Adult Coloring Books

Stack Overflow: Adult Coloring Books (Part 1)

Featured Geek Culture Stack Overflow

I have a slight addiction to adult coloring books and have purchased a little over 20 different books in the past few years. So I decided to review everything in my possession. Since I am a month out from having a baby and my activities are limited by my size and ability to walk, I figured what better time than the present to practice my coloring skills since I am about to have a baby and I am a bit rusty since my youngest (soon to be middle) kid is turning fourteen at the end of the year. In part one of this series, I will review the following five coloring books:

Adult Coloring Books


I broke down each book by target audience, complexity, and then I go into detail about the best options for coloring mediums. Also, I provided a sample page from each book so you can get an idea of the illustration styles. If you are interested in purchasing any of these coloring books, I attached a link to every title or image that will direct you towards an Amazon page or the publisher website.

For a preview of the next five coloring books, I provided an image preview at the end of this article.


Balance by Angie Grace

Balance: Angie’s Extreme Stress Menders Volume 1 by Angie Grace

  • Complexity: Moderate/complex
  • Paper Quality: Standard weight (similar to printer/fax paper) non-perforated pages
  • Illustrations: 50 mandala drawings on single-sided pages

If you are looking for a stress relieving coloring book then Balance is a great choice. I found that I quickly entered a hyper focused state as I worked on the more delicate features towards the middle of the mandalas, so much so that I lost track of time. I would recommend Balance for anyone looking to escape the stress from one’s daily grind or for anyone that finds comfort in symmetry and elegant designs.

I rated this coloring book as moderate to complex because of the finite detailing in each layout. Also, take into consideration that this coloring book’s dimensions are 8.5 x 8.5, which is slightly smaller than the other coloring books in this review. Since there are a great deal of finite details, I felt like a toddler holding a crayon for the first time due to a slight tremor in my hand which makes it difficult to keep the colors within the defined lines. The narrow areas of the illustration cause some issues with certain color mediums.

I found that soft lead color pencils did not take to the page as well as hard lead.  I have a heavy hand when coloring with color pencils and I prefer the color to fill in without having those white speckles on the page (when the color doesn’t take to the paper) or leaving heavy indentation. If you use color pencils make sure to keep a sharp tip in order to fill in those finer curves. I did use several gel pens and found that the gels made the pattern pop more because the color filled in better than color pencils. I also used brush tip markers (similar to a painting brush) which worked better in the wider angles but for the slimmer areas I stuck with fine tip sharpies and art pens. When using markers, be aware that you might experience bleed through due to the paper quality. If you want to keep all of your finished drawings in the binding then I would recommend using wax paper behind your work; otherwise, consider cutting the page out of the book or gently separate the page from the glued binding.


Doodle Fusion by Lei Melendres

Doodle Fusion: Zifflin’s Coloring Book (Vol. 2) Illustrated by Lei Melendres

  • Complexity: Moderate/complex
  • Paper Quality: Standard weight (similar to printer/fax paper) non-perforated pages
  • Illustrations: 51 ADD drawings on single-sided pages

Doodle Fusion is probably my favorite coloring book because it reminds me of the animated series AHHHH!!! Real Monsters and Adventure Time. The different illustrations create a sense of organized chaos and there is definitely a method to the madness. As someone with ADDI would recommend this coloring book for anyone with ADD because there is so much on the page to keep one’s attention. As the title suggests, the page illustrations are a compilation of doodle style artwork compressed onto each page. This is not the type of book you might spend a few minutes coloring and then put-away. Be prepared to carve out a few hours for a single page of coloring.

I had a lot of the same issues with this coloring book that I had with Balance. So, I rated this coloring book as moderate to complex because similar to Balance there are a lot of finite details and some serious focus is required to color the page. However, the dimensions of this book are a tad bigger at 8.5 x 11. There are no framing lines and some of the illustrations flow into the page margins, leaving some of the images cut-off. This layout adds to the chaotic concept and depending on your coloring style, the run-off illustrations can become irritating or entertaining—something to take into consideration before purchasing.

Since there is a great deal of animation on the page, these illustrations beg for bold and diverse colors as portrayed in the cover art. However, there is an issue with heavy bleed through when using both permanent and water-based markers.  If using markers, I would recommend a double-sided marker that has both a chisel and fine tip. Consider keeping a piece of wax paper between pages as you color or remove the coloring page from the book with a pair of scissors as these pages are sewn together and don’t separate from the binding as easily. Gel pens are also a great option for this coloring book since gels offer bold colors and little bleed-through, but there is a slight issue with indentation marks when using gel pens on this paper. I don’t recommend color pencils with this coloring book only because the finite detailing can be difficult to maneuver a color pencil while staying within the lines. However, if you choose to use them I would avoid using soft lead color pencils and stick with hard lead pencils, and make sure to keep your color pencil extremely sharp.


Adult Coloring Book

Winter Wonderland: Coloring To Make Your Day Merry & Bright by Color Creatives

  • Complexity: Easy
  • Paper Quality: Standard weight (similar to printer/fax paper) perforated pages
  • Illustrations: 62 festive drawings on single-sided pages

Who doesn’t love winter in July? If you are looking for seasonal inspiration, then this coloring book is perfect, since it contains and array of festive illustrations from gingerbread men to holiday sweaters. This is the type of coloring book you would pick up if you wanted to spend a minimal amount of time on a single page since the illustrations are simpler and contain less finite details that require a steady hand and focused eye. I would recommend this book for anyone needing to work off those holiday blues or for a parent wanting to color with their little one.

I rated this coloring book as easy due to the larger print illustrations allowing for a wider range of coloring mediums: crayons, color pencils, markers, gel pens, etc. The dimensions of this coloring book are smaller  at 8 x 10.9, but that doesn’t cause any issues with coloring since the majority of the illustrations don’t have as many finite curves and detailing. However, the majority of these images run-over the page edges, which could cause some frustration, but the perforated edges simplifies being able to color towards the page margin—no need to squeeze your color utensil between the binding to color every inch of the page.

The paper quality of this coloring book is a tad different than the others I have worked with; it fits with the other standard weight pages but the pulp level is smoother. This book works well with soft lead colored pencils due to the slick surface area and allows for a smoother blending process. The illustrations are also larger and simpler in design which allows for the width of a dull coloring pencil—no need to keep a sharpened pencil when working on this coloring book. When using markers, use wax paper for bleed-through or tear the page out by the perforated edges. A chisel tip or brush tip marker work well with the wider illustrations and fill out the page in less time. I noticed that water-based markers have little to no bleed-through and permanent markers have a greater bleed-through issue. Gel pens, on-the-other-hand, leave little to no bleed-through, depending on how heavy-handed you are as a colorist. Whether using gel pens, color pencils, or fine tip Sharpies there is little to no indentation left on the page since the page quality soaks up the color so easily there is little need to press firmly with any color medium.


Adult Coloring Book


Creative Haven Naturescapes Coloring Book by Patricia J. Wynne

  • Complexity: Easy
  • Paper Quality: Standard weight (similar to printer/fax paper) perforated pages
  • Illustrations: 31 nature drawings on single-sided pages

Wow! Talk about some amazing full-page artwork. Since the artist brings shading to the illustrations, theses illustrations easily pop off the page with the slightest color and they are easy to color as there aren’t a great deal of tiny detail lines that require a great deal of focus and steady hand. This is the type of coloring book you pick up and color with ease because there really isn’t anything you could do to ruin the illustration. I would recommend this coloring book to anyone new or experienced in coloring, as well as, for anyone who enjoys coloring exquisite nature scenes.

The creators of this coloring book state that the designs are for experienced colorists, but the design and layout were easy to use with every type of coloring medium, so I rated this coloring book easy. However, I can see how an experienced colorist could really illuminate these pages with amazing colors. With 8.2 x 11 dimensions, this coloring book is similar in size to other adult coloring books, but with the added feature of a defined stopping point due to framing lines.

As usual, I started with gel pens and found there was little to no bleed-through. My favorite option was the soft lead colored pencils because the smooth paper quality was perfect for color blending. For a more dramatic look, I used hard lead color pencils to outline the animal features, in doing so I did experience slight indentation on the page but nothing too dramatic. The larger print illustrations allowed for wider tip markers and even crayons. For the tighter spaces I used my fine tip Sharpies and experienced bleed-through issues, which is common with a standard weigh paper. However, the wider water-based markers left little to no bleed-through. If you are concerned about bleed-through, consider using wax paper or take advantage of the perforated edges and separate the page from the book. Color, relax, then display your work of art.


Adult Coloring Book

Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns by Blue Star Coloring

  • Complexity: Complex
  • Paper Quality: Standard weight (similar to printer/fax paper) non-perforated pages
  • Illustrations: 48 patterns on single-sided pages

I’m sorry but I would not recommend this coloring book to my worst enemy.

I struggled in maintaining an objective outlook during the review of this stress relieving coloring book—there were limited positive features to discuss. I colored the illustration in the above image and quickly discovered that I would need a 0.5 mm (or smaller) tipped color pen to color the page due to the fine printed designs—I found this issue to be stressful rather than stress relieving. The pages are not perforated and the binding is sewn which causes some issues with quick page removal, so consider using scissors to remove pages. Luckily, most of the illustrations are centered mandalas or geometric designs with a framing line so there isn’t an issue with cutting the page and losing any of the illustration features. As for paper quality, I had bleed-through issues with every medium other than color pencils. Also, I would recommend keeping your color pencils extremely sharp.

I have read a plethora of positive reviews from Amazon customers, so someone out there likes this book. Maybe I should have tried a different illustration, but I don’t have the patients for this book, at the moment, and that might be due to not having the proper coloring tools to thoroughly enjoy this coloring book.

If anyone had a positive experience with Blue Star’s stress relieving coloring book then consider sharing your experience and expertise in the comments below. I would love to have a positive review for this coloring book. Unfortunately, I did not have such an experience, but I would love to hear from others.

Also, if there is anything I did not cover in this review please share you comments, questions, and concerns in the comments below.

Adult Coloring Book

And make sure to stay tuned for next week’s review of the following five coloring books in “Stack Overflow: Adult Coloring Books (Part 2).”

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