Most people are familiar with coloured pencils - they’re readily available, and easy to pick up and use. And one of the most widely used media in adult colouring.
Many coloured pencils you find on the shelves are wax-based, but their quality can vary hugely. Often the ones found in stores next to the adult colouring books aren’t of the best quality. This doesn’t mean you have to invest heavily in fancy artist’s pencil sets, but it is well worth avoiding the really cheap alternatives. They contain little pigment, being mostly ‘filler’ and in the end won’t be that much fun to work with. A good mid-priced coloured pencil is best. Your colours will be that much more vibrant and will apply a lot more smoothly and cleanly. You can even start to experiment with blending colours together.
You might also try a water-soluble pencil. With these you can get some really attractive effects by diffusing the colours with water. Just take care, the paper inside many colouring books won’t hold up well to being made wet. So don’t saturate the page. Or better still, find a colouring book that’s been printed on watercolour paper.
As with the more common wax-based variety, there are plenty of cheap water-soluble pencils out there. But the same rule applies, they won’t contain a lot of pigment and therefore won’t break down to a nice smooth gradation when you try and blend with them.
Markers and Felt-tips
There are a multitude of pens and markers you can choose from, from cheap felt-tips to professional quality markers with a variety of nib types and sizes.
You don’t necessarily need to break the bank, just invest in a good set of pens ideally with a small tip size that will help you stay between the lines. And don’t feel like you need hundreds - it’s better to have a limited number of decent quality pens in colours you’ll use every day.
In many ways, alcohol based markers can be great for colouring. They dry quickly, and their dye based colours cover exceptionally smoothly. You can even blend the colours together or combine with coloured pencil. However, do take care as alcohol inks will ‘bleed’. This means they can soak through the page of your colouring book, and on lower quality papers you might get some feathering if you don’t go lightly. Put something behind your page to protect the surface beneath, and look for a colouring book with good heavyweight pages.
Fine Line Pens
You might also try working with a fine line pen. These are typically used for writing and outlining, but now increasingly come in a variety of colours and tip sizes. Fine Line Pens are well suited to the small detail on many colouring pages, and whilst their selection of colours can be limited, their vibrancy and smooth feel make them a good choice. The inks are typically pigmented, giving you good strong colour. And they generally use water-based solvents so they won’t bleed, making it easy to control where your colour goes.
Fine Line Pens come in various widths, giving you some flexibility depending on the amount of detail in the page you’re working on. Some even come with a fine brush tip, which has a lovely feel and can be great for working from a large area of colour right into the corners.