Adult Coloring Book Reviews

Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book (UK edition)

Buy on Book Depository|Buy on Amazon UK
by Johanna Basford
Published by Virgin Books on 27 October 2016
Style: Interactive, Perforated pages, single page illustrations
Pages: 80
Format: Card cover with fold out, Glue Binding

Delicate tangles of holly and ivy, bauble-laden Christmas trees and mountains of exquisitely wrapped gifts are all waiting to be brought to life in this new collection of pull-out prints. From flurries of delicate snowflakes to deliciously decorated gingerbread houses and reindeer-led sleighs

Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book (UK edition)

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Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book Video Review

Enjoy the review of the UK Edition of Johanna Basford’s first Christmas Colouring book above.

Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book Review

This year I decided that I would only review two Christmas books and Johanna’s was at the top of the list for me.      Ever since she teased us by giving away that gorgeous little star to color in I’ve been wanting to see a Christmas book from her.    Johanna has previously published beautiful coloring books and coloring products namely The Secret Garden, The Enchanted Forest, Lost Ocean and Magical Jungle.    Johanna’s Christmas is her first coloring book that is not nature themed.

When I heard that Johanna’s Christmas was going to have a different cover for the UK edition I knew I had to have that as well as the US edition.   I love to see the differences between publishing books in different countries with different publishing houses.

For the last week I’ve been going insane, constantly checking the mail box waiting for Johanna’s Christmas Coloring Book to arrive.     I’ve been tormented by social media flaunting pictures from  this gorgeous coloring book at me while I sit back and wait …impatiently.

Finally….it’s here …and it was worth the wait!



Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book is a lovely festive book that is suitable for all colorists and does not contain a religious theme.    Now I realise that many colorists will want to have a religious themed Christmas book and may have hoped for some religious imagery in this book.    I think that Johanna has taken the correct approach with the images in Johanna’s Christmas by creating images that are general in nature and relate to her.     The bulk of the images have a Winter flavor to them as in her part of the world it is cold at this time of year.

This book seems to have been created to produce something that the bulk of  colorists will enjoy.   Often colorists like illustrations to printed on a single page so they can use different mediums without fear of  shadowing or bleed through to the other page.    Johanna’s Christmas Coloring Book is the first coloring book by Johanna Basford (excluding artist editions) that is single sided!

Christmas is meant to be about giving …and one of the features that Johanna and her publishers have given us are perforated pages!   The perforated pages make it easy to remove the illustration, colour it  and give it to someone you love at Christmas.

I really love these touches that have been added to the Christmas book, as it makes it extra special and appropriate for the festive season.    It seems like the publishers and Johanna are giving back to her legion of friends by creating a book that, based on colorist’s feedback, the bulk of her fans will enjoy

Cover & Layout

The cover  of the UK edition features an abundance of gold foiling – more so than her other books.     The front cover is filled with gold reindeer, baubles, gingerbread men and Christmas trees amongst other things.    The book title also has gold foiling and has been created in Johanna’s signature leafy style.

The card cover folds out and the flaps show ivory line art baubles on a matt black background.    I can imagine grabbing my gel pens and giving these a splash of color.

On the back cover the line art used on the front cover has been reproduced sans foiling for you to colour in and enjoy.  The inside cover features a variety of Christmas baubles to color in.

The book is a square shape measuring 25 cm x 25 cm (approximately 9.8 in x 9.8 in)


Ancillary Pages

A simple title page starts the coloring book comprising a wreath with the title of the book in Johanna’s leafy font style.   On the reverse the copyright information is surrounded by a toy train, leaves, baubles  and Christmas stockings to color.    The nameplate page is large comprising festive imagery of trees, gifts, baubles and holly.   An introduction page follows that has a frame of filigree design and decorative baubles.

This book, like all Johanna’s books is interactive.   There are 63 robins to find in the book, but unlike her other books there is no location imagery at the end of the book, to check if you found all of them.

Normally,  I would say that you can use these ancillary pages to test out your mediums and see how they react with the paper, but this time I don’t need to.   At the end of the book there is a colour palette test page where you can test your mediums and your colour combinations.


All of the illustrations have been presented in a portrait style on single sided paper.   On the reverse of each page there is a faint grey pattern of line art with various designs being used.

The paper is medium quality, off white and has a slight texture to it, making it ideal for pencils.     However, as the pages are single sided and perforated, you can easily remove the image and color it with the medium of your choice.

Johanna is well known for her elaborate and intricate double page scenes that are often tricky to color due to the line art merging with the binding.    In this book the images are printed on single pages and are well centered and positioned away from the spine of the book.     Where Johanna has created double page scenes they are done so by creating blank pages and without design running to the spine of the book.    I can’t help feeling that by giving colorists the things that they want, it may impact the way Johanna draws and affect the integrity of her design, where she satisfies others at the expense of her own vision.


Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book  Image Gallery

Please click on the image below to see a more detailed view.

[foogallery id=”4365″]


We are so used to seeing Johanna’s art in storybook form that seeing it produced as single pages takes a little adjusting to.    Usually Johanna’s books guide you through some magical scenes across double page spreads in the book.  In Johanna’s Christmas we have beautiful festive images but there is no  “story.”    I think the reason for this is that this book is really designed like a book of  prints or posters to frame and give, not as a storybook coloring book as is usual with Johanna’s art.      Some colorists may need to adjust to this, as we are so used to a particular layout and style from Johanna.

As we expect from Johanna the line art is fine and delicate.     Like, Magical Jungle the illustrations appear to be less complex making coloring easier for colorists of all skill levels and with visual and health impairments.   Colorists that work magic with blending and shading will be pleased with the open spaces that allows them the opportunity to create beautiful effects both within the drawing, and in the background.

The illustrations commence with a garlanded stag’s head.    Last year, before Christmas, hubby and I purchased a number of  Stag head ceramic Christmas decorations with the hope of  using them as wall mounts with baubles hanging from the antlers.    You can see how people decorate stag heads here.  It seems like Johanna knows what is in my Christmas decorating box 🙂  Decorative stag heads are very popular in Europe and Scandinavia during the holiday period.   This illustration may be a little controversial, however, for the start of a colouring book, as many people may associate the illustration negatively with hunting.

A variety of  illustrations have been included in this book including animals, wreaths and  trees.    You will find the cute image of the polar bear that Johanna had a colouring contest for.   There are gingerbread houses (including a double page spread) that instantly make me hungry!   There are quirky images like the bird delivering the gifts and the gramophone with sound waves of ornaments.    There are traditional Christmas type imagery of  trees with gifts underneath, a cozy fire with stockings hanging, poinsettias and robins and Santa’s sleigh brimming with gifts.

There are some images that are gorgeous but more winter based than Christmas inspired,  like a snowglobe with a castle in winter.    A  reindeer in a circular pattern appears more Winter based than Christmas.   The reindeer perhaps would have been more Christmassy if the drawing had other elements in it, that traditionally correlate with Christmas like holly, or if it was all of  Santa’s Reindeer.

Johanna has never drawn people in her colouring books as she has said recently on social media, that she doesn’t enjoy it.     For that reason there are no gardeners in Secret Garden, no explorers in Magical Jungle and no Santa and his elves in Johanna’s Christmas.    Artists should always do what they are comfortable with and enjoy doing and I totally respect Johanna for this but ….I would have so loved to have seen a Snowman in the snowglobe  (and it is not a real man 🙂 …).

There are some pattern type pages in this book as is usually included with Johanna’s books.    My favorite is the page that is packed with candy and gingerbread!

Johanna’s Christmas is a departure from Johanna’s usual style and I have to say that I really like it.    I enjoy having the images that are less complex, because they are not as intimidating for me as a colorist on my training wheels.     I also like that although the book is based on Christmas, it has a general theme of the lead up to Christmas, including the Winter season.        This general theme makes the book more appealing to me.   Rather than classify it as a purely pre Christmas coloring book,  I can imagine coloring some festive images now, to get in the mood for Christmas.    After Christmas I will still be happy to color the general Winter based images from the book next year.   Usually  when Christmas is just a  distant credit card memory  I am  not in the mood for “seasonal” coloring.  The  variety in the  book’s theme means I will still be happy colouring it after the holiday period.     This versatility is quite appealing as is the flexibility of the single page illustrations.

Where to buy Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book (UK Edition)

In the UK you can purchase Johanna’s Christmas Colouring Book here.

Worlwide Johanna’s colouring book is available here, with free shipping.

Other Coloring books and products  by Johanna Basford

Please note that the US edition is slightly different from the UK edition in cover image and sizing.    I will post a comparison when my copy of  Johanna’s Christmas (US) edition arrives.

Happy coloring x














About Johanna Basford

Johanna Basford is a Scottish illustrator that is often credited with starting the adult coloring craze. Her first book “Secret Garden – An Inky Treasure Hunt” released in 2013 has sold over 16 million copies. Her work is all hand drawn and is quite distinctive due to the intricate detail she imparts into every illustration.

About the author


I'm Lea and I love everything to do with coloring! If it is a coloring book, a poster or even a bookmark that you can color in, I'm all over it. Of course, a girl has to have some pencils, markers, gelly rolls, pastels and what not to make those pictures pretty and I love those as well.

Whilst my coloring style lacks skill, I am enthusiastic and focused on enjoying the moment and having fun.

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