Best Tools for Adult Coloring- You Need
We have already established that adult coloring is fun and therapeutic. It helps to relax the mind and focus your thoughts. But, what are the best tools for adult coloring? Surely you can use a pack of simple crayons but is that really the best way to get great pictures. You love to color and want the best looking picture possible right? Ones you would be proud to put in frames on the wall or use for wrapping paper on small gifts? No, absolutely you are going to want some better choices. I have scoured the web to find the absolute best options.
Some things to think about as you choose the right tools and sets for you. Whether it be colored pencils, gel pens or markers you need to know how to pick what’s right for you. As you look at the choices we have recommended for you know that we have considered these factors as well. You will only find the best quality items on our recommendation list. ones that offer wonderful choices for you in the following categories.
Color Vibrancy– How lively is the color? Is it true to shade once you apply it to your medium. In this case paper. You want to be sure your color you chose is the color you get in your artwork.
Color Variety– What good is a coloring project with only a couple colors to choose from. You want lots of colors or at least the ability to blend colors to get the colors you want effortlessly.
Lead Hardness– Since colored pencils do not use the traditional graphite of lead pencils they mix their pigments with one of three mediums to create their “lead”. Softer lead can cover a large area quickly and thoroughly but requires more care when handling and can break inside the pencil shaft. Harder lead is great for detailing but not at covering large areas in fewer strokes.
- Wax Based- A medium soft lead that is easily breakable but gives a much more saturated color. Some brands can create “Wax Bloom” when layered too thickly. We have chosen brands known for little to no bloom effect. It is easier to work with. Advances in technology are making the wax based harder to break and more durable. Plus you can lightly heat them to create additional effects and melt back together broken cores.
- Oil Based- The hardest lead option. Great for those prone to accidents or with younger people using their colored pencils occasionally. They break far less easily and last longer. However it will take a few more strokes or harder pressure to get full accurate coverage with most colors. Especially the lighter tones like pink.
- Water Based- Possibly the softest option. Is far less stable to use but can be used wet or dry allowing for a wide variety of looks and better control over texture.
All of the pencils on this list have met and excelled at these criteria. It will be up to you to decide which lead type is best for your project. Our recommendations include a bit of each lead type as an option.
When looking at pens there are some things to keep in mind.
Are they non toxic? No one wants to be working for hours with highly toxic chemical smelling pens. These are something you will be working with frequently. Don’t risk your health on cheap pens.
Do they have a good selection of colors to choose from? You have lots of creative visions to bring to life. As with colored pencils you are going to want lots of colors to work with.
Gel pens are fantastic at working with small details due to the size of their tips. You may want to include a set to add details to a marker or colored pencil work.
Again you want to look for non toxic. Who needs all that chemical smell. Yuck.
Another thing to consider is tip size. While some markers use marker tips in a variety of sizes others use paint brush tips for greater flexibility and detail.
Some companies offer dual tips on their markers allowing you to choose the right one for the task at hand.
One thing to keep in mind with markers is bleed through. If you are not sure if your paper is thick enough invest in a blotter sheet to prevent any unwanted bleeding.
- As you can see from the image stippling is made by making dots of the pencil. It can be made with sharp for thinner circles and dull for bigger dots. This technique is suited for added texture on the canvas’ surface.
- Hatching, on the other hand, is made with slanted lines. It can be used when doing straight images to create dynamism.
- Similar to hatching is the cross-hatching, which can be made by crisscrossing the lines.
- The back and forth stroke is a more free-hand stroking where you go back and forth to fill in the spaces.
- Scumbling is a more dynamic stroke using a circular motion. This adds density to your coloring activity.
Along with the different stroke styles there are blending methods.
- The most familiar method of blending to most people is burnishing. A method in which you layer a color (typically a lighter shade) over another using grinding strokes to work the colors together. Keep in mind the pencil tip while doing this. As you pencil tip gets sharper you want to use less pressure.
- Another blending method is dry blending. In which you use an object other than your colored pencil to blend colors together for an egg like smooth finish. People often use tissue paper or paper towels for this however you can also use a blending stick. Such as the one here from Derwent. It offers a blender and burnisher in one pack.
- A final method of blending is Solvent Blending. In which you use a liquid solvent to blend your colors. Before choosing this type of blend you want to test a small patch of the paper and coloring to be sure it can handle the solvent used. Wouldn’t want your paper to curl and warp or your colors to completely dissolve. There are three basic solvents to choose from with colored pencils.
- Rubbing Alcohol-is ideal for doing a light blend. It breaks the wax binder in colored pencil just enough to move a little pigment around and to fill in paper holes. You need a good amount of pigment on the paper for the best results, but it also works with less pigment.
- Mineral Spirits- blend color more completely than rubbing alcohol. It breaks down the wax binder more completely, freeing pigment to blend more thoroughly. Again, the more pigment on the paper, the better the results, but you can also do a watercolor-like wash with odorless mineral spirits
- Turpentine- works the same way as odorless mineral spirits, but breaks down wax-binder more completely. My experience has been a maximum of two blends before the solvent begins removing more color than it blends.
You can test out a variety of rubbing techniques using cotton balls or paint brushes to find the style that works for what you are trying to achieve. It may take a bit more practice and trial and error than other methods but can be well worth it. Some solvents even work with markers and gel pens.
Best Colored Pencils for Adult Coloring
We looked at several brands. Each offering their own positives and weaknesses. We decided to recommend two brands. Since no one coloring pencil is excellent at all aspects of coloring you will probably want a couple sets .
Offering less expensive sets this is a great choice for those on a budget looking for a beginner set. Since they are easy to layer and blend, beautifully pigmented, and have a smooth finish that doesn’t feel dry or scratchy. With less wax bloom and smearing they are a sure bet for beginners. They excel in Watercolor and soft wax based leads. Offering a variety of set options they can provide a solid foundation to your tool kit.
A longstanding favorite of art school students and professionals. They are a bit more pricey than the Prismacolor sets but well worth the investment. These pencils are soft enough to layer beautifully, without crumbling, the pigments are lush and smooth, and the casting strong and dependable.
With options in watercolor, metallic, and classic. They even have Eco friendly ergonomic triangular shaped options for easier grip. The shades are wonderful and even with the less expensive sets most colors are highly lightfast.
Best Gel Pens for Adult Coloring
With a variety of vibrant color sets including neon and glitter they are a must have for any artist wishing to use gel pens. They feature acid free non toxic ink and it’s refillable. Meaning you can swap out the old used up ink reservoir and refill with convenient refill packs. Allowing you to continue using these pens for years. Etched grooves on the body of the pen ensure a solid grip to keep you in the lines. The smooth flowing ink allows for great coverage and consistency.
Another great company for coloring supplies is ColorIt. They offer affordable colored pencils as well as gel pens. They made our list for gel pens however. With a huge selection of sets to choose from. Most include a nice carrying case making them a great option for gifting or traveling. Their pens are refillable as well giving you years of use with their sets. You are sure to find one you will love.
Best Markers for Adult Coloring
Offering amazing quality for your money. They have real brush fine and flexible tips and vibrant colors. They work wonderfully with water allowing you to try out all sorts of techniques in shading and blending. Precision control provides a mess free experience. Only apply the color where you want it. Stay true to your vision as you know you can rely on these markers to provide just the look you are after.
One of the premier coloring options for years. Prismacolor did not quite make our list for colored pencils since Arteza is cheaper and more reliable color wise. However they have great markers featuring dye based color for wonderful saturation of color. Their sets come with multiple tip options and many dual tip options as well. You won’t be sorry if you invest in one of their marker kits.
Other things you may need would include a pencil sharpener and blotter paper. Be sure to choose a pencil sharpener that works with the style of pencils you choose. While most round pencils will work with any good sharpener the ergonomic pencils from Arteza need a special sharpener since they are triangular.
Let’s Bring some Color to our world
Now that we have a great guide on what to use for our coloring projects. We can get to the fun part. The actual coloring. No matter what technique you use you are sure to relax and enjoy this process. It has been shown to ease stress and allow your mind to focus on what is really important. Forget all the little annoyances and just let your mind flow. Imagine the wonderful worlds depicted in your scene. If you have chosen a book from our best adult coloring books list it is sure to be a wonderful fantasy location. Please let us know your thoughts on the best coloring tools for adults. Please comment below.