Hello, everyone! And now back to our regularly-scheduled blogging.
This week, I want to talk about one of the greatest concepts to hit the market: grown-up coloring books!
It’s so simple, yet so revolutionary, I can’t believe it took us this long to realize that coloring didn’t have to be just for kids!
Of course, everyone already knows how to color, but I want to show you ways to take your coloring to the next level!
Here are my tips:
#1) Use pencils!
Whether it’s colored pencils or graphite pencils, you’re sure to get the greatest range of tones with these guys.
Here’s a stunning horse design from Art Nouveau Animal Designs by Creative Haven that I filled in with only 4 colors–teal, light blue, light violet, and salmon.
It’s only with colored pencils that I’d be able to blend the teal and light blues in the mane so seamlessly and easily.
#2) If you’re going to use markers, make sure they’re fine-tipped and you have a WIDE variety of colors.
Unlike coloring books for kids, coloring books for adults tend to have tighter spaces and more intricate patterns to fill in, which means your chunky Crayola Washables ain’t gonna cut it. If you’re serious about working with markers, you’ll need to acquire some that’ll reach those tough spots and also compensate for the lack of hues they’ll give you.
These beauties (also from Art Nouveau Animal Designs) were done in marker, and I think they turned out pretty well.
–But that’s because I followed rule #2 and rule #3, which is…
#3) Vary colors slightly.
With some designs, especially the Art Nouveau designs, the pictures can get a little too symmetrical and boring. The best way to break that up is to mirror similar (but not the same!) colors with each other.
At the bottom, I used very slightly different shades of green for my lizards, and also the purple curly wurlies. It breaks the picture up just enough to keep your eyes engaged and interested.
#4) Take it one step/color/shape at a time.
I know that seems like something you should already know to do, but it’s very, very easy to get overwhelmed looking at a blank design and deciding where to start and how you want it to look.
For my horse, I started in on my favorite part first (the horse), then went to the background, and then onto this chain around it.
This little monkey on the inside cover was a fun warm-up piece which I started by filling in all the things I wanted to be brown.
Giving yourself small goals to accomplish–like “fill in all the brown”–rather than thinking of the entire page as one project will let you really take your time and focus on what you’re doing, since it’ll seem like you’ve got less to do.
And, after all, that’s why we’re coloring, isn’t it? To avoid/relieve stress? So don’t stress yourself out!!
#5) Limit your color palette
Speaking of stress, sometimes having too many options can make a project seem daunting.
My little monkey friend is only surrounded by browns, blues, and purples, but he’s still very aesthetically pleasing!
The limited palette also gives you the chance to dive into some whimsy–I mean, where on earth are you going to find navy-blue pears?
Get crazy! Color your monkey turquoise! Color your sky yellow! The only limit is your imagination. And, well, your palette.
And in the spirit of making the picture your own…
#6) Add your own patterns and textures.
Below my horse, there is some foliage. And as nice as those shapes are, I decided that the leaves needed a little somethin’ somethin’…
I colored them in with 2 shades of green, and then took a third, darker shade and made little lines on the outside.
Adding textures and patterns with your pencils or markers are a great way to make your work stand out. Everyone thinks you have to color flat inside all of the lines, but it isn’t so!
In fact, that takes me to…
#7) Add to the designs themselves!
Here we have the brown parts of my monkey, including this dull-looking brown tree trunk.
But I went in and added some lines with my Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen and gave that baby some sass!
Coloring book artists will often say that they leave parts of their designs with open spaces to encourage the color-er to incorporate their own style into it. So take every opportunity you can to make your picture as unique as you are
#8) Shade and blend!
Shading is the easiest way to give your picture TONS of dimension and blending (with your choice of blending medium (mine is a colorless blender pencil, as mentioned in this blog post about blending colored pencils)) will give it the polished, professional look to set it apart from something a kid would do.
Here, you can see the delicate care I took in shading the horse’s head and body as well as the difference between using a blender (left side of the purple frame) and using nothing at all (right side).
But don’t stop here! Shading and blending are great tools when it comes to drawing, so why not…
#9) Incorporate other drawing techniques!
To break up the monotony of solid colors, I used used a bit of stippling on my little monkey friend’s cloud. You could also try cross-hatching or coloring in swirled or lined strokes. Basically anything you’d do with your own original drawing, you can also do in a coloring book!
The stippling on the edges gave it just the right amount of color plus the right amount of white.
Which leads me to my final tip…
#10) Don’t be afraid of white space!!
It’s easy to think, “I have to color all of this in,” when looking at a fresh page, but you really don’t!
I left white space with my monkey friend’s cloud and a little on the edges of page and that drew even MORE attention to the parts that were colored in!
And if you still find yourself afraid of or dreading the white space, just…cut it out.
I still had a ton of white space leftover on my horse picture, but I really wasn’t interested in coloring any more of it in…
So I cut out the part I did like and wanted to keep:
Now I can paste this in my journal and do some more designs around it or incorporate it into another work of art, like a collage!
With these tips, you can now go boldly into your coloring adventures!
Let me know in the comments what kind of tricks and techniques you use when coloring!