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With the help of professional street artists and muralists, we created some of the best adult coloring books in the world. Our goal is to help people of all ages discover their inner artists. Now, we’ve gone a step further and created the best coloring tutorial for adult coloring books we could have made.

In the first section of this coloring tutorial, you will learn the basics of adult coloring along with some best practices and how to find the right coloring book for you.

Table of Contents

Scroll further or use the table of contents on the side to skip to the easy-to-follow coloring techniques. Most of the lessons here have video tutorials as well as written guidelines. Learn by watching and practicing along in your own coloring book.

This tutorial has enough theory to help you understand how to combine colors like a pro.

Make sure to bookmark this page and signup in the box below to get these lessons via email. We’ll send you updated tutorials once a month to help you stay on track. The only way to improve your coloring abilities is with practice and time, so we will be here to encourage you and teach you.


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By the time you are done with the basic, intermediate, and advanced lessons in this coloring tutorial, you will be so proud of your coloring pages you’ll want to frame them! Can’t get the pages out of your book? Check out ours. All of our coloring books come with detachable pages!

Frame your masterpieces and discover your inner artist with Aimful Books.

Let’s get started!

The Basics

Why Is Coloring Good For You?

You spent hours coloring the books your parents gave you as a child to keep you busy (if you were lucky). It was unthinkable coloring would be a hobby you would want to pick up as an adult. But many adults now know coloring a coloring book is just as fun as it was back then, but also it’s a healthy hobby. Why?

Because adult coloring is a form of dynamic meditation.

It’s an artistic way to clear the mind. 

Before we get into coloring techniques that will make you a coloring pro, let’s look at some benefits of adult coloring books. 

If you haven’t started yet, these coloring benefits will surely get colored pencils back in your hands in no time!

Adult Coloring Reduces Stress

We are bombarded with millions of pieces of information every day. It can be too much for our brains. Regardless of what you’re dealing with right now, adult coloring books can be a great way to let go of negative emotions and turn them into art. Coloring reduces stress and anxiety.

Coloring books will put your mind at rest after a long day at work because coloring evokes the same state of mindfulness as meditation. Coloring books calm the anxiety of a restless mind! 

If you’re dealing with stress or anxiety or just had a bad day, take a page from your favorite coloring book and put some color in it. Discover your inner artist while you release stress. How cool is that? (Hint: Very!)

Adult Coloring Improves Focus

While you are relaxing and having fun, you are exercising your concentration. Whether at work or at school, the benefits of coloring will be reflected in the quality of your work. How about that!

Adult Coloring Makes You More Creative

Interestingly, through coloring, you also use the other half of your brain for focus, concentration, and organization. As a result, adult coloring books exercise your entire brain. This could be enough to help you think outside of the box while solving problems in other areas of your life. Cool uh?

Adult Coloring Connects You to Your Inner Child

And the most important reason why adult coloring books are good for you? You get to feel like a kid again! During childhood, we enjoy the simple things, right? Remember how easy it was to laugh about anything? Coloring is as easy as it gets.

Go back to the good ol’ days when you didn’t have anything to worry about. Adult coloring books are a fun way to relive childhood memories and pamper your inner child.

Adult Coloring Connects You to Your Inner Child

And the most important reason why adult coloring books are good for you? You get to feel like a kid again! During childhood, we enjoy the simple things, right? Remember how easy it was to laugh about anything? Coloring is as easy as it gets.

Go back to the good ol’ days when you didn’t have anything to worry about. Adult coloring books are a fun way to relive childhood memories and pamper your inner child.

The Basics

12 Tips For A Great Coloring Experience

Now you know there are multiple benefits of adult coloring books for your health and mind. 

Let’s go over some tips for a great coloring experience:

1. Practice is key. You know how the saying goes: “The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.”

2. Start from the outside and work your way inward. You’re more likely to run over lines if you go the other way.

3. Don’t press too hard. It’s easier to layer and blend colors when you use the right amount of pressure. If you press too hard, you’ll often break the tips of your pencils and end with hand fatigue.

4. Sharpen your pencils. You will have more control over the pressure if you keep your pencils and crayons sharp. You’ll also need them sharp for detailed areas.

5. Keep the caps on your markers and store them in a flat, horizontal position. Ink flows unevenly down in one direction when stored upright, and that can dry out or oversaturate the nib. Avoid dropping your colored pencils too often; it can break the core, which could lead to broken tips every time you sharpen them. Nothing more frustrating than that, right? Take care of your tools to make them last longer. Taking care of your tools will make them last longer.

6. Test your colors on a separate piece of paper first to ensure you have the color you want. Colors can look different on paper than on a pencil or marker. You should also check to see if the markers bleed.

7. Buying coloring books for adults made from quality paper makes a world of difference when it comes to your coloring results and experience. You will find out more about paper quality in this tutorial.

8. Use fixative spray. Some colors might bleed on the other pages of the book when closed. It’s better to be safe. Plus, the varnish will protect your artwork too.

Aimful Coloring Books have simple and complex designs so that you can enjoy both

10. Get inspired. There are many possibilities for coloring. You can find many examples online and see how others colored the same page. Check out our Instagram account. You can steal a few tricks from there, too.

11. Remember not to compare yourself to others.

12. You don’t have to follow the rules. The whole point of coloring is to have fun and relax. It’s okay to go with the flow, too. You can’t mess up—and if you feel like you did, just turn the page!

13. Share your artwork!

You can find a big community of coloring book lovers who will find your approach interesting.

We’d love to see how you’ve done! Tag AimfulBooks on Instagram to get featured.

The Basics

How To Buy A Good Coloring Book

With all the options available, sometimes it’s hard to find a quality book that exceeds your expectations. Too many cheap coloring books flood the market and often they don’t offer a truly satisfying experience.

Here are some characteristics to keep in mind when buying a coloring book for adults:

Theme & Design

Most coloring books have a central theme; maybe they’re mandalas or tree leaves. Choose a book with themes that interest you.

Do you prefer realistic images that you can bring to life through colors? Or maybe you want to get lost in symbols or oriental elements? There are coloring books that contain only geometric designs; some others have only freehand designs.

We recommend you experiment with various design styles, especially if you are a beginner, since that is a great way to find what works best for you.

Who knows, maybe you’ll find a theme that becomes your next obsession. The best thing about adult coloring is that you don’t have to be good at drawing, right? You can enjoy illustrations artists have prepared for you and add your colors to them.

Whether you’re a fan of doodle art, portraits, animals, tattoo art, flowers, or abstract art, there’s a coloring book for you.

Aimful Books street art coloring book series has a bit of everything.
They are designed so you won’t get bored coloring the same style over and over again.

Shopping for a gift and can’t decide on a theme? You can’t go wrong with this affordable one.


The coloring pages of The Ultimate Street Art Coloring Book are authorized replicas of over a hundred well-known muralists and street artists.

Murals from all over the world, from famous neighborhoods such as Brooklyn and Wynwood to big cities like Los Angeles and Paris, and hidden gems from Australia to Jordan.

Each coloring page is different, just like every artist is different. You will not believe the variety of designs you can color.

Paper Quality

When choosing a coloring book, make sure its pages can withstand stress and ink saturation. Thin pages are terrible for blending and building color, minor bleeding is understandable, but too much will ruin your experience.

Quality paper should be as thick and white as possible. If you choose to download digital prints, be sure to print them on thick paper, 180 gsm or higher.

Quality thick paper is especially important for folks who prefer crayons, markers, watercolors, gel pens, or other coloring tools that are more concentrated and intense in color.

Book Quality

Coloring books come in different formats: hardcover and softcover. Softcover or paperback books are cheaper and great for transporting: they are flexible and easy to carry wherever you go.

Hardcover books are bound with cardboard that doesn’t spoil quickly, keeping your pages safe for many years.

AimfulBooks - Images - Jason Botkin Mural + USACB Cover

If you find a coloring book you love, get the hardcover for your coffee table!

Adult coloring books are also sewn binding or spiral binding. What you choose is up to you. If you are more outdoorsy, we recommend a spiral-bound book, as it is easy to fold.

Detachable Pages

Has it ever happened to you that you have finished coloring a page and are so happy with the result that you want to show it off but can’t? It’s a shame when your artwork has to stay hidden among the pages of a book.

Choose adult coloring books with removable pages so you can take the artwork out of the book and frame it. Your finished coloring page can make for a meaningful gift for friends and family or art for your walls.

Hint: Our original coloring books have removable pages.


We understand complexity in coloring books. Are you a beginner or not very patient with little details? We recommend you stay away from illustrations heavy in detail and focus on pages with simple outlines. Look for repetitive patterns like flowers or mandalas. 

On the other hand, if you are experienced or looking for more extended hours of coloring, you will appreciate the imaginative and complicated illustrations typically found in premium or branded coloring books. Avoid the common cheap coloring books for that.

We’ve designed coloring books with different levels of difficulty. Our coloring pages range from minimal to very detailed and complex. 


Most coloring books are either a form of self-expression or simply a business. We like companies that have a mission. Finding coloring books with a mission might not be as common, but worth it, right? Check out this mission.

The Basics

Choosing The Right Coloring Tools

Wondering what medium to use? While colored pencils are the most common tool coloring book enthusiasts use, it is by no means the only one.

Some say you are what you eat, but can we say the same about coloring? Well, kind of.

colored pencils, markers, watercolors, even sharpies… they all produce different results. Street artists, fine artists, muralists, and coloring book lovers know that choosing the right medium makes or breaks the results. Brand preferences may vary, accessibility and affordability too—and that’s okay!

Here’s what you need to know when choosing the coloring tools for your book:

Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are the most popular medium adult coloring enthusiasts use by far. They are great for rendering art styles that are expressive, abstract, realistic, or highly detailed. You can make blends that are so smooth they resemble oil paintings!

Although it takes time to layer down colors compared to other mediums like markers or watercolors, they’re unmatched in control and precision. colored pencils can even be erased when other mediums can’t, so there is less pressure to get it right the first time. With colored pencils, you don’t have to worry about making a mess. You can relax, color with minimal supplies or planning, and color wherever you are.

Now, when combined with other mediums such as markers, watercolor, crayons, or gel pens, the results are truly exceptional. Try it out. Lay down a vibrant color foundation with markers and add details and finishing touches with colored pencils.

The results might change your perspective about mixing mediums.

There are three types of colored pencils: wax-based, oil-based, and water-soluble. But what’s the difference?

Wax-Based Pencils

There are two types of wax-based colored pencil leads: soft and hard.

Wax is used in most colored pencils because it produces a smooth application. The pigment flows across the surface and allows you to apply numerous layers without fear of smudging the page.

Hard pencils are usually made for students, while soft pencils are preferred for professional use.

Many artists prefer soft colored pencils because they lay down color quickly and blend beautifully. Soft-colored pencils are smooth and have a waxy feeling—they can produce vibrant colors. The downside is that you need to sharpen them more often.

Hard-colored pencils can be sharpened to a very thin point that won’t break. This enables you to draw delicate lines ideal for detailed artwork and textures. On the other hand, they may also be less enjoyable because they require more effort to apply color to the page. You will need to press harder, making blending more challenging.

Oil Based Pencils

Oil-based pencils have wax in them, but they have a high oil content. They are firmer than wax-based pencils, which means they’re less likely to break and don’t need to be sharpened as often.

They don’t color as quickly as soft pencils, but for some artists who prefer better control over the color application, this may be an advantage. The drawbacks are that oil-based pencils smudge more easily and are harder to erase. They can also be more expensive than wax-based pencils. In terms of quality, there isn’t much difference between wax and oil-based pencils. It all comes down to application.

Water-Soluble Pencils

You might know these pencils as watercolors. They can be used dry, just like ordinary colored pencils, but they have a water-soluble gum binder that allows the pigments to be diluted with water.


With this kind of colored pencil, you can create watercolor paintings by adding water and using a blending brush. Apply the color as you would with ordinary pencils, then go over with a brush you dipped in water beforehand. 

There are other ways to use them as well—using them on a vet paper or dripping the tip of the pencil in water, for instance. This technique produces lovely soft strokes! It could be tricky to get used to water-soluble pencils at first, but if you’re fond of paintings, you should try them in your coloring book.


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So What Pencils Should I Buy?

Your choice of pencils depends on personal preference and the artistic style you want to achieve. We like smooth pencils on the page that have a waxy feel. But we also like mixing different colored pencils on the same artwork!

Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when purchasing colored pencils:

You may find “student grade” and “artist grade” colored pencils.

Artist-grade pencils have more pigment, which gives you richer colors; they are usually softer, making them easier to blend. 

If your budget permits, we recommend investing in higher-quality materials; you will find it more enjoyable to color.


If you’re a beginner, if you like to color from anywhere, and if you prefer an affordable option, these dual-coloring pencils are for you.

The pencils come in a small box that can be carried anywhere. They are excellent pencils for shading and creating gradation effects.

Each dual pencil features complementary light and dark tips that make color transitions easy.

Once you’ve mastered the art of coloring with pencils, you may want to take it up a notch and look for professional options. Some of the most recognized brands are Prismacolor, Faber- Castell, Derwent, and Arteza.


Markers create bright, vibrant colors in a wide variety of shades and are easy to hold. 

Most markers are made of pigment suspended in either water or alcohol, a solution that dries and leaves the color behind. Their tips are great for precision coloring and outlining, but because markers are permanent and erasers don’t work, they can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with them. 

But no need to worry; they are easier to use than you think! Because they’re easy to use and dry quickly, markers are an excellent option for outdoor coloring and perfect for travel.

Types of Markers: There are two different kinds of markers in the market: water-based and alcohol-based. So, which one do you choose?

Water-Based Markers

Commonly found in cheap sets made for children, there are quality markers made for artists, too. Quality markers don’t bleed through the paper as much, which makes them excellent tools for coloring books.


They take more time to dry, so you don’t have to rush. But one disadvantage is that you can damage the paper if you put too much color. They can also leave some “streaks“ when the colors are overlapped to create a solid fill.

Alcohol-Based Markers

Alcohol-based markers, or “permanent markers”, are the preferred choice of artists. They blend more smoothly and give you more freedom in layering shades, tints, and gradients by overlaying colors, but they dry very quickly so you have to work faster.

You can also find them in a wider color range than water-based markers. On the downside, they are more likely to bleed through paper, so they are not ideal for double-sided coloring books. They tend to be more expensive than water-based markers, but, of course, the price justifies the quality.


Markers have different types of nibs (tips). Different tips have different levels of precision and are suitable for several techniques.

  • Bullet Tip — Most common type, effective for covering small areas.
  • Fine Point — Good for details and thin lines.
  • Brush Tip — Spreads ink smoothly with softer strokes, flexible like a brush, the harder you press the thicker the line will be (Recommended).
  • Chisel/Broad Tip — Can cover larger areas quickly, allows for both thicker and thinner lines.

Tips for Coloring with Markers — Here are some essential tips that might help you out when starting with markers:

  • Have a separate piece  of the same paper you’re coloring so you can test colors before applying them on your page.
  • Keep in mind that colors can look different on paper than what you see on the marker’s barrel.
  • Color the lightest shades first. You can always go darker by adding more color, but you can’t go the other way around.
  • Plan out highlights and white areas in advance. You can’t erase markers!
  • Using light pressure creates a smoother color. If you press too hard, you could end up with streaks and uneven color!
  • Color in quickly! Speed can be essential. The ink has time to dry and form streaks if you go too slow.
  • Once you are done coloring with markers, use colored pencils to add the finishing touches.


Adult coloring fans should have crayons in their arsenal. The boldness of a crayon color and the smooth, waxy application makes coloring with them a relaxing experience.

Wondering why children love them? They are easy to apply and inexpensive. Plus, coloring with crayons could save up on your precious pencils or markers. Have a set on hand and use it to color the large areas.


Here are some tips for coloring with crayons:

  • Choose a coloring book with heavier-weight paper; it will hold more pigments from the crayons.
  • Color in one direction—you don’t want your page to look too scribbly.
  • Use light colors first and then add darker ones on top.
  • Use a sharpener. You can get those fine details from coloring—sharpeners are not only for pencils!
  • You can blend crayons using baby oil and a cotton swab! You will be able to soften all those hard edges and use crayons a little like a watercolor pencil. (More about that in this tutorial).


Many people shy away from watercolors because they fear it’s too complicated. At first, painting with watercolors can be challenging. Still, it’s easy and inexpensive to get started: 

All you need is paint, water, and a brush. Whether you want to use watercolors as your primary artistic medium or as a base for your colored pencils, the rewards of this somewhat unpredictable medium are huge.


Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • The thicker paper, the better! We recommend using 200 gsm paper (like our books), but the thicker, the better.
  • Mix only two colors at a time — Combining too many colors can result in a brown and muddy mess.
  • Use a large jar and change the water frequently. Water becomes dirty quite fast.
  • Use a light touch. The beauty of watercolor paint is in its transparency and brightness. Use less water on the brush for better color control but less transparency. For greater transparency, add more water. Find a balance that works for you.
  • You can use a paper towel to remove excess color while it’s still wet and make the color lighter.
  • Plan out white areas in advance. Avoid them carefully, or you can apply masking liquid over these areas to protect them. It dries into a rubber material you can easily rub out with your finger.

All right, we’ve covered the basics and shared some simple but crucial tips with you. Let’s start diving into color theory and beginner techniques now.

Beginner Techniques

Choosing The Right Colors

The Color Wheel

The color wheel is a tool that helps you pick color combinations—or “color schemes”—that will look good together and harmonize—guaranteed.

Let’s take a look at the color wheel and learn how to use it in your adult coloring book:

The basic color wheel consists of 12 colors. 

The three primary colors are red (magenta), yellow and blue. They are called primary colors because they can’t be made with any combination of other colors. Conversely, all other colors are a combination of these three colors. Cool, uh?

That brings us to the secondary colors, which are also three: green, orange, and purple (violet). Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors. For example, red and yellow make orange.

Tertiary colors are made by combining a primary color with a secondary color. There are six: Yellow-Orange, Red-Orange, Red-Purple, Blue-Purple, Blue-Green, and Yellow-Green.

Artists and designers use the color wheel to select colors not only to create harmony but to communicate ideas, influence minds, and determine formulas. A designer trying to create a sense of energy and optimism will search for red, yellow, and orange hues in the color wheel.

An excellent way to split the color wheel is by dividing it into two: warm and cold colors.

Colors that belong to the warm half of the color wheel are those from yellow to red-purple, as well as most varieties of browns. 

Warm colors usually represent energetic scenes and activities. They tend to make us think of warm things such as heat, fire, and sun. They invoke a sense of positivity, energy, and playfulness. 

Choose warm colors if you want certain areas of your coloring page to be prominent and draw attention.

Cool colors are located on the other half of the wheel, from yellow-green to purple, with most grays included too. 

Cool colors represent relaxing scenes and elements from nature, such as winter, oceans, sky, and water. Cool colors make you feel calm, relaxed and refreshed. 

You can make a specific area or object in your artwork blend into the background by using cool colors. Since cold colors lack warmth, we often use them for shadows instead of black.

Beginner Techniques

Finding Harmony In Your Colors

Every artwork needs to find harmony, just like your coloring pages. What is harmony? Harmony is a pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts. When you see harmony, you immediately recognize it and lean towards it naturally.

That’s because our brains find it difficult to get stimulated by dull color combinations and have a hard time focusing on frenzied, chaotic color combinations. You can find or create harmony in coloring, music, poetry, or even wedding cakes.

Beginners often end up with a coloring page that looks scattered and not always pleasing to the eye. It’s usually caused by the popular technique we like to call the shut-your-eyes-and-grab-a-color approach.

If you want to improve your coloring, start practicing mindfulness. Be mindful of the colors and color combinations you choose. The more harmonious they are, the more pleasing your results will be.

Fortunately, there’s a quick way to plan harmony on your coloring page.

We can explain harmony in a variety of ways. The following graphics and descriptions provide some fundamental formulas that can help you create your harmonious color palette. Let’s look at some formulas for Color Harmony:

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are any three colors that are next to each other. They can be red-purple, red and red-orange, or any other group of three colors next to each other. This combination of colors is usually pleasing to the eye. Keep that in mind when coloring

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are any two colors that directly look at each other on the opposite ends of the color wheel. Such colors are red and green, blue and orange, etc. These colors enhance one another. You can find many examples in nature. Using these colors will give contrast to your page. If you want something to stand out in your drawing, then make sure to use some complementary colors!

Triadic Colors

A triadic color scheme is three colors equally spaced out in the wheel, forming a triangle with even angles. Colors in this scheme usually give a vibrant feeling to your coloring page. You should be mindful when coloring with a triadic color scheme since it requires more balancing than the previous color schemes. Still, when done right, it adds life to your art!

Split Complementary Colors

The split complementary color scheme consists of three colors and is similar to the triadic coloring scheme. This one has two colors that are complementary to the third color that’s on the opposite side of the wheel. It creates a powerful contrast and can mak

Tetradic Colors

The tetradic color scheme is four colors in two pairs of complementary colors. It works great if you want greater variety on your coloring page. You should be mindful of balancing between warm and cold colors; working with both pairs can be tricky. Making one

Square Tetradic Colors

The square tetradic scheme is like the tetradic colors with the difference that the two pairs are equally distanced from each other on the color wheel and form a square when connected. As with the tetradic scheme, you should try to balance warm and cold color


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Beginner Techniques

Tints, Tones & Shades

When trying to make a color lighter or darker by adding white, gray, and black to your original color (hue), you’re doing either tinting, toning, or shading.

But even with just one pencil, you can get many different colors by changing the pressure or number of layers. A red pencil, for example, can make a range of pink shades depending on how much pressure you apply or how many layers you add.

Coloring with tints, shades, and tones adds depth and life to your coloring page. Coloring with a simple solid color and no variety doesn’t.

Wondering when to shade or tint your coloring book? Well, we would suggest always!

You shouldn’t leave an area in just one plain color. In larger sets of colored pencils, there are usually a few shades, tones, and tints already included. 

If you don’t have those big sets of pencils and colors, that’s all right! You can achieve the same effect by coloring white, gray, or black on top of a base color.

Let’s look at how tints, tones, and shades fill in the color wheel:

Tints are often called pastels. Tinting an object in your artwork will make it stand out from the surroundings. You can color a part of an element by tinting it to make it look like light is hitting it at an angle. Apply tinting on your coloring page to create a soft, calm, youthful mood.

Toning is an excellent way to give an object the impression of moving away from its surroundings. Apply toning to your color palette to make your artwork look realistic.
Adding shadows can be used for various effects, such as making an element look mysterious and strong. That’s called shading.


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Beginner Techniques

Creating Your Color Palette

Now that you understand the basics of color theory and the color wheel, it’s time to select the colors for your next masterpiece: Choosing a color palette.

Sometimes professionals spend hours creating the perfect color palette. Picking the right one is not always easy, but don’t feel intimidated. While the color wheel is logical and invaluable for avoiding jarring color schemes, it’s not an exact science, and there is much room for creativity. Using the color wheel can be a lot of fun. 

We recommend making it easier on yourself by applying “design seeds” that you can find online. You can search for them based on the colors you like. Here are some ideas:

There are also color palette generators you can find online. With a few clicks you can find the right colors for your next coloring page!

But if you decide to make your palette from scratch, we are here to help you, too. Before choosing the colors for your palette, ask yourself: what mood do you want to convey? Is your coloring page to be cheerful, gloomy, energetic, romantic, peaceful?

Different colors evoke different emotions. You can transfer your emotions to the page by choosing the colors that match them, too. Are you feeling blue? Or are you feeling purple?

Here are three methods to choose your color palette:

Method A: Keep it Simple

Choose three colors from the 12-point color wheel to create your “base” palette:

• Choose one primary color that you will use on most of the coloring page. This color will set the tone for the colored-in design as a whole.

• Choose a secondary color to back up the main color. This color should either be next to the primary color on the color wheel for a calming effect or directly opposite from it for an energetic look.

• Select a third color to act as a highlight. This color should contrast with the first and second colors.

Method B: Mix It Up a Bit

• Select three colors from one point of the color wheel: a basic color plus tints, tones, and shades.

• Add another three colors from a point that is at least three spaces away on the color wheel. The difference in colors will add visual interest to your color scheme while maintaining harmony and balance.

Whether you use Method A or Method B, you are not limited to just the colors you have chosen:

• One of the easiest ways to create a great-looking color scheme and to add impact is to use black, white, and gray on their own on some elements.

• Make Blends: Mix your selected colors to create an exciting range of colors that don’t clash.

Dive right in and remember: everything you try is a learning experience. There are no mistakes—only experience!

Here are a couple of color combinations you can consider using for your palette:

Monochromatic Color Palette

Monochromatic color schemes are different tones, hues, and tints within a single color. Since they are all based on the same color, they are the easiest color schemes to make. Monochromatic coloring is not complicated, but your page could look dull and repetitive if done incorrectly. (These tutorials will help you get it right). Adding a neutral color, such as white, gray, or black, might help to keep things interesting.

Complementary Color Palette

You can’t go wrong if you choose complementary colors for your palette. They go with each other already. This color combination is perfect if you want to add contrast to your coloring page. We recommend you choose one color as dominant and use its complementary color as a highlight for areas in your page you want to bring out.

Analogous Color Palette

Choosing colors close to each other on the color wheel is pleasing to the eye. Use it to evoke a calming mood in your coloring page.

Pastel Color Palette

While light and dreamy, using pale and soft tints as your dominant colors can go a long way. Pastel colors can help your coloring page evoke calmness, warmth, and softness.
Visit Our Pinterest Board for More Palette Ideas.

Beginner Techniques

Simple Tricks to Color with Pencils

Most people prefer to use colored pencils in their adult coloring books because pencils are precise. Colored pencils are easy to use and can mimic other mediums quite well.

They are available in a wide color range, more extensive than other mediums. They are clean to use; no need to worry about color bleeding out. And if we were to measure control and ability to blend, there’s no equal to them. We can go on!

We’ll cover wonderful techniques with other mediums, but we will primarily focus on colored pencils in The Ultimate Coloring Tutorial for Your Adult Coloring Books. To get started with the technique portion of this tutorial, here are a few simple tricks to add to your practice when coloring with pencils:

  • Hold your colored pencils farther from the point than you’d do with ballpoint pens or markers. This will give you finer control over pressure.

  • When pressing the pencil harder, you’ll add more saturation to the color—this doesn’t darken it. If you want to darken a color, you use a slightly darker variant of the same color, gray, black, or even other colors and color over it. (We go over it in detail later).

  • Try to mix and blend colors you have to get the hues, tones, and shades you want. You won’t always have a fitting pencil for every color you need for your coloring, but you can do wonders with what you have.

  • Don’t rush with layering colors—depending on the paper thickness, getting a clean color without the white from the paper showing might take multiple layers.

  • Avoid using black for shadows. Use darker shades of blues, browns, or purples instead. Use black for the darkest areas only.

  • You can lighten a color using lighter shades of color or white pencil over it—no need for erasing.

  • Don’t press too hard. It’s easier to layer and blend colors when you use the right pressure. You’ll break the tips of your pencils and have hand fatigue if you press too hard.

  • Sharpen your pencils. You will have more control over the pressure if you keep your pencils sharp. Plus, dull pencils can give you unwanted results. You’ll also need them sharp for detailed areas.

Beginner Techniques

Layering Colors

Every professional artist begins with the basics, one step at a time. If you are dreading ruining your coloring page, don’t. Adult coloring books are about having fun!

That said, consider taking a step-by-step approach for an enhanced experience. (Wink, wink).

Layering Colors

Let’s start with the critical technique you should learn to dominate: layering. What is layering? The layering method involves putting one color on top of another to get the desired effect. 

There are a couple of reasons you would want to layer your strokes: to create an even color, to create shadows and highlights, to create colors you don’t have in your set, or to add depth to your coloring.

There are four basic methods to layer your coloring book: back-and-forth movement, hatching, cross-hatching, and circular motion.

Back-and-Forth Movement

Let’s start with adding our first layer. The first thing you’ll need to do is create a clean, base color. The easiest way to apply color is coloring with a “back and forth” movement. This coloring technique is so basic you’ve undoubtedly done it before.

Move your pencil back and forth in one continuous motion on the paper until you cover the entire area. Keep your pressure light and even throughout the whole area.

Avoid starting with a heavy first layer; it can ruin your work.

Make sure to apply color in one direction. You don’t want to end up with uneven parts.


Another way of building your first layer is by a technique called hatching. It’s very similar to the back-and-forth method.

Make parallel lines on your paper. They can be vertical, horizontal, or angled. Unlike the back-and-forth method, you will pick up your pencil to create each new line. Your first layer is going to be lightly saturated and will look faded, but that’s okay.


You will make a richer color by applying multiple layers. For your second layer, do the same method as before, but this time color in a different direction, intersecting the lines you already made. This is called cross-hatching. You can add as many layers as needed to fill the white space, but each time you do, go in a different direction. Easy, right?

Once you know how to make a base color, it’s time to add some flavor to it. Shadows and highlights are crucial to give your coloring page a professional look. You are familiar with tints and shades now—let’s look at how to layer them properly.


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Layering Shadows

When it comes to shadows, there are a couple of ways you can add them:

  • Use black over your color
  • Use a darker shade of your base color
  • Use a complementary color

Black Pencil Over Base Color

We recommend you use black only if you don’t have a variety of pencils to choose from. By adding black, you are making a shade of your desired color.

Start by adding one or two layers of your desired color. Let’s use blue as an example. Make sure not to press too hard because you should still have some space for the other pencil.

Use black on top of the blue very lightly. Don’t worry about blending for now; we’ll get to it later.

Once you’ve put a light layer of black pencil, go over it with the blue pencil again, using different directions. You can do this process several times until your paper gets saturated.

Darker Pencil Over Base Color

Using a darker shade of your base color instead of black gives you more control over the pigment you’re applying.

The process is the same, except you don’t have to worry about putting too much pigment like you would with black.

Complementary Pencil Over Base Color

Another way to make soothing shadows is to use complementary colors instead of black pencils or darker shades of the same color. With this simple technique, you can get exceptional and professional results!

By adding color from the other side of the color wheel, you are making a neutral color that will, in most cases, turn into shades of brown or gray. Here is an example:

Layering Tints and Highlights

Different quality pencils will give you different results. Obviously, right? You should know that wax-based pencils are the most suitable for tinting since they make it easier to layer lighter shades on top of the darker ones.

There are a few ways of making tints:

  • Use white over your color
  • Use a tinted version of your base color
  • Use pressure shading

When using a lighter shade of your mid-tone color for tinting, it’s easier to layer from lighter shades to darker.

So, let’s say you are using orange to color an area. We will use cream color as a tint and brown as a shade. Start with the cream color first and add orange after—like this:

White pencils can be pretty handy. Once you try coloring with one, you wouldn’t want to go without it again. Not every colored pencil set has a white color, but if you can get one, you won’t regret it!

If you’re using soft-core pencils, use a white pencil on top of the few layers of mid-tone color. Make sure your color is evenly spread before adding white.

If your pencils are firmer, make one layer with light pressure on the area you want to highlight before using a white pencil.

Using a white pencil is a great way to blend color as well.

If you’re limited with the number of pencils at your disposal, don’t sweat it. You can also create a tint with a single pencil by applying a lighter stroke. Here is an example of tinting with the same pencil:

Now that you are all caught up with the foundational coloring technique for coloring books, let’s make it fun. Next, we will take a look at coloring gradients.

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Beginner Techniques

Color Gradients

It’s advantageous to understand how to make gradients in your coloring books not only with colored pencils but with any coloring medium. 

Do you want to make multiple colors flow naturally? You should know it’s all about control.  
In the previous lesson, you learned how to transition colors evenly from darker shades to lighter ones and vice versa. That lesson will come in handy now since the method is similar, except now you will be transitioning two different colors.

The number of pencils you’ll need for making color gradients depends on the colors you want to transition. At a minimum, you’ll need two different colored pencils to create a color gradient. 

Pro tip—Adding additional shades of your two colors will get you a richer gradient. 

For example, if you’re creating a gradient from red to yellow, consider adding orange in between after you layered red and yellow together. 

If you go, let’s say, from purple to yellow, then there are a lot more colors in between you can use—remember the color wheel!

Let’s take a look at a sample starting with a red pencil:

Make a smooth color by layering on areas where there’s only red. As you move towards the orange zone, gradually use less and less pressure. 

Move to orange pencil. Start layering with light pressure on top of the area where red and orange merge. Once you move past it, add a couple of orange layers on a blank area. 

Orange is going to transition into yellow. Repeat the process where the colors meet.

Don’t get too hung up on getting it perfect the first couple of tries. It can be tricky to make a flawless transition between colors, especially if they have different undertones. Start slow and enjoy the process! 

If the transition doesn’t look as smooth in the beginning, there are blending tricks that can help you with that. We’ll cover that later in this tutorial. Stay tuned!

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Beginner Techniques

Blending Colors

We’ve reached the most satisfying part of coloring: Blending colors in your adult coloring book!

Blending might seem a bit challenging when you first start coloring, but it becomes easier over time. When applying the blending technique, the rough lines between the different pigments and strokes are smoothed out.

Sure, it can be time-consuming (isn’t that the point, wink). You’ll be switching between several pencils, from different colors to tints, tones, or shades. Keep the reward in mind: a coloring page that has been blended looks way more appealing to the eye! It’s a piece of art!

There are different blending techniques. Some of them involve the use of additional supplies, and some of them do not. It’s essential to try out each method before applying it to your page.

We’ll share with you the best ways to blend colors in your coloring book:

Blending by Pencil Layering

The easiest and most natural way to blend colored pencils doesn’t require additional supplies. You’re already blending every time you lay one color on top of another, after all. ­­

However, you could benefit from learning to layer pencils properly; it’s the foundation for all other blending techniques you’re about to discover!

Let’s go over this blending technique first. It’s called burnishing.


Begin with light layers and work your way up to the desired color.

Burnishing is a blending technique in which you use heavy pressure to “rub” layers of color together—it’s like a level-up to layering.

As you apply more layers of color, you gradually need to use more pressure to place wax on the paper. It removes the remaining paper’s tooth, leaving only the color visible. This will make your coloring page look more “polished” and professional.

It takes more time than layering, but the process can be very satisfying—many of our coloring enthusiasts love using this technique in our books. But be careful with pressure: You need to press only as hard as you need to get the color on the paper; your hand shouldn’t hurt while pressing.

(Paper’s tooth describes the surface feel of the paper. Generally, the more tooth a paper has, the rougher it feels. You could easily exchange the term for the words “texture” — Nitram Fine Arts Charcoal)

There are different types of burnishing:

  • Saturation Burnishing
  • Tonal Burnishing

Saturation Burnishing

The difference between saturation burnishing and standard burnishing is that you’re using a neutral color to burnish instead of your color. Burnish with a white pencil or a variety of grays.

Most people use white, but you should know that applying white may lighten and slightly desaturate your colors, but if that’s the effect you want to achieve, then that won’t be a problem. This technique is crucial when it comes to realistic pencil coloring and is effective for coloring skin tones in your adult coloring book.

Tonal Burnishing

The process is the same as saturation burnishing. The only difference is that you use a “toning color” instead of neutral color.

Use a lighter color. It will smooth colors you previously burnished together. It can be a shade similar to your base color or a totally different color from the color wheel. It all depends on what you want to achieve. We will talk a little bit more about this in the next lesson.

Blending with Colorless Blenders

Colorless blenders contain wax-based cores. They are basically colored pencils with no pigment.

Professional artists usually carry colorless blenders in their arsenal because they are great tools for blending. They work by adding extra wax to the wax already on the paper and helping move and mix the pigments. This creates a far smoother transition between the colors you already added to the coloring page.

An advantage of using this tool is that it won’t leave extra pigment in the paper as when you burnish just with pencils. Blending is quicker and easier with colorless blender pencils, and they will also help you create a glossy look! A disadvantage is that while it’s perfect for small areas, it can be time-consuming when applied over large areas.

How to use them:
Firstly, ensure there is enough pigment on your paper before using a colorless blender to get even coverage. For that, add multiple layers of color.

You can blend using lighter pressure, but it works best when you burnish. We recommend using this tool after you’re done putting colors on the surface, as applying another layer of color after you burnish can be a bit difficult.


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Blending with Solvents

Solvents are liquids that melt the binders that hold the pigment together in colored pencils, giving the artwork a similar effect as watercolors. Using solvents is one of the best methods to get a smooth color. They eliminate pencil strokes, leaving you with a smooth surface.

Unlike burnishing, this is a quick way to blend colors since you won’t have to add as many layers. Once you put a couple of layers, use a paintbrush or cotton swab, dab it in a solvent and brush your color with light pressure. Be careful not to add too much solvent; it can cause edges to feather.

This technique is perfect for blending large areas and for blurring effects.

If you plan to use solvents, make sure the paper is thick enough, you don’t want to damage your artwork by adding solvent to paper that can’t take it (ours can). Also, work cautiously—too much pressure can wipe off the pigment.

Solvents can be toxic and must be used with caution. If this makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay. There are other similar ways to blend pencils, and we will explore them, too.

Blending with Baby Oil

We know it sounds odd, but this is actually a very popular way of blending colored pencils—and an affordable one too! You might even have baby oil at home, or you can pick one up at the store on your next visit.

It’s an effortless technique—use cotton swabs to dab the baby oil over the colored surface to make the perfect finishing touch. Unlike solvents, baby oil is completely safe and toxic-free!

Blending with Rubbing Alcohol

The wax binders found in colored pencils are broken down into small pieces by rubbing alcohol. The pigments move around the surface and fill in white spaces seen through color. Using rubbing alcohol in your coloring page will create a pleasant, light blend.

Make sure the paper has enough pigment before applying alcohol to get the best results. Use painting brushes, cotton swabs, or cotton balls to blend with the alcohol. Because this product is mild, you can use a bristle brush to scrub it lightly on thick paper.

Whether you use solvents, baby oil, or alcohol for blending, give it some time to dry before adding more layers on top. Wait at least 15 minutes to ensure the paper is ready for more saturation.


Free Print-At-Home Coloring Pages To Practice

You’re now familiar with some of the best techniques any coloring beginner could easily apply in their coloring books. Grab your coloring book and color some pages. Practice and enjoy the experience!

If you don’t have a coloring book yet, take a look at the Aimful Books shop. We have a great selection of coloring books for you.

Can’t afford it at the moment? We got your back. Download free printables to color at home by signing up below. You will also receive this tutorial on your email along with access to new coloring tutorials and advanced techniques.

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Have you mastered the beginner coloring techniques? What follows are exciting tips and tricks to level up your coloring experience to the intermediate level. Keep going!

Intermediate Techniques

Mixing Colors

We explored layering and blending in the beginner technique lessons, the most important methods you will use in your adult coloring books. Now, we will examine intermediate techniques that will surely add life to your coloring pages.

Have you ever wondered how to mix colors the right way? In this lesson, we will focus on recreating the colors you see in an image, regardless of whether you have those specific colors among your pencils or not.

Learning to mix colors not only provides you with the ability to make the ones you don’t have—useful for folks who don’t have big sets of colored pencils—but also adds depth to your artwork. That will give your adult coloring pages a professional look.

You would be surprised at how many other colors you can get by mixing the ones you have. 

Get out of your comfort zone and remove the limitations of coloring your pages using only the colors you have. Creating more precise shades will come to you naturally over time.

Having a reference photo is very useful for practicing. (We recommend you try replicating the colors from the street art that inspired this book— full-color images are included in a directory in the back).

Creating Colors

To make your own colors layer the colored pencils you already have. We’ll start with two pencils, but you can add more than two colors and get more variety.

The result you’re going to get by mixing two colors depends on which color is dominant and which one is mixing. The dominant color—the one you use for your first layer—should be stronger than the mixing color. Add more layers of your first color and add the mixing color in only one layer.

For example, if we choose red as a dominant color and yellow as a mixing color, you’ll get a darker shade of orange that leans toward the red. This is how you can make a variety of orange colors! Here is the color chart for a demonstration:

Mixing colors with the same undertones is going to be more manageable. For instance, you will find it easier to mix two warm colors rather than one warm and one cold color.

We’ve talked about tonal burnishing in the beginner techniques section. Now would be a good time to try it out! You can use a burnishing technique with your mixing color or add a third color to burnish your adult coloring book.

Adding Depth

How do you add depth to your adult coloring book page? Here are a few ways:

Adding colors that might seem unusual to use can give you vibrant results—layering blue on a skin-tone, or using yellow for tinting water, for instance.

Using analogous colors instead of coloring an entire area in just one color with its shades.

Another way to make your artwork more colorful and artistic is to include colors from the background as a reflection on your main objects.

Intermediate Techniques

Adding Texture

If you want something to appear realistic, you must consider more than simply adding color, shades, and highlights. When you color, how often do you focus even on the most apparent textures? Hardly ever, right? Beginners spend a lot of time making their colors as smooth as possible.

We say—give yourself the freedom not to blend!

Take notice of your surroundings. Is real life a mixture of blends, or are there more textures in the room where you’re right now than you realized? The less blending you do, the more opportunities you’ll have to explore the world of unique small strokes.

How do you incorporate exciting textures in your adult coloring book?

Adding texture to your coloring page does not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. There are so many different textures you can make with a single pencil.

For starters, you must consider what texture you want your object to have. Is it rough or smooth? Firm or soft? Glossy or matte? Bumpy, furry, transparent, heavy, or is it light?

Have you ever tried coloring a tree? It doesn’t look natural with the standard coloring techniques because tree barks are not smooth. You can get the right shades of color, but it still won’t look authentic without the right texture.

Now that you know what to look for, keep these stroke styles in mind that help you recreate textures:

  • stripes or streaks
  • flicks (long, short, straight, curved, curly, etc)
  • stippling (dots)
  • circles and scumbling (messy twisted spirals)
  • zigzags (regimental or random)
  • organic strokes (light touch downs that vary in size and shape)
  • smooth blend (that’s a texture too!)

The first thing you should do is layer a smooth base, then add texture over it. You can use the same color or a different one for that.


The splotching technique means adding bits of colors here and there while leaving out areas to be colored around it. While blending means layering colors together, splotching means keeping each color separate. Once you build up a texture, you can shade a color over it to make shadows.


Have you considered using an eraser instead of a colored pencil to make your textures? Once you’ve layered your base color, go over it with an eraser (using the stroke techniques mentioned earlier). It will expose the layers underneath. We recommend using pencil erasers, kneaded rubber, or electric erasers for greater precision.


You can even use a solvent to make soothing textures. Use a dabbing motion with a brush or a cotton swab to dissolve the pigment in some areas here and there, but make sure not to blend colors.


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Intermediate Techniques

Monochromatic Coloring

Many drawing tools are available today, but graphite continues to be the most common by far. If you have ever drawn anything with a pencil, chances are that the pencil was made with graphite. Graphite pencils are the preferred tool for drawing. But here’s the little-known fact most people forget: you can also use them to color your coloring book!

Now is the time to learn how to apply shading with a good ol’ pencil! Watch the video below to get a better understanding! We’ve taken a page from the Ultimate Street Art Coloring Book based on a mural by street artist Tanner Wilson. Every page of the book is a replica of a mural, and there are over one hundred artists in the book! Quite the variety!

Let’s understand this medium a bit better. Did you know graphite pencil leads are primarily composed of graphite and clay? The more graphite the pencil has, the softer and darker it is, and the more clay, the lighter and harder it is.

The hardest pencil in a typical set is a 9H, while the softest is a 9B.

The combination of letters and numbers written on each pencil’s end can be used to determine how hard or soft it is. Like this:

  • H: Hard
  • F: Fine Point
  • HB: Hard Black
  • B: Black

Hard pencils provide crisp, light, and clean lines that are excellent for architectural drawings and sketches. Because they don’t create smudges, they are great for outlines but terrible for blending with them.

Be careful when highlighting or shading on paper while using hard, pointed pencils because they can leave deep ridges that are challenging to erase.

Soft pencils provide dark, dull lines that are simple to blend. Soft pencils are easier to fill in blank spaces, blend, shade, and add texture since they deposit more graphite with less effort.

Each grade of pencil used for shading should only cover a small range of values.

You don’t need a full set of graphite pencils to color your coloring book. You can use just a couple of pencils and do just fine. We recommend the 4H, 2H, B, 2B, and 5B pencils to use the monochromatic technique in your next coloring experience.

Start by adding shading to the page. It is always better to start with the lightest shade. For that, use a 4H pencil.

We will be shading by applying the cross-hatching technique described in the beginner techniques.

Cross-hatching is like parallel hatching, except that new layers are added with parallel lines going in different directions.

Use light pressure and keep the pressure constant throughout each stroke.

coloring page in a frame

Tip: Remember to sharpen your pencils! Just like with coloring pencils, you’ll have more control over shading.

Then we’ll proceed with contour shading. For that, use a 2H pencil. If you don’t have one, find a softer pencil. Put pressure on the pencil’s tip with your index finger to make a darker contour color.

For darker parts of the page, build the light layer underneath with a 2H pencil first to get a smooth look. Then, use B pencils on top.

When a pencil can no longer get any darker, use light to medium pressure and change to a softer one. You can start with a B graphite pencil and then move up to a 5B if needed.

For highlights, you can use an eraser!

We hope you understand the simple steps you must follow to create this unique artwork.

Try it out for yourself, and let us know how it goes!

Tag AimfulBooks when you post your results to get featured!

You’re now familiar with some of the best techniques any coloring beginner could easily apply in their coloring books. Grab your coloring book and color some pages. Practice and enjoy the experience!

In the next intermediate technique lesson we will look at interesting ways to mix mediums.

Intermediate Techniques

Mixing Mediums

Through the lessons in this Ultimate Coloring Tutorial for Your Adult Coloring Books, you must have noticed the fantastic benefits of colored pencils: They are easy to use, available in a wide color range, mimic other mediums… but here’s the thing: Pencils can take a long time to layer!

Coloring pages can take hours and hours—which can be great—but markers, on the other hand, can help you color much faster. They fill the paper’s tooth quickly without the need to add multiple layers. Same with watercolors—you can color an entire area with one brush stroke!

However, getting the fine details and fixing mistakes as you would with colored pencils is way more challenging.

Here’s the solution: Let’s look at how to mix watercolors, markers & crayons the right way.


Many artists, including those featured in our coloring books, choose to combine mediums.

Why not get the best of both worlds? Mixing mediums is easier than it seems. Beginners and experienced coloring enthusiasts can apply this technique with great results quickly.

How should you mix mediums?

Use markers, watercolors or crayons underneath colored pencils as a base layer, then use pencils or crayons to add shadows, highlights, and texture. This method removes all white areas underneath your pencil and speeds up your coloring time.

Pro tip—Use coloring books with adequate thick paper (like ours) that can carry the pressure of adding multiple mediums such as markers or watercolor.

Choose your marker color first, and then choose a colored pencil that is the closest match. Keep in mind that some pencils will layer better than others. Quality sets will give you the freedom of layering light-colored pencils over dark markers. You can even use completely different colors for your base layer (also known as underpainting)—this will give you exciting results.

Use watercolors for the base layer, for example. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if you get an uneven color; you’ll cover it with pencils anyway.

When you’re done applying watercolor, move to the colored pencils.

The best feature of this technique is that you don’t need to add as many layers since you already have a solid foundation. You won’t have to blend or burnish colors as much, either. Focus on shadows and highlights, adding details, and fixing areas.

If you want to keep it simple, only add shadows—there’s no need for numerous details if that’s not your thing.

That’s how you mix mediums properly. Since we already mixed two mediums that work well in quality adult coloring books, Go a step further and add a third finishing medium to the coloring page. Use white gel pens to add prominent highlights. It adds an extra flavor to your work!

Intermediate Techniques

Removing Outlines

If you’re into realistic coloring, the black outlines typical in adult coloring books can give you, by default, a cartoonish effect you may not want. Real life doesn’t have black lines around, duh. We get it.

Outlines are important for coloring books, however. They are the basis of this hobby loved by millions. But sometimes outlines can be too thick or unsuitable for highlighted parts of the artwork. You probably encountered this problem if you tried replicating some of the more realistic original murals that inspired our street art coloring book series.

But did you know that you can change the color of the outlines?

You can make the outlines in a coloring book a completely different color. You can make them less prominent, or white them out completely.

This is a fundamental trick you’ll want to pay close attention to if you want to get realistic-looking artwork in your coloring pages. The good news is that there is only one step to this technique.

All you need to do is trace the black lines of the illustration. For that, you can use a white gel pen or white ink.

Go over the lines and be careful not to cross them. Make sure they are completely dry before coloring inside or over the lines, or you’ll end up with smudges.

You may want to remove the lines entirely or only on some areas you’re looking to color with a light hue.

If you want to color the outlines in some different color, use thin colored markers or gel pens over the newly-created white lines.

You can even make your page look more luxurious by using gold or silver colored gel pen to make your lines stick out. You can get the gilding effects from this easy technique in no time!


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Intermediate Techniques

Simple Tricks to Color Like A Professional Artist

Now that you are on your way to becoming an expert coloring artist, we want to share some useful practices professional artists rely on to create their masterpieces. You may want to incorporate them into your coloring journey:

  • Erasers are your friends. Use an electric eraser, a pen eraser, or a white gel pen for white highlights and details. Thank us later.

  • Leave sections uncolored. Sometimes coloring the whole page can be too much. Leaving out some sections will emphasize other ones.

  • Use references. Observe photos, famous paintings, and other artworks as inspiration for your color palette or as references for shading.

  • Customize your coloring page. There is plenty of space on some pages, so why not add your own elements? You can make patterns or draw extra lines using fine-liner pens.

  • Try out other mediums. Gel pen, ballpoint pen, liners, and rapidograph pens (for monochromatic coloring).

  • Invest in quality supplies. Using high-quality supplies can make a huge difference when it comes to art. If you want your artwork to look professional, now is the time to consider treating yourself to quality pencils.

Advanced Techniques

Exploring Coloring Styles

You might be satisfied with basic and intermediate adult coloring techniques for the rest of your journey in the adult coloring book world— that’s all right!

Adult coloring is meant to help you relax, connect with your inner child, and take a breather. It’s not supposed to be stressful, but only you are responsible for that.

That said, some of you might be past the basic and intermediate techniques we’ve shown you and like to try complex, sophisticated methods. That’s when our advanced coloring techniques can be a lot of fun.

Don’t sweat it. We’ve made them easy to understand. Anyone who takes the time to practice can get good at coloring by following this tutorial. But you gotta practice!

Have you wondered how to color your adult coloring books in more interesting, eye-catching ways?

We are going to explore unconventional coloring styles and advanced coloring techniques you can apply in your adult coloring books once you’re ready.

Let’s get to it!

We first found incredible woodfree paper that’s smooth as a baby’s bum. Color pencils run smoothly through our pages.

Then we found the perfect paper thickness. Markers don’t bleed easily.

Then we made the pages of our books detachable, which other coloring books don’t have.

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Advanced Techniques

The Pointillistic Technique

The Pointillistic (Stippling) Technique

Pointillism, also known as stippling, is a coloring and blending method where you’re stippling dots of different shapes and sizes. Through them, you build colors, shades, and lights.

You may need patience to get into this coloring style, but the whole process is actually relaxing!

The colors you’re putting on the page won’t be mixing on paper but rather in the viewer’s eye! Are you wondering how? Easy. Let’s say you want to color the area purple. To make your coloring page look purple, stipple equal amounts of red and blue. When you zoom out from the paper, it will look purple!

The pointillism style might be the cheapest technique there is since all you’ll need to make any color is only the set of primaries: red, yellow, and blue. Of course, you can use a wider variety of colored pencils or markers and make your illustration richer in color, but at the core, you’ll find primary colors most of the time.

Artists often use markers to apply this technique. Stippling generally works best with sharp points, so keep your sharpener nearby if you’re planning on using colored pencils instead. Also, get pencils with strong cores.

How Does Shadowing Work with Pointillism?

If you place a large amount of dots very close to each other, the area will appear darker and more saturated. When you add more shadows, the more textured the surface will be. So, to create a gradual transition between light and dark, try to spread around fewer dots at greater distances.

Stippling is essentially a visual balance of positive and negative space on the page. The positive spaces should be the objects you’re drawing, while the negative spaces should be around those objects. The amount of realism and the general appearance of your coloring page will be determined by the amount of negative space on the paper.

How Do You Control Brightness with Pointillism?

Each dot you place on the white paper will add a value of color that reduces the brightness. This means that the more dots you put close to each other, the darker the area you’ll get.

To make areas lighter, put fewer dots spread around the paper. You’ll end up with more negative space, which will get you a brighter coloring page.

How Do You Make Objects Look Closer with Pointillism?

If you want an object in your coloring page to appear closer or in the foreground, add as many details as possible to the area. Add shadows without much light space. For the objects that are further away, you’d want to make them less defined with the usage of negative space.

Advanced Techniques

The Impressionistic Technique

Impressionistic coloring will always make the pages of your adult coloring book look artistic. The impressionistic style inspires creativity and conveys a sense of spontaneity regardless of the intended mood. 

The impressionistic style is based on small, unblended, and pronounced strokes or marks that are, in most cases, fractured. The strokes can be energetic and full of movement, or they can be gentle and harmonious.

Different strokes will give you different effects, so practice making a variety of them. They will come naturally to you. You can get outstanding results using crayons, too!

When it comes to harmony, use a colorful palette. Add as many different colors from that palette to the object on your coloring page. One effective way to achieve an impressionistic look is to layer cool and warm colors side by side. 

Use many different colors to create shadow and light. Reach for both unmixed and mixed colors. 

Pro tip—Involve some background colors as a reflection of your objects. Let’s say your object is yellow, and the background is blue. Try adding some blue strokes here and there to the yellow section.

Check the work of famous impressionists like Monet or post-impressionists like Van Gogh to find inspiration and learn how the masters do it.


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Advanced Techniques

The Realistic Technique

If you plan on doing realistic coloring, keep in mind it will take considerable time. You won’t be satisfied with the results you get from coloring for just a few hours. Give yourself a few days to finish one realistic piece with all its details instead.

That’s the kind of thinking you should employ for this method. It’s beneficial to use reference photos for that.

When it comes to realism, adding texture is a must. Don’t forget to tone your colors as well—it’s essential to make your artwork more realistic.

Now would be a good time to remove the black outlines on your coloring page; revisit the intermediate techniques section of this coloring tutorial for that.

To effectively color using the realistic style, you must be able to understand how light affects three-dimensional objects. You’ve already learned how to make shadows, but now let’s bring your skills to the next level.

In any three-dimensional shape, you can find five different shading elements:

  • Cast shadows — The darkest area of the object; hidden beneath the object and out of reach of light.
  • Shadow edge — The shadow that follows the object’s shape; when light doesn’t reach directly, it’s on the opposite side from the lighting source.
  • Halftone area — The actual object color, without shadows or light.
  • Reflected area — The luminous edge along the object’s rim; it depicts the object’s volume.
  • Full light — The area where light hits the object directly; the brightest part, also known as the highlight.

Practice making these different tones. Following the techniques in this tutorial might sound overwhelming, but they will come naturally to you over time. You can color any adult coloring book like a pro once you’ve conquered them!

Advanced Techniques

The Cartoonish Technique

The Cartoonish Technique

Not every page has to be realistically rendered to the tiniest detail. Some people prefer making it simple. Sometimes, less can be more. Enter the cartoonish style. Coloring books were initially meant for children, that’s why this style fits naturally on adult coloring books. Most coloring books are cartoonish in nature. We are going to make it a bit more interesting, however.

What could be considered a cartoonish way of coloring? Unlike the realistic technique, where you’re trying to make objects as three-dimensional as possible, in the cartoonish style, you’ll focus on achieving a flat, 2D effect. 

Naturally, it’s a lot easier to do. You’ll need fewer pencils—use one colored pencil for the base, and one for shadows. 

The most significant difference to realistic coloring is that you need to make harsh lines between colors. There should not be smooth transitions and gradients between light and shadow. 

This style is effortless to achieve with markers, but you can use colored pencils as well. You can always mix mediums, as you’ve learned in the intermediate techniques section. 

When it comes to the highlights, always put them on the edge of the object along the outlines. Highlights are usually white, but you can use other lighter versions of your base color too. Sometimes it creates a more pronounced contrast with the rest of the colors.

Take a look at comic books to draw inspiration; pay close attention to how the base and highlight colors are used.

 Practice making these different tones. Following the techniques in this tutorial might sound overwhelming, but they will come naturally to you over time. You can color any adult coloring book like a pro once you’ve conquered them!

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Advanced Techniques

The Psychedelic Technique

If you’re a fan of abstract art and love detailed coloring pages, you will love this coloring style! The hippies of the 60s famously brought psychedelic art to the mainstream, and this style is still relevant today!

Have you ever looked through a kaleidoscope as a child? This is the right example of psychedelic art. Here are a few other examples to help you get inspired:

The psychedelic style has a few interesting characteristics that go particularly well in adult coloring books that we are sure you will love:

  • You can create fantasy imagery
  • Works really well with symmetricity
  • Geometric shapes are often used
  • Spiral patterns too
  • The use of bright, intense colors is a must
  • There are intricate and repetitive details

Color is an essential aspect of the psychedelic style. It’s all about a super-saturated palette that gives your coloring page an undoubtedly dramatic feel. It’s all about getting the “shock” effect. You can combine a bunch of vivid colors that you wouldn’t even dream of putting together any other time!

This style is straightforward; you don’t need tinting or shading color. You can, however, use specific colors for shadows and others for highlights. They don’t even have to have the same undertone. Go wild with colors!

Find a coloring page in your books with the most detailed and repetitive illustrations, and give this style a go!

This is a style you can easily apply in your coloring books. Let us know in the comments if you want us to create a lesson, otherwise use it as inspiration!

Advanced Techniques

The Gold Leaf Technique

You might have heard of the gold leaf before if you are into arts and crafts (let’s face it, you do, wink). Gold leaf is a very thin decorative sheet many artists use, mainly on paintings, but it can be applied in coloring books quite well, too! 

It adds a hint of glamor to anything you apply it to, and combined with colored pencils, it will make your coloring pages positively stunning. 

Use this technique in the areas you want to emphasize.

Here are a few details to keep in mind when purchasing gold leaf supplies: 

  • You will find two types of gold leaf—real and imitation.
  • Real gold leaf is made of real gold, while imitation gold leaf is made of copper and zinc.
  • Get the imitation gold leaf. (We are into coloring books, not restoring paintings).
  • Imitation gold leaf is available in a few variations of gold colors.
  • It comes in sheets and flakes.
  • Flakes will give you more texture, while sheets have more even texture. 
  • You can try both and see what works best for you.


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You will need a leaf adhesive (glue), a paintbrush, and a bowl to apply gold leaf. 

It’s a straightforward process:

  • Put the adhesive in a bowl.
  • Dip the paintbrush in it.
  • Lay it down on the areas you want to get a golden texture.

You don’t need to put much adhesive; a thin layer will do the job. Don’tDon’t rush; practice precision. Switch to a smaller brush for detailed areas.

Once you’re done setting the adhesive, wait about 30 minutes for it to dry before adding the leaf—Trust us, it’s worth the wait! 

You will see how easy it is for gold leaf to stick to the paper. Take a sheet of gold leaf or a pile of gold flakes and use a brush to place it in pieces on the paper. 

Some areas might end up more textured than others; that’s okay! It’s one of the features of this medium. 

Once the glued area is fully covered, gently brush away the excess flakes. And you are done! 

If you’re not satisfied with how some areas turned out, don’t stress. You can repeat the process over those areas.

Keep in mind that if your sheet tears or wrinkles when you pick it up, that’s normal. Gold leaf is fragile by nature. You can still use all those little pieces. Also, remember to clean the brushes you used to apply the adhesive. Dry glue can ruin them quickly.

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Advanced Techniques

The Ballpoint Pen Technique

You’ve learned different basic, intermediate and advanced techniques from our previous tutorials. By now, your coloring skills have gone through the roof! (Wishful thinking, anybody?).

Let’s expand your options by diving into other coloring mediums that you are definitely familiar with but perhaps didn’t know could be used in your coloring books as effectively. Let’s talk about the ballpoint pen!

Did you know you can use pens for coloring and creating incredible artwork?

Pens are everywhere and easy to use, and most importantly, you’ll find one virtually anywhere you go.

You can find ballpoint pens in various colors, too. There are even pens that contain a few different colors—usually blue, red, orange, purple, green, and black—all in one tool.

When you first start using the ballpoint pen for coloring, you might find it difficult to blend. It’s that challenge that makes it fun!

Make sure to try out colors before using them on the page. Use a different sheet to practice pressure first. The key is to keep the pressure light. You don’t want to spread too much ink at once because it will be harder to get an even color.

Build up colors slowly, just like we did with the colored pencils. Do you remember the hatching and cross-hatching technique we learned with the colored pencils during the basic technique lessons? Use them now.

A ballpoint pen will give you thinner and more pronounced strokes. So, of course, there will be differences between these two techniques when applied with pens: Hatched strokes will, in most cases, be visible. This technique will give your coloring book page a unique look. 

You’ll also need more time to blend colors visually. It can be quite a relaxing and enjoyable process! Did you ever spend hours drawing or coloring just with your pen in high school? This is why.

Another notable difference from colored pencils is that you can’t erase the ink from a ballpoint pen, so you have to preserve the paper’s white surface for the highlights you intend to have. Keep that in mind!

That said, make mistakes! Give yourself ample permission. Adult coloring books are all about learning to enjoy the process!

So, how do you start?

Color by hatching in one direction first—this will give you an initial light layer. Use denser strokes and color in different directions in the areas you want to increase the saturation.

Try to create smooth transitions between tones. Make spaced strokes and apply lighter pressure toward the softer areas.

Unlike colored pencils, coloring with ballpoint pens means a limited number of colors available for you to use. That means you must put some colors next to each other to get the right tone.

As a finishing touch, you can use black ink to add darker shadows in some areas and create dramatic contrasts.See how we colored a page from the five-star rated Ultimate Street Art Coloring Book, inspired by street artist Rush Bowles’ mural in Miami:

Are you ready for the challenge?

Try out this medium and let us know how it goes—tag @aimfulbooks on Instagram to feature your coloring pages and win prizes.

Advanced Techniques

The Paper Mosaic Technique

A mosaic is an artistic technique that takes its roots far back beyond Ancient Rome. At first, people made mosaics out of colored stones or glass tiles, carefully placing each piece to make a whole picture.

Imagination doesn’t end in architecture, of course. You can make your own mosaics with some paper and your favorite coloring book.

While it’s not a bonafide coloring technique, it’s still very fun to do and in line with the kind of creativity, thousands of our adult coloring book shoppers apply in their books.

So how do you apply the paper mosaic style in your adult coloring book?

First, you will need to prepare some sheets of paper in different colors, then a ruler, glue, scissors or a cutter knife, and a brush.

Let your inner child take you to beautiful fields of imagination.

Second, cut the sheets of paper into square pieces. The smaller pieces will be better, so we suggest you use the ruler and measure 3/16 of an inch for one square. Create hatch marks and connect them. Cut them with scissors or the cutter knife, and you are ready for the next step!

If you don’t have colored paper, use some other thin material or fabric or make your own colored paper by… well… coloring them.

Pro tip—If you are looking to go the extra mile, color the page of your adult coloring book using markers or watercolors first, and then create a mosaic on top of it.

For the third step, use a brush and glue. Dip the brush in the glue and cover the area you want to do first. Since glue dries fast, doing the mosaic by sections is best.

After you set the glue on the paper, use a tiny bit of glue, so the squares stick to the other end of the brush. We suggest you arrange the pieces in a way that they follow the shape of an object.

Leave some space between the pieces; that’s precisely how you will make it look like a mosaic. 

If you make a mistake, remove the piece and stick it correctly before the glue dries completely.

Check out mosaic art to get a better insight. You will find mosaic art in museums, galleries, and all across history. You can also look at these pieces of square paper as pixels and make pixel art similar to mosaic art but contemporary. Unleash your creativity!

That’s it! We hope you enjoy all the steps to make this unique art style that will make your adult coloring books stand out—no doubt!

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