Meditation? It works for some. For others, the idea of sitting quietly with your own thoughts is more stressful than the thoughts themselves. The truth is, meditative practices can take many forms, and it’s important to find what works for you. One of the best meditative practices that has become popular in recent years is adult coloring books.
Adult coloring books can be used for stress relief anywhere, anytime and for an affordable price. All you need is a great set of images, a solid set of colored pencils or markers and some quiet time. Note: We did not say any artistic skill is required — because it’s not!
Benefits of Adult Coloring Books
As we leave school and reach the independent stage of our lives, it’s easy to feel like our learning days are over and that our brains are packed with all the knowledge we need to succeed. However, that’s sometimes the problem. Our brains are too packed with what we already know and not open enough to what we don’t.
Many benefits of coloring for adults help battle this conundrum. Here are a few of them:
Reduced Stress and Anxiety – One of the main reasons that coloring is so closely linked with meditation is that both activities can have a relaxing effect on your amygdala, which is where memories are stored, both good and bad. By reducing the pressure on our mind with coloring, we can improve the levels of mindfulness and calm we feel.
Improved Skills – Coloring is not just about staying in the lines. It’s also about selecting the best color, where to color first and what to do with the artwork once it’s complete. These aspects of coloring require multiple parts of the brain to work in unison for the best results.
Better Sleep – Avoid blue light before you sleep by spending time coloring rather than scrolling. Whereas electronic screens can have a negative effect on your melatonin levels, coloring books do not.
Increased Focus – There’s a healthy balance of focus required for coloring. It’s not a case of closing your eyes and hoping for the best. It does take concentration and precision but not to the extent you’ll find it stressful. If anything, you’ll find the activity reduces your anxiety levels.
Adult coloring books have been trending for a few years and for a good reason. They engage your mind and creativity while also providing a soothing, relaxing, hands-on activity. Take one on a long flight to pass the time or share it with friends for a soothing group activity.
What to Consider Before Buying an Adult Coloring Book
Because you’ll likely be using an adult coloring book as a stress relief tool, you need to ensure you’ll actually want to pick up the coloring book when you’re stressed. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when shopping for the best adult coloring books for you:
1. What theme do you like most? It’s best to pick a themed book around a topic you’re interested in. Like dogs? There are books for that! Prefer channeling your inner Roy Kent? There are books for that, too.
2. What coloring tools will you use? Some coloring books are double-sided and can only be used with crayons or colored pencils. Others are single-sided, which allows for the use of markers or even paint.
3. How difficult do you want the illustrations to be? Most adult coloring books feature fairly difficult illustrations, but some books have images that are far less complicated. So, ask yourself how long, on average, you would like to spend coloring on a single page.
4. How many illustrations do you want to have in the book? Many adult coloring books have 30 or fewer pages. If that’s not enough for you, pick one with upwards of 50 pictures to color.
5. What do you want to do with your images once they’ve been colored in? Feeling your inner Picasso? Want to display your work? Choose a coloring book with perforated pages that can easily be removed from the binding.
How We Chose the Best Adult Coloring Books
We have found in testing various adult coloring books that much of the pleasure derived from this activity comes from both the illustration on the page and the match of any given person’s abilities with how complicated the illustration is. Therefore, we wanted to choose a wide variety of themed books as well as coloring books with both complicated and easy illustrations. We’ve strived to select the best book in each category.
If you think coloring books are just for kids, it’s time to experience the new world of adult coloring books. Beautiful, intricate and fun, adult coloring books are about to become your new favorite way to spend an afternoon. Below are the best adult coloring books you can buy, including a wide variety of inspirations and difficulties. There’s a coloring book to suit everyone, so pick yours and enjoy.
1. The Best of ColorIt Adult Coloring Book
If you can’t decide what type of adult coloring book you want, try a little bit of everything with The Best of ColorIt Adult Coloring Book. This spiral-bound book compiles three pages from 10 different ColorIt books, allowing you to have a variety of artworks at your disposal. This will also help you hone in on your next coloring book purchase, as you discover which types of pages you like best. Plus, the hard front and back cover will help you keep this book in tip-top condition as you color.
Pros: This coloring book boasts hand-drawn images in a variety of styles, so you won’t get bored. It also comes with a blotter to protect the pages behind the one you are working on.
Cons: Because there isn’t a single theme to the artwork included, this coloring book can feel a bit disjointed and may not provide the most stress relief.
The Best of ColorIt Adult Coloring Book
2. Stoner Coloring Book
You don’t have to actually be a stoner to enjoy taking a trip through Edwina Mc Namee’s Stoner Coloring Book for Adults. Whether you smoke or not, it’s guaranteed to be a colorful and creative experience. By combining unusual groups of objects and characters, such as pizza, cats, cakes and mushrooms, this book will have your imagination racing as you relax into coloring. Each of the 25 outlined illustrations is printed single-sided to ensure premium quality and no ghosting into the next masterpiece. Grab some snacks, get comfy, and color away.
Pros: It’s also available as a spiral-bound book, so the pages lay perfectly flat.
Cons: The same creatures and objects are featured in many of the colorings.
Stoner Coloring Book
3. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animals
From every part of the planet, this adult coloring book from MantraCraft delivers animals in all shapes and sizes for your coloring pleasure. With small, intricate details available for the experts, or wide swaths of open space for those looking to fully zone out, MantaCraft’s animal coloring book backs enough variety to satisfy everyone. Single-sided pages mean no bleeding through to an image underneath. We also like that the book offers a variety of skill levels.
Pros: Boats 50 different animals at varying levels of coloring difficulty.
Cons: Some details can get pretty intricate and the book might not be suitable for users with bad eyesight.
Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animals
4. Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults
Sometimes you just want to say bad words, but you can’t. So, color them in instead. Not only is the Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults full of motivational phrases, but it also delightfully includes those words you can’t utter in polite company. The designs in the book range from easy to complicated, so this would make a great gift for someone who may or may not be a great artist. Alternatively, keep it for yourself and start relieving the stress that comes after a Zoom meeting with your boss or noticing your neighbor’s dog pooped in your yard again.
Pros: Each of the 30 designs includes one of the best swear words along with a matching image to really bring home the hilarious point of this coloring book.
Cons: Because of the language used on each of these pages, this may not be the best adult coloring book for kids or for your prudish friends.
Swear Word Coloring Book for Adults
5. Creative Haven Country Christmas Coloring Book
You’ve got the decorations out, the tree trimmed and the cookies baked, but there’s still something missing. You need a Christmas-themed coloring book to really make the holidays hygge. Afterall, December is one of the most stressful times of the year, so it’s important to take a break and enjoy the festive spirit. The Creative Haven Country Christmas Coloring Book comes with 31 drawings of rustic Christmas scenes for you to color or gift to your favorite coloring buddy on the 25th.
Pros: Because this coloring book has a theme, you may find it easier to carve out time to use it in the appropriate season.
Cons: This coloring book is Christmas-themed, so it’s not really appropriate for use year-round, unless you celebrate Christmas in July.
Creative Haven Country Christmas Coloring Book
6. 50 Shades of Bullsh*t
Put your manners to one side and bring out your potty mouth with Alex Flemming’s 50 Shade of Bullsh*t. Clearly this coloring book is all fun, games and a lot of bad language. Find your daily frustration release through the pages of this book by laughing at the wording, enjoying the coloring and channeling your energy into creating. This is perhaps not one for the easily offended, but really, it’s completely harmless and lighthearted.
Pros: Packed with humorous, lighthearted banter.
Cons: The pages are not perforated and can tear when removed.
50 Shades of Bullsh*t
7. Disney Dreams Collection Thomas Kinkade Studios
Whistle while you color with the Disney Dreams Collection Thomas Kinkade Studios Coloring Book. Known as the Painter of Light, Kinkade became one of the most commercially successful artists of the late 20th and early 21st century, thanks in large part to his stunning Disney paintings. The book includes 63 paintings from Kinkade’s extensive Disney collection, including images from The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp.
Pros: Each image features a black and white image to fill in and a full-color picture to display Kinkade’s vision.
Cons: The book is smaller than most coloring books, which can make it difficult to color.
Disney Dreams Collection Thomas Kinkade Studios
8. Caffeinestar Drinking Animals
Sometimes the act of coloring in is the goal alone and so the image you’re creating doesn’t matter too much. But even so, why waste the opportunity to produce a random, funny picture that might not otherwise be appropriate in day-to-day life? For example, why not color in animals sipping on a range of beverages? There’s a whole range of creature combos to choose from in this coloring book, such as a giraffe drinking a cosmopolitan or a bear digging into a champagne rum cocktail. The silly humor makes it almost impossible to not like this coloring book. It’s sure to turn frowns upside down.
Pros: The recipe for the relevant drink is included on each page.
Cons: All the drinks contain alcohol.
Caffeinestar Drinking Animals
9. Tattoo Coloring Book
If you’ve ever caught yourself daydreaming of becoming a tattoo artist, here’s your chance. The Tattoo Color Book for Adults is filled with 30 artistic tattoo designs that cover the most desired tattoo themes. From sugar skulls to the universe, crowns, flowers and more, this book has outlined images for all levels of experience, ready to be colored in. Who knows, you might find the inspiration for your next skin doodle?
Pros: All the most popular tattoo themes and designs are included.
Cons: The quality of the paper isn’t to the same standards as the illustrations.
Tattoo Coloring Book
10. The Mindfulness Coloring Book
This option is a pocket-size coloring book designed to help you relax and find calm on the go. Take it to your next appointment to pass the time mindfully in a waiting room through 70 intricate designs. Combine the power of meditation with creative action using this anti-stress coloring book. Fans will also like to explore the other designs offered in this series of coloring books.
Pros: Small size makes it easy to carry everywhere.
Cons: Binding is a little tight which makes coloring near the spine difficult.
The Mindfulness Coloring Book
11. 100 Easy Coloring Adult Coloring Book
If you really enjoyed coloring as a child and it reminds you of simpler times, you might be surprised by the difficulty of most adult coloring books. Many of them have pages that take hours or days to complete. For those who don’t have the patience for that comes the 100 Easy Coloring Adult Coloring Book. Each of the 100 pages can be completed in an hour or less, and all the pages are single-sided with black backs so the colors never bleed through.
Pros: For people who get stressed by an unfinished project, this coloring book will provide stress relief rather than adding to it.
Cons: This coloring book will be too simple if you’re looking for a challenge.
100 Easy Coloring Adult Coloring Book
12. Stress Relief Dog Coloring Book
Dogs are humans’ best friends. They are companions and stress relievers in their own right. If you can’t have one of your own, do the next best thing, and color one in. The Stress Relief Dog Coloring Book boasts 35 pages of dogs set against abstract backgrounds for you to color. Beagles, Boxers, Bulldogs and more will greet you every time you open the cover. This would make a great gift for any dog or animal lover in your life.
Pros: The dog-themed content of this book makes it easy to match with the person who would enjoy coloring these pages the most.
Cons: The pages in this book are double-sided, so only crayons or colored pencils won’t bleed through to the next page. You will not be able to use markers or paint in this book.
Stress Relief Dog Coloring Book
13. 100 Flowers
Enjoy flowers without the limit of lifespan by coloring in the pages of Jade Summer’s 100 Flowers: An Adult Coloring Book. All your favorite blooms are included, from tulips to orchids and many, many more. Whether you color them in their life-like color or not is up to you. This is a quality coloring book for adults that will bring hours of floral relaxation.
Pros: An all-pleasing mix of less and more detailed areas to suit all coloring levels.
Cons: It’s completely flower-focused with little variation.
14. Harry Potter Coloring Book
Attention magicians and muggles, your favorite new coloring book has just arrived by train on Platform 9 3/4. The Harry Potter Coloring Book is filled with images of Hogwarts and its inhabitants, including Harry, Hermione, Ron and the rest of the Weasley crew. Fans can add their own artistic touch to scenes like the sorting hat ceremony and the Quidditch Cup. Major moments from the books and films are included, like Harry facing off against Lord Voldemort. The intricate and elaborate designs will cast a meditative spell that Potter fans of all ages and skill levels will enjoy.
Pros: The book includes 16 full-color pages to help kick start inspiration.
Cons: Markers will bleed through the double-sided pages, but gel pens and pencil crayons are safe to use.
Harry Potter Coloring Book
15. Secret Worlds: A Coloring Book and Delightful Glimpse Into The Magical Life Of Tiny Creatures
Take a look into tiny worlds full of magical things with the Secret Worlds adult coloring book. Created by an independent artist from Texas, this book is one of the most imaginative we’ve seen with a new world lying on each page. The pages themselves are single-sided to allow the use of a variety of coloring instruments, including markers and paint. Plus, these pages are not as intricate as many other adult coloring books, so they can be completed in a matter of hours.
Pros: The unique drawings of everything from a mushroom fairground to snails in milk carton houses will put a smile on your face with every turn of the page.
Cons: Because the images are not as complicated as many others, you may finish this book quite quickly.
Secret Worlds: A Coloring Book and Delightful…
16. National Geographic Magnificent Ocean: A Coloring Book
If you often find that you finish adult coloring books quickly, you might want to find one with more pages, like the National Geographic Magnificent Ocean: A Coloring Book. This book has 50 black-and-white illustrations, which is almost twice as many as competing adult coloring books. Furthermore, the illustrations in this particular book are realistic, which some users may prefer over the more abstract coloring pages in many made-for-adult craft books.
Pros: The intricacy of the marine life in this coloring book allows you to focus on the minute details rather than the big and sometimes stressful picture.
Cons: Some of the illustrations in this book are rather repetitive.
National Geographic Magnificent Ocean: A Coloring…
17. The Splat: Coloring the ’90s
Kids of the 90s, rejoice! A coloring book just for you has arrived thanks to The Splat: Coloring the ’90s. The adult coloring book acts as a great nostalgia gift and can be enjoyed by teens and young adults who have recently discovered some of the best shows from Nickelodeon, including Ren and Stimpy, Hey Arnold, Rugrats and Rocko’s Modern Life. Including more than 45 designs, each page includes one image with a quote from its corresponding series on the back.
Pros: The heavyweight paper is slightly rough, making it ideal for pencil crayons and gel pens.
Cons: Markers are safe for use, but customers may want to include a blotter page between pages.
The Splat: Coloring the '90s
18. Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure
The author of the bestselling Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest adult coloring books is back with Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book for Adults. Johanna Basford is the leader in adult coloring book art, with her intricate designs inspiring millions of adults to use coloring books as their latest de-stressing activity. The crisp ivory paper provides a soft backdrop for the vivid images and the untextured paper is ideal for shading and gradient work.
Pros: Lost Ocean includes pages that fold out to create extended pieces of art to color.
Cons: Many of the images have small and intricate areas that require fine tip coloring instruments.
Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure
19. Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book
Who says you can’t color and learn at the same time, even as an adult? The Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book is one of the newest adult coloring books on the market, and it was worth the wait. The illustrations in the book are cross-referenced to the bestselling Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, 8th Edition, which is used by anatomy students worldwide. So, you can use this coloring book to help you study for your exams or to simply learn more about your bodily pathways.
Pros: Each topic is given two whole pages, and the illustrations are accompanied by information to provide context to the veins, arteries and bones you’re coloring.
Cons: People who aren’t interested in anatomy won’t like this coloring book.
Netter's Anatomy Coloring Book
20. Creatively Calm Studios
Choose from three soothing books in the Creatively Calm Studios Adult Coloring Books set, which includes animal, scenery and mandala-themed books. Made with thick and sturdy paper, the books won’t bleed even when using markers and gel pens. Each book includes three levels of difficulty, giving users the ability to start with basic images and work their way up to more intricate designs.
Pros: Customers get access to the Creatively Calm Coloring Club, which includes free bonus weekly images for a year.
Cons: The pages are double-sided, which can cause some bumps depending on the coloring instrument used.
Creatively Calm Studios
21. Color Me Stress-Free (A Zen Coloring Book)
There’s no end to the sources of stress each one of us faces on a daily basis, and sometimes we need a way to unplug and ease our minds. This coloring book is specifically designed for stressed-out adults looking to unwind with some creativity. It has different sections designed to help deal with different stressors, including work, relationships and finances. If you’re looking to dial in to process a specific area of your life, this book has you covered.
Pros: Relaxing, beautiful drawings designed to help you unwind no matter what’s stressing you out.
Cons: Hand-drawn so some lines are asymmetrical.
Color Me Stress-Free (A Zen Coloring Book)
22. Mandala Coloring Book
The Mandala Coloring Book For Adults is not only filled with a wide variety of beautiful mandala designs of all skill levels to color, but it’s also the most user-friendly book on our list. Thanks to its hardcover design, the book can be used without the assistance of a table, making it a great option for road trips, as well as rail and air travel. A spiral binding along the top means no more forcing pages to lay flat. We also like that each page is perforated, making it easy for artists to remove their new masterpieces for display once it’s complete.
Pros: The book includes a blotting paper to ensure that pencils, pens and markers won’t bleed through to the next design.
Cons: The heavy paper can lead to feathering or smearing.