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A 13-Step Guide to Create Your Own Coloring Pages: Not as Hard as You Think!
Dec 18, 2018

The craze over adult coloring books has subsided but there still is a significant demand or volume of sales for it in the book market.

If you are looking at creating your own, there is plenty of room to do that. Besides, you can always create a hybrid product that incorporates coloring designs into journals, planners, calendars, cards, bags, mugs, fabric, among others.

This opportunity should be a source of inspiration and motivation to you.

Your Coloring Hobby Need Not Be Expensive

Coloring is a pleasurable activity that brings significant health benefits to your mind and body. It works on releasing happy hormones to relieve you of stress, calm you down, let you sleep well, and maintain your level of energy even in stressful situations.

Yet, maintaining a coloring habit can be strainful to the pocket. Take these for instance:

  • Coloring books. You don’t only buy one coloring book to work on. You buy more. You don’t only buy once but you buy every time one catches your eye or your favorite artist releases a new one.
  • Coloring supplies. Then, you need to buy your coloring supplies; not just any kind. You don’t want used ones but new. Because you color on a regular basis, your supplies get depleted and you need to replenish them.
  • Coloring events. You decide to join a network of local colorists who meet regularly. There is a “minimal” fee to attend, excluding food that you bring to share or buy at the venue.

Yeah, it’s fun but where does that take you?

What if you create your own designs?

What if you publish and sell them in online shops or offline bookstores or outlets?

What if you organize your own coloring events and use your own designs for participants to color?

What if you open your own online store and sell digital copies of your artwork?

What if?

Have you thought of all these possibilities?

Why not?

The possibility of creating your own coloring pages to feed your hobby may not be for you. You may not have the skills, inclination, motivation, or openness to do it… and all you really want is just to color. 

That’s fine. 

However, if you do, then this is for you! 

How to Make a Coloring Book? One Page at a Time!

To reach a destination, you always start with a single step. That’s also how you create a coloring book – one step at a time. 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~Lao Tzu

Before I came up with a finished digital image of a cancer-stricken woman, I had an image of her in my mind. I then sketched her with a pencil, occasionally erasing parts that didn’t go well. 

I inked it, scanned, and went through various other activities to achieve the result I want. 

Voila! Done! 

I drew other women like the Geisha, Ndebele woman, Chinese, and Afro, following the same process that I learned from others then tested and polished to achieve the results I want. My other illustrations also followed the same process. 

13 Steps to Make a Coloring Page

Through the years that I’ve been creating line art, I’ve come to settle on a personal creative process that is an iteration of those I saw others do and those I learned from experience. 

My process involves pretty much nine steps, as follows:

1. Conceptualize

This is a quick process that does not require much thinking. It is here where I think about what to create based on a theme, topic or idea.

At times, this process can be unnecessary as creating a coloring page can be random or from out of the blues, when inspiration strikes. 

2. Research (Optional)

This is an optional process that I do when I lack knowledge or information on something I like to focus on.

For instance, I search online, the library, or my collection of books, when I need quotes to use. When I drew an image of an African Ndebele woman, I researched online about the tribe particularly on the dominant facial features and attire of their women. Drawings of flowers can be based on imagination or stock information, but when needing accuracy on specific aspects, research comes in handy. 

3. Sketch

This is when I put pencil to paper to draw what’s in my mind. Sketches could be a product of conceptualization and research but it can be anything random. It can even be doodles. Do whatever works for you.

For supplies, I often use Staedtler HB pencil. There are many brands to choose from, including pencils kids usually use at school. There is no hard and fast rule for this, only that which works.

4. Erase

This goes hand in hand with sketching and is done to delete mistakes or unwanted strokes.

For this, I use the kneaded eraser or putty rubber.

Kneaded erasers can be shaped by hand for precision erasing, creating highlights, or performing detailing work. They are commonly used to remove light charcoal or graphite marks and in subtractive drawing techniques. However, they are ill-suited for completely erasing large areas, and may smear or stick if too warm. (Wikipedia)

I use to like Staedtler’s retractable eraser but supply for the refill is hard to find and they leave residues or shavings all over. The kneaded eraser doesn’t have this kind of mess although it can smear and get sticky with aging and hot weather. 

5. Ink

I ink my drawing using Sakura’s Micron ink pens with the thickness of either 01, 05 or 08. I have tried other brands but the Sakura Micron pens work best for me.

After inking, I discover remaining pencil marks that I either erase with the kneaded eraser or clean up at Adobe Photoshop. 

6. Digitize

This is where your scanner comes in handy. I scan my images with the following settings:

  • Color format: black and white (instead of grayscale or color)
  • File type: JPEG
  • Brightness: 100%
  • Resolution: 1200 DPI.

If your scanner can only do 600 DPI, that’s fine, too. Others recommend a resolution that’s higher than 1200 to capture the details; however, my scanner can only do until 1200 DPI and I have no problem with that.

7. Clean Up

Now that I have a digitized copy of my image, I go to my favorite photo editing software, which is Adobe Photoshop, to clean up my images. I have tried other applications but I always go back to Photoshop even though I pay a monthly fee for subscription to Adobe’s suite of tools. It’s just a personal preference but if finance is a concern for you, or you don’t have Photoshop skills nor the patience to learn it, use whatever works for you. 

Clean up involves any one or all of the following:

  • Erasing pencil marks and unwanted elements in the digitized image
  • Smoothening the lines
  • Thickening or thinning the lines
  • Adding or subtracting elements
  • Compositing or combining images.

8. Vectorize (Optional)

Vectorizing an image is one that I almost always do it because I love that clean look. I use Adobe Illustrator for this. I simply drag my image from Photoshop over to Illustrator then click image trace. I then do the needed adjustments to create the look that I want.  

The finished product from Adobe Illustrator is a vector image when saved in SVG. Vector, unlike raster, images are those that can be scaled to any size without pixelation or loss of quality. However, my purpose for vectorizing is just to achieve a clean look. At the end of it, my coloring pages are saved in non-vector formats. 

This process of vectorizing is optional but recommended to give your images that crisp, clean and professional look.

9. Save in Your Desired Format

Once done with vectorizing, I drag back my image to Photoshop and save it in preferred formats. I always do JPEG and PDF for my coloring pages, but if an image requires transparency, I create a PNG file. In special cases, I save an image in SVG format at Adobe Illustrator if a vector image is needed. 

Use this guide for familiarity with file formats acronyms:

  • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • PNG – Portable Network Graphics
  • SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics
  • PDF – Portable Document Format
  • TIFF – Tag Image File Format.

I don’t normally save in TIFF format. 

To save on time, I always do formatting in bulk, not by piece. 

10. Test print

I print out a copy of my pages, usually just a sampling, to see how well they look.

11. Review

I review the test prints to check on the following:

  • Font type
  • Font size
  • Spacing of text
  • Adequacy of allocated space
  • Margins
  • Clarity of message
  • Thickness of line art
  • Placement of elements
  • Balance
  • Grammatical errors
  • Typographical errors. 

12. Enhance (Optional)

I do the needed enhancements after printing test copies of the pages. Otherwise, they are good to go.

13. Compile

When I have completed all the pages I need for one document, say this 31-Day Gratitude Coloring Journal, I bring them over to a publisher or word processing application. I use Microsoft’s Word or Publisher for this. When dealing with images only, I also use Adobe’s Acrobat. 

When I have everything in place, I save the document in two formats:

  • Native file format – Microsoft Word may be saved with .doc or .docx extensions while Microsoft Publisher is .pub. You need the native file formats so you can edit or refer back to the original document. 
  • PDF format – Files in PDF format are handy for sharing files in an easily readable form as well as publishing to platforms (i.e. Createspace) that require a PDF file. 

This process is what works for me. You may try it as is or tweak it for your own good. Again, whatever works is best! 

If already creating your own coloring pages, how do you do it? What process or steps do you take?

If not yet, is creating your own coloring pages something you would try?

I would love to hear what you have to say about this. 

Please share your comments below to enrich this post. Thank you!

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