEFORE the coloring worked best for me.

As an aside, I spent nearly 90 minutes doing an ink trace on one of the drawings. And if that seems like a long time—it is—I was almost tempted to leave the image as it was without color, because the black and white effect had become just that much more striking.

More advice? Well… I used some 12-pack Crayola Watercolor pencil crayons that I purchased from a small toy store… when wet, they provide a deeper water color look, and when dry, the standard pencil crayon look.

I didn’t use the watercolor look much… then again, I may not have been using it properly… still, the pencil crayons are of a high quality. Believe me… there’s a reason why some art supplies cost $5 and others cost $50. You get what you pay for.
I actually attempted to put scratches in the sky blue to mimic the wood the ukiyo-e are made from.

Anyhow… after outlining, I would add colors, starting with the light colors, yes, but actually applying each and every color with a light application.

Once all the colors were in, then I could look even more closely at the page showing the completed original color image, and apply various depths of the colors. IE: I could press harder.

The point is that I could also continue with the soft application, but with every pass, I could make the colors stronger. Or not.

And then I got brave. I noticed on one drawing that there was a weird blue on the page… a Prussian Blue in shadow, I think… but, despite finding some pencil crayons purchased years ago for a disinterested son, I didn’t have an exact match. I did have a medium grey pencil crayon, however.

So I began to experiment - in an effort to recreate the color… I put down a light grey and then using the same pencil crayon made it darker, and then applied a light sky blue application to both, and then a darker application of sky blue to both to determine which more closely resembled the color I needed. Holy crap… one worked. So, yes... you can mix colors even with a pencil crayon. You can even blend colors, but that takes patience.

Last advice… whatever medium you choose to utilize, make sure the appliqué is honed… sharp. While a sharp pencil crayon or crayon could give you a darker color because the temptation is to press, use the sides of the coloring implement to spread a softer amount of color.
Ninety minutes on attempt No.4 - just to outline it in black ink. Lots of detail in this one! The blue-gray mix on the tree on the left  bottom came out as an exact match to the artwork in the book!

For the outlines (up to you if you want to do that), I used a Cello Pin Point 0.5 point. I also tried a OptiFlow 0.75 point, but it was thicker and, messier… which may also have been due to the quality of the pen (and ink).

While all of the above advice was me quickly scrambling down thoughts in six minutes, I do think that the book should have proffered some advice - say a professional website they have set-up - on how to color, or simply how to best use the Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book.

I think that is a fair comment.

But I mentioned an apology to Tuttle Publishing.

The point I really wanted to make is… I really am enjoying the Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book from Tuttle Publishing!

Yeah… it was initially frustrating because I was forced to recall that even as a kid I sucked at coloring… but at least now, as an adult… I am getting better at it… and holy crap… despite my own internal competitive nature, I am finding the whole concept of an adult coloring book to be… dare I say it… relaxing.

So… Floating Worlds Japanese Prints Coloring Book from Tuttle Publishing… if you like Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and are up for a challenge - a fun challenge - this is the book for you.

Come on… I showed you mine. Show me yours.

Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm no artist, and won't be framing my masterpieces, but I am proud of the fact that I seem to be improving with each coloring. Hint... don't do your favorite subject first. Save it for last when you have got the hang of things! LOL!
PPS: I will finish coloring this book, and I may seek out others.     

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