Coloring Books 2.0

March 12, 2014

Design Mom's 9 Favorite Modern Coloring Books. They're all super cool.

By Gabrielle.

I was doing a bit of organizing in the studio/home office last weekend and noticed we have accumulated quite the collection of really good coloring books and doodle books. Have you noticed how many awesome options are out there these days? It’s like a coloring book renaissance!

These are not the commercial character driven coloring books of my childhood, they’re created by artists and graphic designers and some of the very best publishing houses. They are really good looking! Some focus on patterns, others include prompts to spur imaginative drawing. And many of these books are designed to appeal to both children and adults. In fact, I’ve heard some people are using the mandala coloring books as a sort of soothing therapy! Coloring in the spaces seems to hit a sweet spot between mindless busy work and intense creativity.

Lately, one of our favorite go-to gifts is a coloring book paired with a new set of markers. Easy, fun, and it doesn’t break the bank. We also like to pull them out on slow afternoons for a quiet, calming activity. Taking some time to sit with my kids and color is delightful, and it provides a great space for casual, non-lecture conversation.

In case you’d like to get in on the coloring action, I’ve collected our very favorites here. If you have a favorite that’s not on this list, please feel free to share! We’re always on the lookout for new ones. And I’d love to hear if you ever get to color with your kids. Do they like to color? Do you?

1) Doodles. This one is by Taro Gomi and he has a ton of other great options as well! I think of Taro Gomi as the grandfather of all the good coloring books.

2) Zolocolor. There are several of these, all good.

3)  The Usborne Book of Drawing, Doodling and Coloring.

4)  Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny.

5) Photoplay.

6)  Outside the Lines.

7) Doodle Cook. By French artist, Hervé Tullet. And if you like it, you could also try The Coloring Book and The Scribble Book.

8)  Pattern + Design.

9)  Rosie Flo’s Coloring Book — there are at least 6 versions of these.

P.S. — We also like to use these on flights and at church, when the kids need something quiet but entertaining.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Virginie March 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Great collection! My kids love coloring and I like it to, actually it does sooth me as you said. We love the Marion Deuchars’s book called ” Let’s make some great art”, it’s a coloring, drawing, painting…book, it’s really fun!


2 Michelle G March 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I enjoyed the review of ‘Secret Garden: and inky treasure hunt and coloring book’ by Johanna Basford and I look forward to checking it out! It’s similar but nature themed.


3 Jenny also March 12, 2014 at 1:50 pm

just ordered the Pattern Design coloring book. Looks likes a great way to unwind, feel creative, and maybe even get inspired.


4 Sophie March 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Oh yes, get The Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book by
Johanna Basford, it is just amazing!
We also love the Charley Harper Coloring Book Of Birds!


5 Jaime March 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I saw this coloring book at a local boutique recently and got a kick out of it. Every page is a little jab at girly stereotypes. Maybe over the heads of little girls, but I appreciated it! :)


6 Matilda @ Buttered Side Down March 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I used to work as a nanny, and coloring with the kids was one of my favorite parts of the job! If we ran out of coloring pages, I used to draw them myself asking the kids what they would like (normally something Disney or Hello Kitty). I’d then draw it just for them, usually copying off of a Google’d picture, and even though my drawing skills aren’t great they always loved that it was made for them.


7 Jen March 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm

These are some great suggestions! My daughter loved this one when she was 5 or 6:
It’s called “Holes” by Robert Kempe, and it’s cool because the object you draw on one page turns into something else on the following page.


8 se7en March 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Oh you missed one. the amazing and awesome Fashion coloring book from usborne (no I am not an affiliate or anything)… My dress designer twelve year old and I have spent hours in this book together… stunning and fun and haven’t had a single visitor (all ages and stages) who didn’t pick a page in this book and just go…

And my little guy loves the sticker doodle books from Priddy Books, and they are bringing out mini-books this year – like little pocket book doodle books – to die for, I probably won’t be able to share them with my kids!!!

I could go on… you have hit a topic I just can’t pass by… gotta love coloring!!!


9 Emily A March 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm

My daughter has one she loves called Hidden Feathers. It is similar to the pattern ones in that it has small spaces. If you color them “right” they make a very realistic looking bird. Perfect for my bird-obsessed girl.


10 Natalie March 12, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I love what you said about the delight in sitting down and coloring with your children. For family night on Monday my 5 year old son chose coloring for the activity and I almost tried to talk him in to something else. Turns out, it was wonderful! We, along with my other two sons talked and laughed and none of us wanted it to end!


11 Kimberly March 13, 2014 at 5:00 am

Here in the Philadelphia area, a start-up company called Hooley Coloring actually throws paid coloring parties for adults. I’m not sure how to think about that. One part of me thinks its pretty cool, the other is incredulous that adults pay $15.00 to attend.


12 Design Mom March 13, 2014 at 9:49 am

Fascinating! I don’t know how I would feel about paying to attend a party, but I think it could be fun to host a coloring party!


13 Azra March 13, 2014 at 7:23 am

Yes, I have noticed how may great options we have when it comes to coloring books. I wish my boys would be more into them. I keep buying them every time I see a nice one. Maybe I should sit and do the work, because at the end I think I am really buying them for myself. :)


14 Kelli W March 13, 2014 at 7:45 am

What are your favorite markers?


15 Mika Rempel March 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

We loooove Ed Emberley how-to-draw books at our house! They have small, simple doodle-like characters, my 5 year old can manage them really well. It helps that I remember my mom bringing these home from the library in the 70′s for us to draw, when I saw the copy at our local library (with the same cover!) I teared up a little.
Super fun. Super cute. Make the kids (and adults) feel like very successful artists!


16 Emily Levitt March 13, 2014 at 8:47 am

Hello! I also love coloring and I remember it fondly as a thing my grandmother and I would do, however, I remember she would color everything so lightly with crayons because she wanted to make them last. She was always a saver on a tight budget who had raised 5 kids in a two bedroom house!

As for my fave coloring book, however, I am a little biased… I work for a toy company in NYC and we make these SUPER FAB learn to draw books. We worked on them well-known Children’s Book illustrators like Melissa Sweet and Kevin Hawkes and they are so funny and clever and speak to perfectly to children! I worked at a toy store for years and I love all the books you posted but I thought these might fit your audience as well!

thanks for sharing!


17 Stacy March 13, 2014 at 8:55 am

I’m always coloring with my too, but boy do I get tired of the cartoony ones…I was inspired by your post, as I’d never really looked for “grown-up” coloring books…I ended up picking out these 4 for us! Creative Haven Modern Tattoo Designs Coloring Book, Creative Haven Dreamscapes Coloring Book, Garden Party!: Flower Designs to Color, Coral Reef Coloring Book all on I can’t wait to get them!


18 Jane March 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

I’ve given this one to several kids, and they’re all over the moon:


19 Nicole March 13, 2014 at 9:21 am

What a great collection. I have a set of Taro Gomi doodle postcards and love them! I recently printed out some mandalas for me to colour while my preschooler colours her characters – I will definitely be picking up some of these books for our colouring sessions.


20 meg March 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

When I was a kid I loved the Anti-Coloring Book series. They are a mixture of drawing/creativity prompts and coloring.


21 M. J. Bronstein March 13, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Thank you Gabrielle for choosing PhotoPlay! for your Renaissance collection! There are a bunch of free pages to download on my site,, where there’s also a gallery of completed PhotoPlay pages by people of all ages from all over.


22 Christy@SweetandSavoring March 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Oh, I love these beautiful books, Gabrielle! Thanks so much for linking to them; I never would have known about them otherwise. Looking forward to getting a few for some little ones I know :)


23 Melissa Camara Wilkins March 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Aaaaaand my book wish list just doubled in size. :D


24 Stephanie March 20, 2014 at 10:22 am

One I love is by Free Period Press Very fun to doodle in and de-stress! They funded it as a kick starter campaign, which is and added plus.


25 Christie January 24, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Coloring books are great ways to inspire a young and creative mind. Thanks for sharing. These look awesome. Even adults can take the time to color with these.


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