Feature image from the inside front cover of Call of Cthulhu.
I read a lot of faerie tales and myths as a kid (okay, I still do), and was particularly into the HP Lovecraft inspired Cthulhu Mythos for quite a while as teen. As an adult, I especially enjoy reading other authors playing in that sandbox cos I legit love the idea of shared universes that anyone can write in.
When a rep from Chaosium asked if I would be interested in receiving a review copy of their Call of Cthulhu colouring book, I jumped at the chance. HELL YES, I WANT TO COLOUR GREAT OLD ONES, AYFKM?! So, yes, I received a free copy of this colouring book in exchange for an honest review.
What I liked: The illustrations in this book are GORGEOUS. Artist Andrey Fetisov has done an outstanding job bringing these stories to life in ways that are legitimately fun to colour (click here to see more of his work).
I like the fiddly little detail work, especially with fine-tipped pens (<.3mm or GTFO, amirite?) and there’s a lot of this. Even though it’s the size of a normal colouring book, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the intricacies on the page for hours. I coloured one page, and spent more than a week doing so, probably around 18-20 hours total? So, for someone like me, this is a huge bonus.
The book is bound with staples, so it’s super easy to get it to lay flat. I didn’t have any problems with the ink smearing when I used lighter colours or a blending pencil. Love that.
I also really dug the fact that opposite the main page is a mostly blank page with a smaller illustration and a quote that inspired the page you’re working on. This was great, not just for inspiring ME, but also because it meant I didn’t really have to worry too much about using pens or markers, cos the paper was thin enough that they’d definitely bleed through. Which brings me to…
What I didn’t love: The paper is thin. If it weren’t for those mostly blank backs of the pages, I’d have loved it a lot less than I do. I’m only considering this a minor nitpick. What bothered me slightly more about the paper is that it’s not a whole lot different than what I use in my printer at home. I found that it would only accept so many layers of light colour before it just wouldn’t take any more, which made me wish I had pressed harder to begin with. Still not a huge deal, since I print shit out at home to colour all the time, you know?
Would I recommend it: Hell yes. Especially if you’re a fan of the Great Old Ones. Or even if you’re not and are looking for a colouring book with more of a horrory madness vibe than a lot of other stuff that’s out there. I’ve looked at a ton of horror colouring books and most of them look amateurish, or they’re printed with terrible ink that makes it impossible to colour them.
You can head over to Chaosium and purchase it here. If you buy the physical colouring book, you get a free PDF copy, which is pretty awesome (in case you want to practice or test colours or even use a different medium).
We bought all the items we’re reviewing; we have not been compensated in any way to review. I, Susie, did receive a refund on the Laneco pencils due to dissatisfaction. We may receive money from affiliate links at no extra cost to you.
Coloring has been such a craze that there was supposedly a shortage of colored pencils; you wouldn’t know it, though, from all of the different options available out there. Which cheap colored pencils are good? We reviewed five brands to find out.
Things I liked: The amount of greens and blues, the harder wax for lighter application of color, nice for ombres and shading, good blending
Things I didn’t love: The awkward plastic case, no color labels at all, only ONE YELLOW COLOR (??!!!? – those other yellowy colors were oranges), the number of muddy brownish colors, three almost identical reds
Overall, I do like this set okay, with a caveat: I color with a light hand, and I like being able to put on really light applications of color. Some of the softer wax color pencil sets I’ve used don’t allow for that as well. I don’t know if it’s the BEST set value, though the lower price certainly does change my perspective on it a bit.
Here’s my color swatch. I laid down a lighter layer and then did the “shading” with as heavy as I could color in. It’s messy, but 72 is many bubbles to color:
These pencils definitely didn’t all saturate a whole bunch, but a lot of them did. I actually liked them better the more I colored the swatches, enough that I went to Amazon and added an extra star to my review. And look how many greens! So many! It would also be good for skin tones, with all the browns. For $8.99, if you color similarly to me (lighter pressure, lots of gradients) and you like the colors, I can say they’re not perfect but I’d actually buy them again. They also blended the best of the three I used.
What I liked: Unlike Susie, I press hard when I colour. I like to make sure everything is filled in, and if I’m colouring, I want those colours to be as vibrant as possible. Instead of typical blending from one colour to the next, I colour on top of the other colour until I get the exact shade I want. I’m working on this, cos it’s not really that great a strategy. These were great for my style of colouring. I also like that they have the typical #3 pencil hexagonal shape. I have arthritis in my hands, and can sometimes have a hard time gripping smoother barreled pencils. They stood up to a lot of abuse from me. I also liked that each pencil has a number to indicate the colour, and the numbers progress logically.
What I didn’t love: Oh man. The box they were shipped in was awful. It was the thinnest cardboard imaginable with no real padding. This led to a ton of broken tips when I opened them AND meant that a lot of them had shattered cores that I only found out about once I tried to sharpen them. One of the pencils was worn down to a two-inch nub after trying to colour in the background of just one page. I absolutely love them, but would not purchase again if they came in the same packaging.
I tried to show what each pencil was like with soft, medium and hard pressure in the swatch I coloured. I totally forgot to label those things on the bottom right, but they are blended with just the two colours, blended with a white pencil and then erased.
Here’s a page I coloured using just the Raffines:
Laneco “Soft Core” 48 pack (comes with 2 packs), on sale for $12.99 (regularly $70.99? Supposedly? Not even worth that much tho), reviewed by Susie
~ $0.14/pencil, 2 of each color
What I liked: Eh? They’d be really good for people who color with solid fills. Multiple yellows! Bonus pencil extenders were nice.
What I didn’t love: How they felt like drawing with lipstick. I found them hard to blend and hard to lay down consistent color when coloring with medium-to-light pressure. Also the packaging. They came in a big box with flimsy trays inside that were hard to get pencils in and out of.
I did an unboxing video just because I found the packaging really unusual:
These look a lot like the Raffine Marco set. In regards to softness: I have a range of pencils in different brands because the Blick’s near me sells single pencils; I have a couple of Polychromos pencils from Faber-Castell, which are “soft” too, in that they use minimal wax blended with oil. These Laneco pencils are not “soft” in the same way; to me, like I said above, they felt more like drawing with lipstick.
I also didn’t love how hard it was to blend them. You can see in the swatches below that I actually had to start another bubble and try really hard to get a nice blend, and I also had to use the white pencil (which I don’t normally do for blending).
I was so disappointed that I reached out to the seller. Laneco issued me a full refund, so they do honor their money-back guarantee. I don’t see myself using these regularly and will probably give them away. (I wanted to ship them back but it would cost me almost ten dollars. Nooope.)
Considering that it’s two packages of 48 instead of 96 full colors, I don’t think this is the best value possible for $12.99 by far.
What I liked: These are A LOT like the Marco Raffines I reviewed above. A lot. Like, almost the same in how they colour. So all of the likes I mentioned above apply here, as well.
Something else that needs to be mentioned, though, is how amazing the Sudee Stile customer service is. Before the pencils had even arrived, they messaged me via Amazon to let me know that they were working on perfecting their packaging and asking if I would please let them know if I received any busted pencils, and that they would either replace or issue a partial refund for anything their shipping was lacking. Like, wat? Are you kidding me? How awesome is that?
What I didn’t love: The colours come in some random order and the numbers make zero sense. I had to rearrange them into something approximating ROY G BIV, or it would have driven me insane. You’ll notice on my swatch (uh, if you bother to count, that is) that it’s not really 120 colours, it’s 119. I received duplicates of one colour (luckily, it’s a pink, so it’ll get a lot of use, anyway) and did not receive one colour at all. A few of the tips were broken, and one pencil refuses to sharpen at all without immediately breaking. So that kind of sucks. One of the pencils is not labeled at all, but through process of elimination, I was able to figure out which one it was.
BUT, I messaged the seller once I had discovered this, and they repeated their offer to replace the pencils or issue a partial refund. I got $4 back, which brings the price of these down to $19.99 (or ~17¢ a pencil). And that’s pretty great.
So, the case these come in is great for shipping, but a little unwieldy for actually seeing the colours as you want to use them. This, however, would not keep me from purchasing these again, especially if they stay around the same price they currently are.
Here’s a picture I coloured with them, the top part is almost all pencil (except for the black), and I only used a light to medium pressure to achieve these tones.
What I liked: I actually really liked this set more than I expected! What colors it had were curated well and the colors saturated pretty well, for the most part.
What I didn’t like: I’m actually pretty pleased with these for $6 or $7 dollars at Kroger, to be honest. They don’t erase well, but they erase enough for my purposes (sometimes I use my eraser for effects and such).
This isn’t my first experience with Cra-Z Art pencils, though I was a little taken aback when I looked at Amazon and found out that these are Cra-Z Art since it’s not apparent from the branding. I’ve said to sj that I actually really liked my first cheapie set, so it’s not a surprise that I enjoy these, as well.
If you’re looking for a cheap and fast in-road to coloring, I would definitely recommend this set. These are available at a lot of stores (even grocery stores, apparently!), so you could pick them up in person. They blend well, they shade well, and they have a nice curation of colors that you might choose as an adult. I’m going to be moving these pencils into heavy rotation ASAP.
We hope these reviews helped at all! If you’ve had experience with these sets, or if you decide to buy one, let us know in the comments!
I’ve been poking around Skillshare for two months. Would I pay full price to keep it?
I was not paid to review Skillshare or given anything in return for my review.
I tried Skillshare when I saw an offer for 3 months of premium for $0.99 on a YouTube channel I follow (the channel is Drawfee, and it is hilarious, FYI. Highly recommend if you like humorous videos). I am a video tutorial addict; I’ve been getting my fix on YouTube for years, and I’ve armchair-learned so many skills that I will probably never use. If Skillshare is 100% compatible for anybody, it’s me.
And my answer to whether it’s worth the premium price is a resounding “maybe? if you have eight-to-twelve bucks that you literally don’t care about every month?”
Definitely there are a lot of good things about Skillshare. The average video quality of all of the classes I’ve taken or previewed (probably a good 10 – 15 at this point?) has across the board been better than the average quality I find on YouTube–not to say that there aren’t great quality tutorials on YouTube because there definitely are, just that you aren’t guaranteed a great quality video. (As I look deeper through some of the categories on Skillshare, I’m actually also finding videos that aren’t that great of quality, too. So it’s more of a mixed bag than I initially thought.)
I also really enjoy the class format because I don’t have to go hunting for videos for the next step in a project, or wait for the next video to come out when the person gets time to film it.
Another pro is that Skillshare seems like it probably has been hustlin’ to get some good talent on its site that YouTube hasn’t attracted (maybe by paying more?). Famous brands like Pixar and Good Housekeeping have classes on the site. I watched videos by a great watercolor artist named Karina Eibatova, a “designy illustrator” named Mikey Burton (he was my fave teacher, hands down), and weaver and author Rachel Denbow. I loved all their classes and you could tell they were professionals in their fields.
I also found some cool business-y courses (though more on this in a minute). I could have used more of this type of course, to be honest, but I found a couple of courses about how to launch a t-shirt business and how to integrate batch-sewing into your workflow so you could run a sewing business out of your home, which sounds jargon-y but is a very useful skill. Mo’ sewing = mo’ money, am I right?
I actually can find tutorials that cover a lot of the same topics on YouTube for free. At $96 to $144 a year, that’s a pretty big incentive to do my own research . . and honestly, on YouTube, it’s not difficult. Skillshare is about six years behind YouTube as an entity and is lesser-known; Skillshare boasts 15,000 classes, and granted, they’re generally high-quality, but a quick YouTube search of “tutorial” brings up 181 million results. It’s almost impossible to run out of things to learn on YouTube and there are some really professional teachers making quality videos there, as well.
Skillshare also promises “professional skills” but I saw a whole lot of basic classes on there. There was a class on how to knit a scarf in garter stitch and a class on urban sketching; I didn’t see nearly as many intermediate or next-level classes or specific business skills that I couldn’t learn from literally anybody who has a “business skills you need to learn for your home business” post. I also saw a lot of “productivity hack” type courses, and I feel like probably not all of those people are actually productivity experts. If I’m paying for access, I’d prefer higher levels of vetting and curation from Skillshare. I can get “experts” who think they know everything about productivity on YouTube. *s*
Some categories are almost nearly empty. When I checked IT Security a couple of hours ago (or maybe it was last night, but I think it was today–I only just finished my first cup of coffee, forgive me), there were no videos in it. Now there are three, and I . . I’m not an IT Security expert but I don’t know that these videos really fit the topic?
It’s also not as easy to find things as I’d really like. One of the things that Skillshare could have up on YouTube is the ability to browse sections and find skills I didn’t even know I didn’t have, but videos are not always sorted into appropriate categories. For example, “Culinary” and “Cooking” had about five videos each when I clicked through, but I knew I had seen a lot more on the main “Lifestyle” page. Sure enough, a quick scroll through the main “Lifestyle” category immediately brought up a lot more food videos. (All of which were basic cooking stuff, just in case you’re curious.)
Then there are the scammy videos. I really wish Skillshare did a better job of curation, frankly–both at categorizing videos and keeping scammy classes like “Free Unlimited WiFi Trick at Cafes and Malls” or “How To Access To The Deepweb”[sic] at a minimum.
I . . . don’t really care if I continue to use Skillshare? It’s a thing that is neat but not in any way indispensable to me. It’s definitely not worth $12 a month to me, or even $8/mo if I pre-pay for the year; the classes aren’t rigorous enough to justify paying that much for it. Once my 99-cent months are up, I’ll probably cruise it every now and then for free content. It’s going to be a lot more helpful for people who are just starting out with a skill, but even then, you will probably quickly be looking for other sources of information.
That said? If you can get some free months or get the 3 months for $0.99 deal, it’s definitely worth poking around a little if you like learning skills. Skillshare lets people have a referral link and earn free months by giving out free months, as well; you can get a free month of Skillshare Premium from my referral link by clicking here. (This will give me free months, but like I said, I don’t really care if I continue to use it. So if you would rather seek out the 3 months for $0.99 deal, go with my blessing.)
TL;DR: totally okay but I’m not into it enough to pay full price for it.
Have you used Skillshare? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments!
I bought some adorable pencil pouches on Amazon for $7.99. Were they too cheap to be good? Let’s find out.
I was not paid to review these. Any reviews may contain affiliate links in which I make money for sharing if you buy a thing but in which you do not pay any extra for goods.
I bought these pencil pouches from the AMZ for $7.99 (you can find them right here) because I am a sucker for floral patterned anything. 100% of the dresses I own–well, besides that one polka dot one I didn’t return in time and I’m stuck with–are floral print dresses. I would have a lot more floral prints in the house, but I live with two men* and there’s only so far I can push my luck.
*I’m only married to one of them. The other is my brother-in-law. Nothing** kinky happening here.
**Nothing insofar as living with two guys, anyway. I won’t confirm or deny anything else.
I also bought these because I wanted more storage for coloring media. I had been using a Verizon case that I got free at an event to hold my gel pens; this case 1) is really uggo and 2) spills pens everywhere every time I open it, so it wasn’t going to be a good long term solution. I also wanted to take my colored pencils out of the plastic clamshell accordion case they came in, because it, too, threatens to spill out pencils if I’m not very diligent in making sure I open it the right way.
I made a short video review if you want to hear my thoughts on these pouches. I will also continue my text review below.
In case you didn’t or can’t watch the video, here are the highlights:
About as cheaply made as you’d expect at 5 for $7.99, but sturdy enough. Zippers a little flimsy but not the flimsiest.
Pens fit nicely. Pencils? Not so much; the pencils have to be jammed in a bit. They’re just a little short for full-length colored pencils; I would be worried about the tips grinding or breaking. I tried both cheap and expensive brands and none fit that great.
How many pens fit? For the cheap gel pens I had–the kind that come in big, inexpensive sets–I could fit in exactly 19. I tried 20 but the 20th pen was pushed out when I closed the zipper. Also, shout-out to my uggo Verizon case that made an appearance at the very end.
Verdict: Cute, good for travel and pens, not so good for a colored pencil collection (unless they’re unusually short or very used).
This is also my first post! So hello! you might know me from other sites such as Book Riot or Insatiable Booksluts; you might not know me at all and that’s fine, because we’re meeting now. My plans for this space are some product reviews, some DIY tutorials, some quick tips, and whatever else I can dream up that I think people might like. If you have any requests, holler at me.
Also, if you like coloring? I made a Books and Tea coloring page recently at Book Riot that you can totally print out for free. Click right here for a page that all my friends said didn’t suck at all.