You might have heard that adult coloring is a great way to relax, especially if you enjoyed coloring when you were young. Coloring is a way to engage your brain and to give your thoughts a peaceful focus. It can be an inexpensive hobby unless you become so engaged that you want better books or pages and better coloring equipment. Coloring books or coloring pages are far lower pressure than having to come up with your own pictures or art designs.
With that said, what are the best supplies for adult coloring when starting out?
The best supplies for adult coloring when first starting are ones you can start out with easily, like a department store set of pencils, gel pens, or crayons, and any coloring book that appeals to you. If you discover that you enjoy coloring with a specific medium/pencils, markers, crayons, gel pens…, you might want to move toward better supplies and more intricate coloring books. As you learn more, you might discover new ways to use your color medium.
Eventually, you might even want to frame some of your pictures and use them as decorations or even gifts. Even if you are primarily interested in relaxing with your coloring book, learning new techniques can increase your pleasure.
Colored Pencils as a Beginning Medium
Colored pencils are an excellent selection if you like detailed, intricate pictures to color. They can be sharpened to a fine point, or the broad side of the colored core can be used to add color to a wide area. The colors, depending upon the brand you purchase, can usually be layered to blend colors. They are excellent for using dots or hatching as shading techniques. Colored pencils are easily tailored to your budget since a basic set such as Roseart can be purchased in nearly any department store that sells school supplies. As your skills and interest develop, you might want to move on toward Prismacolor or Faber-Castell, to name two well-known brands that make quality pencils.
Wax Crayons as a Beginning Medium
Crayons are well known to anyone who has attended public school in the United States or purchased school supplies for a child in the U.S.A. They are less often used by adults for coloring for a variety of reasons. They are too frequently associated with children’s art supplies, they can be a bit messy, and you cannot leave them in a warm vehicle. With that said, you can create some amazing effects with crayons, especially if you combine them with an inexpensive set of watercolors. Crayola is probably one of the best-known brands of crayon. Their crayons tend to go on smoothly, maintain their brightness, and can be layered, used to make dots, or even mixed by layering or hatching.
If you want to get a little crazy with your crayon selection, Stockmar crayons are made using beeswax and have a faint honey scent. The color distribution is more translucent than Crayola, but they are made from all-natural ingredients and are non-toxic.
For super blending crayons, you might try Pentel’s oil pastel crayons. The oil content allows better blending than all-wax crayons. Unfortunately, oil pastels can be a little messy and might require some wax paper to go between pages in your coloring book to keep the colors from smearing.
Gel pens and felt tip markers.
For people who enjoy bright colors, metallic glitter, and similar items, gel pens and felt tip markers could be interesting. However, you will want to be selective with your coloring book or coloring page selections because the ink in the pens tends to bleed through most papers. You can select single-sided coloring pages or books or simply make the decision to sacrifice the picture on the back of the one you select. Pens also have the disadvantage of drying out at the most inopportune time. With that said, you can achieve bold, bright pictures using gel pens or markers with better control than with a stick pen and colored ink.
Selecting a Good Coloring Book
Coloring books can range in quality from inexpensive, center-stapled books to collections of coloring pages that are intended to be removed from their binding. They can contain simple pictures that are scarcely more than line drawings, or they can be intricate designs with elaborate detail. Aside from paper quality, the primary thing to consider when looking for a coloring book is that you like the pictures. Adult coloring books are frequently intricate, or they can contain content that is not appropriate for children. A few are educational, and many are truly works of art.
Dover is a well-known coloring book publisher, putting out coloring books that range from simple line drawings to elaborate mandalas, historical costumes, and lovely landscapes. Some well-known book publishers, such as Simon and Schuster, produce themed coloring books that go with book series. For example, there are coloring books that go with Terry Pratchett’s Disk World. Pink Eucalyptus Coloring offers intricate drawings that go with specific cities around the world, such as Mint Tea in Marrakech. Or you can go for adult-only books, such as the various swear word coloring books.
“Tooth” or Paper Page Quality
Paper quality matters when it comes to enjoying your coloring sessions. Most adult coloring books will have their pictures printed on heavy, art-quality paper. The paper should be thick enough that a sharpened pencil will not immediately poke right through it. The pages should be white rather than a newsprint brown unless you are going for a historic or primitive feel to your coloring. White pages will usually show off the color better.
Slick pages, however, do not receive crayons or pencils well. Art paper, and by extension the pages in a coloring book, should have a good finish but still, have a little texture to take the color easily and retain it.
Binding for Coloring Books
Binding can vary. The least expensive books frequently have a center staple. But this might not be a definitive indicator of quality. For example, Dover coloring books usually have a center staple binding. This makes it easy to take them apart, which can be a real advantage if you are coloring paper dolls or if you want to mount the page on a backing and then frame it. Some adult coloring books have glue and cardstock binding but add perforations to facilitate removing the pictures either for mounting or to make it easier to color them.
Line printing can be a huge indicator of quality. Coloring books for young children often have thick, heavy lines. This can be an advantage if you spend your day reading screens or ledger books. If you do not want that sort of look to your artwork, however, you might look for a book with more delicate lines. A good adult coloring book will often have a compromise between well-defined lines and intricacy. There is no right or wrong here unless the printing is smeared or sloppy.
The Final Consideration
Binding and paper quality counts, but in the long run, the best coloring book for you is one that you like. Or you might want to have a selection of coloring books to suit the medium you wish to use on a given day or your mood. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a nursery rhyme book, a mandala book, one with illustrated swear words, representative drawings from your choice of faith, or simply a collection of lovely nature scenes or a variety of animals.
Adult coloring is all about doing what you want to do in the way that you want to do it. There are far too few activities in our workaday world that give us that kind of creative freedom. Coloring is a fantastic way to express your inner feeling. You can keep your work to yourself, or you can share it. Adult coloring can be a solitary activity, or you can companionably share it with a favorite person. It is that versatile.
Check out other recommendations HERE.
- What if I just scribble all over the page?
Your book, your pencils, crayons, or markers, so you are in control. You can scribble, color outside the lines, use weird colors, whatever you want to do. That is one of the beautiful, no-pressure, stress-releasing things about adult coloring.
- Is adult coloring an expensive hobby?
Depending upon the pencils, crayons, or markers, and the book you select, you can get started for as little as $10.00 or perhaps even less. You can turn coloring into an expensive hobby if you purchase high-quality materials or go for super expensive original art coloring books or pages.
- Does quality make a difference?
There are some off-brand coloring materials that are so poor they do not go on well, or the color fades rapidly. Books with paper of poor quality might be so thin that pencils will poke right through it, or the pages might be too slick to accept crayons well. You want a color that goes on easily and stays bright. The paper should have a good “tooth” texture that accepts your favorite coloring medium. Other than that, your personal preference is the most important criterion.
Maximize the benefits of coloring with my free adult coloring eBook and by signing up for my email newsletter HERE!
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice. Please consult a legal expert or medical doctor to address your specific needs.