When you think about coloring, what is the image that comes to your mind? Adult coloring books? Doodling in your bullet journal? Or filling in the white spaces in your painting?
Coloring can be quite therapeutic, whether you’re working with a coloring book or painting an original piece. The truth is, there are so many types of coloring out there that allow you to experiment with different tools and mediums to find what you like the best.
What are the different types of coloring? The types of coloring can be divided into two general types: dry media (like colored pencils, gel pens, or crayons) and wet media (such as watercolor or acrylic paint). Depending on the surface you’re working with, you can choose the method that works best.
Of course, you can always mix between different types of media as well. For example, watercolor pairs really well with gel pens, which can add fine details to your piece. Mixing media is a great way to experiment with your art and find a unique approach for your piece.
Let’s take a look at some types of coloring below.
1. Colored Pencils
Most people start drawing and coloring with colored pencils. It’s easy to understand why – they can be affordable, really easy to work with, highly pigmented, and work well with detailed drawings and coloring books. However, they can be tiring if you are trying to color a large area.
If you want to achieve really opaque and rich colors, make sure to get soft-core oil-based colored pencils. These pencils are designed to glide on the page to give you really vibrant colors with less effort.
These pencils can be difficult to keep sharp, however, and they do break more often due to the soft pencil core, so if you don’t love maintaining them, then regular colored pencils can work well too.
If you want the colors to have depth and layers, then make sure to get a blender pencil or a blending marker (which works with markers as well as pencils). These can help you blend your colors and shading easily without having to add any pigment to the page.
2. Pencil, Charcoal, And Graphite
Did you know that pencil sketching is also technically considered coloring? With pencil sketching, you can use a lot of different techniques to add highlights and shadows to your drawings without having to use too many colors.
Pencil sketching is popular because you really don’t need to have too many tools to get started. Some graphite pencils and an eraser are enough, and you can use techniques like hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, and shading to add shadows and use an eraser to add highlights to the sketch.
When it comes to getting the right pencils, you should know what the pencils’ identification (2B, 4H, etc.) means. The number indicates the darkness of the color (the higher the number, the darker the color), and the letter B or H indicates how soft (B) or hard (H) the core is.
The most popular pencil for sketching is 2B, and if you’re a beginner, this is probably enough to start experimenting with the different techniques.
3. Gel Pens
Gel pens can get a little addictive, mainly because they come in such a wide range of colors, tip sizes, and finishes (metallic, neon, pastel, glitter, etc.) that you can’t resist collecting them.
Gel pens are also super easy to use for coloring, which is why we have a whole article dedicated to the best gel pens for coloring. The ink flows out of these pens so smoothly, and it’s so easy to blend the colors to achieve the right effects. If you want, you can even layer the colors on top of one another to add glitter or metallic look to your colors as well.
One bonus point with gel pens is that they even work with darker surfaces, like black paper, which is why they are great for card making or scrapbooking.
You also have the option of customizing the tip size. The fine tip pens work really well for adding strokes and details, while the bigger tips are amazing for coloring large areas, almost like markers.
The only downside with gel pens is that the ink can smudge quite a lot, especially if you are layering it on when coloring. This is why a lot of left-handed artists don’t love working with gel pens since they can make quite a mess if not handled correctly.
4. Markers And Paint Markers
Similar to gel pens, markers are quite the rite of passage for every arts and crafts enthusiast! They come in so many colors and so many different styles and effects.
Markers are great to use when you need to cover a large area or if you want to achieve really bold effects, since the ink in markers tends to give brighter and bolder colors that are not as thick.
Markers also come in a wide variety of tip sizes and designs. You can get round tips, brush tips, chisel tips, square tips, etc., to get different looks for your drawing. Usually, the brush tips are the most popular for coloring since they can either be used to color big areas or for precision, while round tips and chisel tips are great for drawing lines and details.
There are several types of markers on the market, and each works well with a different type of project.
Alcohol markers are quite expensive, but they’re usually favored by artists since they are really blendable and don’t bleed as much on a surface when you apply them. The ink dries really quickly and they are often permanent markers. The most popular brand to use are Copics, but these can be a big investment for a beginner.
There are also solvent-based markers, such as oil paint markers, that can produce a very colorfast and permanent result. Solvent-based markers often have a very strong odor, however, so they are not as popular, especially for young children.
Water-based markers are commonly filled with water-based paint, like liquid chalk or acrylic paint. Some of these markers can have a watercolor effect, especially when you dilute the colors with water. This is a really good technique for coloring because it helps you cover a large area in a short time.
Some water-based markers, like liquid chalk markers, are also not permanent; you can wipe them away easily using a damp cloth. Acrylic markers can be cleaned up when the paint is still wet but will dry semi-permanent.
Water-based markers are the safest for young children since they are non-toxic and odorless. Most markers used in the classroom are usually water-based.
Depending on your preference and skill level, there are a ton of ways that you can experiment with markers. As mentioned, water-based markers are the friendliest to beginners, but artists usually find more freedom to create with solvent-based and alcohol markers.
Crayons are super fun to use, especially for young children working with coloring books. They can produce really colorfast results that can be quite resilient and great for working with smaller areas.
Compared to other dry mediums such as colored pencils, crayons can be quite easy-going and very low maintenance. There’s no sharpening or maintenance required.
However, the color range can be quite limited, and there are not as many ways to experiment with crayons, which is why they’re most popular with kids. The wax also tends to leave patchy streaks that are hard to blend.
6. Oil Pastels
Think of oil pastels as the “grown-up” version of crayons. They are just as easy to use as crayons, but they offer a lot more range and blendability.
Oil pastels can produce really rich colors that are quite creamy and smooth, and you can blend the colors together or mix them with different mediums (such as watercolors) to create different effects.
Since oil pastels are quite opaque, they also work well on darker color backgrounds (similar to gel pens). This is why they’re quite popular even among professional artists.
Paint can sound very intimidating to beginners – you have to get the paint itself in several colors, choose the right kind, pick up some brushes, and sometimes even get paint thinners and a sealant on top of it all. Not to mention, you’ll likely have to mix paints to get specific colors.
However, paint really gives you all the freedom you want when creating and coloring; you can mix the colors, blend as much as you want, add water or thinners to create airbrush effects – the possibilities are endless.
There are two main types of paint: water-based paint and solvent or oil-based paint.
Water-based paints are your run-of-the-mills, non-toxic, and super easy to use watercolor or acrylic paint. These types of paints can be diluted with water to thin out the paint, and you can also use water and soap to clean it up.
If you’re just starting to experiment with paint, then water-based paints are perfect to start with. Most watercolor or acrylic paints are sold in palettes, and you’re free to mix them together to create whatever color you wish.
Acrylic paint is a bit more difficult to work with since the paint is thicker and harder to spread. You can still thin out acrylic paint to get a loose consistency, which makes them better to color with.
A solvent-based paint, such as oil paint, is probably the most difficult level for coloring, and we don’t recommend trying out oil-based paint until you have some painting skills under your belt.
The reason is that solvent-based paints are often quite thick and take a long time to dry. They also require solvents (like paint thinners) to dilute, and working with the chemicals can get intimidating and sometimes even dangerous.
However, oil paint produces really vivid colors that are permanent when dry; Oil paint allows you to build up the texture and colors of the paint to create depth for a piece, which is why a lot of artists prefer this medium.