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Coloring Books for Grown-ups: 7 Free Pages to Print

“Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines” is common advice for those looking to break out of a creative slump, but coloring inside the lines seems to have its artistic advantages too.

In the past few weeks, there has been a slew of articles about the phenomenon of adult coloring books, many of them sparked by the success of mega-hit Secret Garden by Johanna Basford (published by our sister company Laurence King—high five, buddies). Creativity benefits from constraints, which coloring books are great at providing. Curious to see what other books in this genre were out there, I peeked into the Chronicle Archives and found some ready to be jewel-toned gems. If you click on the images, you can download a printable version to give this whole coloring thing another go.

In 2013, we released two coloring books by Abbi Jacobson—Color this Book: San Francisco and Color this Book: New York City. If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she is ONE OF THE CREATORS OF BROAD CITY. Sorry for shouting, it’s just that I’m a big fan. Appropriately enough, the coloring books are filled with charming urban landscapes, so you can color away the smog and bring on the technicolor sunshine.

Color This Book San Francisco: Abbi Jacobson's adult coloring book printout

Color This Book New York: Abbi Jacobson's adult coloring book printout

Another delightful find was the Indie Rock Coloring Book, put together by Yellow Bird Project which works with bands to create t-shirts that are sold to benefit charitable organizations. Andy J. Miller is the man behind the drawings and interactive activities that take inspiration from the likes of the Shins, Devendra Banhart, and the National. This book took me back to my childhood via my college days, which was a fun bit of time travel.

Indie Rock coloring book for adults: pages to print out and color

Indie Rock coloring book for adults: pages to print out and color

And lucky us, another coloring book is almost here. It’s called Fantastic Cities, and as the name suggests, it’s filled with entire worlds drawn by Steve McDonald that are very fun to fill in. It combines real cities like Amsterdam or Istanbul with mandala-like interpretations of the repetitive but not mechanical patterning found in all beautiful places. This sounds pretty great, and looks even better.

Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald: page to print out and color

Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald: page to print out and color

Fantastic Cities by Steve McDonald: page to print out and color

A word that seems to come up a lot in conversation about the appeal of coloring books is “meditative.” I think this points to a need for winding down without totally tuning out. In the capable hands of a skilled artist, you follow their lead and know exactly when you’re done. This is different from a lot of the complex projects we tackle at home and work, and in this way, maybe coloring inside the lines can be a bit rebellious too.

Kathryn Jaller

Associate Director of online strategy at Chronicle Books and art/craft/cat lady. You can follow her at @kholler.

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12 Comments

  • Kristy R. April 7, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Hello There!

    I hve some ideas to this end, please get in touch, would love to chat!!!

    Reply

  • Tanya T. April 10, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Hope that you will have lots of those San Francisco coloring books and others in your booth at ALA in June in San Francisco! Those would make great souvenirs!

    Reply

  • madame butterfly April 21, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Coloring books like this are great not only for kids but also for grown-ups. It helps us to unleashed the creativity that each of us have. This kind of activity helps me a lot to forget all the worries that I have, this site http://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Coloring-Pages-Butterflies-Adults/dp/1500501255 also has great colorings pages that you can enjoy coloring… I am a working single mother of two beautiful daughters. And coloring has been one of our favorite bonding moments together. While it helps me forget all the stress and at the same time I am also being able to guide and teach my kids on how to color.

    Reply

  • Brendon May 12, 2015 at 4:50 am

    I love this post. I’m looking forward to Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest by Basford. It’s really interesting to read about the way colouring in helps to develop creative skills. Cheers for a great post!

    Reply

  • Sandra Rhodes July 8, 2015 at 9:38 am

    The most interesting and creative coloring book for adults I have found: “Nature’s Hiding Places: A Coloring Book for Adults”.

    Reply

  • silvia August 10, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Great article! I’m not surprised that coloring books are becoming more popular with adults. In this stressful world the simple act of coloring something let’s you relax your mind and free your self from all your troubles.

    Reply

  • Lisa August 10, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    There is a great coloring book on Amazon called Secrete Gluon. It is both pretty and strange. Not fantasy, exactly but at times like Juxtapose magazine low brow art, surrealism and comic book.

    Reply

  • Cheryl Holmes November 22, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I was in “Care West” Rehabilitation Center a year ago for 6 weeks…. due to depression. I took classes all day & every day to help me.

    One of the classes was on Relaxation. I chose to color as I enjoyed it as a kid and when my grandkids were small.

    So I gave it a try… Well a year later I have professional Artist Pens, and Paints… and when I angry, upset, stressed to the limit I color for hours and all my negative emotions go away.

    I am so please to see adult men and women coloring. God Bless everyone… and don’t hesitate to color. I print my pictures off the internet so that I get what I like.

    HAPPY COLORING.

    lOVE CHERYL. <3

    Reply

  • Claire Horvath December 25, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Wish there were individual line drawings for Williamsburg houses!

    Reply

  • How To Draw July 12, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    I color in my gardening adult coloring book to relax after a hard day at work. It helps to distress and forget about how hard the day was.

    Reply

  • Richard Lowe November 3, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    I love these coloring pages. Very unique, and very interesting.

    Reply

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