I was not a child who enjoyed coloring, so it’s been a bit of a surprise to give birth to children who do!
Standard coloring books rarely satisfy, however. The art is often quite poor, and the paper is generally abysmal. It’s time and money wasted, as the high-acid papers deteriorate while the picture is still in the mail to Grandma.
We’ve found some lovely options in good paper and good art from Dover (the Fine Art, History, Nature, and Design books get the most use here), and the on-line printable pages from Phee McFaddel and Jan Brett.
I think it was Ms Basford’s work that recently inspired Lefty and Spicy to spend some time creating their own coloring pages. We have a multi-function machine at our house, so photocopies and scans/prints are not a problem, which led to a many-hours work session yesterday, wherein my Littles and their friend created lovely line-art scenes to photocopy and share with one another.
Here are some things they learned along the way:
* Work in #2 pencil, which is soft enough to leave nice solid marks and lines thick enough to photocopy well.
* Don’t put in a lot of shading; you can add that when you color the final picture. It’s hard to remember to not fill it all in when you’re drawing!
* Fill up the whole page with your art; there’s room to tell a bigger story!
* If you choose to trace your drawing with ink or marker, take your time. Use a good art eraser to gently rub out the pencil marks. Don’t rub too hard.
* Everyone draws their own style of art, and it’s all very cool!
Some things I learned along the way:
* If you’re photocopying directly for immediate sharing, enhance the contrast a bit to darken pencil lines.
* Photocopy one extra. It’s just sensible.
* If you’re scanning, do it at 300dpi minimum, for the best printing later.
* After the image is scanned, use basic photo editing software to turn it gray-scale/black-white. Then heighten the contrast 2-3 times to get nice solid lines for reprinting.
* After the images is manipulated, re-size it to fit within an 8×10 rectangle, so it prints easily on regular paper.
* Print out an extra. Sensible. I promise.
Creating Is Awesome, and You Can Do It Anywhere
If you have a full-service printing house near you (generally not a chain-store/big-box one; try Alphagraphics), they can print line drawings onto special papers like heavy card stock a home printer or photocopy machine can’t handle and then a young artist can go to town creating all over again.
Coloring page art can be on any topic. It can be done to practice or explore the styles of famous artists. It can be simple, or quite ornate, right from the start. If it’s simple, you can add custom fanciness by filling spaces or sections with doodles. You can add designs to the page as you color. The possibilities are truly endless!
Coloring pages could be a fun project during a family reunion, church social, or “maker’s” day. They make a great portfolio item to showcase what a young learner has been up to (and provide extra opportunities to cement knowledge into their brains by coloring their examples over again.) Put together a collection of coloring pages, and you can make customized gifts or books for family and friends.
The thing I like best about creating these pictures is that it’s up to the child. As a parent, I’m on hand to help with the technical aspects of reproducing the art for coloring, but other than that, it’s entirely up to the young artists. That autonomy in creation is a fantastic gift!
Here’s a printable from my girls, to you, with bunny and hen-shaped clouds.