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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.

How to Create a Custom Color Palette for Adult Coloring (3)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.

Finding Inspiration

Nature

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.

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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.

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Online

There are some great resources online for finding color inspiration. Search “Color Palettes” on Pinterest, visit Design Seeds or check out Color Collective.

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.

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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).

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Shown Crayola Colored Pencils 50 Count.

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).

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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.

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Shown: Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil, Set of 72 Assorted Colors

Now it’s time to start coloring!

Hey, I also created a FREE coloring page for you! You can download it here.

If you 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.

Pin it!

How to color like a pro - tips on choosing a color palette from a designer and artist

About the Author : Rachel BeyerRachel Beyer is an artist, designer and creative maker living in Portland, Oregon. She spends her days working at Molly Muriel Apothecary and blogging at Adventures In Making. Her favorite hobbies include cooking, gardening, and crafting.View all posts by Rachel Beyer

  1. The Nova Studio
    The Nova StudioFebruary 3,16

    Got my new coloring page all printed out & ready to go ;) Thanks for the tips! I especially love using one color in several tones like you did above. So pretty!

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseFebruary 4,16

      Please send us a photo of it when you are done! You can tag us on any of our accounts also (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc…we will find it!!)

  2. Laurence Mergi
    Laurence MergiFebruary 4,16

    Nice post! You can check my coloring book on Amazon: “Chosen Flowers”, kind of an artist point of view. http://www.amazon.com/Chosen-Flowers-Adult-coloring-book/dp/1517599199/ref=la_B0183WQVMM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454573294&sr=1-1

  3. tee
    teeApril 18,16

    Such great info in this post! I’m new to coloring… well AGAIN! I’m not ready to invest in the 72 Prismacolor (though I hope to graduate to it). Can you recommend another less expensive brand that has a good color texture. I’ve looked on Amazon & Ebay and see sets with plenty of colors, but it’s tough to choose when you don’t know how well the pencils will eprform. Thanks in advance :-)

    • Ann
      AnnSeptember 14,16

      A great inexpensive set of pencils are Marco Raffine colored pencils. You can get a set of 72 for around $20 on Ebay. They are really nice pencils.

  4. Terri
    TerriApril 20,16

    Great post. Thanks!

  5. รับถ่าย vdo
    รับถ่าย vdoApril 21,16

    great put up, very informative. I wonder why the
    other specialists of this sector don’t realize this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great
    readers’ base already!

  6. Aylene McKeown
    Aylene McKeownJuly 25,16

    Dear Rachel, this is a wonderful site and all your tips on “Grown up Coloring” are awesome.
    Aylene

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