The Aviary : Bird Portraits to Colour by Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, Published by LOM Art, and imprint of Michael O’Mara Books Ltd (£9.99)
Isbn : 978-1910552216
The Aviary is a larger sized colouring book than most at a whopping 29cm x 29cm. the illustrators are Richard Merritt and Claire Scully, the people behind the popular colouring book ‘The Menagerie’. This book is the same format so if you have seen that one you’ll know what to expect. The cover features the picture of the Bluejay facing to the left (he’s facing right inside the book) with beautiful blue and silver foiling with splashes of green, black and turquoise.
The pages are one-sided, each containing a beautiful image of a wide variety of birds, ranging from the exotic Indian Peafowl, Southern Cassowary, red-bellied woodpecker, swan, blu-footed boobies, mallard ducks, barn swallows, an emperor penguin chick, an Atlantic puffin and Queen Victoria’s Riflebird to name a few of the very detailed semi-stylised pictures of birds.There are 31 images in total.
Each picture is printed onto medium weight white paper with a few coloured printed details like grass, leaves and branches. Unlike a lot of books that have pre-printed detail these do not feel like they limit your colour choices and instead add an extra layer of interest. For those who like to do their own backgrounds there is still scope to do that too as these are subtle, and for those that don’t it adds a nice finishing touch. I have heard that some copies of this book has perforated pages, my copy does not. If however you wanted to remove a page I don’t think it would be too hard as the spine pushes right back enabling you to cut it out easily.
Being one-sided the book is well-suited to markers, although i would always place a sheet of copier paper beneath the one I’m colouring just in case of bleed-through. The paper is relatively smooth with enough tooth to take pencils well. Some of the tinier details though you may wish to use fineliner pens to colour or very sharp pencils, however you could just colour the body as I did in the picture below of the indian peafowl, treating the body as a whole and just shading where I needed, colouring larger areas rather than concentrating using the pattern to add details rather than colouring every tiny detail. I’ve seen pictures coloured both ways and they look just as good – just colour whichever way takes your fancy! It is a beautiful book which I think most colourists will love.
I chose to colour the Indian Peafowl image as it is so beautiful and striking. to achieve the ‘glow’ I used a yellow highlighter first to highlight his back feathers and parts of his beautiful fan-tail. I then coloured over the top using Faber-Castell Polychromos Pencils using a variety of greens – using browner/olive based greens for the lower feathers of the tail, and a mix of light, mid, and dark toned greens over the highlighter to achieve the varigated effect of his beautiful feathers, finished with a light brown ochre, light blue and a blue gel pen for the ‘eye’ of the feather. For his body I used a variety of turquoise and cobalt based blues with a bit of violet and white. I added a few splashes of white Signo Uniball gel pen to highlight his eye and face flashes and he was done. He was fun to do, I hope you like him!
I have a full Flip-through of the book on YouTube or you can watch it here.