As everyone knows, I love my coloring books and have a large quantity of them. Coloring books can help us to focus on the act of coloring a picture. This, in turn, can help us relax, decrease anxiety and enjoy the beauty of adding color to an image and transforming it.
Physical books are not the only way people can color. Computers and tablets can be used to digitally color via programs or applications. Some are free, some are free to download but have premium add ons.
Why Use an App?
An app can be a useful supplement to your coloring book collection. By using an app, you can practice color schemes before committing to it in your coloring book. I find that this is a useful way to visualize a finished page before I have started it.
Others may use an app due to a physical impairment. Coloring for hours on end, especially with pencils, can leave your fingers and wrists aching. If you have arthritis or limitations with motor skills the act of coloring in a physical book may be too difficult to do on a regular basis. Apps can give you the ability to enjoy the hobby and art therapy on your own terms.
Apps are also useful for portability. You may be having a hard day at work. How nice it would be to have a quick break and immerse yourself in coloring a picture on your phone.
Some people may use an app simply because they prefer technology over the physical. Using technology allows your hobby to be portable, you can color anywhere in the world on your phone or tablet, without carrying around accessories and equipment.
Using an app is also an alternative for the budget conscious colorist. You do not need to buy pencils, markers and accessories or even physical coloring books in order to enjoy the hobby.
If you live in a small apartment or with others, using an app may also be useful for space limitations. You do not need to store materials, mediums and books and have a space set out to color but can enjoy your hobby from any place in the home or out.
Coloring should also stimulate us. Sometimes we get in a rut with our coloring where we only color a certain type of image and constantly revert to a similar color scheme. Using an app, can challenge us to color different pictures in different styles, without experimenting on one of our favorite coloring books.
I like using apps because I love technology and secondly I am not at all confident with color schemes. I like to test things out first to see if that color palette is suitable, before I commit to paper. That’s not to say that I don’t use physical products because I do. I love my coloring books, they are like children to me! Nothing excites me more than discovering and trying new pens, pencils and markers either. I have filled my entire home office with coloring supplies and filled the ipad with apps as well 🙂
What to Use – Types of Apps & Software
The type of technology you choose for your digital coloring is really up to you and your circumstances.
If you like using a desktop computer or laptop you may prefer to use a digital software program like Paint (PC only) or Gimp (PC & Apple) – both of which are free to download. There are a number of You Tube tutorials where you can learn how to use the different effects in these programs.
Though Paint and Gimp have been around for a very long time, and you can use these programs to color in favorite designs, most digital coloring is done using a touch screen and applications (apps). These allow for more artistic expression than by using a keyboard. You use your finger or a stylus to color in the designs.
You can download apps and use them on your smart phone or tablet. Numerous developers have created apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In addition, you can also find coloring apps for Kindle Fire. The original Kindles, were strictly e readers, but the newer line of Kindle Fire tablets, give you the ability to use apps specifically bought in the Amazon Kindle store. Some of these are coloring apps.
I pad apps for coloring
I am an Apple user so naturally, I know more about the apps for this platform than the Android platform. I have noticed that most of the apps, whilst free to download, also have a subscription service where as a premium user you obtain more feature and more images to color. Generally, across the apps that I have reviewed ,they all follow the same format of weekly, monthly or annual service. The subscriptions are $2.99 USD weekly, $7.99 USD monthly and $39.99 USD. All the apps provide the option of using either your finger to digitally color or an apple pencil or stylus for more precision. All the apps have the ability to share your creations on social media in app.
Colorfly is very popular among digital colorists. The app is free to install from the itunes store and comes with basic designs of florals and mandalas. You can download it for free and use the standard app for free, including new designs to color. There is also a premium service which provides new images each week. The app is available for both iphone and ipad users.
Pigment is another app that seems to be well liked among users. It has options for different types of brushes to simulate real coloring and painting and also has a “tap to fill” option for easy coloring. There are 11 kinds of coloring tools available including pencil, marker, paint brush, fill, airbrush, circle brush, linear gradient, radial gradient, metallic brush, watercolor brush, and oil brush. Pigment boasts “The largest artwork collection available in an app with over 600 professionally illustrated works to color” with 150 pages free to try. You also have the option of an additional premium service.
Adult Coloring Book
Adult Coloring Book – Color Therapy Pages & Stress Relief Coloring Book for Adult is a completely free app that is offered for I pad users. This app also has a premium subscription service for unlimited access to books and all color palettes.
Recolor claims to be “the world’s favourite Coloring Book app”. They add new images for users to color each day. Recolor features over 800 unique coloring pictures which have been organized into themed chapters. The images comprise mandalas, animals, bouquets and more. These have been organised in accordance with different levels of complexity to suit new colorists and those with more experience and skills. You can pay for a premium subscription which entitles you to new picture updates and unlimited access to the full picture catalog.
What I like about Prismajoy is that it allows you to take a picture of something you drew and color it on the app. You can of course, use the images that the app provides but this gives you more opportunity for coloring digitally. Prismajoy have an award winning designer, Joy Renee who illustrates art exclusively for Prismajoy users. There is a range of art including Kawaii, artistic faces, mandalas, florals and more. Another great feature of this app is the ability to zoom 40 x to make it easy to color small areas. This is particularly useful for those with minor visual impairments
Colour Therapy App
The Colour Therapy app can be used by either tap an area of the screen to apply block colour or use the pen tool to create free-flowing lines, shading and swirls. The app contains a full colour palette for use.
You can see a promo video here:
They have a number of other coloring books apps including the:
and querkles app
Color art has a collection of florals, animals, patterns, mandalas to color. You just tap to paint. This is a very simple to use app without a lot of bells and whistles, and perhaps a good one to get started digitally coloring. They also have a premium service for new pictures and color palettes.
Millie Marotta’s Colouring Adventures
Fans of Millie Marotta will enjoy her coloring app which comes with 6 images and you can purchase other packs for a low cost based on her popular books. The app has been developed for the ipad only.
Android apps for coloring.
Some of the same apps that you can find on itunes for the ipad, are also available on Google Play for the android tablets as shown below:
There are also a couple of apps specifically listed for mandalas. This is a highly popular design based on the Buddhist zen meditation using mandalas in sand gardens to achieve relaxation. The monks would use a stick to create the designs in the sand as they meditated.
Kindle Fire apps for coloring
If you have a Kindle Fire, you will need to get your apps from Amazon and not Google Play. Even though Kindle Fire uses the Android Operating System, there are some minor differences that require you use kindle versions of apps instead of the standard Android ones. There is a large variety of choices here, though on Amazon, most of them are free.
Problems with Digital Coloring
There are some challenges to using tablets to color instead of regular coloring books. You may find in order to really color more complex designs that you need to use a thin stylus instead of your fingers. You may also find that if the design is too detailed, it is difficult to color very small parts of it.
The benefits of using tablets are also great. You can redo a color if you do not have it quite the way you want it. If you have visual and co-ordination issues, you may find digitally coloring easier to do. When out and about, it is far easier to carry your tablet, than it is to carry a physical coloring book and the pens, pencils, or crayons to use in it.
Whatever type of tablet you have, you can find at least one coloring app that you can use to relax and reduce the stress in your life by coloring digitally.
Most apps have a limited range of colors, palettes or techniques that you can use. Often you may find that you wish to edit the image that you created to enhance it.
If you do not have access to Paint, Gimp or Photoshop then you can always use the Procreate app for the ipad and Procreate Pocket for the iphone. This is a paid app but it has numerous features including 128 brushes (plus the ability to create your own). You can create a number of effects with this app including different blurs, sharpening of images, altering the hue, saturation and brightness and color balance.
One of the coolest features is that you can replay the creating of your art work and see every stroke recreated. Very cool.
Procreate has a number of other features including the ability to sketch.
What do I use?
I use Gimp at the moment but am planning on using Photoshop in the future. I am so keen I’m going to take a few lessons. My style of press, point and see what happens, may not be conducive to getting the most out of the powerful features that Photoshop has. I plan on using my Photoshop subscription for a number of graphics based tasks. If I was just using it for digital coloring I would stick with the free Gimp. By the way, I use Gimp because I primarily use a Mac, although I do have some PC’s. Gimp works on both PC and Mac.
This is not a definitive list as technology changes all the time. I’ll be updating this page from time to time with the latest finds.
You can show your completed digital works in a number of Facebook Groups, but please read the rules first. Some Facebook groups only allow traditional non digital coloring. A Facebook group that is set up to show digital coloring is here.
Happy coloring x