How to Color like a grown-up – The Best Tools for Adult Coloring

While I hope to create more posts teaching how to color like a grown-up, I decided to start with the best tools for adult coloring. You may have started off with your kid’s crayons (or you may be looking for insight for your child who is now graduating from those crayons). It’s time to move on and turn coloring into art – which is what the adult coloring trend is all about. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

 

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

 

Adult coloring has taken the world by storm and the demographics are telling: children as young as six or seven years old, and adults as old as eighty, ninety are learning how to color like grown-ups… Because why should we leave it behind in preschool?!

 

Even children who would normally nix coloring as “baby-ish” are taking on simpler coloring pages. Grown-ups who are looking for ways to relax, who don’t typically feel artistic but can use a creative outlet, or who like to really focus on color and leave the drawing behind are all heading toward the adult coloring books.

 

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

 

So where do you start when purchasing the best tools for adult coloring?

 

Here are a few pointers:

  • Brand matters – and it will often be the defining factor on whether a coloring tool is worth keeping or handing down to your preschooler.
  • Choose your coloring style–  There’s a lot of information below, but for that reason I included WHAT to use WHEN. Start by figuring out your coloring style and getting the tools that best fit.
  • It’s okay to use the kid pencils – While I recommend primarily artist quality supplies below, every so often, I pull out my son’s washable markers when I want a sheer finish…
  • Dry media vs. wet media – Know the difference! Wet media (such as markers and gel pens) can bleed. Test your paper, use a divider paper between pages, and look out for books with blank backs. Dry media is great for books that have images back-to-back and don’t have problems with bleed.
  • Package size – You don’t need the largest color set of anything. I think that the 36-40 pack range is a sweet spot when you’re on any sort of budget. You’ll get a few shades of every color, plus a few neutrals.

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

  • Don’t be afraid to mix – different coloring tools provide different textures and results – mix and match in one image to add texture!

 

 

I hope I can help you learn how to color a little better with these tips for finding the best coloring tools for adult coloring – that suit YOUR style!

 
 


 

 

The Best Tools for Adult Coloring – Your Main Tool:

These are the best tools for adult coloring for filling in the main part of your image…

Anything else is, well, kind of extra!

 

 

1. Soft core colored pencils:

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

The main difference between your your Crayola pencils and a pro pencil is a soft core! That literally means that the inside is softer.

Yeah, it means that it breaks more easily, but it also allows you to layer, blend, and get rich, thick color. Here’s a quick video for you to check out to see just what I mean and how to color with these:

 

 

 

The learning curve is not as hard as it may seem (some day I’ll be writing a tutorial… meanwhile you can check out this free page, as well as this one, where I explained it a bit.)

 

Splurge: Caran D’ache Luminance

Mid-range: Faber-Castell Polychromos

Save: Prismacolor Premier

 

 

Colored pencils gallery:

(If you like it, click on the image to be taken to that coloring page!)

 

 

 

 

2. Alcohol markers:

 

These are high in price, but huge in impact. They soak the surface less than water-based markers and are super blendable. You’ll get results on par with professional illustrations if you use them right – rich in color, smooth blending…

Alcohol markers tend to come with dual tips – a broader one for filling spaces and a finer one. Many of them are refillable – so you can just replace your top color, making it a lifetime investment.

 

Splurge: Copic markers

Mid: Prismacolor Premier

Save:Blick Art Supplies branded markers has great reviews.

 

 

 

3. Gel pens: 

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

Oh, how I wish I had discovered these for adult coloring sooner! Gel pens have it all: they are surprisingly easy to blend, have tons of textures and styles you don’t get in ANY other medium (glitter, metallics, milky pastels, sheer and opaque colors…) They are even cheap. It’s so easy to learn how to color like a pro using gel pens!

 

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

HOWEVER… they smudge sometimes so if you’re a bit of a klutz this may be an issue for you. They also use up surprisingly quickly so you may go through a lot, minimizing the whole “cheap” angle (so if you see a good deal on a huge pack with double colors, you may want to grab it).

 

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

Gel pens are also very often not true to the color so create a “color key” for yourself by coloring on a small sticker and sticking it onto the pen.

 

Splurge: Sakura Gelly Rol

Mid: Pilot Juice

Save: Eparon 40 pack

 

Gel pens gallery:

(If you like it, click on the image to be taken to that coloring page!)

 

4. Fineliner water-based markers:

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

Markers in general lay down bold, rich colors – and when you take it beyond your kid’s markers, the color is more opaque and even richer. Ultra fine point markers are my tool of choice when coloring an adult coloring page with very fine spaces.
 

 

 

Mid: Staedtler Triplus, Stabilo 88

Save: Tanmit

 

5. Brush and broader point water-based markers:

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

Even pages with fine lines tend to have larger spaces, so you may want to have markers with slightly wider tips for filing those in! Look for brush tips as well- they’re great for getting a smooth flow!

Look out for tip types – many of them come with dual tips which are great! I personally love a great brush tip.

Splurge: Tombow, Sakura koi

Mid: Staedtler Noris Club

Save: Crayola Super Tips

 

Markers gallery:

(If you like it, click on the image to be taken to that coloring page! You may also find great tips for how to color with these markers.)


 
 

 
 
 

Colorless Blenders:

Take your coloring to the next level by becoming a pro blender! Some of my favorite tools for blending include the following:

Blender pencilperfect for blending colored pencil without adding any pigment!

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

Blending markerThis one does double duty – blending both pencil and marker – although the shelf life is shorter than the blender pencil.

 

 

 
 

An Extra Touch:

If you want to add a unique touch to your artwork (because yes, your coloring IS a piece of art!) these surprising tools can help!

 

Eyeshadow Perfect for softly blended backgrounds, use an eyeshadow palette with an eyeshadow brush to fill in a background while allowing it to take a backstage, and not overwhelm your main image. Eyeshadow is GREAT for skin tones as well, which can be pricey and difficult in other media.

 

Highlighted accents – Sometimes a little white highlight, laid down on top of our image can add all the character you need! Try a white paint marker, chalk marker, or white gel pen. You can even do the reverse and add shadows using charcoal.

Seriously upgrade your coloring and learn how to color like a pro by figuring out the best tools for adult coloring! This guide tells you which art supplies to use for which grown-ups colouring pages and books, including lots of tips, examples, and guidance for how to color using colored pencils, gel pens, alcohol markers and more. You'll find budget-friendly suggestions as well as cool ways to add texture to your coloring.

 

White Chalk Marker Gallery:

Click on the image if you want to download that coloring page.

 

Texture:

Add a touch of “something extra” by putting a little texture into your drawing. Try water-based metallic paint markers, glitter glue, and even nail polish for some gloss. It doesn’t stop at art supplies – try craft materials as well. Glue on some real ribbon, add nail gems… the possibilities are endless.

 

Metallic Accents Gallery:

Click on the image if you want to download that coloring page.

 

Cool to have handy:

A top quality pencil sharpenerOF course, to keep your pencils in good form, invest in a great sharpener. IF you’re using a manual sharpener (not electric) hold the pencil in  your weak hand while sharpening to avoid broken points.

A cushion for your fingersWhen you’re coloring a lot and intently,  you’ll find that it can be hard on your fingers! Get a good old pencil cushion to protect.

A drawing marker or fine permanent markerGo over the outline of your image with this – it makes a massive difference (see my video in the marker section of this post)!

 

 


 
 

What are YOUR best tools for adult coloring? Got any tips for how to color like a pro?! Comment below!

 
 

Get the book! By purchasing Moms & Crafters publications, you are supporting my blog and enabling me to keep on providing you with free printables and tips like these. Coloring for Coffee Lovers is my most popular coloring book, but you can find all of my printed and digital coloring books here.

 

Who else can't function until they've had their coffee? Yeah, that's me. I love this coffee coloring book for adults - one of my favorite grown-up colouring book, full of coffee coloring pages for adults!!

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. This was full of great information I wish I’d had before beginning to color again as a grown up! I have spent money on tools I wish I hadn’t. I was pleased to see that I have some of the tools you recommend! Thanks for all the info!

  2. You didn’t mention sharpies, do you recommend them at all?

    • Yes and no. They’re great if you just want a tool for coloring and you have them handy, but I wouldn’t recommend them for “next level coloring”. I have them in every color because I do crafts with them, and I recently colored this page with them.
      heart coloring page

      IT looks great, but the colors are much darker, as the paper absorbs them too much (because they’re meant for non-porous surfaces.) They also don’t blend very well (see the streaks). So if you’re just looking to unwind and grab something to color, sharpies are great, especially if you love the smell (I do!!) But if you’re looking for some next level coloring, I’d recommend illustration/art markers as mentioned in the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *