Updated September 2022
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Buying guide for Best coloring books for adults

Have you made a commitment to more self-care lately? If you have, you might be seeking activities for your highly coveted “me” time. Take a break from reality and dive into something you loved doing as a child with coloring books for adults.

Coloring is a soothing, self-paced activity. That’s why it’s ideal for five-minute moments, as well as afternoon-long relaxation sessions. If you’re wondering how adult coloring books differ from those for children, it comes down to detail. Coloring books for adults typically feature more line art and blank space to color. There’s quite a range of themes to explore, including floral designs or seascapes, as well as Disney- or Star Wars-inspired books.

Give yourself a break — and an artistic outlet — with an adult coloring book.

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Most coloring books are the same size as magazines. There are also smaller books and square books, though these specialty sizes are usually more expensive.

Key considerations

Kids’ vs. adults’ coloring books

Themes: Kids’ coloring books often feature cartoon characters, superheroes, or popular toys. Adult coloring books can also have these themes, but they’re slightly more developed. A kids’ book featuring cars may have generic vehicles, while a coloring book for adults may have a Shelby Mustang with fine detail.

Quality: For the most part, the paper quality is significantly better in coloring books for adults. Kids’ coloring books have thin, off-white pages that are susceptible to ink bleeding through. The pages in books for adults tend to be stark white and much thicker to minimize bleed. As a result, pages in adult coloring books are better able to receive and hold pigment from colored pencils and ink.

Level of detail

Coloring books for adults vary in their level of detail. Generally speaking, the smaller the white space between the lines, the more involved the design. While no designs are overly complicated, they can be involved and somewhat time-consuming.

Simpler designs are ideal for those who prefer completing projects more quickly. Those who welcome a challenge, on the other hand, are best served by designs featuring a wealth of nooks and crannies to color.


The type of binding might seem like a small consideration, but it’s important to give it some thought. Coloring books with traditional flat bindings fit into bags easily but can be cumbersome to keep open or fold over. Those with spiral bindings are a breeze to fold over, but pages can rip away from the spirals easily.


You can use any medium for your coloring book, though some are better for certain tasks than others.

Colored pencils are the most popular choice because they navigate nooks and crannies marvelously.

Markers also excel in this department, though they tend to bleed through paper and run out quickly.

Crayons are usually the most affordable option, though they’re sometimes too blunt for coloring intricate designs.

Ink pens are sometimes used by more experienced artists for fine coloring detail, but these are the priciest option.


Popular themes

Coloring books for adults come in just as many themes as those for children. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some popular themes you can explore.

Animals and creatures: These coloring books focus on a specific animal or group of animals. Their heads or bodies can be the central focus of a design, or they can be placed in their natural scenic environments. Hummingbirds, big cats, butterflies, and mythical beasts are currently popular.

Nature: For those who prefer nature-themed coloring books, there’s a wide variety of landscapes, seascapes, and underwater scenes. These also feature animals, but they’re typically not the focal points.

Patterns: These are a popular choice for those who prefer coloring simple, orderly shapes. These coloring books can still be incredibly involved, and the level of detail varies considerably. Mosaics, mandalas, stained glass, Russian eggs, and even quilt-inspired coloring books are just some of the patterns you’ll find.

Licensed designs: You can now enjoy your favorite TV shows and movies in licensed coloring books. These books feature popular themes and characters, some of which take on new adventures in the pages. There are also comic book-themed coloring books, which are especially popular with superhero fans.


Colored pencilsInvest in a quality set of colored pencils for your coloring books.

Pencil sharpenerSharpen your colored pencils for fine detail in coloring books.

Prices of coloring books for adults

Many coloring books are priced at less than $10, though their paper quality varies quite a bit.

If you want to avoid color bleeding and seek more detailed designs, aim to spend between $10 and $15.

Sets of coloring books, as well as some licensed coloring books, cost between $15 and $25.


  • Give coloring books to hospital patients. For loved ones staying in the hospital, coloring books help pass the time. They’re also relaxing and can provide comfort while the patients undergo treatments and procedures.
  • Invest in screen-free self-care. Coloring books are ideal for those who seek a self-care activity that doesn’t involve computers or smartphones.
  • Color in nature. Next time you go to a park, beach, or pool, bring your coloring book. Take in nature and your surroundings while engaging in something artistic and relaxing.
  • Buy colored pencils with a decent shade assortment. When you invest in deluxe colored pencil sets with between 24 and 60 shades, you’re able to experiment with unique color themes in your projects.
  • Stick with large designs to avoid eye strain. If you experience eye strain often, you may wish to choose coloring books with large designs. Those with finer details can be a bit overwhelming for sensitive eyes.
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Buy coloring books with varying levels of detail. Some days you might prefer simple designs, and other days you might like a design that commands your full attention.


Q. What are the best coloring books for travelers?

A. Since you usually have limited space on a plane, bus, or train, stick to coloring books with spiral bindings. These keep the book’s footprint small while you work. If you’re trying to pack light, you may also want to explore coloring books with fewer pages or those in smaller sizes.

Q. Does it matter how thin the pages are in my coloring book?

A. It’s not a big deal if you’re using colored pencils or crayons, because they won’t bleed through or cause the page to pucker. Any medium with ink, however, will go through the paper. Ink can also transfer onto subsequent pages. Thin pages tend to be a sign of a lower-quality coloring book, so seek those that claim to be bleed-free.

Q. Can kids enjoy coloring books for adults?

A. Absolutely. Many kids’ coloring books are simple with minimal detail. For seasoned young artists, adult coloring books will be more on par with their skills. Keep in mind that these coloring books are significantly more expensive than kids’ coloring books, so make sure the theme is one they enjoy before shelling out big bucks for it.

Q. How long does it take to finish coloring a page in a coloring book for adults?

A. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. It depends on the level of detail and how much time you can dedicate to the project. Coloring books for adults are open-ended activities that are self-paced. You can take your time and complete a design or simply opt to color only a portion of it. Some adults invest in a coloring book as a long-term project and won’t purchase a new one until they complete it.

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