Make an Adult Coloring Book in PicMonkey

People from all walks of life love coloring books. Even Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, has been rumored to do a little royal relaxation with an adult coloring book and a box of crayons. So learn how to make your very own adult coloring book (or any-age coloring book) with PicMonkey. We’ll go over quick steps for a print-worthy background you can add PicMonkey graphics to, and then show you how to make a different kind of coloring page with vintage art and design.

Set up your coloring page background

  • Click Create new button on the PicMonkey homepage.

  • To create a blank canvas, choose  "Blank canvas" in the "Open image from" dropdown list, then choose  8.5" x 11" from the print sizes section.

  • Click the gear icon in the bottom toolbar, click the Show grid on canvas toggle, and then set the grid to 44 rows x 34 columns. This will give you .25" squares, making it easy to set up a 1/4" or 1/2" margin for printing. We're using 1/2" margins for this project.

Add solid rectangles for print margins

  • To add a graphic, click the Graphics tab, then add 4 solid rectangles (Basic > Shapes) to create printing margins. Drag the sides of each rectangle to resize so it covers the columns or rows of squares that will make a 1/2" margin on one side.

  • It may be helpful to start with black rectangles, so you can see them easily against the grid—don't forget to change the color to white after they're aligned.

  • To create the thin black line border, add a thin rectangle (it has a transparent center) and position it to go right up against the half-inch (two squares wide) borders.

  • Group the layers of those five shapes together and rename them so your layers palette doesn't get too overwhelming.   

Now you have a perfect background with a print margin, ready to add graphics galore.

Add graphics to your background

Click through the groups and sets in Graphics. When you find one you like, simply click it and drag to place it. Use the corner handles and top handle to resize and rotate, then customize it to your liking.

This design uses flowers from the set Illustrated Botanicals, and leaves from various other sets. Some of the leaves are solid dark grey and some are light grey to create depth.

Add text to your coloring page

  • Click the Text tab in the blue column on the far left and, in the Text palette that appears to the side, choose a font from the font dropdown.

  • Move your cursor to the text box in your design, and type your text. Use the controls in the Text palette to adjust size, appearance, and add effects.

  • Click anywhere outside the text box when you're done.

To create outlined letters that you can color inside of, click the text layer, then click the Effects tab at the top of the Text palette, then choose Outline, and change the color of the outline to black. Adjust the Thickness slider.

Download and print your coloring page

Click Download in the top toolbar to export the file to your computer for printing. If you're a PicMonkey Pro subscriber, you'll want to download the file as a PDF, because this format will perfectly honor the 1/4" or 1/2" margin without resizing. If you download and print it as a .PNG or .JPG, the entire image may get resized to fit the printer margins, and it may require some adjustments.

Make a coloring book with vintage artwork

Turn this poster by Alphonse Mucha to line art — it's public domain!

Okay, now you know how to PicMonkey graphics in your coloring book designs. But what about when you crave something more complex? Something that can transport you to another world? That might be a good time to embellish the pages of your DIY coloring books with public domain illustrations.

Public domain images include things like vintage posters, government-printed documents, certain art folders, and illustrations from 87 years ago or more. Check the rights to anything you want to use, but once you’ve got the all-clear, let your imagination run free!

Public domain illustrations can be super simple to turn into great-looking coloring books, because many of them are printed in either black and white or a limited color palette. Here are a few different styles of coloring book you can make with these up-for-grabs images:

  • Fairytale/storybook. Take advantage of the availability of beautifully detailed Victorian and Art Deco illustrations from children’s stories and novels.

  • Anatomical. This might make a good DIY gift for one of your weirder friends, we’re just sayin’.

  • Mucha. The artwork of Alphonse Mucha is so iconic, just his name recalls flowing lines, soft-faced women, and bounteous flowers.

  • Vintage ads. Turn old-school nuclear families into green-skinned aliens! Or just enjoy a little retro flavor in your doodling.

But what do you do if these images aren’t black and white? Or they are, technically, but they have kind of a yellowish cast and lots of discolored flecks? Don’t despair: these pics aren’t doomed to obscurity. They just need some fixer-uppering.

How to convert color art to black and white art

There are many paths to perfect coloring-bookable images but we’ve come up with three simple steps:

  • Go to Effects, click Tri-X, and choose 1600. Apply.

  • Also in Effects, choose Warhol, and change each of the color dots to black, white, or a shade of grey.

  • If necessary, go to the Edits tab, and choose Exposure. Adjust the sliders to calibrate your perfect contrast.

Why Tri-X and Warhol? Well, both effects work to clear out those pesky midtones that keep your images mired in grays instead of clean lines. In addition, Warhol’s got its very own Brightness, Contrast, and Fade sliders, which make it easy to adjust the effect to suit your image. Use these two effects on public domain illustrations to make them their very most colorable.

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Elisa Chavez is a content writer here at PicMonkey, where she hopes to change the world one dinosaur selfie at a time. She is also a nationally ranked slam poet, champion shopper, and doting dog mama.