If you’re new to using colored pencils for adult coloring, Pencil Stash has prepared a helpful tutorial covering six key techniques: pressure, stroke, layering, blending, highlight, and shadow.
I’ve written about coloring in adult coloring books with highlighters before, but for some reason it never occurred to me to pair highlighters with gel pens until now. The bright, bold colors of highlighters are the perfect complement to your favorite sparkly glitter gel pens.
The example above is a colored page is from Valentina Harper’s Creative Coloring: A Second Cup of Inspirations. I love her style, but totally lack the patience to fill in all those details individually. So, this technique works perfectly as a time saver. I can make a base coat quickly with my highlighters, then add as many details as desired with the glitter gel pens. Since highlighters are a lighter color, you can still see the gel pen ink perfectly. The only difference is that layering makes your gel pen colors show up a bit darker than they would otherwise.
I used Yoobi brand mini highlighters from Target for my coloring because I love the range of colors in the set. Unfortunately, the tiny size of these highlighters makes them a little tricky to color with. If you’re buying highlighters for adult coloring books, I’d probably recommend a full size set like the 8-count Sharpie retractable highlighters on Amazon.
Also, don’t forget that highlighters glow under a black light because of the florescent ink. If you’re looking to make unique wall art for a teen’s room, this would be the perfect way to do so!
Baby oil is good for so much more than just soft skin! Check out this great video to learn how you can use baby oil to blend together your colored pencils. This will make your projects look so much more realistic.
When I color, I tend to use either colored pencils or markers — not both. However, Lindsay Weirich gets great results layering colored pencils over markers in this fabulous tutorial video.
If you love coloring with your kids, why not make this the theme of your next party?
OMY is a brand of graphic paper goods and products in playful coloring book style illustrations that will appeal to kids as well as fans of adult coloring books. Parisian graphic designers Elvire Laurent & Marie-Cerise Lichtlé founded OMY in 2012 after both becoming mothers and deciding to change their approach to design. The brand has done collaborations with MoMa (Keith Haring and Jeff Kunz designs), Colette in Paris and made a Brooklyn map poster for Le Bon Marche’s Brooklyn exhibition.
From coloring pages and placemats, to party favors and clothing, OMY offers designs illustrated in the brand’s signature quirky images of cities, maps and cheerful scenes, and familiar artwork like Keith Haring. The collection retails from $5 – $90. Items are available for purchase at perfectlysmitten.com and other large US retailers. I can’t think of better way to create shared time and moments with family and friends than by planning a celebration with party decor that becomes a personalized keepsake!
For more party ideas that will appeal to kids and adults alike, check out my post 3 Fun Ways to Turn Coloring into a Family-Friendly Activity.
One of the reasons adult coloring books have become so popular is that they’re an inexpensive, natural, and effective way to deal with anxiety and depression. As someone who struggles with both of these issues, I know an hour spent coloring has great therapeutic benefits. I have about 40 books in my collection at the moment, but I’m especially fond of inspirational titles like Creative Haven’s Chalkboard Art Coloring Book when I’m feeling blue. (The “Believe in Yourself” image at the bottom of this post is one of my favorites from the book.)
Although coloring is wonderful all by itself, you can increase its soothing properties by diffusing essential oil in your work space. Lately, I’ve been diffusing lavender essential oil from New York Biology. This is an affordably priced high quality oil that smells amazing. I especially like the dropper cap this brand comes with. This makes it so much easier to dispense just the right amount of oil. With other brands I’ve tried, I always worry about wasting or spilling in the process.
The best essential oils to use for anxiety include:
- Ylang ylang
- Clary sage
- Wild orange
Bergamot, lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang are also recognized as natural treatments for depression.
I use a 100 ml FLYMEI coloring changing diffuser, but Amazon has a wide selection of aromatherapy diffusers to choose from, ranging form inexpensive models that are under $20 to larger and more decorative diffusers that are $50 and up. I’ve also seen lower priced diffusers for sale at select Walmart stores.
Diffusers are generally very easy to use, as long as you remember to make sure the top is secured tightly and avoid overfilling the diffuser to prevent leaks. Your oil will last a very long time, since one drop is enough for several hours of soothing aromatherapy benefits.
If you have some extra time after coloring, nothing beats a soothing aromatherapy bath. Try making DIY bath salts with 1/2 cup Epsom salt, ½ cup cup Himalayan salt, and 7-8 drops essential oil. Mix ingredients together well, then store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. (As a side note, bath salts make a lovely homemade gift. Decorate your jar with pretty ribbon and stickers you’ve colored from Color Your Own Stickers: Inspirations for the perfect finishing touch.)
Disclaimer: A New York Biology essential oil sample was provided for the purpose of preparing this review.
Although there’s nothing wrong with a simple white background, some pages can benefit from an extra pop of color. This video from Coloring Karia outlines some of the most popular techniques for creating backgrounds, including the use of watercolors and pastels.
Obviously, coloring is fun all on its own. There’s nothing wrong with simply placing your favorite pictures on the table with some markers, colored pencils, or gel pens and coloring the night away. However, here are some ideas you can use to take your coloring experience up a notch and get the whole family involved.
1. Have a Family Art Show
One of the best ways to encourage your children to love art is to proudly display their work. Although the refrigerator still remains the most popular place to showcase a child’s colored pictures, there’s a better solution that can be used to display artwork from the entire family.
Purchase several large artwork display frames, one for each member of your family. Arrange the frames in a gallery formation on a spare wall in your home. Every time you color together, have each person sign and date their finished picture. Add the customized works of art to the frames, arranging them with the youngest person’s picture at the beginning and the oldest person’s picture at the end. If desired, you can add the pictures from the previous week into binders for each person. Over time, you’ll have a special keepsake that demonstrates how every member of the family has grown as an artist!
To add an extra element of fun to your family art show, make certificates that you can give to each participant. These awards should reward effort, respecting that each child is creative in their own unique way. Possible awards could be:
- Best use of the color blue
- Best use of blending
- Best mixed media art
- Most creative background design
- Most imaginative color selections
- Most unique pattern
- Most relaxing color palette
2. Make Coloring a Game
Turn your coloring experience into a party game by giving everyone an artistic challenge to complete. Write your challenges on slips of paper, fold them up, and stick them in a bowl. Take turns letting family members choose a challenge for the group to complete.
Here are some ideas:
- Use at least four shades of green in your picture.
- Color a picture using your favorite color and your least favorite color.
- Let the person to your right choose the colors you use in your picture.
- Choose unexpected colors that aren’t found in nature. Make a purple owl, a pink dog, or a blue cat!
- Go outside the lines and doodle your own additions to a picture. Draw a hat on a picture of a dog, add sunglasses on a picture of a princess, or use your best handwriting to add a quote to the bottom of a mandala.
If you don’t want to use your more expensive coloring pages for these challenges, try one of the printables in our Free Coloring Pages Category.
3. Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Coloring can be more than just a way to encourage your kids to be creative. It can also be an activity used to demonstrate the importance of being kind to others.
Pick up several different sets of note cards that you can color, such as the set of Secret Garden note cards by Johanna Basford or the Don’t Quit Your Daydream inspirational postcards by Bethany Robertson. Color the designs together as a family, then write messages to send to those in need of your positive thoughts.
For example, you could write notes to the brave men and women in the United States military who are currently serving overseas. If you don’t know a soldier personally, A Million Thanks is a nonprofit organization that sends letters to troops stationed around the world as a way to boost their spirits and ease their homesickness. You can mail your family’s contributions to this project to:
A Million Thanks
17853 Santiago Blvd.
Villa Park, CA 92861
Alternatively, you can write letters to women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Girls Love Mail is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Gina L. Mulligan after she realized how much receiving mail helped her feel less alone during her own cancer treatment. You can mail your family’s letters for this project to:
Gina L. Mulligan
Girls Love Mail
193 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 120
Folsom, CA 95630
The letters sent to Girls Love Mail are distributed through cancer centers, doctor’s offices, and special programs for patients. The letters are sent to recipients in a special envelope with the Girls Love Mail logo, so the organization asks that your contributions be able to fit in an envelope that measures 4.75” x 6.5″. (They can be folded if necessary.)
[Photo above is a colored note card from Don’t Quit Your Daydream inspirational postcards by Bethany Robertson.]
If you regularly use colored pencils in your adult coloring books, you know how important it is to have access to a decent pencil sharpener. The wrong sharpener will chew up your precious pencils in no time at all.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I generally hate sharpening pencils by hand. With my less expensive colored pencils, I will use an X-Acto electric pencil sharpener. This sharpener is a little louder than I’d prefer, but it’s quick to use and creates a nice sharp point on every brand I’ve tried it with.
Of course, I can’t exactly to my electric sharpener to a friend’s house to color. If I’m on the go or I want to be extra careful sharpening my more expensive pencils, my top pick is the Prismacolor Scholar hand sharpener. I first tried this sharpener at a coloring club event at my public library. It’s just as high quality as you’d expect from the Prismacolor brand. I love it so much I picked up a second one to send to school with my son in the fall so he doesn’t have to use their outdated sharpeners that shred your pencil instead of giving it a decent point.
Regardless of your preferred pencil sharpener, one important tip I’ve learned since I started coloring is to be careful you don’t accidentally drop your pencils. If they drop with enough force, you can break the lead inside the pencil. This will make them difficult to sharpen properly no matter what brand of sharpener you select.
Everybody knows how to sharpen a pencil, right? Actually, it’s not as easy as you think. With the wrong technique, you risk breaking your lead or sharpening away more of your pencil than what’s necessary. These mistakes cost you money, especially if you’ve invested in a set of Prismacolors or other artist quality coloring tools. Watch this video to make sure you’re getting as much use from your coloring tools as possible.