The craze for adult colouring books has grown and grown this year. Book shops have been stocking up ready for Christmas for months (could this be the hit go-to stocking filler for creative people this year?) and I’ve received dozens of emails with free downloadable designs, and discussions around the benefits of colouring in as a technique to de-stress and aid mental wellbeing are popping up all over the blogosphere.
I’ve given a number of colouring books as gifts over the years – mainly with a more whimsical witty edge – colour me 90s, colour in Ryan Gosling etc where my giftees could enjoy shading disc-men (remember those?) and sketches of the spice girls, or doodling in Ryan Gosling’s favourite meals. But the latest craze is for complicated, detailed designs that combine fun or pretty imagery (forests, animals etc) with serious pattern work.
So, never someone to turn my nose up at a potential new creative hobby I decided so give it a go. I gathered my pencils, donned a cosy jumper, poured a glass of wine and got colouring!
Are you team pen or team pencil?
I’m all for brights every day so instantly figured I’d want to be using pens so my final designs would be eye-catching and full of colour. BUT be warned – lots of colouring books actually aren’t thick enough to stop the pen running through the page – and so you can completely destroy the design on the other side if you’re not careful. From that point of view pencils are probably a better option but they come with their own issues (I’m also realising how picky and just how much of a perfectionist I am writing about the pros and cons of pens vs pencils – who knew I even had an opinion on this stuff!). I actually bought a few packs of pencils to test the other side and neither had enough pigmentation for me – I probably need to buy some higher quality ones so any tips you have for brands that are really great for colour would be brilliant. With pencils you can play with gradient, shading and mix your colours – this is far harder to make work with pens so it’s really down to personal preference. On the whole as so many colouring designs are broken down to tiny sections I don’t think there’s much room for shading effects – but you might disagree.
I bought I Heart Colouring by Felicity French for the beautiful patterns inside – I’m definitely drawn more to patterns than pictures and the pages are small but really detailed so there’s lots to do but it’s not an impossible task. The book is a bit of an all rounder – it has patterns and pictures that range from the elegant to twee. I think it’s a nice starter book to play with but lots of the pages I would simply skip over (I’m not that fussed about colouring in a tea set, butterflies or hearts…. however I really dig the luggage designs!). The only downside I’d point out is that my pens destroyed this book – they bled right through to the next page. I think you could probably get away with it if using softer pens like berol felt tips (aka any pens you might have been allowed to use in primary school!) but anything more and you’ll lose half of your book through pen bleed.
Next up I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland in a goodie bag at a workshop I ran for Bloggeration. OH THIS BOOK IS GORGEOUS – the illustrations are stunning, the patterns intricate and there’s also spaces throughout where you can create your own designs. So far I’ve found this book to be far better at dealing with felt tips so fingers crossed because I really don’t want to lose any of the designs.
I did quite enjoy the process of simply colouring; I could switch off and just think about choosing the next colour, which was really relaxing. However I think with my busy lifestyle, even when looking for activities that are going to act as ‘down time’ I still want an outcome. If I’m making I usually want to be working towards a finished product. Time is a really precious commodity to me – as someone who works full time, and runs a side business, and blogs, I’m always wanting to get the very most out of every activity. Having said that I really enjoyed being able to pick up a project and spend even just 5 minutes on it and for that to be ok. I’ve seen a few books that contain postcards to be coloured in and I think that idea appeals to me more – because ultimately when it’s all finished you can use your designs – and who doesn’t love a bit of snail mail!
I’m hoping I’ll be able to take some time out to finish a design or two this Christmas so keep an eye out on my instagram for the finished results! Have you ever tried any adult colouring books? Are you tempted? And if you have which book is your favourite?