Santa’s Furry Helpers by Kayomi Harai features 79 pages of feline whimsy; 32 of which are actual coloring pages. These are perforated for easy removal. Ten of the coloring pages have a removable section on the bottom of the page that features a color palette suggestion, coloring tips and a small, colored version of the design for inspiration. These 10 pages are all portrait-oriented, and the rest of the full-page designs feature an assortment of landscape and portrait-oriented designs.
Kayomi also invites us into her home with a view of her creative space, and she introduces us to her real-life feline helpers (all rescued from animal shelters).
The remaining pages, printed in full color, feature tutorials and completed images in different sizes (from full-page to sticker size) for inspiration. If you prefer to not follow any guidelines, of course you don’t have to. There’s one important tutorial though that I especially recommend: How to color cat’s eyes because these kittens, while whimsical, feature very realistic, expressive eyes. You get a detailed picture with each of the seven steps, and no special tools are required.
While Kayomi explains different techniques in detail, she always encourages the readers to explore their own creativity and use any colors and media they want. Since the designs that you color are single-sided, this book lends itself to exploration of different media.
However, the back of each page wasn’t wasted: There is a lovely saying on each back page, along with the title of the picture. Some of the sayings relate to cats, others are quotes that relate to winter, Christmas or seasonal things. There is also room for you to add colorist's name and completion date (or whatever notes you wish to add).
Just like the title of the book suggests, the designs feature kittens in all sorts of seasonal scenes. They're all being good little kittens, not mischievous ones. No stealing of Santa's milk! Picture any scene from a picturesque Christmas greeting card, add a cat as the main character, and you get Santa's Furry Helpers. You have kittens peeping out of stockings, bearing gifts, taking a sleigh ride, sending out (or getting) mail, building a snowman, guiding you to the Northpole, and bearing a candle. Many wear Santa's suit or just the hat. A couple of the darling kittens deliver joy, personified as kitty angels.
Just like Kayomi's other book, Teacup Kittens, the designs in this book combine whimsy with realism. The cats engage in personified actions, but look very fluffy and dimensional, with expressive eyes, when colored. Since the cats are slightly shaded, even beginners or those who are hesitant to color fur can achieve great results. The background and accessories have no shading, and the shading on the cats is very light (unlike grayscale), so you can easily color over the patterns or ignore them altogether.
I am absolutely in love with this book, and it has been very nicely produced by Design Originals, a major publisher in the adult coloring book world. To view Kayomi's art gallery (to get an idea of her style or just for feel-good therapy), check out her website.
As I stated in the beginning, the bottom portion of ten of the pages that contain color suggestions is removable. I left it on for the purpose of showing what the pages look like that have this color palette suggestion (only 10 pages have this, the others are full-sized). I followed the example given, but I gave the kittens blue eyes instead of green and added stippling on the bow because I did this for a contest that required at least three different techniques. (I actually won!)
This is my second colored page from this book. This was modeled after a (full-page) example given in the book. I try not to be a copy cat when it comes to coloring designs, but the completed pics in this book look so good that I did so anyway (with slight variations).
For most of the presents, I started with a light layer of Solabela pencil and added a layer of brush marker on top. I also did this with the Santa's hats. The two sparkly presents were done with gel pens. The stars I did with Martha Stewart glitter marker. Everything else was done with assorted color pencils, mostly Marco Raffines. I blended the background with Prismacolor Premier colorless blender marker.
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