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18 Tips To Bring Your Colouring To The Next Level

Pencils at the ready.

Rebecca Hendin / BuzzFeed/ Millie Marotta/ Pavillion Books/ Rosana Pense/Facebook: milliemarotta

1. Colour doesn't have to be your main focus – you can think of texture too.

2. Work with the detail on the page.

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Catarina Gomes.

When it comes to illustration, Marotta doesn't have colour schemes in her head: "I don't really have a colour scheme in mind myself when working on an illustration, but that I do think about all the wonderful ways in which other people might colour the image in their own unique style.

"I think about the size of shapes that people are going to be colouring in. I think about the details, that it's an interesting composition that people can work with – that it's got plenty of variety, very intricate areas, and larger more empty areas to colour."

3. You should add to the drawings on the page.

Luciana Silveira / Via Facebook: milliemarotta

"I also quite like to encourage people to add to the actual drawing with their own drawing, rather than just colouring. On some pages I've recreated a much more empty, less detailed version of the drawing on the opposite page. So people are encouraged to either colour or fill in their own patterns and textures."

4. Pencils are your best option.

5. Markers tend to be more trouble than they're worth.

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Kimberley Heales

"In terms of markers, each to their own. I think with markers you have to be careful what you choose. If it's something with a really heavy ink flow you might have a problem. The ink might bleed through the page, or the inks might run into one another or on the page."

6. Although it depends how heavy your hand is.

Vani Kurup / Via Facebook: milliemarotta

"It also really depends on people's colouring technique. Some people have a really light touch, so there's no problem when they're using pens. Other people have a slightly heavier hand and they might find that their inks are bleeding through the page, or causing a shadow through the page.

"But I don't have anything against markers or pens at all. I've seen some amazing results from people who used pens with my books."

7. Choose an illustrator whose interests are the same as yours.

8. And choose an illustrator whose style you admire too.

9. Because colouring books are illustrated with the user in mind.

Rosana Pense / Via https://wFacebook: milliemarotta

It's not a case of adapting existing illustrations for colouring, says Marotta. "When I'm illustrating for colouring books, I try to make sure there's plenty of variety in terms of content. I don't want people to get bored as they race through the book."

10. You can request your favourite animal to colour.

LeiLani Steddum / Via Facebook: milliemarotta

"I get some really really random requests for animals sometimes," Marotta says. "And people will often colour an image and send it to me, with quite a personal message – they chose to colour in an elephant for such and such a reason. It's nice to have a personal touch."

11. There's no set amount you should spend on your materials.

12. Don't be afraid to mix your materials.

13. If you're feeling overwhelmed, it helps to limit your colour scheme.

Jane Nunn / Via Facebook: milliemarotta

"What I've noticed is that lots of people are making a choice about choosing a particular palette of colours, and only working with those in an image. They might give themselves a theme.

"For example only use autumnal colours, or really summery colours. I think that really narrows down the options for people a bit. Other people just choose calming, harmonious colours, or they might only choose warm colours or only cool colours."

14. And then you can really limit it.

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Alexandra Wegner

"I think it can make for a really striking image, using a completely monochrome palette, and only colouring an entire image with one colour. This won't work as well with pens, for example, but I've seen some amazing examples of images that have been coloured just with 20 or 30 different shades of blue.

"It doesn't always mean using just one pencil: You can use three or four different pencils and it can make for a really striking, interesting image."

15. Reach out to other fans for inspiration.

16. Take things step by step.

Kate Molloy / Via Facebook: milliemarotta

"That's the thing about colouring: You shouldn't over think it or worry about if you're doing the right thing or the wrong thing. It's just an activity that should bring you joy. You shouldn't worry about it. It's supposed to take some of your stress away, not cause you more stress.

"If you think, 'Oh I've got a huge blank area here that I need to fill, and I've only got this skinny little pencil', think about using a material that might cover that large area better."

17. And enjoy it!

18. Because authors enjoy seeing the results as much as you do.

Animal Kingdom Deluxe Edition by Millie Marotta is out now (Pavilion Books) and is available from Amazon.


The island off the coast of Pembrokeshire that Millie Marotta visited is called Skomer Island. An earlier version of this post got the name wrong due to a transcription error.