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National Geographic Magnificent Animals: Coloring Book Paperback – 1 Dec 2016
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About the Author
Hayrullah Kaya is a Turkish illustrator whose art appears in National Geographic's Magnificent Animals: A Coloring Book. A graduate of Marmara University, he is the founder of Istanbul's Hayr Studio where he works as a freelance illustrator, character designer, and writer. To learn more, follow @hayrkaya on Twitter or @hayr___ on Instagram.
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The book is 24 cm square, paperback with flexible card covers with 1/3 French flaps, the cover has green foiling embellishments and the inside covers and first and last page have a continuous pattern and animal image that is fully colourable. The spine of the book is glue bound and fairly stiff to begin with, the images are printed single-sided and are perforated so none of the images enter the spine. All of the images are single-page spreads printed on the righthand page. The paper is bright white, medium thickness with a small amount of texture allowing a few layers of pencil to be built up for blending and shading; water-based pens shadow but don’t bleed, alcohol markers will bleed through so put some protective paper behind your work to protect the next page. The images themselves are each of a different animal and are hugely wide-ranging including a: horse, peacock, koala, seahorse, armadillo, mandarin duck, sheep, preying mantis, meerkats, zebra, heron, bears, ants, scorpion, panda, stag beetle, cow, butterflies and so many more creatures. The image style varies hugely and while the cover states that it was created by one illustrator, these images don’t look hand-drawn and my guess is that they were created digitally as a number of them have the same patterns or backgrounds as each other. The illustrations are very similar in style to many of the Shutterstock images that we’ve seen and while none of them are the same as any I’ve seen before, they do feel quite similar to a number of books I’ve seen in the past. Sadly, I’m disappointed by the artwork, I expected the illustrations to be very realistic due to being published by National Geographic but only the outlines are realistic, the majority of the animals have patterns added to them which don’t look remotely like the texture of their fur, feathers or skin and I’m guessing have been added for interest and extra colouring space, normally I don’t mind this but it seems like a wasted opportunity when we could have had a realistically drawn book with such a wealth of different animals pictured, many of which I’ve never seen in a colouring book before. Many of the backgrounds aren’t remotely related to the content especially the peacock with snowflakes and it just seems a bit haphazard and thrown together, the only continuity seems to be the animal theme as the way the animals are drawn as well as their patterns and backgrounds is so varied. I do think I’d have been much more keen on the content if I hadn’t known who the publisher was and imagined the type of content first so others may well be much happier with the contents than I am.
In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of distraction, there is heaps to colour in each image and the patterns add a lot of extra spaces if you want to colour each section separately, there’s plenty to keep you absorbed and focused which is great for those with an anxious or racing mind. The line thickness is fairly consistent throughout and remains thin, the intricacy and detail levels are high in the majority of images and therefore you’ll need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy this book and get the most out of it. You will also need a very good level of concentration for the vast majority of these images as there are a lot of component parts to identify and lots of fiddly bits to colour so you’ll probably want to save it for your better days rather than getting frustrated by it on days where you can’t properly focus. There is a huge variety of imagery and some really quirky and unusual animal choices which is a nice change from a lot of animal-themed books which tend to stick to the cute, fluffy, cuddly types, it’s nice to see a good range or insects, reptiles and wacky mammals. The single-sided printing means you can use any medium you fancy and the perforations make the pages easy to remove to stick up and brighten your walls or frame for your kids’ bedrooms if you like.
Overall, I was disappointed by the lack of realism in the images but the content is very wide-ranging, quirky and fun and you’re getting a lot of images for your money. The production quality is good and very useful for those who like to use wet media and alcohol markers, it’s certainly a book that’s grown on me but it does still feel quite generic and haphazard.
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