Make an Adult Coloring Book in PicMonkey

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 a few easy styles you can make with PicMonkey’s tools.

First of all, size your canvas

This is an easy one: under Design on our homepage, hover over Blank canvas, then pick 8 x 10. You’re already on your way!

Make a coloring book with our overlays

Make an adult coloring book with our spirograph overlays.

We like to think our PicMonkey overlays are packed full of personality and fun, which makes them natural coloring book candidates. The only problem is, they’re sort of, well … already colorful.

Not to worry! Follow these guidelines to transform our overlays into colorable scenes:

  • Stick with simple overlays of one or two colors.
  • Under Canvas Color in the Basic Edits tab, turn your canvas to a very light hue (gray or pastel), and set the overlays to white.

These steps will ensure that you can see your overlays, even ones that don’t have lines around the edges, while still being able to color the background.

Make a coloring book with PicMonkey overlays.

Tip: If you’re looking for a more mindless, meditative coloring experience, keep your overlay composition simple. Try some of our spirograph overlays: their trippy, geometric shapes provide plenty of colorable real estate with little actual designing required.

Build your own coloring book shapes with geometric overlays

Make an adult coloring book that's totally unique by combining our geometric overlays.

The pros of using our overlays to create your coloring book is that they’ve already been drawn for you. But if you’re a hardcore DIYer, that might also be a con. So why not make coloring book pages that’re 100 percent original by building your own images with our geometric overlays?

Make a coloring book with PicMonkey's geometric overlays.

Our guidelines for designing coloring books using geometric overlays are essentially the same as before: simple overlays, change your canvas color to something gray or pastel. But as you can see, you don’t have to make all your overlays white—in fact, in the example above, dark-colored overlays can add delightful visual details.

Make a coloring book with vintage artwork

Make an adult coloring book full of flourishes and complex shapes when you reimagine vintage arts.

Okay, now you know how to use simple shapes and premade overlays 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 collections, 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. Color your own propaganda posters! Turn old-school nuclear families into green-skinned aliens! Or just enjoy a little retro flavor in your doodling.

Public domain art can be turned into a fabulous adult coloring book.

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.

Fixer-uppering: get acquainted with Tri-X and Warhol

Use Tri-X on your coloring book pages to remove midtones.

… The photo effect, that is, not the pop art maestro.

There are many paths to perfect coloring-bookable images (they’re a lot like good relationships or happiness that way), but we’ve come up with three simple designer-approved steps:

  • Apply Tri-X (and choose 1600).
  • Warhol it up.
  • If necessary, bop to the Basic Edits tab and use the Exposure sliders to calibrate your perfect contrast.

Located among the Paintbox effects in PicMonkey’s Editor, Warhol takes any image and renders it in just two colors. Set the first color to black and the second to white, and you’re well on your way to coloring book joy.

After you've applied Tri-X to your public domain art, apply Warhol.

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.

Print your coloring book pages or keep them on your mobile device

Once your coloring book pages look the way you want them, you’ve got two options: print ‘em out and start coloring, or do things the digital way and save them to Hub. When you open the PicMonkey app on your mobile device, boom! Your coloring book will be right there, ready for you (or a kiddo in need of distraction) to beautify it with our Draw tool.

Elisa Chavez
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.