How to Make a Coloring Book – From Ideation to Print!

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

Here at Printi, we take a lot of pride and enjoyment in our book printing services! We tailor our services towards creatives, so we get to interact with a wide variety of interesting projects including comic books, magazines, cookbooks, (and very popularly lately) coloring books! That is why we know how to make a coloring book – from ideation to print.

In honor of National Coloring Book Day, we wanted to put together a “How To” for anyone considering creating and printing their own coloring book! Being involved in the creation of many coloring books ourselves we’ve learned a lot of Do’s and Don’ts. Read on to learn what it takes to make your own coloring book – from ideation all the way to printing!

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

Table of Contents

Here is what is in-store! Click to jump to the part that is most significant to where you’re at in your coloring book creation process. The first three sections are based on conversations we’ve had with previous customers and the last section is our recommendations

IDEATION
Choose a Theme
Determine Your Audience
Check for Demand
PLANNING
Choose a Title
Explore Binding Methods
Set a Page Limit
Think About Format
CREATION
Hand Draw on Paper
Hand Draw on a Tablet
Create Coloring Pages Digitally
Design a Cover
PRINTING
Set Up Your File Correctly
Choose the Perfect Paper
Choose the Best Binding
Choose a Quality Printer

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

IDEATION

The very first step of the process is ideation. This is the phase in which you will brainstorm the type of coloring book you want to create and determine whether it is an actual viable option (depending on the purpose of your creation).

Choose a Theme

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

How you choose a coloring book theme will depend on the purpose of the book. Is this a fun side project? Or are you going to try to sell your creation? If the creation of a coloring book is simply for your own personal happiness – more power to ya! In that case, do whatever you want. Be as crazy and wacky as you want to with it. Our best and only advice for you is to pinpoint something that inspires you and roll with it!

However, if you’re in the latter group and looking to make a little cash money from coloring book sales, you’re going to want to pay attention here! No one wants to color a dinosaur and then a teddy bear. Cohesion is key! The good news is that there are a variety of coloring books for a variety of interests and occasions.

Getting over a break-up? There is a coloring book for that.
Got a vulgar sense of humor? There is a coloring book for that!
Love aircrafts? There is a coloring book for that.
Fan of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? There is a coloring book for that.   
Interested in fantasy creatures and fairy tales? There is a coloring book for that.

With so many different and random coloring books out there, you’re bound to create something that someone, somewhere will appreciate as well! However, you’ll want to double check that you are providing a product that a fairly significant size group of people is actually looking for.

Determine Your Audience

Understanding your customer and what they want is key. Treasuring your audience is so crucial, especially when it comes to the adult coloring book industry in which many products are developed for niche audiences. When you have a small audience like that, you want to make sure you’re giving them exactly what they want and that they will come back for more!

Adults Coloring Book or Children’s?

Depending on whether you create a children’s coloring book or an adult coloring book will determine a variety of aspects of your project. For example, for a children’s book, your images should be more simplistic whereas, adults want to be challenged and provided with more complex images to color.

Check for Demand

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

It is important to do your research! Not only should you make sure there is demand for your theme, but you should also shop around for different theme-relevant photos that will inspire awesome illustrations. It is important to share your ideas and get the opinions of others to produce the best possible coloring book!

Read Amazon Reviews

Hop on Amazon and check out what people are saying about other popular coloring books or even potentially similar coloring books to the one you want to create. What do people think of those? What are the critiques? What did they love? Take note of these pros and cons and incorporate them into your project!

Create a Social Media Poll

Using Facebook polls or even Snapchat polls is an extremely innovative way to conduct market research. This is especially useful if you have a strong following. There is no shame in self-promotion, so put some feelers out there while also informing your following of your next big project!

Learn More

Conduct Keyword Research

If you really want to take a deep dive into the type of coloring books people are searching for, use Google Keyword Planner. This is a tool used by SEO Specialists to determine buzz words they should be incorporating in their content. For example, there are about 4,400 searches per month using the phrase “Mandala Coloring Book.”

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

PLANNING

Now that you’ve conducted research and come up with an idea to base your book on you can begin planning it out. In the planning phase, you’ll come up with the basic content, outline, and format of your coloring book.

Choose a Title

If you conducted keyword research as recommended above, this part should be a cinch! When choosing a title you’ll want to incorporate one or two buzzwords. This is especially important if you plan on selling your coloring book through e-commerce sites like Amazon. Incorporating popular terminology such as “Coloring Book”, “Creative”, “Calm”, “Art Therapy”, “For Adults”, “For Kids” etc. will get you in front of the right audience.

Explore Binding Methods

It may seem early for choosing a binding method as printing will be one of the last steps, however, binding predetermines a few factors. Often the binding you choose can limit your options when it comes to page count and page size – both of which you will want to know before you begin drawing or creating graphics.

There are three types of binding methods that make sense for a coloring book:

1. Perfect Bound

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!Perfect Bound Books are soft cover books with pages glued together at the spine. This binding allows for a sleek, professional look. If you are planning on creating a coloring book to be distributed and sold in stores this is probably the option you would go with. Many adult coloring books that you will be seen sold in bookstores use this binding method. If you chose a high page number goal, this is typically an option that allows more pages (perfect bounds through Printi allow for up to 596 pages).

While it is a very popular choice it is actually not what we believe to be the most optimal coloring bookbinding method.

2. Spiral Bound

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

When it comes to coloring or writing in a book in general, we believe spiral binding allows for the greatest experience. This is because the coil binding allows for the pages to rotate 360 degrees around the metal coil. Therefore, unlike most other binding types, you can lay the book flat on a surface. This makes for easy coloring.

3. Saddle Stitch

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!Saddle stitch is a great option for a few genres of coloring books. If you plan on having your book be comic-related or fan fiction related, this binding method goes well with that aesthetic. This is also the most cost-effective method so if you have a small budget, this might be the best option for you.

At the end of the day, the type of binding you choose to go with is up to you. If you still don’t sure check out our blog post below to get more information on each individual type.

More Information: Types of Book Binding and When to Use Each

Set a Page Limit

Setting a number of pages is a great way to hold yourself to actually completing your project.  You’ll want to take into consideration the genre and audience that you selected for your book. You’ll also want to take into consideration the price you may want to sell the book for.

Consider Yourself

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

How much work do you want to put into this project? 

Consider how much time and effort you want to put into bringing your coloring book to life. It is a great idea to set a timeline for yourself, such as completing one drawing per day or per week, depending on how detailed you plan on making them.

From there you can either determine how many drawings you want to draw and then how long it will take to complete that set amount. Your alternative is to choose a date that you’d like to finish and from there determine how many drawings you can do within that set period of time. Either way, we highly recommend creating a timeline.

Consider Your Audience

If you are creating a coloring book for kids, you may want to take their short attention span into consideration and go with fewer pages. If you chose an adult genre and want to tell a story with your book, you’ll need to determine how many drawings it will take to complete your plot line.

Consider the Binding Method

Page count can be limited by the type of binding method you choose. That’s why it is a good idea to set a page number and decide which binding method you want to use around the same time. For example, saddle stitch books through Printi allow for 4 to 76 pages, spiral bound books allow for 8 to 396 pages, and perfect bound book allows for 36 to 596 pages. Hopefully, you aren’t restrained by those upper limits but keep the lower limits in mind.

Consider Sales

The fewer pages in your coloring book, the less you’ll be able to sell it for. If you had a set price in mind that you’d like to attempt selling your book for, check out other coloring books that are being sold at that price. How many pages do they typically contain? What is the quality of the graphics? More complicated graphics can go for higher prices even if there is a lower page count. The best thing you can do is your research!

Think About Format

Page Size

It is important to choose a page size before beginning to draw because you want to, at the very least, draw to scale. For example, if you choose to go with a 6” x 6” book but drew your drawings on an 8.5” x 11” paper, part of your drawing will be cut off.

If you plan on using graphic design to create your artwork you’ll need to know page size for file set-up. When it comes to printing a book, it is important that your file has 1:1 proportion to the page size you’ll be printing on and margins set up for bleed.

The standard coloring book size is 8.5” x 11” however many printers have a variety of options to choose from. This is why it is important to choose your binding method before beginning to draw as well. Often sizes are dependent on the binding method.

Don’t be afraid to stray from the norm, however. One of the most popular adult coloring books – Secret Garden is square shaped and 8.5” x 8.5”.

More Information: Standard Paper Sizes | List of Paper Dimensions

Double or Single-Sided?

The majority of coloring books are double-sided, but we recommend considering going with a single-sided format. This can allow for a better user experience. If pages are double-sided, there is a chance that the colors will bleed through when someone goes to color in one side. This is especially true if users plan on using markers or if you go with a thinner paper stock.

Coloring book fanatics also sometimes like to frame pages after completing them. If you have a feeling one of your coloring pages could be used as a form of artwork after completed, it might be a good idea to go with a single-sided format.

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

CREATION

Believe it or not, the bulk of the work is over. If you’ve completed all the above steps you’ve taken quite a lot of time to plan your coloring book. In doing so, you will you be working traditionally or digitally? You can create drawings from scratch or work digitally on a tablet or on a graphic design platform such as Adobe Illustrator.

Hand Draw on Paper

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

If you want to go with a more traditional design method, you can create pencil sketches and trace over them with black ink pens such as Staedtler fineliners. It is very important to use high-quality drawing materials because you will be scanning your drawings. The more contrast you have between the pen and the paper, the sharper the scan will come out digitally. However, before scanning, erase the pencil.

Hand Draw on a Tablet

You can also manually draw your sketches on a tablet. This is a nice middle ground between creating your coloring book the traditional method, and the completely digital method. Using a stylus on a tablet may seem like it would be limiting, but with today’s technology, drawing on some tablets is almost like drawing on paper. If you want to make the investment, look into a tablet that has pressure sensitivity.

Create Coloring Pages Digitally

If you plan on designing your images digitally, such as in Photoshop or Illustrator, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the resolution is at least 300 dpi
  • Generate your design in 1:1 format
  • Use CMYK color, not RGB
  • Leave 0.125” of bleed on all sides
  • Leave 0.5” of margin
  • Don’t use less than 0.25 pt line weight for any elements
  • Save your file as a PDF
  • Check with your printer whether you should include all pages in one PDF or separate PDFs

More Information: Instructions on Correct Book File Set Up

Setting up your file with the above specifications will ensure that it is printed correctly. If you are not familiar with Adobe Illustrator you’ll want to study up. Here are some helpful blog posts we found:

Design a Cover

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

Coloring in a drawing yourself and using it as the cover is a great way to display what your customers could make of the rest of the black and white illustrations inside. It also stands out and is definitely more eye-catching than simply putting a black and white version on the cover. Another interesting tactic is to color the cover in halfway – intriguing a user to fill in the rest.

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

PRINTING

The best part is potentially the most exciting – it is all about bringing your creation to life! Of course, you can provide digital copies of your drawings online. Free coloring pages are very popular (and can be a great way to market your book). However, there is nothing like a physical copy containing all of your coloring creations in one place. When it comes to printing your book here is some advice.

Set Up Your File Correctly

We can’t stress enough how important file set-up is to the printing process. At Printi, while we will reach out in case there is a file error, we do not alter files ourselves because we do not want to question our creative customer’s design choices. That being said it is important to go through the “File Set Up” checklist and make sure your file meets all the following requirements:

  • Make sure the resolution is at least 300 dpi
  • Generate your design in 1:1 format
  • Use CMYK color, not RGB
  • Leave 0.125” of bleed on all sides
  • Leave 0.5” of margin
  • Don’t use less than 0.25 pt line weight for any elements
  • Save your file as a PDF
  • Check with your printer whether you should include all pages in one PDF or separate PDFs

Choose the Perfect Paper

If you’re wondering what type of paper is used for coloring books the answer is always UNCOATED and STURDY!

Inside Pages

Considering creating and printing your own coloring book? Read up on how to make your own coloring book - from ideation all the way to printing!

  • Uncoated. Any coated paper such as matte, silk, or semi-gloss, is difficult to write on. 
    Therefore you’ll want to go with an uncoated stock that can easily absorb ink or receive crayon. Going with uncoated stock also ensures that colors won’t smudge or run.
  • Sturdy. In addition to being uncoated, your stock option should be thick so that no matter what medium someone uses to color in your drawing or graphic, it will not show through. Our recommendation is a 70# or 80# Uncoated Text.

More Information: Let’s Talk Paper Stock | Types of Paper Explained

Cover Pages

If you go with our advice from above and display a colored in a page on your cover, make sure that you choose some type of glossy or laminated stock for your cover. Gloss has a great way of making colors pop which will make your cover even more intriguing!

Choose the Best Binding

(We are repeating & summarizing this section for anyone who may have scrolled all the way to the bottom after looking at the Table of Contents)

Binding & printing go hand-and-hand! We recommend choosing binding during the planning phase as it predetermines a few factors. Often the binding you choose can limit your options when it comes to page count and page size – both of which you will want to know before you begin drawing or creating graphics.

Here are the three standard binding options for coloring books:

  • Perfect Bound – Allows for a sleek, professional look. If you are planning on creating a coloring book to be distributed and sold in stores this is probably the option you would go with.
  • Spiral Bound – Coil binding allows for the pages to rotate 360 degrees around the metal coil. Therefore, unlike most other binding types, you can lay the book flat on a surface. This makes for easy coloring.
  • Saddle Stitch – Great for comic-related or fan fiction related, this binding method goes well with that aesthetic. 

At the end of the day, the type of binding you choose to go with is up to you. If you still don’t sure check out our blog post below to get more information on each individual type.

More Information: Types of Book Binding and When to Use Each

Choose a Quality Printer

When it comes to choosing a printer to work with it is important to take care. The best print companies to work with for a project such as a coloring book project should be familiar with short-run printing of books. Even if you’re book sales take off you’ll want to be a bit more cautious with your first run.

First Book Free

Here at Printi, we understand that ordering copies of a book project such as a coloring book can be daunting. It is for this reason we do our best to make the process as easy as possible! First-time book printing customers can order the first copy of their book free using the promo code FREEBOOKSAMPLE. Whether you are looking to print a single copy or 100,000 copies, we can help!  Check out our site for all of our bookbinding options or reach out to our Customer Success Team with any questions you may have.

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A Pastime for All Ages | Why We’re Obsessed with Adult Coloring Books

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Victoria Huebner is an SEO Specialist at Printi, an online printing company fueling creativity! When Victoria isn’t working to improve Printi’s website, she is zening out on her yoga mat, hiking in the White Mountains, or trying to live up to her Mom’s cooking abilities in the kitchen.

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