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Break the Rules with Coloring

This past spring, I published a coloring book of floral mandalas called Flowers All Around. (It’s available NOW on Amazon!) I had so much fun drawing these designs. I can honestly say it was one of my favorite personal projects I’ve ever done.

Click on the image to see the book on Amazon

A few of the floral mandalas from Flowers All Around

Mandala designs are popular in adult coloring for their repetitive and intricate nature. I like to draw them using floral elements because I’m obsessed with drawing flowers and patterns. I’ve created floral mandalas with a variety of media—paint, pencil, ink, digital, etc. I often draw them when I don’t know what to draw. So I had a lot of practice before I got the idea to even make this book.

One of my painted floral mandalas

Adult coloring books are a great way to relieve stress and create works of art in the process. These aren’t the brand of coloring books you used as a kid. These designs are often very detailed and can be beautiful and sophisticated—though there are some fun quirky ones as well. There are adult coloring books for just about any subject matter you can think of.

As I’ve gotten into coloring, I have done a lot of experimenting with various methods and media. Along the way, I’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to break the rules a little bit. I have a few ideas listed below of how you can do this. If you’re new to coloring or are looking for some fresh ideas, here are some ways to approach a coloring page that are perhaps a little outside the norm:

1. Don’t be a slave to the lines. 

Notice how I've kept my strokes nice and loose, not concerned with staying in the lines or filling in solid color.

It is natural for us to want to stay within the boundaries of the line drawing, but sometimes it can be freeing to step away from that way of thinking. Sometimes very intricate designs can be intimidating because you’re faced with filling in many tiny spaces, but you don’t have to color them in separately. Use broad washes of watercolor or marker instead. Or if the lines are on the lighter side, and you’re using an opaque medium like gouache or thick colored pencil, try coloring over the lines to create a painterly look using the line drawing only as a guide.

2. Fill large areas with your own patterns or drawings. 

This is kind of the opposite of the previous tip, where instead of taking a complicated design and simplifying the process, you can do the reverse and make a simple design more intricate. For example, recently I took some princess coloring pages (from my kids’ coloring books actually…) and added surface patterns to the dress fabric. I also used shading techniques for a 3D look. Use this same idea to do things like add borders to mandala pages or fill in scenery around objects.

3. Try black and white (or monochromatic). 

One of the best ways to create a nice coloring design is to use a limited color palette. Why not take it a step further and use one color? Using lots of colors is fun, but working with a strict monochromatic palette can be a nice break as well. It has its own unique effect, and it gives you great practice with how best to use value (i.e., lights and darks) in your designs.

4. Go digital

Have you ever wished you had an endless supply of colored pencils and markers? Were you ever unhappy with a design and wished you could start over and color it again? Do you wish you could take your coloring with you wherever you go? Well, one way to do all of this is to try digital coloring on your tablet! For me personally—and this is not an endorsement, just my opinion—nothing beats iPad + Apple Pencil + Procreate. Using these three together is about the closest you’ll get to the experience of coloring on paper with a tablet. For an added tactile experience, you can also use a matte screen protector that is meant to mimic the texture of paper and reduce harsh glare. With all the various brushes available for Procreate and a limitless color palette, it’s like having all the art supplies at your fingertips. Just import your image into Procreate and start coloring. If you mess up, simply “undo” or start over!

If you're looking for some digital designs to get you going, my floral mandalas from Flowers All Around are also available as a digital download in my Etsy shop (click the image below). I’ll go more in depth on how to color digitally in an upcoming post. ;)

Those are just some of my own ideas of how to approach coloring a little differently. The next time you open a coloring book, try to think outside the box, and you might create something unique!


I'm happy to give you all a FREE coloring page download of one of my floral patterns. Simply go to the link HERE (or click the image below) to open in Google Drive and download, print, and color to your heart's content!
Click on the image to open in Google Drive and download the PDF. Personal use only please.

Have fun!


Flowers All Around on Amazon

Digital Floral Mandalas on Etsy

Also, stay tuned for some Halloween coloring fun coming this fall!


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