Adult Coloring: A Worthwhile Trend

When adult coloring books showed up in stores, I snubbed them. I liked the idea but immediately thought this was someone’s way to help adults relive their childhood. It was just another commercial tactic to make adults feel younger. I felt if adults wanted to color, they could just buy a kid’s coloring book.

This past Christmas I was shopping and found an adult coloring book with “happy” designs for $12. The holiday season is not my favorite time of the year, so I decided to buy it. If I was going to hop on the coloring trend train, happy was the way to go.

I’m glad I did. After Christmas, I colored my first page. I was hooked. It was a heart made of butterflies. Those who know me will laugh because I’m not a heart-with-butterflies-kind-of-girl, but I really enjoyed it. Coloring the picture pulled me out of my head, where my to-do list runs on overdrive. The activity relaxed me and made me feel better overall.

Adult Coloring Butterflies

I did a little research and learned that art has been used in adult therapy for years. A couple of studies say therapists use art to do the following:

  • Build self-esteem
  • Relieve stress; reduce anxiety
  • Improve motor skills; work both sides of the brain
  • Help the mind focus/problem solve
  • Deal with/work through emotions

Whether adult coloring does all this is debated, but in my experience, it’s true. After a long day, I pop in a movie, sit on the couch, and color. I control every aspect of the piece, which is sometimes needed after a day of feeling out of control. I listen to the movie and create something I’m proud of while benefiting from the science behind it.

I knit for the same reasons, and coloring gives me another healthy stress outlet. I can’t always work – and don’t try to – but I am a busy-body. My body will not let me just lay there on the couch most nights. I have trouble sitting still and always feel a need to do something. I have lots of nervous energy, and art in any format has been a good outlet.

It also occurred to me that as a writer/proofreader, the last thing I want to do is read or write. Coloring is much easier on my eyes after a 10-hour day on the computer. Hard copies and good lighting are gentle, and there’s no glare. Coloring is somewhat mindless, while reading requires comprehension.

Trying this new trend also taught me that trends aren’t necessarily bad. I don’t pay much attention to them, but this one does have its benefits and I hope it stays for a while. People would feel better if they found healthy ways to deal with stress and slow down.

Here are a few of my pages just for fun. If you color, feel free to share those with us!

Adult Coloring Designs

Adult Coloring Happy

Adult Coloring Cool

An Illustrator’s Foray into Adobe Illustrator – Week 6

This will be the last one of these as the rest of my Illustrator education will now be appearing in RevPub’s creative projects.  These two tutorials I did in April and related to tracing and coloring in Illustrator.  These are nice lessons, especially good at teaching how to work from images created outside of Illustrator, first using the pen tool, and second using the blob brush and a pen tablet.

Since I didn’t feel like staring at pictures of myself while I learned this and I didn’t want to license any photos I used a couple of pictures of the far more photogenic half of RevPub to try these out.  She makes for a nice cartoon!

This is the first one.  This was appealing as it had a more stylized look, used only Illustrator tools, and provided a simple (but eye catching and dramatic) style:

The highly contrasted tutorial made this picture look even more eye-catching.

This was the first time I tried this technique and it was effective and has helped immensely with my own work.  Starting with a complicated photograph you definitely don’t want to do any artistic injustice to raised the bar for the work, but it’s made the simple illustrations I do far easier in retrospect.  Honestly I haven’t used this specific technique frequently but it was very effective at teaching the tools needed to create more advanced artwork, especially from photographs or scanned drawings.

The second one was more natural for me as it used the pen tablet.  The pen tablet is still a tricky device for me.  I need to see the marks coming out of the pen to be effective but I’m slowly learning to use it.

This tutorial was actually to teach you how to zombify a person, but I thought I’d use the skills taught in the tutorial just to do the basics first (zombies to come later of course…)  This one came better than I expected and taught how to color using the Live Paint Bucket (a tool I didn’t know about that BLEW MY MIND).

Here’s my second tutorial result:

Raven Trace
She was posing in a Halloween costume but I love the expressiveness of this picture and it’s a great smile. It was perfect for tracing and coloring.

These two tutorials, mixed with the others I’ve posted, have really taken me from “What the-?” in Illustrator to creation of my own artwork using multiple layers and tools.  I’m by no means a master in the software, or even professionally proficient, but my knowledge of the software has vastly improved in just a few weeks using the infinite power of the World Wide Webs (or “Internets” if you prefer).  I should write Google a thank you card.

I hope everyone has found these tutorials useful too.  My next Illustrator posts will be things to look forward to in RevPub’s first official “pub” Lil’ Horsemen, which, barring some unforeseen hold-up, is coming Summer-Fall 2012!