How To Color Like A Pro In Your Adult Coloring Books

If you are new to coloring and don’t know where to start, or just want to improve your skills, here are some tips from coloring-book artists.

How To Color Like A Pro

Consider Colored Pencils

“I like high-end pencils, which allow you to do shading,” says Erik Siuda, tattoo artist and author of the Modern Tattoo Designs Coloring Book (Creative Haven/Dover Publications) among other titles. “I often recommend investing in Prismacolor pencils.”

 

Keep Things Light

 “My top tip is not to press too hard with your pens or colored pencils,” says Millie Marotta, author of Animal Kingdom. “Instead, try to build up color gradually.”

Stay Sharp

A well-sharpened pencil is the key to getting into tight spaces in intricately designed adult coloring books. Any pencil sharpener will do to keep the general edge. But “if you have trouble sharpening the softer, thicker lead without breaking it, try carefully carving the point with an X-ACTO blade,” suggests mandala artist P.C. Turczyn. “You can refine the point without losing more of the wood by using sandpaper. Art supply stores sell little sandpaper blocks for this purpose.”

Be A Savvy Pensman

If pens are your thing, “try to find some that have a fine nib and are not alcohol based as these have a tendency to bleed, as do those with a heavy ink flow,” says Marotta. Ask for help at your local art store.

Splash Around 

Watercolor pencils offer special effects. “You can use them like regular pencils, then wash clear water over an outlined area and—presto—get a watercolor effect,” says Turczyn. “Avoid applying the water with a brush that is too big for an area; if you inadvertently mix a green area and a red area, for example, you will get brown.” Other techniques include wetting an area before you color it in. Or, you can try dipping the pencil in water before you draw with it, she says. “Craypas, Derwent, and Prismacolor all make good-quality watercolor pencils.”

Do What You Like

Or, forget all of the above and do what feels good to you. Glitter glue, Sharpie markers, Crayola, charcoal, oil pastels, tempera paint, inside the lines, outside the lines—it’s all good. “One of the great things about coloring is that there are no rules,” says Marotta. “And it’s amazing for me to see the hundreds of variations of the same illustrations all colored in so differently. I love it.”

Color Your Mood

Colors themselves carry therapeutic qualities, according to licensed clinical professional art therapist Lacy Mucklow, co-author of the coloring books Color Me Happy and Color Me Calm. Selecting colors can literally affect your mood. Here’s a guide to how you can use colors to rev up or calm down—or combine them for a total mood makeover.

Cool colors like blue, green and purple have a calming effect. Use them to literally chill out.

Warm colors like red, orange and yellow are pepper-uppers. Try them when you want to brighten a bad mood.

Bright colors are energizing, so turn to them when you want a little inner lift.

Dark colors carry a relaxing energy and can be used to ratchet down an overactive mind.

Pastels and light tints communicate softness and help soothe the soul.

Want some coloring pages of your own? Check out our free downloadables and color yourself happy!

This article first appeared on Parade.com