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How do you color in coloring books for adults?

Adult coloring books have become incredibly popular in recent years as a fun, relaxing hobby. But if you’re new to adult coloring, you may be wondering what supplies you need and how to get started. Here’s a beginner’s guide to coloring books for adults, including tips on choosing books, picking colors, techniques to try, and mistakes to avoid.

Coloring used to be seen as just an activity for kids, but more and more adults are discovering the joy and relaxation of coloring beautiful, intricate designs. Adult coloring books offer a creative outlet from the stresses of everyday life. The act of choosing colors and filling in the detailed patterns and pictures can help you focus, relax, and express yourself creatively.

Coloring is often described as meditative. As you concentrate on the colors and patterns, you can get into a relaxed, mindful state similar to meditation. This can help reduce anxiety and stress. Coloring also activates different parts of the brain as you tap into your creativity. Many people find it a very calming and centering experience.

In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to get started and have fun coloring your first book. We’ll cover picking coloring books, color choices like markers vs. colored pencils, techniques to try, and common mistakes to avoid.

Choosing an Adult Coloring Book

The first step is choosing one or more adult coloring books with designs you’re excited about coloring. Here are some tips for picking your first coloring book:

  • Look through the book in person before buying so you can see the actual designs and paper quality.
  • Choose a theme or art style that appeals to you, like animals, flowers, mandalas, fantasy scenes, etc.
  • Pick a book with moderate to complex designs if you want more of a challenge.
  • Go for simpler, less detailed designs if you’re new to coloring and want to start easy.
  • Make sure you like the paper quality – some books have thinner paper while others use thicker, heavyweight paper.

It’s nice to have a variety of books so you can match your mood. When you’re feeling stressed, you may want a book with calming designs like flowers or nature scenes. If you want more of a mental challenge, choose books with intricate details and patterns.

Choosing Your Coloring Supplies

You’ll also need to stock up on some coloring supplies like colored pencils, markers, pens or gel pens. Here are some popular options to consider:

Colored Pencils

  • Give you tons of color choices and shading options
  • Can layer and blend colors by applying light to heavy pressure
  • Harder tips keep details crisp, while soft core pencils blend well
  • Can be prone to breakage of the tips and needing to be sharpened frequently


  • Fun colors and fast, easy filling of large areas
  • Many adult coloring books specify using markers
  • Alcohol-based markers will bleed through thinner paper
  • Water-based markers have less bleed and more subtle color

Gel Pens

  • Offer striking neon, metallic and glitter colors not found in other supplies
  • Thin tips allow for details, doodles, outlines and accents
  • Can smear if you brush over them while coloring
  • May need to let them dry fully to avoid smudges

Try a variety of supplies to see what you like best. Building a collection over time lets you tailor supplies to each book’s designs.

Coloring Techniques to Try

Now for the fun part – it’s time to start coloring! Here are some key techniques to practice that will give your coloring book pages more depth and dimension:


Add light and dark shades to make items look more three-dimensional. Layer colors gradually from light to dark. Add shadows and definition with darker tones.


Blend colored pencil tones by layering and adjusting pressure. For markers, color next to an area then use a colorless blender to soften and mix colors.


Cross-hatching creates texture and interest by drawing multiple layers of crossing lines. Try with gel pens or very sharp colored pencils.


Go over fully dry layers with a white colored pencil to tint, lighten, and blend undertones for a polished look.


Layer complementary colors on top of each other to create new hues and dimension. Try a light blue over yellow to make green, for example.

Don’t forget to step back occasionally to evaluate your work- you may see areas that need more definition or contrast. Let the above techniques guide you, but don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for you!

Common Coloring Mistakes to Avoid

Learning from mistakes is part of the growth process with any new hobby. Here are some common coloring mishaps to be aware of:

  • Pressing too hard can dent the paper, cause marker bleed-through, or break pencil tips.
  • Not sharpening colored pencils often enough dulls the points and makes coloring challenging.
  • Trying to evenly color large areas with markers can lead to unintended pooling of ink.
  • Applying too many overlapping gel pen layers can cause staining on the opposite page.
  • Forgetting to flatten pages or use blotter paper allows color transfer if pages rub together.

Make changes to your technique as needed. Experiment to find products that work well together. And remember, perfection isn’t the goal- the point is to enjoy the creative process and letting go of mistakes.

Tips for Coloring Book Success

Here are a few more tips to set you up for success with your new coloring hobby:

  • Start off slowly instead of trying to finish a page in one sitting.
  • Take breaks to rest your hand and eyes.
  • Rotate between a few different books and page styles to stay inspired.
  • Frame or display finished pages to appreciate your hard work.
  • Watch coloring technique videos online to pick up new ideas.

Relax and have fun experimenting with colors as you explore this creative new pastime. Don’t worry about perfection- just enjoy losing yourself in the soothing process of coloring.


Coloring books offer a convenient escape to creativity for busy adults. Relieve stress, practice mindfulness, and express your artistic side with the tips and advice in this article. Try a variety of coloring books, tools and techniques to find your favorites. Avoid common mistakes and set yourself up for success. Most importantly, embrace the journey and have fun adding color to your life!

Supplies Quick Reference Table

Use this table for a quick overview of the main coloring supplies discussed:

Type Benefits Drawbacks
Colored pencils Blendable, wide color range Prone to breakage, needs sharpening
Markers Fast filling, vivid colors Can bleed through paper
Gel pens Striking glittery, metallic and neon colors Can smear or transfer