Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review - Barcelona Adult Coloring Book

Barcelona Adult Coloring Book by Alexandru Ciobanu is a wonderful idea--just fabulous! Imagine coloring in all the Catalan works of art! Those mosaics! Those buildings!

If you know a little bit about me, you probably already know I live in the Barcelona area. I love this city, its history, its architecture, its daily bustle...

M'encanta Barcelona!

I received a free PDF copy of this book from the author through a Librarything giveaway, all in exchange for an honest review. Here goes the honest review.

When I saw the listing for this book on Librarything, I practically tripped over my own fingers in my haste to click to enter the giveaway. As I live near Barcelona and am a huge fan of the city, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a coloring book dedicated to my beloved Ciutat Comtal.

Unfortunately, I wasn't so happy when I looked inside. The photographs are excellent. The color and angle of each photo is exquisite. The so-called drawings, however, leave much to be desired. I refer to the drawings as "so-called" because, while the book's Amazon description uses this term, in reality the images given to us to color are no more than the result of filtering the photographs.

The filter used resembles the pencil sketch filter you can find on Photoshop. Here's a quick tutorial by Lesa Snider on Macworld on how to transform any photograph into a pencil sketch. As you can see, the process isn't too difficult once you have an idea of how Photoshop works. (I personally used to mess around with the program's filters for hours and hours.)

I don't see any problem with using a filter to modify the original photographs and turn them into something someone can color in. However, while looking through the coloring book, I felt it had been put together with haste. In general, the filtered images contain residual dots and lines that should have been cleaned up to make coloring them easier. Take this image of the antenna at the Parc Olímpic, for example:

Part of the original photograph.
Part of the image to color in. The sky around the antenna
hasn't been cleaned up, so we can see remains of the thin clouds
and airplane trails, which give the image an unfinished feel.

This happens throughout the book. Other photographs contain segments which are slightly overexposed, or too dark. The filtered image can't capture the lines if the original is too light or too shadowed, so we have sections where we encounter white spaces. For example, look at the filtered image of the mosaic on the book's cover:

The section on the left is lost
through the filtering process.

Overall, I'm sad. I so wanted to love this book. The idea is wonderful. The original photographs are excellent. The drawings are disappointing. In my case, instead of relaxing, I found them a bit frustrating and I realized my heart rate was going up while attempting to color them because I couldn't ignore the fact that they all looked dirty. There are a couple close-up images of mosaics which are just beautiful, and these work very well to color in.

Even so, just compare Barcelona Adult Coloring Book to Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald, and you'll see a huge leap in quality.

In conclusion, with a little more touching up, Barcelona Adult Coloring Book could be a great pastime. Unfortunately, the way it's available right now, I can't give it any more than two and a half Pirates.

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