Complete Adult Colouring Beginners Guide (Updated)

Adult Colouring Beginners Guide Header Image with 4 examples of my colouring work

In a previous post, I talked to you about how I have got into Adult Colouring. To improve my cardmaking skills, as well as for the pleasure of it. I wrote that post for papercrafters, to show them the benefit of adult colouring. Today though I am talking to those of you who may not have picked up a pencil or felt tip since your school days. If you look at some of my completed work, and you think you might like to have a go, but you don’t know where to start. This post is for you. It is my Adult Colouring Beginners Guide.

Why Adult Colouring?

So where did this craze come from? Why are there so many adults sitting down with colouring books? There are many reasons, but I thought I would share a few relevant ones with you.

• Mindfulness
• Nostalgia
• Community
• Fun
So let’s explore these reasons in a bit more detail:


As a spoonie, you are no stranger to pain, and you may also be dealing with Anxiety and Depression. A “task” like colouring allows you to give it all your attention which helps to focus your find. I have used colouring to distract myself from pain, and it works well. I have not had any severe episodes of anxiety or depression. Claire over at Colour With Claire shares her story of how colouring got her through a terrible time. You can read her story here.


As a spoonie, you are no stranger to pain, and you may also be dealing with Anxiety and Depression. A “task” like colouring allows you to give it all your attention which helps to focus your find. I have used colouring to distract myself from pain, and it works well. I have not had any severe episodes of anxiety or depression. Claire over at Colour With Claire shares her story of how colouring got her through a terrible time. You can read her story here.


Pretty much every social media platform has an Adult Colouring Community on it. YouTube has many colourists who share tutorials to help you develop your skills. What If you enjoy the colouring and want to take it to the next level? On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter colourists share their completed works and work in progress (abbreviated to WIP). A shared interest can lead to building an online friendship. Most spoonies value cyber friends.


Let’s not forget that you can have an awful lot of fun with colouring. There are colouring books available in so many genres that you are bound to find something to your taste whatever you’re gender or age. There is no right or wrong to colouring it is very much whatever makes you happy. I have even seen colouring books of curse words when you really want to vent!

What do I need to get started?

When I started adult colouring, I already had many of the supplies needed for use in cardmaking, but you may well be starting from scratch with nothing. So, here are some of my recommendations for products and advice on using them.

Colouring Books and Pages

As mentioned there are copious designs available. The main thing to be aware of is the type of paper they contain and the colouring medium you want to use. If in doubt feel free to ask me or to join a community and ask someone who has already coloured it. If you have a printer you can buy pdfs of books or individual designs on Etsy and some colourists give away some of their images on their websites.

Gel Pens

Gel pens are fantastic for use with colouring books. Especially with designs that contain small sections. They won’t bleed through to the other side of the page which is helpful with double-sided pages. They are perfect in books like Johanna Basford’s which have a suitable paper thickness. You can find a selection of her books on Amazon.

If your colouring book contains pages that are thin paper, I recommend you put some card between the sheets, so that you don’t create an indent on the next page. These Castle Art Supplies (100 pens) from Amazon are by far the best budget set I have ever tried. I would recommend them as a way of getting lots of gel pens without spending a fortune.

Budget Coloured Pencils

Coloured pencils can give a fantastic result and come in a vast range of pack sizes and pencil qualities. What I would say to you is that it takes a long time to get smooth, even results. If you want to sit down and colour something A4 sized in a short period and be remotely happy with your results, colouring pencils may not be for you.

If you want to try them, I will start with a budget set like these entry-level ones by Faber-Castell (48 pencils for approx £10). If your budget is forgiving and you know you will use them, then Castle Art Supplies (72 pencils) are a joy to use and my go-to pencils. Although they are more expensive the price is still at the budget end, art materials get expensive!

Budget Watercolour Pencils

If you saw my blog post about Hunkydory Watercolour Pencils, you will know that these are pencils (48 pencils for £20) that can be used dry but are even better with water. There are not many colouring books available that have cardstock good enough to use with watercolour, but if you have a printer that can take heavyweight card through a pass feeder there are many ways of getting downloadable adult colouring books, I recommend Etsy for this. Watercolour pencils are useful if you don’t want to spend a long time on a piece because you can get a finished look just by going over with water.

Budget Alcohol Markers

Alcohol markers are a bit like the big sister of felt-tipped pens. You can create an attractive design very quickly, even as a first time colourist by using one colour per area. The things to be aware with alcohol markers is that they bleed through the page and can go through the page behind even if it is thick paper. Therefore, only use them on one-sided artwork and put something behind the page to play safe.

A good starting point would be these Crafter’s Companion Spectrum Noir Classique collection, however for this is a set of twelve pens, for little over double the price you can get sets of 80 pens like this one. I have bought a very similar set to this and I actually found they are less likely to dry out in big gaps between uses than some of the bigger names.

Upgrading your Supplies

Of Course, once you have got started with adult colouring, there is a good chance you will grow to love it as many people have. Then you may gradually want to upgrade your colouring mediums. To give you an idea of what you may be letting yourself in for, these are some of the most popular products used by regular colourists.

Sakura Jelly Roll Pens (24 pens for £26) I have these!
Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils (72 pencils for £58.00) I have these!
Faber-Castell Polychromes Coloured Pencils (120 pencils for £297) Ouch, I couldn’t afford that!
Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour pencils (120 pencils for £166) Nope, I can’t afford them either.
Copic Alcohol Markers (72 pens for £394 ) Ouch, but you can get individuals from about £3 a pen)

Gaining confidence as a colourist

There are many far more skilled colourists than me out there. But I can now produce images that make me proud. This one took me about five sessions to complete; I only have a small colour selection of Prismacolor pencils, so I used the Spectrum Noir Colorblend because I have 120 of them which I got a few years ago for my cardmaking. (They come in sets of 12 or 24 pencils)

A Halloween image I coloured with coloured pencils, an example of adult colouring.

This next image is a greyscale image and I coloured it with alcohol markers, it was a one sitting piece of adult colouring. This was my first time colouring greyscale and I wasn’t sure that I would like it, but in fact it enabled you to create a shaded piece in a  very much easier way. I did this a year or two years after the other one. 

Halloween Alcohol Marker Adult Colouring

Digital Colouring

In 2020 I started again from scratch. Learning to use the iPad App Procreate for adult colouring. I have found this to be an interesting journey with several pro’s but also some cons. So I thought I would share this experience with you as well.

Using Procreate

Procreate is an art application and is used by many professional artists and letterers. It is somewhat amazing that it is such a professional level app at a very reasonable price. Of course, as well as having an iPad you need to have an Apple Pencil. Although there is very little difference between the first and second generation iPencils in terms of use, I have read. There is a difference between iPads. I have the smaller sized standard iPad, which is perfectly acceptable for a colourist or a learner artist. But for those with advanced skills, the more powerful iPad Pros enable the user to have more image layers with larger file sizes.

The iPencil

The somewhat magical ability of the iPencil is that it can become so many other mediums. So this simple stylus can become a coloured pencil, a watercolour or an oil paint brush. There are quite a few different brushes that come with Procreate as standard but you can find freebies and purchase so many more. I have bought some of my favourite from DesignCuts. The Ultimate Brush Toolbox is arguably the best procreate brushes ever created.

Design Brushes

Procreate Brushes come in many shapes and sizes. As well as the traditional brushes as mentioned above, you can also get brushes that are more like stamps. You choose the size you want the image to be and simply touch the pencil down in the spot you want it. You are then able to rotate it as needed. My favourite ones so far are the Flower and Leaf Brush Box and the Body Builder Brush Box by Pretty Little Lines. It was these I used to create these image components:

Digital Adult Colouring

The Pro’s of Digital Colouring

The things I love about digital colouring the most are:

  • You can carry a whole art studio around with you on your iPad
  • The brushes are resizable, so I can make a coloured pencil so much thicker and get the same effect over a large section of the image.
  • The images are easily resized as you work, so you can make a tiny area bigger to colour it without going over lines.
  • You can input your colour choice via a hex code. In other words, you have every possible colour available.
  • You can pause partway through a piece of work without having to leave all your art supplies all over the table.

The Possible Con’s of Digital Colouring

  • You need to have some basic digital skills to import images (easily googled or ask me!)
  • Sometimes the feel of the paper in your hands can be a good thing and a screen can’t replicate that.
  • It is a bit of a non-starter if you don’t have an iPad!

Was this helpful?

Are you an Adult Colourist?

Are you a colourist already? If so I would love to know more. What type of images do you enjoy colouring? Are you paper-based or digital? Jump into the comments and let me know how colouring helps you. Is it a form of therapy or just pleasure?

Tempted by my Adult Colouring Beginners Guide?

After reading this are you tempted to give colouring a try? If so I would love to hear from you as well. If you have found this useful I would be so grateful if you could share it so that others can find this post and be introduced to the benefits of adult colouring.

Until next time,
Gentle Hugs,

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3 responses to “Complete Adult Colouring Beginners Guide (Updated)”

  1. Pamela Jessen avatar

    I love how bright and cheerful your colourings are Susan!!

    1. Susan Pearson avatar

      Thank you Pamela, I enjoy using bright colours (although I can work with subdues if I need to) I need to do another alcohol marker piece they are more comfortable to hold than pencils!

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