Interesting fact about me: I was born in Japan. Dad was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and was posted to an American base outside Tokyo at the time. Although we returned to the U.S. when I was still young, since then I have had a penchant for many things Japanese. So, I had to have Vive Le Color! Japan Coloring Book when it hit the stores last August.
After all these months spending meditative time with it, I have to say this is one enchanting, little adult coloring book!
Most of the illustrations in Vive Le Color Japan are inspired by Japanese plants, fish, objects, and traditions. There are a few landscape and architectural drawings and a couple of geishas as well. Some are realistic and others are stylized. Many of the designs are repeating patterns; a few are abstract, and others are full of objects such as lanterns, fans, and teapots. There are plenty of delicate cherry blossom designs like the cover illustration, and lots of drawings with goldfish. (Curiously, the book does include a couple of pictures of pandas, which are Chinese, not Japanese.)
Level of Difficulty
The designs in this book range from simple and relatively easy to color to very detailed and challenging. This variety is exactly the type of mix that I like in a coloring book as I can choose the right design for my mood at the moment. As for white space, some pages have a lot so you can add your own embellishments; others are filled to the edges with design, and the rest are a nice balance.
The most challenging designs have some elements such as fish scales and flower branches/stems that are so fine that if you want to stay within the lines, even a super-sharp pencil is tough.
As well, with these tiny details, ultra-fine markers will bleed onto and outside of the lines. The less-detailed drawings are perfect for color blending and shading. There are a few simple open designs that you could fill with your own creations, or patterns, if you are so inspired.
The ink is light gray and practically disappears even when using light colors and a light hand.
Note: Due to the level of detail on some of the illustrations, along with the light color of the lines, I would not recommend this book to anyone with a vision disability.
This compact book (about 7″ x 7″) has a very solid cardboard back and resembles a memo pad inside a loose cover. I used the book itself as a coloring surface, holding it in my hand (for the more detailed drawings) or just sitting on my lap.
The binding is on the top, so it is easy to get to all sides of each design; I wish more coloring books were made this way. You can tear off each page from the pad without ripping it or harming the binding.
Given its size, it is easy to toss this book into almost any bag: purse, carry-on, or computer bag. And you can finish most illustrations in one sitting. Some reviewers on Amazon.com complained that the price was a bit high for such a relatively small coloring book, but I think that it is worth it.
The paper is a high-quality card stock, I would guess around 65 pound weight (I so wish coloring book publishers would identify the paper weight in their descriptions!). You can use colored pencils, gel pens, markers and watercolor pencils. However, I recommend using super-sharp pencils on the more finely-detailed illustrations because even ultra-fine markers will bleed a bit onto and out of the lines.
Alcohol-based markers, such as my BIC Mark Its and Prismacolor Premier Markers, do bleed through the paper. However the illustrations are single-sided, and I just tore out each page and placed it on top of the book, so I had no concerns about ink bleeding through to the next illustration. You could also tear off the cover page and use it as a slip-sheet between pages if you color inside the book.
Because the paper is relatively smooth with little “tooth,” you will need several layers of pencil if you want vibrant color. Alternatively, you can use a colorless blender pencil or marker to finish your masterpiece; I used a Prismacolor Premier Colorless Blender Marker over Prismacolor Pencils on the hair this geisha, and a colorless pencil to deepen the pencil color on some parts of her kimono:
I LOVE this coloring book! With its combination of quality construction, and variety of lovely illustrations and difficulty levels I recommend it without hesitation to practically every colorist. Vive le Color Japan! is the only coloring book I will have in my carry-on on my next long flight.
Have you fallen in love with any adult coloring books? Let us know which ones in the comments below!
You can purchase Vive Le Color Japan Coloring Book for $7.63 (at the time of this post) at Amazon.com.
This is just one in a series of Vive Le Color! books. Other titles include: