Adult Coloring: Supplies
Before it was cool, and before I even started teaching preschool, I was guilty of going to Walmart and buying kids coloring books and the biggest sets of crayons I could find… FOR MYSELF. I’ve never been good at any other types of art, no matter how many times I tried. But I just love color, and coloring has always mellowed me out. When adult coloring became popular, I tried for the life of me to get into it. I just couldn’t. I hated the tiny, detailed patterns that were absolutely impossible to find something skinny enough to fill them in with. Far from being relaxing, it made me want to throw all my coloring pages in the shredder. That is, until recently when I decided to give it another shot. I watched some YouTube videos on the topic of adult coloring. I learned what you can use to color, and techniques to make my pages look like they were colored by an adult and not a child.
I’m still new at this, and I’m by no means an art student or an expert colorist. In fact, below are a few of my first pieces, which I think are not too shabby for a first attempt.
The following products are by no means necessary, but I’ve found that they work very well for what I want them to do. There are always cheaper alternatives, and as much as I hate to say it, for the most part, you do get what you pay for. Also, some of these things I did not go out and buy for the express purpose of coloring. To my surprise I found out that you can use tons of different art supplies to color in adult coloring books.
As a beginner, I like using coloring books that have the pictures only printed on one side. This way I know I won’t wreck the next page if I try to use markers, or that if I press too hard with a colored pencil, it won’t make an indent in the page. You can also find some nice ones online, but you have to be insanely careful. When you go to blend, you might smudge the printer ink.
Hooray for cheap supplies! If you just want basic coloring and don’t really want to do any fancy effects, go to Walmart and you can get a pack of 100 for less than $15. The only way to really blend colors with Crayola is to layer them. Personally, I like trying new effects and practicing things like blending, shading, and highlighting. If you’re like me, Crayola colored pencils are great for laying down a light base layer of color to build on.
These bad boys are THE KINGS of the coloring world, and quite frankly, only a king could afford to replace them on a regular basis. While these are not the most expensive out there, these suckers are NOT cheap (a bought a 72 count set that retails for almost $90, but I used a 50% off coupon). I’m a bit leery about ordering pencils these expensive online because I’m afraid the delivery driver will drop them and they’ll all break. But I only buy them when they’re on MASSIVE sale somewhere. When you make a purchase at Michael’s, a lot of times you get a 50% off coupon on your receipt. If you’re thinking of getting these in a set, DEFINITELY use that coupon. And because they’re so expensive, grab some pencil extenders from Amazon so you can get EVERY FREAKING PENNY’S WORTH out of each one.
These are for sure one of those things that you get what you pay for. The colors are vibrant, easy to blend, and the soft core makes for super smooth color laydown. I also have the Prismacolor Verithin pencils, which are a harder core that sharpens to a ridiculously fine point (I have actually drawn blood with them before, no joke) that are awesome for super fine details or fixing little boo-boos when you accidently color outside the lines.
If you purchased a wax-based pencil like Prismacolor, one of your secret weapons should be a blending pencil. Basically it’s made out of everything the colored pencils are made of, but with NO COLOR. I know, weird, right? But seriously, this makes creating smooth transitions between colors so freaking easy. My recommendation is to buy the blending pencil from the same brand of colored pencil you’re using. I used to have a pencil that would leave a weird dusty residue when I used it with my Prismacolors. Come to find out, I was using one that was meant for a more expensive oil based pencil. Lesson learned. Tip: If you do get some dusty residue from the blending pencil on your picture DO NOT wipe it off with your hand. Use an old makeup brush instead so you don’t smudge.
I like using pencils for the majority of coloring, but when it comes to fancy detailed mandalas or other patterns, pens and markers are the way to go. It’s so easy to get a fine-tip marker or pen into those tiny little spaces compared to trying to do it with a colored pencil. Fine tip markers and pens are super easy to find (I got this pack of fine liners from Walmart a LONG time ago). For bolder colors, Crayola SuperTips will work great. I also have gel pens and some white paint pens to make highlights and other cool effects.
Soft Pastels for Backgrounds
One thing I hated about coloring when I was a kid was wasting almost an entire crayon coloring a background. Now, thanks to YouTube, I use soft pastels. I take a Styrofoam or plastic plate and a box cutter and shave off some of the chalky pastel to make a fine powder on the plate. I then use a cotton pad (or a cotton swab for more detailed areas) to pick up the color and apply it in a circular motion to the background. It’s how I made the background to the Harry Potter page at the top of this post. You just have to be super careful when applying it near where you’ve colored or it will smudge what you’ve already done.
That’s all I have for my coloring materials for now, but I’m sure I’ll be getting more once I get further into this as a hobby. If you’re into coloring, post a photo of your work in the comments! I’d love to see what you can do!