12 Adult Coloring Background Tips

Not sure what to do with adult coloring book backgrounds? We came up with 12 creative ideas to add interest to your coloring pages using the background.

1. Starry Night/Galaxy background

One of the most dramatic background effects that looks intimidating at first but is easier than it looks. Vermaleine Barrios shows us how in a step-by-step tutorial here.

The result is amazing!

2. Black background
If you want to start slow, an all black background can also give a dramatic effect. The coloring page is from Color My Moods Simple Floral Patterns Coloring Pack. You can use your black medium — marker, colored pencil, combination of the two, acrylic paint, or in this case, I’ve used Maped Color’Peps Gel Crayons. 

3. Stippling
Mara Lula colored this lovely piece from Blessings in Bloom and did stippling (using several dots to create effect of varying depth/shade) on the background. The closer the dots are to each other, the darker the area appears. The farther apart they are, the lighter the area appears.

Mara likes to use either a pencil sharpened to a fine point or a fine-tipped marker like the Papermate Flair pen she used on this piece.

Background ideas from ScriboCreative.com

4. Crosshatching
Crosshatching is another drawing technique you can apply to backgrounds by drawing intersecting sets of parallel lines. As with stippling, the closer your lines are, the darker the area will appear, the farther apart they are, the lighter the area appears.

Mara used crosshatching for the “grass” on this inspirational coloring page from our Gumroad store.


5. Clouds
On the same piece, Mara created beautiful cloud effects using cloud templates she cut out of cardstock. She held them in place on the coloring page and used a blue chalk pastel over the top. The final step was rubbing the page to smooth out the pastel.


6. Pastels
If you like to keep it simple and just want to use pastels to create a border, that works too as Cindy Nation shows us on this piece from Healthy Hue Coloring Health & Fitness Journal.

You can use light short strokes with pastels and blend them using makeup cotton pads if you don’t like getting your fingers messy.

You can also use PanPastel like what Cindy did on #7. They work best using the sponges and applicator tools that come with the PanPastels.


7. Stencils
Stencils are a great way to add just enough interest to your coloring page as Cindy shows here with the “border” she added.

8. Texture plates
You can also use texture or rubbing plates (also referred to as embossing folders) on backgrounds. Cindy prefers using Faber Castell Classic pencils (oil based) for texture plates because she likes the pigment and finds the result much better.

You can also use woodless colored pencils or even crayons (on its side) to cover bigger coloring areas.

Here’s a video where we used rubbing plate to add  texture to the cross but you can as easily do this for the background.

9. Sponging
Natural and man-made sponges can add interest on your colored page by using it to apply color on the background.

Vermaleine Barrios used it towards the end of this tutorial:

Cindy Nation created a unique galaxy effect by layering acrylic paint using sponges on this coloring page from Healthy Hue Coloring Health & Fitness Journal.

Cindy used Marco Renoir colored pencils and fineliners for the mandala. She started on the background by mixing a small amount of Jo Sonja Payne’s gray and a bit of titanium white and a bit of water. She used the man-made sponge for this layer, pinching it to form a small point.

The first layer can be quite daunting but Cindy advises not to worry as this will lighten up with the addition of lighter colors in the next steps.

You need to work fairly quickly as the paint will dry out on your palette.  Dab and lift and fill your sponge with extra paint as necessary.

When the first layer is dry, choose and apply your next color. Cindy used Jo Sonja’s deep yellow and again added a drop of water and mix. She used the natural sponge this time around (test first with paint applied on another page until you find a section of sponge you are happy with). Let this layer dry.

For the final layer, Cindy used Jo Sonja’s titanium white.  Again add a drop of water and mix.  Sparingly apply to page where you feel it needs it.

10. Bokeh
Another cool background effect is the Bokeh. Here’s a step-by-step video tutorial that Vermaleine Barrios shared using a coloring page from Healthy Hue.

11. Rhinestone sticker
Sometimes adding just the right embellishment makes a colored page looks more finished as Robin Petersen Wilson showed on this cool colored page from Healthy Hue Coloring Health & Fitness Journal. Less is more so start with a few and add as needed.

12. Washi tape
Lastly, if you’re a crafter (or even if you’re not), you may want to pull out your washi tapes. Similar to masking tape but so much cuter, you can get creative with it and use it as background on your coloring page as Robin did here on the Valentine’s coloring page from our Gumroad store.

Apply the tape lightly over the whole area you want to cover, then use a sharp X-acto knife to cut around your edge. Be careful not to cut very deep. This may take some practice, so you cut only the tape and not cut through your page.

On the tape for this page to cover the whole page, Robin laid strips of tape side by side, covered the whole page and cut out the squares after she colored them. You can do this step before or after you color, but you don’t want to stick the tape down hard or it will lift your work.

We hope that these background coloring  tips sparked your imagination. Thank you to our talented colorists who shared their ideas with us — Vermailene Barrios, Mara Lula, Cindy Nation and Robin Petersen Wilson.

Which of these have you tried or are excited to try? Do you have other favorite background techniques? We’d love to hear your comments.

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