Drawing for Adults Who Color


When we last met, I shared my fascination with the adults-who-color movement, that I wouldn’t mind a little piece of that market, and why success would require a new idea.

Methodical being my middle name, I’ve continued working with my initial, commonplace drawings in the few days since to better understand current coloring norms. I expect this step is necessary before new ideas will come. That’s me being methodical.

Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Coloring your own drawing. This simple quality control step will ensure a drawing is ready for useHiding within the drawing could be obstacles or a never-ending space, which, in the hands of colorists who stay between the lines, would fill much of the page with a single color.

Drawing for humans with no superpowers. Coloring books for adults are more complex than those for kids. But drawings can be too intricate and frustrate colorists if the vision of a raptor and the steady hand of a brain surgeon are required to color tiny spaces.

Drawing for specific media. I’m testing colored pencils and markers for now. I’ve also colored drawings with my iPad for extra fun.

I like the sort of woodcut effect in my initial drawings and found I prefer markers with the thick lines in this style.


The left half of the drawing above is colored with markers, the right with pencils. It takes several layers of pencil to fill the spaces solidly. Then a shiny, waxy build-up coats edges of the black lines. In the close-up below, the pencil is on top and the marker on the bottom. Shading lightly with pencils looks wrong with the boldness of the drawing.


The garden drawing at the top of this post was colored with an iPad app. Markers would have worked well for the wood-cutty parts of the drawing, but pencils would be needed for smaller spaces, because a marker could bleed. The tiniest spaces, like the dots on those waffle leaves, just need to go. They can’t even be clarified for online viewing.


I redrew part of the garden using delicate gray lines at 40% black and tried the colored pencils with subtlety — none of those thick layers. With more practice, better color choices and the itty bitty spaces removed, I think we’d agree that this is the style of drawing for pencil work.

The light gray allows the colorist to color the lines. The drawings in most coloring books are black, but narrow — probably 1 or 2 points.

Next steps? I’m thinking about how we normally draw with pencil — not creating flat spaces, but shading areas to indicate form and depth. Maybe that’s a new idea I could make work for adults who color.


As for my initial drawings in this post, including this bubbling fish … I might turn them into homemade greeting cards. They’ve gotta be good for something.

just lori

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