Getting Started

How to Go Learning the Coloring Basics as an Adult

Opening Pandora's Pencil Box

Discovering the joy of coloring as an adult is one of the most wonderful feelings imaginable, but it can be pretty overwhelming. Receiving your first coloring book is a magical moment, but it’s also a bit like opening Pandora’s box. Learning the coloring basics becomes addictive. You’ll pop online to quickly check whether it’s better to use markers or pencils, and before you know it, its 2 AM and you have six different sets of Prismacolors in your Amazon cart. Meanwhile, your coloring book lies alone on the table, gathering dust…

Less Research, More Coloring

This page is here to remind new colorists that you really don’t need much to get back into coloring as an adult. Honestly, the best thing you can do to really figure out what works best for coloring, is to start coloring! Every colorist is going to have different preferences on what they use, and going down the art supply rabbit hole is just another obstacle getting in the way of your art. Run out to your nearest Walgreens, grab whatever pack of pens, pencils, or markers catches your eye, and you’re good to go!

A dog dressed as a Crayola colored pencil

Classics are classics for a reason

Getting Ready to Color

Pens, Colored Pencils, or Markers?

If this is your first coloring book, you probably want to stick with colored pencils. They’ll last a decent amount of time, you can get a good selection of colors for a decent price, pencil mistakes are easier to hide than ink, and you don’t run the risk of your colors bleeding through onto other pages. That’s not to say markers and pens aren’t also great for coloring; it’s easier to get rich, bold colors with ink and pens are great for fine details and tight spaces. Go with your gut, because you’re in it now - this will most likely be the first of many marker/pencil/pen purchases…

The Right Surface to Color On

Now that you’ve got your tools, you’re going to need a surface. Just about any old surface will work, but some are definitely better than others. Depending on what you’re coloring, you might be fine with a hard surface, or you might want one with a little bit of give. If you’re coloring a loose, printed page, a very hard surface might not be ideal; too much pressure can break the tip of your pencil or cause it to tear through the paper, ruining your art. If you have them, place a magazine or a couple of extra sheets of paper between your coloring page and your drawing surface. This will let you put a little more pressure on your pencil and also prevent any cracks or indentations on your drawing surface from showing up when you’re coloring. If you’re working in a book, the other pages will provide this padding for you. Still, sometimes it can help to pad the back of the book with a few loose sheets when you go to color those last few pages. This probably goes without saying, but also make sure your surface is large enough to color on comfortably!

A tiny desk that it would be very difficult to color on

Probably not an ideal coloring surface...

The Best Part

So you’ve got your tools, and your surface is all set up to color on top of. What’s next? The best part, that’s what! Now comes the coloring, and there is absolutely 100% no wrong way to do it. Especially if this is your first time coloring as an adult, you should take this opportunity to tap into your raw creativity as much as possible. This is a revelatory moment in every adult colorists’ life, and we firmly believe that you should enter into it as a blank canvas (blanker than the one you’re about to color!)

Let the Color Come to You

Save that color theory stuff for later. Close those illustration tutorials on YouTube. The most important thing you can do at this point is have a blast pouring your imagination out onto that page. This is your opportunity to breathe completely new life to a piece of art that may have been colored one, ten, or a thousand times already. The real beauty will come from your unique perspective, and when you finish, you’ll feel nothing but pride in having put a piece of yourself into your work. And it will look awesome.

Peter Griffin coloring his coloring book outside the lines

So long as you're having fun, that's all that matters!

Post-Color Pondering

Now maybe you’ll get through the coloring basics and have a really great time, but you won’t be totally happy with the way your picture came out. Maybe you should have gone with your original color choice for the ladybug’s spots. Maybe your pencil marks are too noticeable, and you really wish you’d used markers. And maybe you’ll say, “Gee, they said it’d look awesome, I don’t think it feels awesome.” Well here comes the awesome part…

Meeting Your Fellow Colorists

You’re going to take that picture and share it online with all your fellow colorists, and the response you’re going to get is going to show you just how awesome your page is. You’ll hear how your color choices invoked just the right feelings, and how your pencil marks add such character to the piece.

You’re going to see the joy and happiness your creation brings to other people, and how happy that’s made you in turn, and you’re going to say, “It looks awesome!”

Because it does, and it always will to someone. There will always be another person who can benefit from seeing your color creation, and the happiness you bring them always finds a way to return back to you tenfold. You have a unique perspective, and sharing that perspective with others through coloring will show you just how important it can be to another. You’ll discover a community where your unique outlook is cherished, and where you cherish every individual little quirk that your fellow colorists use to make a widespread piece of art into something of their own. You’ll constantly be amazed at how the same picture can look so different…

Coming Full Circle

And somewhere down the line, when you’ve truly experienced all the joys that come with coloring as an adult, you’ll come across a first post by a timid new colorist. And maybe she won’t like the colors she chose, and think her work looks dull. And maybe he won’t like the way his pencil marks show through, and wishes he had used markers instead. And you’ll say, “It looks awesome!”

It looks awesome!

It looks awesome!