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Simple Coloring Tips

Coloring is a form of art therapy that can relieve stress and improve motor skills.

It is not just for kids. Anyone can color.

  • Don't rush the process. PLAY.

  • Motor skills are learned by playing.

  • Color combinations are easily learned.

  • Relax and play with color.

  • Let your imagination run free.

  • There's no 'Right Way'.

  • Being a perfectionist can dampen joy.

  • Color, dream, escape...


I prefer colored pencils for coloring. I appreciate their simplicity and versatility. They layer and blend well, creating rich colors that don't bleed through the page. Prismacolor Premier and Faber-Castell Polychromos are both quality options. 

Prismacolor Premier is softer for layering and blending.  

Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils have a firmer lead and keep a sharper point for small, detailed work. 

Prismacolor and Faber-Castell also have a student grade or "classic" if a more budget-friendly option is needed. 

Cheap off-brand colored pencils have less pigment and a hard wax lead. They are maddening to use, which leads to frustration and disappointment — the opposite of stress-reducing. Even for beginners and kids, it is better to have a 6-pack of quality colored pencils than a giant rainbow of hundreds. Add a nice hand-held pencil sharpener (under $5) so as not to eat up the pencils unnecessarily, and they will last for a long long time.

I use paper blenders and the 'Prismacolor Premier Colorless Blender' to blend color layers, creating a watercolor effect. Place a blank paper under the page or use the back of an old notebook. The cardboard provides a firm surface like a drawing-board while protecting the following pages. I also keep a sheet of paper or a paper towel under my hand as I work so I don't accidentally dirty-up the colors or the paper. Body oils, hand lotions, and sweat can rub off on the page, and some show up months later as yellow stains on the paper. 

There's no reason you can't use every tool in your coloring box. I often add pencil shading, black marker accents, and white-ink highlights for the finishing touches. Example: the juice drips on the bar and the bold highlights on the glass and ice are white ink (above image).

If your favorite coloring choice is markers, place a blank sheet of printer paper or light cardboard under the page, as some brands bleed through. Like color pencils, some are better than others. Copic markers are top-of-the-line, but there are other affordable options that come in vibrant hues that blend well and are great for filling large areas in landscapes and seascapes. 

If your favorite is pastels, keep a clean paper under your hand as you work, a damp cloth nearby for wiping fingers, and the table or desk of chalk dust. You will also want a fix-it spray made for pastels or charcoal drawing to keep the colors from smudging as you work through your coloring book. 

Primary Colors are red, yellow, and blue.  

With them, you can theoretically create all other colors — except white.

Blending and layering are simple techniques for adding one or more colors layered over another. Start light and go darker as you work. 

Color combinations:

Red and yellow make orange. A hundred shades — think sunsets.  

Yellow and blue create greens.  

Red and blue make purple and violet shades.  

Red, yellow, and blue combos give you browns to black. 

When I was growing up, we had a rule that we had to eat what was on the dinner plate. This frugal ethic works its way into the creative side of life. I've heard kids and adults say, "You have to finish the page before moving on to the next page." You don't. It is your book you make the rules. Coloring is more like colorizing; pick the areas you want to shine a spotlight on and work out from there. You decide when it is finished. If there are uncolored areas, that's how the page needs to be. That's being creative. Nothing is more tedious than being forced to color just because a blank space is there. 

And please add or draw whatever you like beyond what is printed on the page. I often add rainbows and birds to otherwise blank skies or draw wings on animals that don't usually have them. 

Tropical Escape is currently available through Amazon. 

It is printed by Amazon's printing facilities in the area or country it is ordered from. Currently they do not offer perforated page or an extra heavy paper. Other print-on-demand companies that do offer it but they are almost double in price, too expensive for the coloring book market. I will look into this further and update this post if/when these options become available. 


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