Who doesn’t love to color?! Here are a few variations of coloring pages you can download for free. Maybe they’ll even inspire you to create your own Zentangle or abstract coloring pages!
Recently I wrote a post about coloring books for adults. Well, the ones we have are mostly done and while there were some coloring books on that list that I plan to buy, I felt creative and decided to make my own drawing to color.
I like to sit and doodle. I’m not sure which is more relaxing—coloring or doodling. With coloring you have to make decisions about color, but the rest is just filling in the blanks. With doodling, especially if it isn’t just writing my name different ways or drawing bubbles, you have to think about theme, design, patterns (see more on this below)… but it’s just black and white. Regardless, both are still a way to calm me down when I need calming down, like on Monday when Em got out my acrylic paints and decided to paint in the dining room unbeknownst to me as I was making dinner and got the paint all over the table and her good shirt! Yikes! … deep breath… Note to self: find a contractor and discuss replacing all of our walls with glass walls so I can monitor everything.
I sat down in front of the TV a few nights go and started a ‘tangle (short for Zentangle) of flowers. I’ve pretty much finished it, but it got kind of wrinkled WHEN IT GOT STEPPED ON, so until I iron it out or just scan it and do lots of cleanup, that one will have to wait. So then I started another one of birds in a tree. I had lots of fun with this one. I drew one similar to this a while back, where the birds are kind of hidden in the pattern. Since this was intended for coloring, I tried to stick to patterns that weren’t too heavy or filled with black and not too small. I’ve doodled all my life, but I still feel my doodling is inferior when I see the amazing creations out there.
Here’s my first hidden bird drawing… it was also the day I first learned about Zentangle (that’s why it’s scribbled on the page) and tried some of the patterns. My daughter contributed on this page, as she often does, doing some of the coloring (especially on the flowers). This was a couple of years ago. Can you find the birds in there?
Now, to clarify, doodling and Zentangle are really two different things. Doodling is traditionally something you do mindlessly, like when you are in a lecture at school or a meeting at work, or on the phone with your whiny and long-winded friend, and it’s often drawn in the margins on a handout or notebook or scrap of paper. It is usually very random, stream of consciousness put to paper. Zentangle, on the other hand, is structured. You plan a design and pick from a library of patterns to apply. This is a bit oversimplified, and there is nothing preventing you from creating a doodle-like Zentangle that evolves as you draw or a Zentangle-like doodle that has a repetitive pattern, like waves. There is an excellent piece by Helen South called Doodles and Zentangles: Is there a difference? that you might find useful. If you google Zentangle patterns, you can find libraries of patterns that people have created. By the way, if you notice I’ve been capitalizing the word Zentangle and that’s because it is a registered trademark for a methodology. You can take classes, become a certified trainer, buy kits… all very commercialized. You can find out more at their official website.
Here are some pages from my sketchbook… which do you think are doodles vs. Zentangles?
When I sit down to draw, I usually get out my sketch book and pile of pens. I often just use a good ol’ Sharpie, usually the ultra-fine point. When I really want a fine line, I’ve found that Pilot Razor Point II Super Fine Point pens work well and they are cheap and readily available, if you aren’t looking for archival quality. I’ve also used Uni-ball onyx micro-point ball-point pens. They are also a great economical choice and better for kids since they can’t smoosh the point in, although sometimes I have trouble with them skipping as they get old. When I get serious, I have a set of pigment liner pens from Staedtler, that range from 0.1mm to 0.7mm (the set I found online to reference here is even better than what I have, with 6 pens instead of 4, ranging from 0.05 to 0.8mm). On the birds coloring page, I started with the Sharpie, to get the basic design, then switched to the 0.1mm Staedtler pen. Really close up (like you can see when scanned at hi-res) you can see the difference in pigment color, but just looking with the naked eye you don’t see a difference. But you DO get lots more bleed-through to the back with the Sharpie.
The birds were done on plain copier paper because I couldn’t find my sketch book at the time. The thicker paper is better when using permanent pens (because of the bleed-through issue) and you get more consistent color. I have two papers that I use. My big sketch book is Canson Mix Media 98lb. It’s very economical. I also have a pad of Canson Drawing Bright White 70lb paper. It has a bit smoother surface than the mix media paper. It’s also a good economical choice.
But even with the copier paper and Sharpie (with some Staedtler inking thrown in), I think it came out pretty well:
To make this bird drawing, I started with the outline of the birds including the body, beak, and wing. Very simple. Then I added the branches they are perched on, then the feet. Then I just started drawing branches and tear-drop shaped leaves and spread out over the page. (You could leave it at this stage to have a simpler coloring page for kids.) Then I started blocking out areas for patterns, trying to follow existing lines to better “hide” the picture. The next step is just filling in all of the areas with difference patterns. You can do whatever you want here and get really creative. If you get stuck, look up one of the Zentangle libraries and find some patterns you like.
Now the fun part—coloring it in! One of the challenges of making the design “hidden” is that it is sometimes hard to tell what is bird and what is background. How many wings do these birds have, or are those leaves? Is that leaf or branch in front of the bird, or is it part of the pattern on the bird? There are endless ways to color this. You can do large swaths of color, or color each little individual shape in each pattern. It’s up to you! Here is one that I colored with my daughter’s colored pencils:
My daughter is working on coloring one too, but she hasn’t finished yet. When it’s done I’ll update this post with her version too.
Now, sometimes I’d rather something more abstract. I like geometric patterns. I started drawing one by hand with a ruler, but then realized that it would be so easy to do in Illustrator (or your favorite paint or vector program). Just lots of overlapping rectangles. They used to have wall hangings like this in the 50s or 60s, didn’t they? I made a pretty complex one first, but then when my daughter said it looked too hard, I took that same drawing and started deleting and shifting some of the rectangles to simplify it. So, here are the two versions:
Usage Permissions: You are free to download for personal use only. No uploading the PDF or another format for download from your website or social media account! If you display a colored or lo-res non-colored version on your website (or social media account), please include the entire image, including the copyright and path to the original file, and include credit to me and this web site URL in the picture description and the blog text. And no selling, colored or not! If you want any of my coloring pages for commercial use, please contact me.
Note that the watermark doesn’t appear in the downloaded image.
Which one will you choose to color? I chose the hard one. I used my daughter’s pip squeak markers.
I might do this one again in just primary colors.
If you are just catching the coloring bug, you might want to check out my post of selected coloring books for adults and coloring supplies.
What themes or style drawings do you like to color? Let me know and maybe I’ll make more!