Pens or Pencils. What is the best choice for grown up colouring books?

Often a personal choice I prefer to use colouring pencils most of the time as they allow you to add colour to a page gradually and build up the colour in layers.  Having said that depending on the type of design I am colouring I may opt for a set of gel pens or even thicker art markers where the design has less intricate detail.

Whilst there isn’t a need especially if you are new to adult colour a good set of high end pencils will go a long way and allow you to do much more than you could using your children’s pencils.

Here are some tips depending on the type of colouring instrument you decide to choose’


Keep a light touch. My first tip is to keep a light touch when colouring and build up layers gradually.  This applies to both pens and pencils and feel free to experiment with different materials to get the desired effect you want.

Keep things sharp. Adult colouring books often have intricately designed pages and a well sharpened pencil is key to getting into the tight spaced.  Art stores sell small blocks of sandpaper should you wish to really refine a point without sharpening down the wood of the pencil all the time.  This also helps make a set of pencils last longer, important if you have found yourself a set of pencils you particularly like working with.

The pen is your friend. If pens are your thing then try and find some that have a fine nib and look for ones that are not alcohol based as these are more likely to bleed on the page which on some books will mean bleeding through to the page behind spoiling it.   Again experiment with different types of pens , they can be a great way of creating vibrant designs that would otherwise be difficult with pencils.

Watercolour. Watercolour pencils are great if you are looking for a different effect, however be careful when apply water to the page so that you do not overdo it.  Derwent are my particular favourite watercolor pencils.

There are no rules.  The great thing about grown up colouring is that there are no rules, no-one to tell you how you should be colouring so use this to your advantage.  Look around art shops online or locally as there are a wide range of materials that can be used, experiment and find what works best for you.  Sharpie markers, crayons, oil pastels or paint the choices are vast.  What’s more is you do not even need to keep between the lines if you don’t want too!

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