Coloring Books for Grownups – How to Get Started

The last time I colored in a coloring book was maybe ten years ago when my daughter Katie was little. A few years ago, my friend Joanne Fink shared with me her new Zenspirations® coloring book line that was being published. Since then, “coloring books for grownups” have really taken off! At Alt Summit last month, I met Jenean Morrison, another artist who has been turning her art into coloring books for the last few years. When Tombow issued a coloring book challenge to the design team this month, I knew exactly what I was going to do: color pages from each of their books! Please note this post contains affiliate links for which Just JP receives a small commission when you click and make a purchase.

While I was in Florida last month, I was able to go visit Joanne at her home near Orlando. It was alot of fun to see her office and her house and she gave me some amazing lettering lessons. She's been a calligrapher for over 30 years I believe! She also sent me home with more copies of her line of coloring books, available at Michaels stores. I had copies of them before this but the kids were using them and when I told Joanne about the challenge with Tombow, she was more than happy to give me some books. She always more than happy to give me some books, actually. She is a fabulously warm and generous person and I am honored to call her my friend. I think that is what made coloring her pages for this project even more special to me.

Zenspirations Coloring Book detail by Jennifer Priest with Tombow Recycled Colored Pencil JUNE 2015

I used Tombow's Recycled Colored Pencils to color this image from Joanne's Zenspirations® Inspirations Designs to Feed Your Spirit coloring book. You can see the full reveal and an instagram video of the process over on the Tombow Blog.

Coloring Book Page by Jennifer Priest - Jenean Morrison FLOWERS with Tombow Dual Brush Pens JPriest

Jenean Morrison's style is very different from Joanne's.  I received a copy of one of her many coloring books, Flower Designs Coloring Book Volume 1, while at Alt Summit.  I love the very precise and delicate look of Jenean's coloring book but it was really hard to color for a couple of the reasons. The black lines are thin so it is hard to stay in them. The paper also liked to really drink up the ink from the Tombow Dual Brush Pens I was using, causing the coloring the bleed under the lines at times. I got the best results when using the Tombow Blender to watercolor the image, as you can see on the leaves here:

Jenean Morrison FLOWERS Coloring Book with Tombow Dual Brush Pens by Jennifer Priest JPriest

I think Jenean's book would be much better for watercoloring and colored pencils than the markers I had used for it. The watercolor effect I got by using the Tombow Blending Palette and the Blender was really nice. I could totally see myself doing that again. I think I might cut this out and decoupage it onto a notebook or something…

Jenean Morrison FLOWERS Coloring Book Colored with Tombow Dual Brush Pens by Jennifer Priest JPriest

Getting started with coloring books for grownups:

Here are some essential things to know when venturing into the world of coloring books for grownups:

  • Say “Coloring Books for GROWNUPS” not “Adult Coloring Books”. “Adult” sounds creepy.
  • Check the paper – if you are in a store, feel the paper before you buy the coloring book to check the roughness of the paper and the paper thickness. You want to look for books with thick, smooth pages. The prices of the books and quality of the paper vary wildly from publisher to publisher.
  • Experiment – there are no rules so try things out and see how they work.
  • Use a piece of cardstock behind the pages as you color to avoid bleeding through to the next page. Leave pages open to dry if using markers or other wet media like watercolors.
  • Get a Tombow Sand Eraser. If you make a mistake with just about anything, the Sand Eraser can erase it unless the paper is too thin. The Sand Eraser works by taking off a thin layer of the paper.
  • Be careful not to set your hand in wet ink. If you look close at the page above, you can see pink speckles where I laid my hand in pink ink and then it soaked into the paper as I continued coloring.

Want to get started with coloring? Here are some of the supplies I recommend:

Looking for more coloring book pages?

Check out this post I wrote about the best places to find free coloring book pages here: BEST Free Coloring Book Pages

The best free Coloring Book Pages for Adults JPriest

Did you know that you can use coloring book pages as templates for making window clings and puffy paint doilies? Check out how I made puffy paint doilies by using free printable mandala coloring book pages I found online: Puffy Paint Doilies


Have you tried any coloring books for grownups?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!!

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Jennifer Signature Block-JUST JP May 2015

I created this post as a Tombow Design Team member and Zenspirations® supporter. We appreciate our sponsors for helping Just JP spread smart creativity everywhere!

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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  1. Yes, so far it’s been all of Johanna Basfords books, Animorphia, Secret Room, Secret Clock, and some norwegian- released colouring books. Plus coupla smaller Mandala books,and the postcardversions of Johanna Basfords books, I think that was it. Haven’t yet gotten my hands on the Derwent colourpencils, so they are definately my next priority- expensive tho. Will give e-bay a check after them first and hope they are real. Thankyou for posting about this subject which is consuming me totally these days 🙂

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