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Adult colouring books: An expert weighs in on the best colouring tools Add to ...

Adult colouring books have tapped into a widespread desire people have to explore their artistic side while enjoying a little stress-free down time – restorative powers highly touted by some publishers. Now it’s time to take your colouring to the next level by thinking outside the pencil-crayon box. Yes, using pencil crayons is relaxing and often satisfying, when the lead isn’t breaking every 10 seconds. But, says Steve McDonald of Creemore, Ont., illustrator of Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined, there are many more ways of producing a beautiful image.

Pencil set

Colouring with only a pencil set – no colours – can produce a striking image and challenge you to colour in new ways. “You’re going to have to do some thinking,” McDonald says. “You have to approach the thing thinking about light, where there are shadows and not shadows, with tones in between.” Pick a light source and shade appropriately. It can be complicated, McDonald warns, but done well it also looks super cool.

Art store recommendation: Staedtler Mars Lumograph 12 Pack.


Here, too, you’ll need to do some prep and planning, but the payoff is worth it. “You can’t use a ton of water, obviously, unless you cut the page out and tape it to something,” McDonald says. “You can have all kinds of fun. You can colour it outlandishly or you can get into more realistic stuff,” McDonald says. Sure, you can colour inside the lines. But watercolours have the possibility of running wild by letting colours bleed across the page and into one another.

Art store recommendation: Royal Talens Van Gogh Watercolor pocket box.

Graphic markers

“These aren’t your kid’s markers,” McDonald says. For one, they won’t dry out the way cheaper markers will. “They’re really nice quality inks and pigments.” But their best feature is also their most obvious one, compared to a kid’s plaything: “They generally come with a fine nib and also a wide nib,” McDonald says. “You can get quite detailed.”

Art store recommendation: Winsor & Newton ProMarker.

Pencil crayons

“Pencil crayons are still the most popular,” McDonald says. “The great thing about coloured pencils is that you can get a nice, sharp detail.” But make sure to get a good set so that you don’t have to push down too hard to distribute the colour, McDonald advises. That way you’ll spare yourself the frustration of spending more time with the sharpener than actually colouring.

Art store recommendation: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.

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Follow on Twitter: @Dave_McGinn


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