Posted on February 17, 2017
Scandia : A Coloring Book Journey – Review
Add some Scandinavian to your life.
As colorists, we know all about the benefits of turning off our devices, getting comfortable, and tuning out from the stresses around us. But did you know that this is quite Scandinavian? Last year, hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”), the Danish art of comfortable living, featuring sipping hot chocolate and piling on layers of cozy knitwear, became a thing. And a load of books came out telling us how to do it.
Lagom, from Sweden, promotes the idea of being frugal and leading a balanced life. When you have lagom, you are in a state of having ‘just the right amount’, kind of like Goldilocks. You can learn about it in books and magazines, and channel it with a Korean beauty brand and a fashion line.
Fika is a Swedish and Finnish concept which essentially means to ‘take a break’ with colleagues, friends, family. Fika usually involves having a hot drink and focusing on each other rather than work, technology or daily stresses. Again, you can find more about fika in recently published books.
And of course, we have Scandinavian-style coloring books to help us along the way, such as Scandia, A Colouring Book Journey, by Zeena Shah, which I recently purchased.
Overview of Scandia
After working for fashion and interior design companies, Zeena Shah started her own business, focusing on textiles and homeware. In Scandia, Zeena gives us illustrations that are like Scandinavian folk art, similar to her products.
The title page of Scandia is an image of the cover, albeit smaller and a bit more detailed. The next page has an Introduction from Zeena with small, colorable star decorations. The book continues with 45 original illustrations to color. The back page has a design you can color, too.
Many of the designs in Scandia have an almost innocent look to them. Subjects are nature-inspired – trees, animals, flowers, birds, fish, etc. – and a few scenes, structures and patterns. The outlines of main subjects in many illustrations are simple, but the majority do have a rather dense “in-fill,” including zig-zags, triangles, lines, dashes, and curves (see the Fox in the gallery below)..
In terms of background/white space, there is a mix. Some, such as the Succulents above, have subtle backgrounds that fill the page to all edges including into the gutter. You don’t have to color these, however, to make a beautiful piece although I did choose to do so.
The cover of this 10″ x 10″ book is heavy card stock. The front has a lovely and unique die-cut tree design backed by a teal inside cover. You could almost frame and hang the cover as a piece of artwork!
The stitched and glued binding is very sturdy. As pages are not perforated, you will need to use a utility knife (which I recommend) or scissors if you want to remove them. However, the binding is pliable, and it is easy to open the book completely to get into the gutter for the few illustrations that extend into the spine. After a bit of time I was even able to fold the book over.
The paper is bright white, heavy, and lightly textured. The illustrations are printed on one side of the page, giving you freedom to use any medium, including alcohol-based markers, watercolor pencils and even watercolor paints. My soft-core Prismacolor Premier pencils layered and blended well, but there was some speckling with single, light layers. I recommend finishing your pencil coloring with a burnisher for a more solid color and sheen. There was only a barely perceptible buckling in the paper with my Derwent Inktense pencils when I used a water brush.
Water-based markers did not shadow on the reverse of the paper, and banding was minimal. Alcohol markers did bleed through the paper but did not feather; use a protective page behind your piece if you choose to use this medium.
The line thickness in Scandia is consistent throughout and is medium to bold – thick enough that it is relatively easy to avoid coloring outside the outlines of the main subjects. However, as already noted, some subjects, and a few complete illustrations, are pretty dense with line-work. This detail makes them perfect for advanced colorists using fine-line markers or very sharp pencils. However, you don’t have to color the in-fill separately, so this book would be ideal for anyone, apart from those with particularly poor vision or fine motor skill challenges.
Scandia is a coloring book that offers an escape to comfort. You can even color a cozy-looking quilt.
The images have enough whimsy to them so that you don’t feel constrained by realism – you can use any colors any way you want. You will be able to finish some of the illustrations in one sitting, so if you are having a tough time concentrating you can still feel rewarded with a completed design. I spent 60 minutes, start to finish, on the Fish design above.
Scandia is a gorgeous book that is cozy, charming, fun and beautiful! I highly recommend Scandia to anyone who is into Scandinavian lifestyles and design, and those who like to color all things cute. Hopefully we’ll see more from Sheena. I rate Scandia 5★ out of 5★.