Fractal Art: a coloring book

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Fractal Art kaft

Pomegranate sent us a review copy of their recently published coloring book “Fractal Art” by artist Doug Harrington. We thank Pomegranate for this.

Doug Harrington is one of the first and mayor creator of digital art. The images in this book are black and white ones of fifty of his artworks.

On the Internet the following information about this book can be found:
Zoom in or zoom out, and you will find within a fractal the same simple but irregular shape replicate itself in complex patterns. While these often resemble structures in the world around us—a nautilus shell, a snowflake, a spider’s web—nature has its limits. But the fractals devised from mathematical formulas are infinite, both outwardly and inwardly. Fractal geometry creates a space where repetition is beauty, where math is art, and where perfection is possible.
For nearly twenty years Seattle artist Doug Harrington has been making digital fractals that seem tie-dyed, faceted, or kaleidoscopic. He produces these diverse and vibrant images digitally and in fine art prints. Each piece, based on an original formula, is unique.
These black-and-white versions of Harrington’s original fractals present a special opportunity to study their form. Find the repetition and reveal the pattern as you color—it may not be what it seems at first glance. And if you need assistance, the original artworks are printed on the inside of this coloring book’s covers.

Again this is a beautiful and carefully prepared edition by Pomegranate, printed single sided on high quality paper. The book is on A4 format and remains flat when opened which is of course important when it comes to coloring.
When leafing through this book for the first time you come to understand quite easily the meaning of fractals. The shapes of one image are even more intriguing than the next one. All of these are printed in thin and sharp black lines but sometimes only gray translucent lines and shadows are visible. Clearly this is not a coloring book for beginners but for advanced colorists who like to be challenged.

Of course you can interprete each image the way you want. And in case you need some more assistence then all fifty original artworks are printed on the inside of the book’s cover.

Fractal Art extra

Of the two pictures I picked to color in I did the first one with Derwent Artists colored pencils. These somewhat harder pencils performed very well on this high quality paper. Softer pencils would have been useable too but with the intricate details of these plates in mind I suspected that somewhat harder colored pencils would do the better job here.

The degree of difficulty of this book lies not only in the highly detailed images but also in the absence of lines. In many places only light shadows can be seen where colors need to be seperated or blended together. To simply ignore these lines and just coloring these parts in just one color is of course an option but that would not be as satisfying and would not do justice to the original digital art on which these images are based. On the other hand however, trying too hard to approach the originals is also not recommendable because that is almost impossible to achieve with colored pencils.

Coloring in this picture gave me very much pleasure. The paper is wonderful, the colored pencils showed to full advantage and slowly a beautiful repetitive pattern emerged from the paper.
This is labor-intensive coloring but very satisfying.

Fractal Art potlood

For the second image I wanted to test the performance of (water based) felt-tip pens in this book. And this is where I immediately stumbled upon a problem: almost all the images are so very detailed that working with these materials would be problematic. Even fineliners would not be thin enough. The only solution to this would be to color in a bigger surface with details printed on it with the same color. When searching for images that did not have this problem I only found a few ones that did have big open spaces. And water based felt tip pens are not that ideal for coloring in bigger spaces. Alcohol based markers would be a much better choice here.

Still I carried on and picked an image that seemed to me the most suitable for felt-tip pens. I did complete it but to be honest it gave me much trouble: the lines are so thin that it is almost impossible to color without the ink bleeding through the lines and as for the coloring in of bigger empty spaces, a fairly decent result was hard to achieve.

Fractal Art stift

I find this book is not one for felt-tip pens that are water based. But with alcohol based markers however, when you are willing to be not too precise when it comes to details, one can get beautiful results. The paper is excellent and highly suitable for these materials, so that is not an issue here, one could not wish for better quality. even when applying several layers of color the paper remains intact.

My conclusion is that this is a special and original book for the advanced colorist, containing a type of images that I have never come upon before in a coloring book. It is printed on superior paper and working with colored pencils is a real pleasure. For those who like to color with water based felt tip pens: this is not the book for you. Is that a problem? I don’t think so; not every coloring book is suited for every type of material. On the other hand those who love (alcolhol based) markers will have a beautiful addition to their collection of coloring books with this one.

Data from the book:
Title: Fractal Art: a coloring book
Illustrator: Doug Harrington
Publisher Pomegranate
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 22,1 x 1,3 x 28,7 cm
ISBN: 9780764974687
Price: $16.95

This book is amongst others available at Amazon and Pomegranate.

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