Thanks to computers and tracing paper, you can make your own coloring books for the kids in your life and personalize them instead of buying coloring books from the store. It’s not just for saving money – in fact, when coloring books go on deep sales, it would probably be cheaper to buy one. This project is about elevating the usual cheap, soon discarded coloring book to a whole new level – a beautiful, personalized book a child will enjoy for years to come as a joint effort between the two of you.
What you’ll need
- A scanner and computer
- Supplies for the binding
- Paper for the coloring pages
- Pencils or ink
- Pictures to trace (unless you can draw from scratch) or images downloaded from online.
Designing the book
You could make a simple, thin coloring book, similar to the ones sold in stores. Or you could make a thick, bound volume with 100-200 pictures to color. Instructables shows you how to make an actual, hardbound book cover yourself without spending much on materials. Here’s a way to make a paperback binding. Or you can do a simple Japanese book binding with just some nice stock paper for the cover, and all the pages sewn together via holes punched beside the spine.
Another option for those of you with some computer skills and writing ability: write a story and provide illustrations within the text (or on opposite pages) for a child to color.
Choosing the images
Pick images that can be turned into simple line drawings. Kids need to be able to figure out what each line is representing, so if there are, say, lots of wrinkles on a character’s jacket, a child might think each wrinkle represents a part she should color differently from its neighbors. Take a look at ColoringBookFun to get an idea of the sort of images that will work.
You can also reproduce someone else’s copyrighted illustrations, as long as you don’t sell them. This gives you a lovely opportunity to make a coloring book of a child’s favorite book or TV show that isn’t being made into a coloring book on the market right now.
How to make a coloring book
The simplest way to make a coloring book is:
- Download images from a site like ColoringBookFun (do a search for “download coloring books” or “download coloring pages” – there are lots of sites offering illustrations).
- Print them on appropriate coloring paper. (You can use regular bond, but it’s not thick enough to do double-sided without the color showing through. You can buy specialty papers that are safe for printers, or just use bond paper single-sided.)
- Make an attractive cover out of card stock or something nice and durable. Title it “Jamila’s Coloring Book” or something so the child feels it was really and truly made just for her.
- Punch holes in the pages and cover and bind it with brads or the Japanese binding style I linked to previously.
That’s really a nice gift right there, but you can get fancier:
- Draw your own illustrations, if you have the art skills. Remember, these have to be simple, bold line drawings without any confusing stray lines.
- Trace your own illustrations from storybooks, family photos, magazines, etc. Start by tracing the most general outlines – say, the contour of a character’s entire body, a horizon, the tops of mountains. Then add more details gradually – lines to represent the character’s facial features and hair, foothills at the bottom of the mountains. Take a look at this and imagine coloring it – would you want more separate shapes to color? Then add more details – lines to represent clothing, or the beach along the shore. Once you’re done, scan the image and print it on appropriate paper.
- Make your own storybook by merging your illustrations with some text in a word processor. This doesn’t need to be an elaborate story – you could, for example, just write a few lines about each picture for coloring, either around the picture or on opposite pages.
- Kids break and lose things. For that reason, I suggest scanning in everything you need to reproduce the entire book in whole or in part. That way, you can replace a few damaged pages or an entire book, if the need arises.
- Kids change their interests frequently. Talk to the child in question or his parents to find out what he’s into these days so you can make a coloring book that will capture his interest for sure.
- Don’t stress this project. Really, what I outlined as the simplest method will result in a very nice, very personal, very lovely gift that doesn’t cost much to make. There’s no need to get anymore fancy than that, especially if you’re making a number of these for various kids.