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Pens, Pencils and Markers: Choosing the Perfect Medium for Your Coloring Pages

If you love coloring but are not sure which are the best coloring media for different coloring pages you are not alone! While you can use almost any coloring method to color any coloring page, there’s no doubt that you will get better results if you match the coloring tool to the type of design. A finely detailed mandala, for example, will be great fun to color with fine tipped markers, but a bit nightmare-ish to color with thick pastels! Using the wrong tools for the job can mean disappointing results which can be demotivating and disappointing – particularly when you are starting out coloring.

While it is enjoyable to get creative, try new things and literally color outside the lines – when starting out, it’s good to know which are the best types of coloring tools for different pages.


Coloring pages have evolved from being simple childhood pastimes to therapeutic and creative outlets for people of all ages. As the popularity of coloring books continues to rise, so does the range of coloring media available to enthusiasts. Each medium brings its own unique qualities and characteristics to the table, making the choice of coloring medium an important decision. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of coloring media, exploring their strengths and suggesting the best medium for different types of coloring pages.

Colored Pencils: Vibrant Precision

Colored pencils remain a staple for many coloring enthusiasts due to their versatility and precise control. They offer a wide range of colors, allowing for intricate details and shading. Ideal for intricate designs and finely-detailed pages, colored pencils allow you to achieve lifelike textures, gradients, and layering effects. They are also relatively mess-free and portable, making them an excellent choice for on-the-go coloring.

Best for: Intricate mandalas, nature scenes, and illustrations with small details.

Colored Pencils to Consider

Amazon Basics offer a good value set of colored pencils which are perfect for beginners:

However, if you are looking for pencils with more control and with lovely soft cores which are ideal for blending then Prismacolors are a great choice. These are available in a huge range of colors and in boxes of different sizes and you can also buy the pencils individually. I have been using Prismacolors for over 15 years and they remain my go-to colored pencil!

Watercolor Pencils: Expressive Fluidity

Watercolor pencils bring a sense of fluidity and spontaneity to coloring pages. They offer a unique blending quality that creates beautiful, translucent effects. Watercolors are perfect for achieving soft, dreamy backgrounds and vibrant washes. However, they require a bit of skill to control and it’s best to use a good quality paper (or even a watercolor printer paper) for your coloring page.

Best for: Coloring pages with lots of opportunity for blending or big open spaces.

Watercolor Pencils to Consider

There are many watercolor pencils to consider. Look for ones with a high density of pigment.

Kalour pencils are a great choice and can be used wet or dry which is an interesting way to achieve different effects with the same pencils. This 72 pencil pack represents good value for money and these pencils are well reviewed.

Markers: Bold and Vibrant

Who doesn’t love coloring with markers! Markers provide bold, vibrant colors with smooth, consistent coverage. They come in various types, including alcohol-based markers known for their seamless blending and water-based markers that offer a wider color range. Markers are great for quick and satisfying coloring sessions, but they can bleed through thin paper, so it’s important to choose appropriate paper stock.

Best for: Comic book-style illustrations, geometric designs, and pages that require intense color saturation.

Markers to Consider

There are many different types of markers, including brush markers which have a soft tip and are similar to using a paint brush.

However, if you are looking for a set of marker pens which will give you great quality colors and will adapt to a range of coloring page styles, you really can’t go wrong with Sharpies!

Pastels: Soft and Textured

Pastels offer a unique texture and a soft, dreamy appearance. They can be used both as dry pastels for rich, layered effects and as oil pastels for smoother coverage. Pastels are perfect for achieving a blend of vibrant and muted colors, and they work well on darker paper. Keep in mind that pastels can be a bit messy and require fixatives to prevent smudging (however a quick spray of hairspray will work as a fixitive!)

Best for: Portraits, fantasy scenes, and pages where texture and gentle color transitions are key.

Note that pastels are fiddly to use when looking to color pages with fine detail, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – it just means you may get different results than if coloring with pens or pencils with fine nibs.

Pastels to Consider

There are many brands to consider, however one that is definately worth checking out is Arteza.

Digital Coloring: Limitless Possibilities

With the advent of digital technology, coloring has taken a digital turn as well. Digital coloring allows for limitless color options, easy corrections, and the ability to experiment without worrying about ruining the paper. It’s an ideal choice for those who prefer a wide range of colors and effects at their fingertips.

Digital coloring is also ideal for intricate designs as it’s super easy to zoom in for the detail.

Another great thing about digital coloring is you can try different brushes which replicated different ‘real’ coloring media, for example oil paints or watercolors.

Best for: Intricate patterns, and illustrations that require precise detailing – and any designs where you want to try new things

The Choice is Yours!

Ultimately, the choice of coloring medium depends on your personal preferences and the type of coloring experience you seek. Colored pencils offer precision, watercolors bring fluidity, markers provide boldness, pastels offer texture, and digital coloring opens up new horizons. Each medium has its own charm, and experimenting with different options can lead to a richer coloring journey. So, grab your chosen coloring medium and let your imagination run wild as you bring life to the pages before you!

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