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22 Adult Coloring and Doodling Activities

Doodle designs and coloring books for adults...
what's the difference?

collage of coloring and doodling activites

Coloring books for adults are all the rage in case you haven't noticed. Wherever I go I see more and more adult colouring books. Even though doodling & doodle designs is also very popular it has not spawned the type of industry adult coloring has  along with every store selling at least one type of coloring book for adults.  

Most people think of themselves as terribly uncreative. People tell me and others how they  can't draw a straight line and they're so uncreative etc etc. Since coloring pages for adults are marketed as the best for relaxation and stress relief, adult coloring has taken off since there is no need to think when coloring. (except for thinking which color to use next)

You don't even to spend money on coloring  books as you can download coloring pages right from your computer.

At first I had a really hard time with these adult coloring books concept because I saw coloring in coloring books as the ultimate non creative activity. I saw cool doodles, easy doodles and in general random doodling as much more creative and fun.

What I realized though through my extensive practice and research for  this post about coloring and doodling that the act of coloring is indeed quite relaxing and most people involved with it don't want the stress of trying to do something they think they are not good at. (being creative)

Since my point however, is to help bring out peoples creativity I think if I give ideas on what and how to doodle and color then maybe the adults craving coloring may be able to leave the crutch of the coloring book.

By giving you these 22 plus  doodling and coloring prompts you will be able to fulfill your need to color and doodle and be creative at the same time.​

​What about Zentangles?

No post on coloring and doodling can be complete without touching on zentangles.

Zentangle art has become quite popular itself in these last few years and as you see below I have tried my hand at it as well. I used graph paper to make my own boxes instead of using the small square cards that it calls for. Without going into how exactly zentangles work all I can say is  that there are too many rules for me to have continued with it. When you have to start following exactly how to do each pattern it can cause stress like it was causing me and I realized it was not  for me.

zentangle sample
zentangle sample
zentangle sample
zentangle sample
empty zentangle boxes

Doodling and coloring have less rules...or let me change that to almost no rules,  which allows for a more relaxing, creative activity.


Backgrounds to color and doodle on

Doodling can be done on almost any writing surface. To broaden your idea of what can be doodled or colored on you can try some of the ones below.

  • Journal pages (in your art journal)
  • Graph paper
  • Index cards
  • Photo paper
  • Planners
  • Maps
  • Photos

Markers and pens to color and doodle with

There are endless markers, pens and paints to doodle and color with. Above are some of the ones that I use.

The images below are others that I  use to color and doodle with. Each activity calls for a different type and different markers and pens work differently for different backgrounds. You will find the ones you like best as you continue to collect pens and markers like I do.  

22 Doodle Designs & Coloring Activites

I really have more than 22 activities but, since only 22 have images I guess those are the ones that really count.

This first doodling activity is what generally happens when someone creates random doodles using a color scheme in just a few colors. (done by my daughter in law)There was no prompt here other than to fill the page.

doodle design

This second image also had a prompt to fill the page (by my daughter) but, she used playcolor poster paints that come in a tube with which you can't do detail work.Instead of a a detailed doodle it turned in a bright, colorful, colored, abstract design page.Those play color paints are amazingly creamy and fun to use.

coloring design made with playcolor crayons

I had seen posts talking about using planners for doodling so I decided to try it. I took an old planner and using a pink paint posca pen, some glaze pens, a white uniball pen and regular gel pens I covered the whole planner page with  doodles and coloring.

doodled page with pink and purple color scheme

Wanting to  use my prismacolor brush markers one day I brushed them along the page creating colored bands of marker. I then doodled in each band of color mostly using my white uniball pen.

doodles added to strips of colors made with markers

Stuck for a doodling prompt...use your hand. Trace it and then  fill it with hand doodles.

a doodled hand that was traced

This doodle was started on top of a journal page that was sprayed with a color or two of ink (or maybe it was paint). I took a black pitt pen and drew very large leaf designs. I then used a variety of pens including pink paint posca marker, white uniball pen, gold uniball pen,  slicci metallic pens  & prismalcolor  brush markers.

doodled design on top of sprayed background

The 2 images below were done on photographic paper. I used the koi coloring brush pens and there is nothing as satisfying as using a great marker on photo paper.

doodled curves on photo paper
doodled spirals on photo paper
doodled designs with background colored in on photo paper

Another doodling starter is to use a map. I took one here, cut it up, pasted it in my journal and then used a pitt pen to follow lines, color some in and create my own lines.

collage of map onto journal page with doodles added

Graph paper allows for detailed coloring. I created circles using a cup and the holes in a cd. You can do different configurations of the circles and overlap if you want. There are many different ways to color in the small boxes and as you can see I've only just begun. 

The next 2 ideas use laser copies. For the first one I cut out some shapes and pasted them on a painted paper I had from a different activity. I then colored and doodled over it using a metallic playcolor poster paint tube, and white uniball markers. I needed markers that  would show over a dark background.

doodled page with gold highlights

This second one also uses shapes cut out of laser copies & of painted papers. I then collaged them and doodled over and around them.

collaged and doodled page

Look through different kinds of papers you have, cut out a shape or image and use it to start a doodle. I cut out a  flower or two and leaf shapes from some papers that  I had in my stash, pasted them down in my journal and doodled around.

collaged and doodled page

Start a page with a stamp. In this case it was a homemade stamp that was chosen to start this page and even though it was never followed through I wanted to add it here to show you the idea. You can use any stamp that can inspire doodling.

homemade stamp using pieces of rubber band

Start a doodle with a stencil or two and create your own adult coloring pages

The rest of the activities were used  with one or more stencils.

This first one was started with a simple stencil and then the stencil shape was drawn freehand around the page.​

doodles from stencil with hot pink background

This entire page was created by using stencils to create various overlapping shapes and then doodles were filled in each shape with black pitt pens and white and silver uniball pens.

orange and yellow background with templates overlaid on top for doodlin

Here I laid down simple plastic masks, sprayed over the page, removed the masks and doodled in each shape.

small shape added with stencils and filled with doodles

With this I laid the large stencil over a journal page, sprayed and filled the spaces with black writing and doodles.

I used photo paper again here but, used one stencil a few times  overlapping them. I colored in and  finished off.

overlapping leaf doodle on photo paper

I used an E shape mask and kept putting it down on different parts of the paper and kept spraying to get all of these E impressions.Doodled gold in each empty space.

Again used a stencil, this time a homemade one. Sprayed inside the stencil, removed and colored and doodled in all spaces.

Sprayed over homemade glue gun stencils and doodled in spaces.

glue gun stencils sprayed over and doodled inside

This was a real creation of an adult coloring page. I took a number of stencils and drew inside them filling the page with designs to create a coloring page. I then colored them all in, painted the background black and doodled on top of that. This can be made as simple or as complicated as you want and is so much more satisfying than printable adult coloring pages.

coloring page created with small stencils and black background

More ideas to help you begin your coloring and doodling

One really wonderful idea that I recently implemented was to create this doodling reference. What happens is when you start doodling you often get stuck on the same designs and marks and this is  a great way to help you move on.

You don't have to use mine. You can google doodling and see the marks, designs and lines you like and would like to use in your own doodling and coloring. Then make your own reference guide. I have found it very helpful.

sheet with doodle ideas

In researching for this post there were definitely ideas I found that I did not get to use so I am going to list some of  them here in list form. 

  • Add glitter, glitter glue or dimension paint over your doodles
  • Draw with paint markers, add in foil shapes and fill with oil pastels and gel pens
  • Use a photo to paste down and start a doodle from the photo
  • Use doodles to border a page
  • Use metallics on black paper
  • Use warm colors only
  • Use cool colors only
  • Use neutrals only

Enjoy your coloring and doodling and please if anyone could share with me how likely it would be for you to use some of these activities instead of coloring books...Would it be worth the effort?

Leave a Comment:

Charmaine says September 9, 2016

Good morning from Ohio! I think the whole adult coloring book craze is just that, a fad being promoted by savvy marketers and popular craft stores like Michael’s, JoAnn, and Hobby Lobby. As an elementary and middle school art teacher, as well as a grandmother to two boys six and four years old, I have found that most children would much rather do their own drawing, painting, and doodling without the use of coloring pages or books. I do keep how to draw books available in my classroom, and these are frequently used when a student feels stuck on a specific drawing challenge, and I encourage students to take photographs of their own to use as a drawing reference.
I teach Zentangle to my sixth and seventh grade students. Most of them do like it while we are doing it in class and a few continue on their own and have done some amazingly creative pen and ink work. I don’t do it much myself, although I guess it does creep into some of my own work on occasion. Thanks for sharing some great ideas for doodling!

    Faigie says September 12, 2016

    I agree with you that its a fad Charmaine but, I do think that they are probably tapping into the need people have to do some kind of coloring or art but, they feel so uncreative that they tend to stick to those coloring books. Too bad, maybe I’ll send them on to your classroom πŸ™‚

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