On Adult Coloring Books and How to get Started (A Beginner’s Guide)

To start with this hobby is easy. Just pick up a book and grab a set of color pencils. That’s what I thought as I started that way! But I realised there’s more to it. I used to color in my bed but now I have a work station dedicated only for this hobby as my materials have expanded. I can’t color in my bed anymore as I need things to be within my reach as I color.

So I’m sharing with you what I learned on adult coloring books and how to get started.

Coloring Books

Pick a coloring book according to the design that you are interested and consider the thickness of paper. There are several designs to choose from ranging from nature, garden, animals and insects, mandalas, portraits, vampires, cities and landscapes. With several options, grab something that you get excited as you browse the pages to be able to keep your momentum. I’ve started with nature and garden and has started to explore cites and landscapes. The paper should be thick and of good quality to that you can use different types of media. A good paper won’t bleed when you use gel pens and markers. So this is how you choose an adult coloring book and how to get started with this hobby. Let’s move on to the next.

Printable Pages

There are sources online where you can print some pages to colour. While waiting for my coloring books to arrived, I’ve downloaded some files from Johanna Basford’s site. You can do this too if you want to have a go before buying your coloring book. I suggest you print it on a suitable paper depending on the type of media that you are going to use. For color pencils, a 65 pound white cardstock will do the job.

Color PencilsColor-Pencils

There’s a lot of color pencils to choose from. School grade color pencils will do but these are not well pigmented and difficult to layer and blend. This is affordable and great for beginners. I still use these on tiny bits but on major part of my coloring, I use artist grade quality pencils. These are more pigmented, easier to layer and blend. Quality is also better and your artwork will last for a long time as these pencils are mostly lightfast, meaning it resists fading or discoloration when exposed to UV. This is quite an investment as these pencils are pricey.

There are oil based and wax based color pencils. There are colorists who use both and there are others who prefer the one over the other. So it really depends on what works for you. Popular brands are Faber Castell Polychromos, Prismacolor Premier and Carn d’Ache Luminance. Polychromos pencils are oil-based and Prismacolor and Luminance pencils are waxed based. These are premium pencils but there are other artist grade quality brands out there.


Color pencils usually have pencil streaks finish. To achieve a smooth finish, blenders are great for color pencils. You may choose between solvents, blender pencils and baby oil. Oil based pencils can be blended with baby oil.

Gel PensGel-Pens

Gel pens are great if you want to have some vibrant and strong colors. Other colorists use this together with other media. White gel pens are very handy to add some highlights. Gel pens come in regular colors, metallic and pastel.


It’s very important to have a good quality sharpener for your color pencils. For intricate designs, it is ideal to really have a pointed tips for color pencils. You can either choose a mechanical or hand sharpener.

Extra Sheets of Paper

You need some blank sheets of paper to serve as a test page for your colors and also to insert at the back of the page that you are coloring to protect the next page from bleeding or unnecessary marks.

Color Chart

For every set of color pencils, I suggest you create a color chart to make it easier for you to pick some colors when you are coloring. This is also a good reference of what palette you already have and will make it easier for you to decide if you need to build up your color collection.


It’s not the end of the world if you go over the line or if you mess with your picture when using color pencils because you can erase them. You can choose from basic ones to something fancy. Derwent makes a battery operated eraser which works well on intricate designs.

Pencils, Ruler and Compass

These are handy for creating extra details and background.Blending-Stump

Blending Stump

Also called as a paper stump. It is a stick of tightly tolled paper with pointed ends. The tip is dipped in a solvent and used for blending color pencils. Blending stumps are sharpened or cleaned using a sandpaper.


This is also a good accessory for blending. Instead of blending stamp, I use brushes for blending with solvents or baby oil. You will also need this if you would be using watercolors or acrylic media. Which would be the next item below.

Other MediaColorists-Accessories

Aside from color pencils and gel pens, there are other media that you can use for coloring like watercolors, acrylic, pastel and Derwent Inktense pencils or blocks.

Both watercolors and Inktense needs water to blend them. The difference is with watercolor you can move the pigments as you keep on adding water and color even if it dries up. Inktense pencils are ink based and colors become vivid when you activate it with water. Unlike watercolor, Inktense is permanent when it dries up so you need to work quickly on Inktense to spread the color.

Water Brush

This is very handy for Inktense and watercolors as the brush has a water container. To wet the brush, you just need to press the container. So you don’t need a separate container for water. Very handy anywhere.

Cloth or Tissue

You need this to pat brushes in between color applications to avoid, staining other parts unnecessarily.

Color Wheel

The last item that I can think of is the color wheel. You may or may not need this but if you wish to explore which colors matches well and what color combinations can be blended to come up with a certain color, this is really a good tool. This is also something that you can play with to start building your palette or color combinations.

It’s Easy to get Started

As you can see from the list above, there are several things that you may need to get started. The good thing is you can start from a few items and build up as you go along depending on what you need. Most coloring book enthusiasts eventually become collectors of coloring books and media… and I fall in that category 🙂

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave a note below 🙂


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