Tips and Ideas for Your Coloring Book

Whether you are coloring in a pre-printed book or coloring your own doodles, there are some things you can do to make your pages look glorious. As I’ve already mentioned, I love using markers to color. Below are some tips for working with markers, and some ideas for how to make your pages look great.



1) Make a test sheet. I like to test my art supplies on the paper I’m using. Markers can be particularly deceptive: the color on the outside doesn’t always match the color of the ink. You can make an organized chart in rainbow order, or something more informal. Just make sure you label your tests so you can refer to it as you go.

My test page for two different sets of markers.

2) Watch out for bleed through. Marker ink often bleeds through thinner papers. To keep the color from coming through onto the next page in your book, stick a sheet of scrap paper behind the page you are coloring.

3) Use the same color in several places on your page. This is my trick for getting a harmonious page, especially with doodles. It’s easy to get caught up in changing color schemes from frame to frame, but for the whole page to really sing, make sure a few of the colors show up in more than one frame to tie the page together.

I used blue-green and gold in most of the designs to help tie this page together.

4) Pay attention to contrast. How dark or light your colors are relative to one another can affect how your design looks. A fast way to learn what does and doesn’t work is to make a sample page with the same design in a grid, then color each box differently to see what happens.

The value and color between the flowers and their centers has to contrast a lot or you don’t see the flowers at all.



1) Use color theory to choose your coloring scheme. We all learned about the color wheel when we were in school (if you need a refresher, go here). It’s a great resource for choosing colors for your doodles. Some common schemes are:
a) monochromatic: using shades, tints, and tones of a single color

Monochromatic color scheme (with just a touch of yellow)

b) analogous: using two or more colors that are adjacent on the color wheel

Two examples of analogous schemes: the first is yellow/yellow-orange/orange/orange-red/red; the second is yellow/yellow-green/green/blue-green.

c) complementary: using colors opposite one another on the color wheel

Two examples of complementary color schemes. The first is red-orange and blue-green. The second is the more traditional red and green.

d) triads: using three colors that are equal distance from one another on the color wheel (at the corners of an equilateral triangle)

The color wheel triad in this doodle is red-violet/yellow-orange/blue-green.

e) combine schemes: I like to add the complementary color to an analogous scheme to make the colors pop even more.

The yellow-to-red analogous colors are even brighter thanks to the blue-green I added (which complements the yellow-orange at the center of the analogous run).

2) Blend colors for a different look. You can blend your marker colors within a design to get a more sophisticated look. This works best with analogous colors because they visually blend into one another, especially if you have a larger marker set with lots of shades, tints, and tones in it. It also helps to work quickly, while the ink is wet, so the colors bleed into one another a bit.


3) Experiment with one design by coloring it different ways. One of my favorite doodles is the one I call X-box. I include it some version of it on most of my doodle pages. It’s simple to draw but offers lots of options for coloring.

X-box colored six different ways.

Do you have any tips or ideas for coloring with markers that I missed?


Published by

Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

4 thoughts on “Tips and Ideas for Your Coloring Book”

  1. Hi Kit,
    You always had a flair for drawing that I wished I had a bit of in my DNA. But we paired up nicely when creating our stress relieving and satirical drawings during our lab days. I still have all of those drawings – they are still awesome!!!

    Thank you for providing a bit of info on the color wheel and how to use colors effectively. I realized early on that I was not an art person, but I certainly can appreciate the creativity and work that goes into various art forms. I love your art style!!! How are your yarn spinning techniques coming along? Did you ever finish any of your unfinished quilts???

    You totally ROCK!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all your kind words about my drawing. What I draw and what I intend to draw often don’t match up, but I am getting closer to my ideal the more I practice.

      Spinning is on hold right now, but I’ve been doing some quilting. I have a tendency to spend most of my quilting time constructing, so once I get a quilt top finished, I pick up a different project instead of sandwiching and quilting it! Hoping I’ll be ready to finish more projects this winter.


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