Can I use watercolor in my adult coloring books?
Many colorists are new to art and coloring books for adults are providing a wonderful way to tap into their creativity and inner artist, while other colorists come to the books with an extensive art background specializing in watercolor and immediately want to be able to use some of their art supplies right in the book. I know I have dabbled in arts and crafts and DIY things since I was a kid growing up with a single Mom always looking for ways to make our world prettier and create inexpensive gifts. My arts now are anything but inexpensive but that is due to my aforementioned coloring book addiction. But I digress…. Most artists have at least dabbled in watercolor painting and when they see these gorgeous already drawn designs their first question will be.. but do I have to use crayons or pencils or markers in these books or can I use watercolor? The answer is absolute, YES you can… with different degrees of success depending on the book, your application style, and your supplies.
Watercolor Techniques in Adult Coloring Books
In a “The Mind of Watercolor” video, this watercolor artist went through the four basic quality levels of the paper in the coloring books to show you his experience with each. For him, even the least expensive Createspace paper coloring book could take several layers of a watercolor application. He did, however, seem to scoff at we coloring book colorists and refer to the pod people which I took exception to and let him know so in a comment. Ah well… they can laugh at us all they want but we are the ones having the MOST fun.. right?
He used a water brush with both regular watercolor paints and watercolor pencils and practiced in four books, 3 of which I already own. I know.. SHOCKER!
- Posh Coloring Book – Vintage Designs
- Color Me Calm by Angela Porter A favorite and one of my first books.
- Enchanted Forest
- Secret Garden Artist Edition (Note: At least he didn’t make any disparaging remarks about the wonderful Johanna Basford’s work… in fact, he seemed quite excited to be painting in her books)
He recommends painting dryer than you would on watercolor paper to keep the buckling down.
Watercolor Supplies needed:
Get a travel set of watercolors so you can be portable whether in the park, at the coffee shop, on your back patio (my and my dogs favorite) or in your living room.
Koi Water Color Travel Set – I really love this set as it contains a mini set of 24 pans of paint plus a Koi Water brush. This is made by Sakura, makers of Gelly Roll pens. This is the set I have. Click to order US UK Canada
Some people have a hard time controlling the water that comes out of water brushes so you can use watercolor brushes. You will need a small and medium round and a small flat brush. You can buy sets of them for very inexpensively to start out or head to your hobby store and buy one or two nice ones using whatever coupon you have.
There are all sorts of options for watercolor pencils and opinions vary about which ones are best but no one seems super unhappy with any of them so if you are lucky to have an art store nearby I recommend going and buying 1 or 2 in your favorite colors of different brands and then bring them home to play with and see what you think.
Unless you are really going to get into watercolors in a big way, there is really no need to get a huge set of these since the whole magic of watercolor is the blending of different colors. I’d start with nice mid range pack and look at which colors are included and what types of pictures you prefer to color in. If you like florals look for the pack that has plenty of pinks, reds and purples, landscapes you need browns and greens and ocean and lake you’ll need plenty of blue.
I will recommend that you buy artist quality watercolor pencils to use in your coloring books because most books aren’t really designed for water to be put on the paper so you don’t want to have to come back in and have to reapply many layers in order to get the color desired. The difference between student grade watercolor pencils and artist colored pencils is the amount of pigment in the sticks of color. More pigment makes it easier to get more and richer and deeper colors down on the paper with less effort.
Derwent Watercolor Pencils
Derwent has two options:
Derwent Inktense Watercolor pencils can be used wet or dry but when water is added the colors become INTENSE.. thus the name. Derwent Intense comes in tiny packs of 6, or 12 but I would recommend one of the 3 middle sizes. 24, 36, 48(in a fancy wooden box below) or 72. Derwent Inktense Watercolor pencils in the UK and in Canada.
Peta Hewitt warns us Inktense Pencils actually aren’t watercolor but rather acrylic ink in the form of a pencil so it does activate with water, but once it dries, then it’s permanent as opposed to watercolors which you can add water too and move the color around.
Faber Castell also has a couple of option for you in Watercolor Pencils
Albrecht Durer Artist Watercolor Pencils
These pencils open new horizons to your artistic creations by combining the advantages and applications of the classical watercolor paints and color pencils. The high pigment density ensures unsurpassed brilliance and the maximum possible light- fastness even for the most delicate shades and nuances.
Wonderfully creamy leads and high-density color make these pencils a perfect choice for anyone who is at all serious about working with watercolor pencils. The colors are more muted than those of Derwent Inktnense Pencils, but the marks made can be moved more than once with water, so they serve a slightly different purpose. The two sets combined would be the absolutely ultimate collection a water colorist could desire.
Albrecht Durer’s set of 24 includes: White, Light yellow glaze, Cadmium yellow, Dark chrome yellow, Dark cadmium orange, Pale geranium lake, Deep scarlet red, Dark red, Magenta, Helioblue-reddish, Ultramarine, Light ultramarine, Phthalo blue, Dark phthalo green, Emerald green, Light green, Earth green yellowish, Venetian red, Burnt ochre, Raw umber, Walnut brown, Warm grey V, Warm grey II, Black.
You can also order beautiful wood boxed sets for special gifts for the artists in your life.
Your third artist grade watercolor pencil option is from Caran D’ache the pencil company that brings you the beautiful Pablo and Luminance colored pencil also has a line of watercolor pencils called Supracolor which compare to the Pablo’s and Museum Caran D’ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils which are the Watercolor version of Luminance! Oh, my! The price reflects.
Caran D’ache Watercolor Pencils
WOW these are beautiful, just like their Luminance line of colored pencil they come boxed with little pillows for each pencil and that is how I treat my small set of 20. like royalty. You can purchase these 72 gorgeous sticks of color here in the US UK Canada
Watercolor technique using a Colorless Blender instead of Water
Julie shows something I’d never seen before in her how-to tutorial video here, using a Tombow Colorless blender as the water source. If anyone has tried that let us know how it goes in the comment section.