The 11 Best Adult Coloring Books, According to an Expert

A peaceful activity that you can take anywhere

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Coloring books might bring to mind memories of childhood, but coloring as an adult can also relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, especially if used in conjunction with a consistent self-care routine.

Whether you need to combat boredom, ease feelings of restlessness, or need some quiet time to yourself, a coloring book is a great alternative to technology and social media. Additionally, they can be useful for your nighttime routine—as the use of electronics before bed may cause disruptions in sleep and may increase the risk of insomnia.

Whether a coloring book includes detailed images or snarky humor, it can offer you a simple, fun, and inexpensive way to practice some mindfulness.

Here are the best adult coloring books on the market, according to a licensed mental health counselor.

Best Overall: Color & Frame In The Garden Coloring Book

in-the-garden

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • High-quality

  • Perforated edges

  • Can be framed and displayed

Cons
  • Some pictures aren't centered

The Color and Frame adult coloring book includes 31 pages with perforated edges that make them easy to tear out and display. The pages are filled with leaf and flower patterns and are best used with colored pencils or fine-tipped pens due to the small, detailed designs.

The spiral binding allows the book to sit flat while in use, and the extra thickness keeps ink from bleeding through the paper onto the next page.

Best Funny: Calm the F*ck Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring Book

adult coloring book

Calm the F*ck Down 

Pros
  • Funny phrases

  • A variety of coloring designs

  • Good for anger and stress relief

Cons
  • Swearing may be too much for some

  • Not great for kids

Full of cheeky humor, sarcastic one-liners, and therapeutic swear words, this coloring book by Sasha O'Hara is specifically crafted for adults. Moderately complicated designs are paired with positive affirmations such as "dance like no one attractive is watching," to make coloring both stress-relieving and fun.

The humor can also decrease frustration and irritation in a healthy and positive way. 21 single-sided pages are included in the book.

Best for Animal-Lovers: 100 Animals Adult Coloring Book Stress Relieving Designs to Color, Relax and Unwind

100 Animals Adult Coloring Book Stress Relieving Designs to Color, Relax and Unwind

Courtesy of MantraCraft

Pros
  • Good for animal lovers

  • Perfect for all ages

  • 100 coloring pages

Cons
  • Markers may bleed through thin lines

With over 100 coloring pages of animal images, the 100 Animals Adult Coloring Book includes designs ranging from simple and beginner-friendly, to detailed and advanced. The book serves as a good option for the entire family, or a great gift for the animal-lover in your life.

The designs are printed on single side paper to prevent markers or pens from bleeding through to the next page. And while the pages are not perforated, they can still be torn out of the book.

Best Detailed: 125 Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book

125 Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Book

Courtesy of Coloring Book Cafe

Pros
  • 125 pages and designs

  • Mandala designs are soothing

  • Variety of coloring options

Cons
  • Some complaints of thin pages

  • Best for colored pencils

Mandalas are geometric patterns that enhance meditation and mindfulness practices. The ones featured in this coloring book draw from multiple cultures and encourage a calm mind and peaceful mood.

Each mandala is printed on single-sided paper and they range from simple to expertly detailed and intricate. While each one will take some time to color, the completed project is sure to be beautiful enough to display.

Best Fantasy: Luna Coloring Book

Luna Coloring Book

Courtesy of Maria Trolle

Pros
  • Whimsical, artistic design

  • Good for fantasy lovers

  • Hardback cover

Cons
  • Markers may bleed through pages

  • More expensive

Created by a graphic designer and illustrator from Stockholm, the Luna coloring book offers a unique whimsical and gardenia theme. For artists who love fantasy, imagination, and fairy-like nature images, this book is a good choice for any mindfulness practice.

A hardback cover makes the book durable and long-lasting, and the designs are good for both beginner and intermediate drawers.

Best Inspirational: Positive Vibes: Easy Adult Coloring Book

Positive Vibes: Easy Adult Coloring Book

Courtesy of Sally Berry

Pros
  • 50 coloring pages

  • Beginner-friendly

  • Poor eyesight-friendly

Cons
  • Some complaints of thin pages

For beginners or those who struggle with clear eyesight, the Positive Vibes coloring book is an optimal choice for at-home stress relief. Filled with 114 pages of large patterns and easy-to-see designs, the images are simple to color and a good choice for everyone in the family.

The positive quotes can also focus your mind on gratitude and hope, which may minimize negative feelings.

Best Architectural: Fantastic Structures: A Coloring Book of Amazing Buildings Real and Imagined

Fantastic Structures: A Coloring Book of Amazing Buildings Real and Imagined

Courtesy of Steve McDonald

Pros
  • Expert design

  • Book made to lay flat

Cons
  • Double-sided print

  • Alcohol markers may bleed through

  • No perforated edges

Let your mind escape to an exciting destination in this coloring book inspired by real photographs. Artist Steve McDonald creates intricate coloring pages of iconic structures from around the world, and the detailed designs are bound to keep you entertained for hours.

Fifty four coloring challenges are printed on both sides of the book pages, so you may want to steer clear of alcohol-based markers to avoid any ink from bleeding through. However, when opened, the book lays flat for ease of drawing.

Best for Nature-Lovers: 100 Countryside Scenes: An Adult Coloring Book

100 Countryside Scenes: An Adult Coloring Book

Courtesy of Coloring Book Cafe

Pros
  • Single sided print

  • 100 design options

  • Comes with four books

Cons
  • Some complaints of thin paper

  • Alcohol markers may bleed through

From farmyards to rustic cottages, meadows, and English countrysides, this coloring book will quickly take your mind to a peaceful place. It offers 100 hand-drawn designs to choose from and each image is printed on one-sided paper to prevent markers, alcohol-based pens, and watercolors from bleeding through.

Some designs are complicated and some are easier—making this book a good option for advanced or beginner drawers.

Best for Plant-Lovers: Plant Coloring Book: Floral Coloring Book with Succulents and Flowers for Adults

Plant Coloring Book: Floral Coloring Book with Succulents and Flowers for Adults

Courtesy of Pink Sage

Pros
  • Beginner-friendly

  • Simple, relaxing design

  • Each plant is labeled

Cons
  • Designs may be too simple for some

  • No perforated edges

If you have an avid gardener in your life, the Plant Coloring Book is bound to put a smile on their face. Filled with images of succulents, flowers, and more, this beginner-friendly book is designed to be relaxing and enjoyable. Plus, each page includes the name of the plant you're coloring, offering an educational component to your meditation practice.

The high-quality paper prevents bleeding and the one-sided prints can be torn out and displayed. Since the details aren't super intricate, crayons and markers can also be used on the designs.

Best Interactive: Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

Courtesy of Johanna Basford

Pros
  • Expert design

  • Interactive and interesting

  • High-quality

Cons
  • Colored pencils work best

  • Double-sided print

  • May be too complex for some

Most coloring books are exclusively filled with coloring pages, but this one also includes mazes, challenges, and space to make your own designs. Secret Garden is a good option for people who manage stress by completing detailed projects, and the pages are great for all levels of drawers.

In addition to the book, you can also buy postcards, notecards, and journals with the same designs.

Best Artistic: Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure

Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure

Courtesy of Millie Marotta

Pros
  • Beautiful and unique artistry

  • Intermediate and expert level

  • Space to add individual designs

Cons
  • Double-sided pages

  • Alcohol markers may bleed through

  • No perforated edges

Topping the New York Times Bestseller's list, author and illustrator Millie Marotta's coloring books are filled with creative and unique designs. The pages include images of animals and tropical foliage to allow for use of vibrant colors. However, they're printed on double-sided pages, so using colored pencils will work best to avoid bleeding through to the next page.

Thanks to wide-set outlines, you can also create your own patterns for a more challenging drawing session.

If you're looking for a good adult coloring book for all experience levels, the Color and Frame In The Garden Coloring Book (view at Amazon) is a great choice. It's filled with 31 images of detailed leaf and flower patterns, and the perforated pages can be ripped out and displayed.

Need more of a challenge? The 125 Mandalas book (view at Amazon) offers a variety of detailed mandala images that require focus and will keep you busy for hours on end.

What to Look for in a Coloring Book for Adults

Promotes Relaxation

An adult coloring book should promote creativity and relaxation while decreasing stress. It's important to find a book that fits your personality type, skill level, design preference, and one that doesn't strain your eyesight.

Skill Level

If a book is too complex or advanced, coloring in the pages may be more frustrating than relaxing. Likewise, if a book is too simple it might become boring to someone with more advanced skills.

Detailed designs require patience and focus—you may need to complete them in a few sittings. Simple images can often be completed in a single sitting and might be better if you're trying to complete a shorter mindfulness session.

Quality Paper

While colored pencils are a safe tool to use for coloring since they don't bleed through, some people prefer markers, crayons, and even watercolor paints to achieve a different look. If you want to use crayons, the designs should be large enough so that you can still stay within the lines.

If an image is printed on high-quality paper, you may be able to use watercolors or markers. Also, check to see if the designs are printed on single-sided paper or double-sided paper. Single-sided options may prevent bleeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are adult coloring books different from children's coloring books?

    Although the basic concept is the same, adult coloring books are actually pretty different from children’s coloring books. They’re designed to appeal to adults, after all. So while kids’ coloring books typically feature cartoon characters and simple illustrations, coloring books for adults tend to be focused on stress relief rather than fun—although they are fun too! Adult coloring books usually feature sophisticated, challenging, often symmetrical designs to lose yourself in. 

  • What are the mental health benefits of coloring?

    Adult coloring books can be a great stress reliever for people who are feeling overwhelmed or find their minds being pulled in too many different directions, says licensed mental health counselor GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC. Coloring can be a great grounding exercise for adults, Guarino adds, as it allows the brain to focus on one simple task.

    “This helps with not allowing mental clutter to overwhelm the senses and gives the brain a break from the stressors of the day,” she explains. “Coloring is a great activity for decompressing and transitioning out of work mode and into relaxation mode.”
    Matt Lundquist, founder and clinical director of Tribeca Therapy, believes adult coloring books can create a mindful distraction to help people carve out space to feel their feelings. 

  • What makes a good coloring book?

    The best coloring book is one that has a theme you find most appealing, whether that’s animals, mandalas, or geometric designs. When it comes to quality, a good coloring book has heavyweight paper, sharp images, single-sided printing to avoid bleeding through if markers are used, and lay-flat binding (such as spiral binding) to make it easy to color near the inner margins. 

Why Trust Verywell Mind?

As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with clients to improve mental and emotional health, Mary K Tatum understands the importance of finding quality resources and techniques that work for each person. Not everyone will have the same kind of healing or self-care journey, therefore, having lots of options to choose from is vitally important in creating a lifestyle that combats mental illness and promotes health and wellbeing. 

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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