Color Like a Designer: How to Choose a Color Palette for Adult Coloring Books
Adult coloring has become hugely popular, and for good reason! The simple act of coloring has proven to be stress relieving and even considered a form of meditation. I love spending an evening at home watching a movie or playing music, sipping some wine, and coloring in my favorite coloring book. Not only is it a relaxing activity, it also helps me unwind my brain from a busy day while at the same time giving me a ‘no-pressure’ creative outlet.
The above image is from the book, “Animal Kingdom” by Millie Marotta
One of my favorite parts of adult coloring is choosing a color palette. As a trained graphic designer and illustrator, I enjoy putting on my ‘designer hat’ when choosing colors and I love finding new inspiration for unique color combinations. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite sources for color inspiration, tips on how to choose colors, and how to make your own color swatch reference sheet.
Nature is my favorite source for finding inspiration. Simply step outside into your own backyard or take a walk through your neighborhood. You can take photos of colors you see or pick some fresh flowers and use the bouquet as your color inspiration.
Magazines & Catalogs
Sometimes I’ll discover a gorgeous color palette when flipping through a magazine or catalog. Flag pages you like or tear the sheets out and use for color reference.
If you have a smart phone, try playing with the Adobe Color App. You can take a photo of anything and the app will automatically detect colors and create color swatches directly from your photo!
How To Choose Colors
Limit Your Color Palette
See what happens when you limit the number of different colors you use. I like to stick with around 12 colors, but feel free to use more or less.
Image above from the book, “Color Like Crazy! Kaleidoscope Mandala Designs Vol. 1” by Mary Tanana
Include One Neutral Color
Try throwing in at least one neutral color like cream/brown/grey/black/white (no color). You’ll be surprised to see how including a neutral or two really makes your other brighter colors POP!
All Warm or All Cool
Organize your colored pencils in rainbow order, then limit your color choices to be either all warm (yellow, orange, red, pink) or all cool (blue, green, purple).
Create Color Swatches
Once you’ve chosen your 12 colors, test them out before you start coloring your page to make sure you really like them. I like to create a quick color swatch of each of my pencils for quick reference while coloring. You can either make your swatches directly on your coloring page if there’s room (see above photo) or you can use a separate sheet of paper. Try testing out different shades by coloring lightly (little pressure or single layer) and then coloring darker (added pressure or multiple layers).
One final tip: If you plan to spend more than one sitting coloring a single page, save your color palette pencils. Rather than putting them away in their box, rubber band them together so that they are easy to access for the next coloring session.
Now it’s time to start coloring!
If your addiction is out of control, you’ll need books (see some great ones here) and more FREE coloring pages to download and print.
Want more coloring? Check out this post on How to Color Like a Boss.
And don’t forget the Essential List of Supplies for Coloring.
And once you have finished your masterpiece, here are some ideas on how to Repurpose and Display Your Finished Coloring Pages including this coaster project.