Book Review: Johanna’s Christmas

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and/or happy holiday time with your family and friends. I also like to wish you a Happy New Year over the next day or so, depending where you are. Today I have finally have for you my review and finished pages from Johanna’s Christmas. This is the only other book that I worked in over the past month.

Johanna’s Christmas: A Festive Colouring Book is a Christmas themed colouring book by the great Johanna Basford. It was published back in October 2016 and its been quite popular during the last two holiday seasons. I wasn’t sure about buying it last year. However, a few months ago I found it for a really good price, so I though why not add another one of Johanna’s books to my collection and have plenty of beautiful pages to colour during the holiday season.

Johanna’s Christmas is a similar format to Johanna Basford’s other books, but it doesn’t have removable dust cover. Instead it has a soft cover with a french flap, The front and back covers are decorated with a collage of Christmas inspired drawings and has gold foil detailing on the front cover. Inside there are 80 pages, which are perforated for easy removal. The paper has a nice, soft texture, ivory in colour and is thick like Johanna’s other books. Although there are 80 pages, there are only 37 pages of illustrations, which doesn’t include the title page, name plate page or colour palette tester page. On the back side of the pages there is a pattern that has been printed in grey ink. Through out the book there are three different patterns on the back side of the pages. You could colour them, but they are more decorative or allow you to feel more free to use different mediums with ease. I know some people feel that they are getting less for their money, however it really didn’t bother me. I liked having the freedom to use wet media, which I normally don’t in Johanna’s books because I am paranoid of bleed through. I also liked that I didn’t have to worry about colour transfer onto the other page, however there are quite a few double pages spreads. I am careful to place a piece of paper on those pages to protect the facing image, even when storing the books. Just note the I have UK edition, so if you would like to see a comparison to the US edition, see this great article by Colouring in the Midst of Madness.

The images in this book undeniably Christmas inspired, however there is plenty of variety and all have Johanna’s signature style. There are drawings with wreaths, mandalas, round and full page collages, full page scenes and images with large blank backgrounds. There are plenty of Christmas trees, baubles, winter animals, presents and much more.

All in all, I am very happy that I bought this book for Christmas colouring. I love the format of the book, that gave me the freedom to experiment, I love the variety of pictures, which included many cute animals and cosy scenes. The paper is just fantastic and takes pencil and watercolour like a dream. My only criticism is the the black french flap, attached to the cover is in black, which has left black marks on both the front title page and back colour palette test page. Although this can be erased it will be constantly rubbing and I will have to protect it with paper for storage.


Below I have included a video flip through of Johanna’s Christmas and photographs of seven pages that I have coloured from the book. They are listed in order as they appear in the book, rather then when I coloured them.




The Christmas polar bear is one of the first pages I coloured for the holiday season. I have seen this page done in a variety of ways, but I wanted mine to be more unique, so I created a background, which was inspired by the northern lights and forests in Scandinavia.

I first roughly drew in the tree line and tried to mirror it the best I could for the lake. I then added in the skyline, which was also mirrored on the water. This took quite a while, but on this paper my Prismacolor pencils blended quite well. Next I coloured the polar bear and ice and added white gel pen for the fur and to go over the black ink lines. Lastly, coloured the water line, scarf and presents. I tried to reuse the same colours from the background, with an additional pop of limestone green and yellow orange. I also did some extra detailing for the stars and presents with white gel pen. This pages didn’t turn out perfect but I am happy with the pastel colours and the concept.


The Gingerbread houses is a double page spread, which I coloured last in this book. I didn’t take this one too seriously, I just wanted to do something fun and pretty.

Since there was so much to colour, I put a base of layer of Inktense pencil activated with water. I found that this worked really well with another one of the pages I coloured below and it really sped up the colouring time. Since I had to go all the way to the edges of the page, the paper did buckle a little, but over the next couple of days it did flatten out, by having the book closed. The texture of the paper was affected in anyway, so its was lovely to colour over the top with Prismacolor pencils. I quite liked how the pencil was quite chalky over the top and helped soften the black ink lines. In saying that I did still go over all the black lines with a white gel pen. I was nearly able to finish it however I did have to use a bit of white Posca pen when my gel pen ran out. This was not idea, since its just absorbs into the paper, but it was only a small section.

For the sky, I had originally just coloured it with darker pink Inktense pencil and light pink Faber-Castell Albrecht pencil. It was a little flat though, so I tried to draw in some clouds with different shades of pencil. I did end up outlining them with white gel pen and going over the sky again with pink Prismacolor, just to give a point of difference. Its not perfect but its better then having no sky and it was quite easy to do.


The Rocking horse was the first page that I had used Inktense as a base and Prismacolor pencils over the top. I found this technique really sped up the colouring time and gave a richer colour. It also softened the black lines and the pencils gave a lovely soft finish. The only thing that I am not happy with and was a learn curve was the green circle background. I originally went in with a dark green and white Inktense pencils. After activating it with water the texture looked horrible. When I tried to go over the top with light green pencils, it just looked very scratchy. I think the problem was the white Inktense pencil. Overall then the paper took the water quite well, since I didn’t have to colour to the end of the paper. So I have mixed feelings about this one.


The next double page spread is my least favourite of the bunch and was more of an experiment with Mungyo Pastels. I am a bit nervous to use pastels, since when I have used them over pencil they kinda washed out the pencil vibrancy. I know you can use a colourless blender to protect the pencil but it seems I still worry doing a rich layer of pastel. So I thought for these pages I would do a really rich layer of pastels and then go in over the top with pencil. The only thing I didn’t count on was that I was not able to erase the pastel as well as I hoped. So it was a little hard to cover the drawings with pencil and it took on some of the background colour, hence why my gold is so orange. I don’t think I would do this again but it at least now I know.

The last picture is my favourite and is the first picture I did for the Christmas season. I took quite a while filling in the background before colouring the rest of the picture. I don’t normally do this but it was well worth it because when the other colours did smudge on the background I was able to erase it. Although it looked like quite a simple design it quite a detailed picture and it took me a while, but I just love it.


I hope you like the last of my Christmas colouring for this season. If you are curious about this book and see it for a good price I really recommend buying and putting it away for next year. I think it will still be popular next year like all of Johanna’s books and it’s just a beautiful quality colouring book. At the moment, the prices are quite low but also look out price drops prior to the next Christmas season.


This book can be purchased from: