Book Review: Sèrene

Today I bring you another book review from one of my favourite colouring books of all time. This is Sèrene by Indonesian artist, Nicholas F. Chandrawienata. I first saw completed coloured pictures from this book a little while back on Instagram and I was intrigued by the uniqueness and intricately of the artwork. Unfortunately by the time I seriously looked into buying this book it was completely sold out. However, the artist did do a reprint not long ago, which is how I got my beloved copy of Sèrene.

Nicholas F. Chandrawienata is a freelanced illustrator, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. His artwork is so intense, yet delicate and mostly based on figures with intricate clothing or backgrounds. The majority of his work is black and white, with plenty of detailed shading and cross-hatching, which is a dream for any colourist.  You can see his amazing artwork on his Instagram account.

So far, Nicholas has released three colouring books. I am not sure what came first since there are been a few reprints. These include Sèrene, Fantasia (US and Chinese editions) and Eirene. Although they are all very much true to Nicholas’s style, they are quite different.

Sèrene is quite a large book in comparison to others, measuring 34 x 24 centimetres. It has a soft cover, featuring one of the illustrations found in the book. It is bound at the top of the book, which allows the book to lay down flat. There are 32 black and white illustrations which mostly landscape, but there are a few in portrait. The paper is just fantastic. It is thick, white, single sided, so you can really use any medium you like. Most of the pictures are of a single woman, but there are a couple with two or three women. Each woman has a unique face, expression, clothing, jewellery and embellishments. There is also a variety of close-ups, busts, half body and full bodies images. Each picture is also named and this is printed on the back of each image.

I have made a video flip through of this book which includes all of the pictures I have coloured. Below you can see all these completed pictures and find out how I coloured them. I  am very proud of what I have coloured so far. I really think this book has brought out the best in me and I look forward to colouring more from it. Any more completed pictures from this book will be added to my Serene Gallery.



Siren is the first picture that I completed. When I started it I had no idea what colours I wanted to do use, but the colour palette evolved while I was working on. I don’t usually colour unrealistic hair colours, but being siren, I thought she would suit mermaid hair. Because there are so many elements in this picture I found it quite challenging and time-consuming. But I really did enjoy the whole process of colouring this picture and trying to bring out the details. I am probably least happy with my background because it came out a little streaky.

For this picture, I used Prismacolor Premier pencils and a white Posca pen for detailing. Prismacolor worked like a dream on this paper, as they blend effortlessly and no many layers are needed.



Valor was my second completely finished picture. I have seen so many versions of this picture which usually had a galaxy background. However, when I looked at this picture I imagined a desert princess. I don’t often do darker skin tones since I am not very good at them, but I really felt like she needed lovely golden brown skin. My only regret when colouring this picture was that I used so much red in the hairpiece, which means I had to find colours that would complement it for the rest of her clothing. In the end, it came together though. I gave her a simple dessert background, which was much easier to do with so many going on in the rest of the picture. I used Prismacolor Premier pencils and a white Posca pen for detailing



Bellaria is actually the first picture I started but it took me a while to finish it.  I followed Chris Cheng three-part tutorial (A Girl with the Fruit), to complete the skin, hair, fruit and few elements on the hat. The hands and some of the fruit were not included in the tutorial but I tried to copy the colour scheme what Chris had done. I am so thrilled with how lifelike the hat and basket of fruit turned out. The face and hair also came out so realistic.

As for the rest of the picture, I used the same colours for the basket and hat and looked to Chris’s version as a reference. For the clothing, I wanted to do something different to Chris’s final version, so I went with a colour scheme similar to one of Mulan’s outfits. For the background, I just left the grey circular background and filled in the rest with a black. I would have loved to do a smokey background like Chris had done in her speed colouring, but I am not skilled enough for that yet.

Although I’m not entirely convinced by the colour scheme for the clothing I am I really love the rest of the details in the picture. The mediums used in this picture is Prismacolor Premier pencils, white gel pen and black Faber-Castell Pitt brush pen.




Spiritus Sanctuarium is the last picture I have completed to date in this book. I have often seen this pictures with pale colours and a galaxy background. When I looked at this picture I just saw forestlike elements, so thats what inspired my colour scheme. I started with the golden eagle, eggs and nest and tried to complement those colours from there. Probably my least favourite part of this picture was the background. I tried had to hid the big circle behind her head, which was didn’t make sense as a sun or a halo for what I envisaged. So I tried to cover it with branches and trees. I’m not sure my branches are too convincing but by that stage I just wanted it finished. Overall, I am glad with the turnout of this lovely lady.

I changed to Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils for this picture. These pencils work remarkably well on this paper. They blend very easily, but they did need a bit of layering to get rid of white speckling for darker shades. I would definitely use these pencil again in this book.



If your interested in this book you can currently buy it from:

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Sèrene

      1. Yes kinda. I don’t think its that relaxing for me as it is others. I get more satisfaction by being artistic. I when I was younger I was always drawing and painting and then got busy with work, so its nice to have an artistic outlet. You should try it out 😉


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