Johanna Basford's Artist Editions are always a welcome delight for fans of hers, as they allow you to use absolutely any medium to colour without the fear of ruining the illustration on the back (there is a small image on the reverse but this is due to Johanna not liking blank pages in her books). Lost Ocean is probably the most divisive of Johanna's books because of the amount of very tight spaces to colour- the detail is just immense. This is why I was particularly excited to take a look at the Artist's Edition, because the larger format means those drawings I love are upscaled and therefore less tricky to colour. After checking out the book I honestly believe it is the best Artist's Edition yet...
The first thing to note is this book is thicker than the first two Artist's Editions, an extra 2mm. It doesn't sound much but the bulk is certainly noticeable and is due to the addition of 4 extra pages- 24 instead of the 20 we got previously. It's also the first Artist's Edition to feature a white spine with coloured writing as opposed to the black & white we are used to. I've always considered Lost Ocean a different beast to Johanna's other books- including Magical Jungle- and I think these changes reflect that. It's also a new publisher (Virgin, the first two were Laurence King) which goes a ways to explain the differences.
The Enchanted Forest AE was slightly disappointing because a lot of the standalone images felt a bit lost on the vast expanse of page. It is not the case in this edition thankfully, as I feel the illustrations chosen are some of the best from the original book and fill the space very well. My favourite, the skull & crossbones, looks amazing in this larger format with its landscape orientation, and although a few of the images are centred with lots of blank space around them, they don't feel as isolated as before and have been scaled suitably. As I mentioned earlier the linework Lost Ocean is notoriously detailed and intricate, and I'm happy to confirm that this king-sized configuration has served the illustrations well and they are much easier to colour.
The paper is whiter than the Secret Garden & Enchanted Forest AE's, but still has a creaminess to it so it is not bright white like the original book. The cardstock is lusciously thick and has a beautiful texture; a lovely soaky tooth great for pens, paints and pencils. Alcohol markers will show on the reverse but will not bleed onto the next page, which is a testament to the quality. The cover continues the theme of cream card with gold foiling to a centred illustration, and the binding is also identical- a lay flat glue which makes the pages easy to remove. It's somewhat too easy in fact; if you lay your colouring books on your knees or any other uneven surface it won't take much at all for the pages to start popping out. Obviously this doesn't matter if you're intending to remove them, but I'd recommend colouring them on a table if you want to keep the book intact.
Here is my finished page, coloured with ColorIt Art Markers.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find it on Amazon here:
Lost Ocean Artist's Edition by Johanna Basford