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Master Coloring Tutorial

When we gathered the largest collaboration of street artists in the world to create The Ultimate Street Art Coloring Book, we knew how fun coloring is but didn’t really know how many different ways we could color ours—or how intricate it can get!

We’ve learned a ton since (and created more premium coloring books), so with the help of professional adult coloring artists, we’ve put together this coloring tutorial that will take you from beginner to advanced in no time.

Learn from scratch with us or brush up on your techniques with the easy-to-follow, learn-by-watching steps.

Below, you will find enough theory to help you combine colors like a pro. Follow along in your coloring book with the many samples in this master tutorial—and if you own any of our books, you know the pages are detachable.

Soooo, be ready to frame your artwork after watching these tutorials!


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Table of Contents

The Basics

Why Is Coloring Good for You?

12 Tips for a Great Coloring Experience

How to Buy a Good Coloring Book

Choosing the Right Coloring Tools

Beginner Techniques

Choosing the Right Colors

Finding Harmony in Your Colors

Tints, Tones, and Shades

Creating Your Color Palette

Coloring with Colored Pencils: Simple Tricks

Layering Colors

Color Gradients

Blending Colors

Bonus: Free Print-at-Home Coloring Pages to Practice

Intermediate Techniques

Mixing Colors

Adding Texture

Monochromatic Coloring

Mixing Mediums

Removing Outlines

Color Like a Professional Artist: Simple Tricks

Advanced Techniques

Exploring Advanced Coloring Styles

The Pointillistic Technique

The Impressionistic Technique

The Realistic Technique

The Cartoonish Technique

The Psychedelic Technique

The Gold Leaf Technique

The Ballpoint Pen Technique

The Paper Mosaic Technique

Why Is Coloring Good for You?

You spent hours coloring the books your parents gave you as a child to keep you busy (if you were lucky). It was unthinkable coloring would be a hobby you would want to pick up as an adult. But many adults now know coloring a coloring book is just as fun as it was back then, but also it’s a healthy hobby.

Coloring is a form of dynamic meditation, a must for many, and an artistic way to clear the mind.

Before we get into coloring techniques that will make you a coloring pro, let’s look at some benefits of adult coloring books.

If you haven’t started yet, these coloring benefits will surely get colored pencils back in your hands in no time!

Adult Coloring Reduces Stress and Anxiety

The stressful lifestyle many of us lead does not easily give us the opportunity to take a moment to relax—we have to make it.

We are bombarded with millions of pieces of information every day. It can be too much for our brains. Regardless of what you’re dealing with right now, adult coloring books can be a great way to let go of negative emotions and turn them into art.

Coloring books will put your mind at rest after a long day at work. Coloring evokes the same state of mindfulness as meditation. Coloring books calm the anxiety of a restless mind!

If you’re dealing with stress or anxiety or just had a bad day, take a page from your favorite coloring book and put some color in it. Adult coloring books release stress.

Adult Coloring Improves Focus

Coloring encourages you to pay attention to the details—it’s a key therapeutic benefit of adult coloring books. To color a page successfully, you must concentrate on small areas and work through many lines.

While you are relaxing and having fun, you are exercising your concentration. Whether at work or at school, the benefits of coloring will be reflected in the quality of your work. How about that!

Adult Coloring Makes You More Creative

As we get older, some of us disconnect from our creative flair. Work, responsibilities, routine, you know, life “gets in the way.” When you try to figure out how to color inside the lines or which colors go together, you are exercising the creative side of your brain. Guess what? Creativity begets more creativity.

Interestingly, through coloring, you also use the other half of your brain for focus, concentration, and organization. As a result, adult coloring books exercise your entire brain. This could be enough to help you think outside of the box while solving problems in other areas of your life. Cool uh?

Adult Coloring Connects You to Your Inner Child

And the most important reason why adult coloring books are good for you? You get to feel like a kid again! During childhood, we enjoy the simple things, right? Remember how easy it was to laugh about anything? Coloring is as easy as it gets.

Go back to the good ol’ days when you didn’t have anything to worry about. Adult coloring books are a fun way to relive childhood memories and pamper your inner child.

12 Tips for a Great Coloring Experience

  1. Practice is key. You know how the saying goes: “The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. 
  2. Start from the outside and work your way inward. You’re more likely to run over lines if you go the other way.
  3. Don’t press too hard. It’s easier to layer and blend colors when you use the right amount of pressure. If you press too hard, you’ll often break the tips of your pencils and end with hand fatigue.
  4. Sharpen your pencils. You will have more control over the pressure if you keep your pencils and crayons sharp. You’ll also need them sharp for detailed areas.
  5. Keep the caps on your markers and store them in a flat, horizontal position. Ink flows unevenly down in one direction when stored upright, and that can dry out or oversaturate the nib. Avoid dropping your colored pencils too often; it can break the core, which could lead to broken tips every time you sharpen them. Nothing more frustrating than that, right? Take care of your tools to make them last longer. Taking care of your tools will make them last longer.
  6. Test your colors on a separate piece of paper first to ensure you have the color you want. Colors can look different on paper than on a pencil or marker. You should also check to see if the markers bleed.
  7. Buying coloring books for adults made from quality paper makes a world of difference when it comes to your coloring results and experience. You will find out more about paper quality in this tutorial.
  8. Use fixative spray. Some colors might bleed on the other pages of the book when closed. It’s better to be safe. Plus, the varnish will protect your artwork too.
  9. Take your time. Coloring an entire page can take time. If you rush, you may not be satisfied with the results. Instead, relax and enjoy the process. If you get bored, put it off for another time or try another page. (This book has simple and complex designs so that you can enjoy both).
  1. Get inspired. There are many possibilities for coloring. You can find many examples online and see how others colored the same page. (Follow our Instagram account for that). You can steal a few tricks you like, too. Remember not to compare yourself to others.
  2. You don’t have to follow the rules. The whole point of coloring is to have fun and relax. It’s okay to go with the flow, too. You can’t mess up—and if you feel like you did, just turn the page!
  3. Share your work. We’d love to see how you’ve done! You can find a big community of coloring book lovers who will find your approach interesting. Tag @aimfulbooks to get featured in our feeds.

Now you know the multiple benefits of adult coloring books for your health and mind, let’s go over some tips for a great coloring experience:

1. Practice is key. You know how the saying goes: “The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. 

2. Start from the outside and work your way inward. You’re more likely to run over lines if you go the other way.

3. Don’t press too hard. It’s easier to layer and blend colors when you use the right amount of pressure. If you press too hard, you’ll often break the tips of your pencils and end with hand fatigue.

4. Sharpen your pencils. You will have more control over the pressure if you keep your pencils and crayons sharp. You’ll also need them sharp for detailed areas.

5. Keep the caps on your markers and store them in a flat, horizontal position. Ink flows unevenly down in one direction when stored upright, and that can dry out or oversaturate the nib. Avoid dropping your colored pencils too often; it can break the core, which could lead to broken tips every time you sharpen them. Nothing more frustrating than that, right? Take care of your tools to make them last longer. Taking care of your tools will make them last longer.

6. Test your colors on a separate piece of paper first to ensure you have the color you want. Colors can look different on paper than on a pencil or marker. You should also check to see if the markers bleed.

7. Buying coloring books for adults made from quality paper makes a world of difference when it comes to your coloring results and experience. You will find out more about paper quality in this tutorial.

8. Use fixative spray. Some colors might bleed on the other pages of the book when closed. It’s better to be safe. Plus, the varnish will protect your artwork too.

9. Take your time. Coloring an entire page can take time. If you rush, you may not be satisfied with the results. Instead, relax and enjoy the process. If you get bored, put it off for another time or try another page. (This book has simple and complex designs so that you can enjoy both).


10. Get inspired. There are many possibilities for coloring. You can find many examples online and see how others colored the same page. (Follow our Instagram account for that). You can steal a few tricks you like, too. Remember not to compare yourself to others.

11. You don’t have to follow the rules. The whole point of coloring is to have fun and relax. It’s okay to go with the flow, too. You can’t mess up—and if you feel like you did, just turn the page!

12. Share your work. We’d love to see how you’ve done! You can find a big community of coloring book lovers who will find your approach interesting. Tag @aimfulbooks to get featured in our feeds.

How to Buy a Good Coloring Book

With all the options available, sometimes it’s hard to find a quality book that exceeds your expectations. Too many cheap coloring books flood the market and often they don’t offer a truly satisfying experience. Here are some characteristics to keep in mind when buying a coloring book for adults:

Theme & Design

Most coloring books have a central theme; maybe they’re mandalas or tree leaves. Choose a book with themes that interest you.

Do you prefer realistic images that you can bring to life through colors? Or maybe you want to get lost in symbols or oriental elements? There are coloring books that contain only geometric designs; some others have only freehand designs.

We recommend you experiment with various design styles, especially if you are a beginner, since that is a great way to find what works best for you.

Who knows, maybe you’ll find a theme that becomes your next obsession. The best thing about adult coloring is that you don’t have to be good at drawing, right? You can enjoy illustrations artists have prepared for you and add your colors to them.

Whether you’re a fan of doodle art, portraits, animals, tattoo art, flowers, or abstract art, there’s a coloring book for you. Aimful Books’ street art coloring book series has a bit of everything.

They are designed so you won’t get bored coloring the same style over and over again. Shopping for a gift and can’t decide on a theme? You can’t go wrong with this one.


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Print at home our favorite coloring pages for free


The coloring pages of The Ultimate Street Art Coloring Book are authorized replicas of over a hundred well-known muralists and street artists.

Murals from all over the world, from famous neighborhoods such as Brooklyn and Wynwood to big cities like Los Angeles and Paris, and hidden gems from Australia to Jordan.

Each coloring page is different, just like every artist is different. You will not believe the variety of designs you can color.

Paper Quality

When choosing a coloring book, make sure its pages can withstand stress and ink saturation. Thin pages are terrible for blending and building color, minor bleeding is understandable, but too much will ruin your experience.

Quality paper should be as thick and white as possible. If you choose to download digital prints, be sure to print them on thick paper, 200 gsm or more (like these coloring books).

Quality thick paper is especially important for folks who prefer crayons, markers, watercolors, gel pens, or other coloring tools that are more concentrated and intense in color.

Book Quality

Coloring books come in different covers: hardcover and softcover.

Softcover or paperback books are cheaper and great for transporting: they are flexible and easy to carry wherever you go.

Hardcover books are bound with cardboard that doesn’t spoil quickly, keeping your pages safe for many years.

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If you find a coloring book you love, get the hardcover for your coffee table!

Adult coloring books are also sewn binding or spiral binding. What you choose is up to you. If you are more outdoorsy, we recommend a spiral-bound book, as it is easy to fold.

Detachable Pages Has it ever happened to you that you have finished coloring a page and are so happy with the result that you want to show it off but can’t? It’s a shame when your artwork has to stay hidden among the pages of a book.


Choose adult coloring books with removable pages so you can take the artwork out of the book and frame it. Your finished coloring page can make for a meaningful gift for friends and family or art for your walls. (Hint: Our original coloring books have removable pages).
Complexity
We understand complexity in coloring books. Are you a beginner or not very patient with little details? We recommend you stay away from illustrations heavy in detail and focus on pages with simple outlines. Look for repetitive patterns like flowers or mandalas.
 
On the other hand, if you are experienced or looking for more extended hours of coloring, you will appreciate the imaginative and complicated illustrations typically found in premium or branded coloring books. Avoid the common cheap coloring books for that.
  
 

We’ve designed coloring books with different levels of difficulty. Our coloring pages range from minimal to very detailed and complex.
 
Mission
Most coloring books are either a form of self-expression or simply a business. We like companies that have a mission. Finding coloring books with a mission might not be as common, but worth it, right? Check out this mission.


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Print at home our favorite coloring pages for free


Choosing the Right Coloring Tools

Wondering what medium to use? While colored pencils are the most common tool coloring book enthusiasts use, it is by no means the only one.

Some say you are what you eat, but can we say the same about coloring? Well, kind of.

colored pencils, markers, watercolors, even sharpies… they all produce different results. Street artists, fine artists, muralists, and coloring book lovers know that choosing the right medium makes or breaks the results. Brand preferences may vary, accessibility and affordability too—and that’s okay!

Here’s what you need to know when choosing the coloring tools for your book:

Colored Pencils

Colored pencils are the most popular medium adult coloring enthusiasts use by far. They are great for rendering art styles that are expressive, abstract, realistic, or highly detailed. You can make blends that are so smooth they resemble oil paintings!

Although it takes time to layer down colors compared to other mediums like markers or watercolors, they’re unmatched in control and precision. colored pencils can even be erased when other mediums can’t, so there is less pressure to get it right the first time. With colored pencils, you don’t have to worry about making a mess. You can relax, color with minimal supplies or planning, and color wherever you are.

Now, when combined with other mediums such as markers, watercolor, crayons, or gel pens, the results are truly exceptional. Try it out. Lay down a vibrant color foundation with markers and add details and finishing touches with colored pencils.

The results might change your perspective about mixing mediums.

Types of Colored Pencils

There are three types of colored pencils: wax-based, oil-based, and water-soluble. But what’s the difference?

Wax-Based Pencils

Wax is used in most colored pencils because it produces a smooth application. The pigment flows across the surface and allows you to apply numerous layers without fear of smudging the page.

There are two types of wax-based colored pencil leads: soft and hard.

Hard pencils are usually made for students, while soft pencils are preferred for professional use.

Many artists prefer soft colored pencils because they lay down color quickly and blend beautifully. Soft-colored pencils are smooth and have a waxy feeling—they can produce vibrant colors. The downside is that you need to sharpen them more often.

Hard-colored pencils can be sharpened to a very thin point that won’t break. This enables you to draw delicate lines ideal for detailed artwork and textures. On the other hand, they may also be less enjoyable because they require more effort to apply color to the page. You will need to press harder, making blending more challenging.

Oil Based Pencils

Oil-based pencils have wax in them, but they have a high oil content. They are firmer than wax-based pencils, which means they’re less likely to break and don’t need to be sharpened as often.

They don’t color as quickly as soft pencils, but for some artists who prefer better control over the color application, this may be an advantage. The drawbacks are that oil-based pencils smudge more easily and are harder to erase. They can also be more expensive than wax-based pencils. In terms of quality, there isn’t much difference between wax and oil-based pencils. It all comes down to application.

Water-Soluble Pencils

You might know these pencils as watercolors. They can be used dry, just like ordinary colored pencils, but they have a water-soluble gum binder that allows the pigments to be diluted with water.

With this kind of colored pencil, you can create watercolor paintings by adding water and using a blending brush. Apply the color as you would with ordinary pencils, then go over with a brush you dipped in water beforehand.

There are other ways to use them as well—using them on a vet paper or dripping the tip of the pencil in water, for instance. This technique produces lovely soft strokes! It could be tricky to get used to water-soluble pencils at first, but if you’re fond of paintings, you should try them in your coloring book.

So What Pencils Should I Buy?

Your choice of pencils depends on personal preference and the artistic style you want to achieve. We like smooth pencils on the page that have a waxy feel. But we also like mixing different colored pencils on the same artwork!

Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when purchasing colored pencils: You may find “student grade” and “artist grade” colored pencils. Artist-grade pencils have more pigment, which gives you richer colors; they are usually softer, making them easier to blend. If your budget permits, we recommend investing in higher-quality materials; you will find it more enjoyable to color.

If you’re a beginner, if you like to color from anywhere, and if you prefer an affordable option, these dual-coloring pencils are for you. The pencils come in a small box that can be carried anywhere. They are excellent pencils for shading and creating gradation effects. Each dual pencil features complementary light and dark tips that make color transitions easy.

Once you’ve mastered the art of coloring with pencils, you may want to take it up a notch and look for professional options. Some of the most recognized brands are Prismacolor, Faber- Castell, Derwent, and Arteza.

Markers

Markers create bright, vibrant colors in a wide variety of shades and are easy to hold.

Most markers are made of pigment suspended in either water or alcohol, a solution that dries and leaves the color behind. Their tips are great for precision coloring and outlining, but because markers are permanent and erasers don’t work, they can be intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with them.

But no need to worry; they are easier to use than you think! Because they’re easy to use and dry quickly, markers are an excellent option for outdoor coloring and perfect for travel.

Types of Markers

There are two different kinds of markers in the market: water-based and alcohol-based. So, which one do you choose?

Water-Based Markers

Commonly found in cheap sets made for children, there are quality markers made for artists, too. Quality markers don’t bleed through the paper as much, which makes them excellent tools for coloring books.

They take more time to dry, so you don’t have to rush. But one disadvantage is that you can damage the paper if you put too much color. They can also leave some “streaks“ when the colors are overlapped to create a solid fill.

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Print at home our favorite coloring pages for free


Don’t lose it! Get this tutorial and the entire series in your email, plus exclusive coloring techniques & flash sales not available anywhere else.

Alcohol-Based Markers

Alcohol-based markers, or “permanent markers”, are the preferred choice of artists. They blend more smoothly and give you more freedom in layering shades, tints, and gradients by overlaying colors, but they dry very quickly so you have to work faster.

You can also find them in a wider color range than water-based markers. On the downside, they are more likely to bleed through paper, so they are not ideal for double-sided coloring books. They tend to be more expensive than water-based markers, but, of course, the price justifies the quality.

Nibs

Markers have different types of nibs (tips). Different tips have different levels of precision and are suitable for several techniques.

Bullet Tip — Most common type, effective for covering small areas

Fine Point — Good for details and thin lines

Brush Tip — Spreads ink smoothly with softer strokes, flexible like a brush, the harder you press

the thicker the line will be (Recommended)

Chisel/Broad Tip — Can cover larger areas quickly, allows for both thicker and thinner lines

Tips for Coloring with Markers

Here are some essential tips that might help you out when starting with markers:

  • Have a separate piece of the same paper you’re coloring so you can test colors before applying them on your page.
  • Keep in mind that colors can look different on paper than what you see on the marker’s barrel.
  • Color the lightest shades first. You can always go darker by adding more color, but you can’t go the other way around.
  • Plan out highlights and white areas in advance. You can’t erase markers!
  • Using light pressure creates a smoother color. If you press too hard, you could end up with streaks and uneven color!
  • Color in quickly! Speed can be essential. The ink has time to dry and form streaks if you go too slow.
  • Once you are done coloring with markers, use colored pencils to add the finishing touches.

Crayons

Adult coloring fans should have crayons in their arsenal. The boldness of a crayon color and the smooth, waxy application makes coloring with them a relaxing experience.

Wondering why children love them? They are easy to apply and inexpensive. Plus, coloring with crayons could save up on your precious pencils or markers. Have a set on hand and use it to color the large areas.

Here are some tips for coloring with crayons:
 
●     Choose a coloring book with heavier-weight paper; it will hold more pigments from the crayons.
●     Color in one direction—you don’t want your page to look too scribbly.
●     Use light colors first and then add darker ones on top.
●     Use a sharpener. You can get those fine details from coloring—sharpeners are not only for pencils!
●     You can blend crayons using baby oil and a cotton swab! You will be able to soften all those hard edges and use crayons a little like a watercolor pencil. (More about that in this tutorial).
 
Watercolor
Many people shy away from watercolors because they fear it’s too complicated. At first, painting with watercolors can be challenging. Still, it’s easy and inexpensive to get started:
 
All you need is paint, water, and a brush. Whether you want to use watercolors as your primary artistic medium or as a base for your colored pencils, the rewards of this somewhat unpredictable medium are huge.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • The thicker paper, the better! We recommend using 200 gsm paper (like our books), but the thicker, the better.
  • Mix only two colors at a time — Combining too many colors can result in a brown and muddy mess.
  • Use a large jar and change the water frequently. Water becomes dirty quite fast.
  • Use a light touch. The beauty of watercolor paint is in its transparency and brightness. Use less water on the brush for better color control but less transparency. For greater transparency, add more water. Find a balance that works for you.
  • You can use a paper towel to remove excess color while it’s still wet and make the color lighter.
  • Plan out white areas in advance. Avoid them carefully, or you can apply masking liquid over these areas to protect them. It dries into a rubber material you can easily rub out with your finger.

All right, we’ve covered the basics and shared some simple but crucial tips with you. Let’s start diving into color theory and beginner techniques now.

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