Some stubborn folks still see coloring as only a kid’s activity. They’re so wrong! In recent years, some of the best coloring books for adults have truly hit the mainstream, selling millions. Many grown-ups now color as a relaxing hobby to help melt away stress and also improve focus. I know – ’cause I’m an adult colorist myself!
That being said, what are a few of the best adult coloring books available? In this list, I’ll compile my personal favorites, in no particular order.
However, unlike most other lists you might have seen, I’m gonna try something a bit different.
Thus, each of my picks will be based on a different adult coloring theme. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. 🙂
My list of best coloring books for adults, based on theme.
1. Adult Coloring Book: 100 Amazing Patterns (Mandala theme)
For now, mandala patterns are probably the most popular coloring theme among adults. I think there’s just something so relaxing about filling in geometric shapes and symmetrical designs. It’s hypnotic!
From this theme, my favorite adult coloring book has to be Jade Summer’s 100 Amazing Patterns. It’s an incredible collection of easy-to-color mandala patterns that really help to calm my stress. I especially love the beautiful florals!
Like most other best coloring books for adults, 100 Amazing Patterns is printed on high-quality paper. In addition, each design is single-sided, which reduces bleed-through worries. It also means you’ll be able to hang your finished color work up without losing another.
Furthermore, I appreciate how every design in 100 Amazing Patterns is ‘full-framed’. Thus, there’s far less leftover whitespace compared to many other mandala coloring books on the market. I feel this makes everything better to look at, more complete.
Another mandala coloring book I love is Mandalas to Color – also catered to grown-ups.
Launched by ColorIt, the book’s many calming designs are printed on high-quality white paper. From what I’ve tested, it’s able to handle most of my color pencils, markers, pastels, and other mediums without any bleed. Color me impressed! All pages are also perforated, which lets you easily remove your finished work for framing.
Oh, and I absolutely love the hardback cover! Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve accidentally creased my other adult coloring books from stuffing them in my bag. Mandalas to Color‘s hardcover solves that problem entirely.
2. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs (Assorted animals theme)
I think MantraCraft has truly put together one of the best coloring books for adults especially catered to animal lovers. There are over 50 gorgeous animal patterns here, including small and large creatures of all kinds.
My personal favorite was the frog artwork, which was a complete joy to color and display in my living space. Overall, I’ve squeezed so many hours of calm relaxation time from this delightful adult coloring book.
In addition, each design is single-sided so, again, this reduces concerns over bleed. High-resolution printing also means you’ll be coloring within really sharp-looking lines on good quality paper.
One thing to note: the linework in Stress Relieving Animal Designs is fairly bold. Some people might feel this reduces the overall coloring space – or they might not like such a ‘thick’ aesthetic.
However, personally, I find the slightly bolder lines really helped to add a unique appearance to my finished colored work. It all comes down to individual preference.
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3. Creative Cats Coloring Book (Cat lovers theme)
Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love cats. Hey, I’m the proud owner of four beautiful felines at home!
Thus, when I heard Creative Haven had released an adult coloring book themed entirely around cats, I had to check it out, naturally.
The Creative Cats Coloring Book brims with more than 30 full-page drawings of incredibly cute cats for you to color in. That’s a lot of kitties! In addition, each design is filled with intricate motifs such as hearts, flowers, and other soothing patterns to melt away your daily stress.
This adult coloring book is also single-sided with each page perforated for easy removal. Again, a big plus for many!
Above all, if you’re a huge cat lover, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better adult coloring book to tickle your feline fancy.
- Specially designed for experienced colorists
- Cute kitties amongst various patterns for coloring
- Use colored pencil / marker / gel pen / watercolor
4. Unicorns and Dragons – Enchanting Fantasy Coloring Book (Fantasy theme)
Quick question: what’s more magical than a unicorn?
My biased answer: Absolutely nothing… except maybe the chance to color them!
If you’re at all into fantasy art, I bet you’ll find this to be one of the best coloring books for adults – most definitely if you’re a fan of both unicorns and dragons.
Created by the ever talented Selina Fenech, Unicorns and Dragons features 25 unique drawings of these majestic mythical creatures. In addition, there are two copies of each design. Thus, you’ll always get a second go at choosing different colors for your creations.
Even better, each unicorn / dragon is also set against a beautiful backdrop of elaborate decorations, warrior maidens, adorable animals, and other fantasy settings.
Style wise, Selina’s art features a good level of detail and thin linework. For me, it means I get more room to color in a final design that looks detailed enough to frame.
However, you’ll want to note that the pages of this adult coloring book are on the thinner side. So, while the prints are single-sided, it might be better for you to stick to using safer mediums like color pencils and non-alcohol based markers.
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5. Fantastic Structures: A Coloring Book of Amazing Buildings Real and Imagined (Architecture theme)
I adore Steve McDonald’s original Fantastic Cities. However, my all-time favorite work from him has to be Fantastic Structures, bar none.
This large-format adult coloring book contains incredibly detailed lineworks of 54 architectural marvels. This includes Prague’s Astronomical Clock, a gorgeous Florentine bridge, a Romanian castle, the Eiffel Tower, an exquisite Indian palace, and tons more structures real and imagined.
Designs are printed on both sides. However, thanks to high-quality heavyweight paper, you won’t have to worry about bleed though. In addition, I was easily able to lay the book completely flat as I colored due to the smart binding decision. Do take note that the pages are non-perforated.
Overall, Fantastic Structures is most surely among the best coloring books for adults with a deep globe-trotting love for gorgeous buildings. Steve is a talented artist to behold!
- English (Publication Language)
- 60 Pages - 03/15/2016 (Publication Date) - Chronicle Books (Publisher)
6. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book (Garden theme)
I don’t think Secret Garden needs any introduction. Most colorists can agree that this is one of the best coloring books for adults that has helped to push the hobby into the mainstream.
Having finished dozens of coloring books, I have to say that Johanna Bashford’s bestseller still stands strong among my all-time favorites. The book shines with her distinct and lovingly detailed ink-work, which has given me so much stress-reducing fun. In addition, I even got to color in the beautiful dust jacket. A nice perk!
This revised edition also has paper that’s been vastly improved from the original print. I haven’t experienced any bleeds – nor have I heard others complain.
Overall, this newer Secret Garden is as high-quality as it comes – although I still wish the designs were single and not double-sided. That’s a small nitpick, though.
Above all, if you’re thinking about getting into adult coloring for the first time, I suggest you start with Secret Garden. It’s one of the best adult coloring books of its kind that’ll hook you in for more!
- Laurence king publishing Secret gardens coloring book
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- Go on a ramble through a world of Secret gardens created in beautifully detailed pen and ink illustrations
7. A Snarky Adult Coloring Book: Some People Need a High-Five, In the Face, With a Chair (Irreverent theme)
There’s been quite a craze lately with F-bomb adult coloring books. I’m pretty open-minded, so it doesn’t really bother me.
However, I do think we’re starting to move into overkill territory with the sheer abundance of cuss-word cover art. I mean, in my opinion, there’s a fine line between ‘being edgy’ and ‘trying too hard’.
That’s kinda why I love the Snarky Adult Coloring Book series – with the one featured above being my favorite release.
Most designs inside are very in-your-face. Yet, save for a few exceptions, each is sprinkled with deadpan sarcasm and funny passive aggressiveness – instead of blatant cussing. In other words, the theme is edgy without always overdoing it.
In addition, all designs are single-sided and printed on premium matte paper. So, again, this reduces the chances of unwanted bleed.
I also really love how most slogans come with full-page intricate motifs, including beautiful leaves, flowers, animals, and so on. This gives you so much more to color!
In short, I think the Snarky Adult Coloring Book series is perfect if you want the best coloring books for adults to make you laugh as you reduce your stress levels.
8. Doodles in Outer Space: Relax on an Intergalactic Journey through the Universe (Space theme)
Since young, I always found myself drawn to anything space-related. Thus, imagine my sheer delight when I saw Doodles in Outer Space. The theme just spoke to me!
Illustrator Irvin Ranada truly unleashes his wild imagination with 40 standout interstellar designs. This includes an awesome variety of cute aliens, quirky space machines, exotic planets, and so much more.
In addition, I think his cartoony yet intricate linework fits the space theme perfectly. Every page screams to be filled in with bright and playful colors!
This adult coloring book is single-sided, printed on large high quality paper. Furthermore, a majority of large designs also help to keep whitespace to a minimal.
Overall, I think Doodles in Outer Space is a very special entry in my list of best coloring books for adults. As kids, we often pondered over the wonders of space. These nostalgic feelings are bound to flood back as you relax with coloring here.
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9. Disney Dreams Collection: Thomas Kinkade Studios Coloring Book (Disney theme)
Disney fans will fall in love with this adult coloring book featuring Thomas Kinkade‘s awe-inspiring works.
The book features a whooping sixty-three Disney masterpieces. This includes scenes from Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, and other iconic films – all converted into clean linework for your coloring pleasure.
Above all, I think what makes Disney Dreams Collection unique is its layout. Full-colored printouts of each original painting are laid side-by-side with their corresponding linework versions. Thus, color referencing will always be a breeze – if you so choose, of course.
The paper quality is soft white, non-perforated, and of medium weight. This means you won’t have to worry about most mediums bleeding through (e.g. light gel pens, etc.).
However, I suggest you be slightly careful with alcohol-based markers and thicker ink pens. A few colorist friends of mine have said that these can soak to the other side.
Overall, Disney Dreams Collection is without a doubt among the best coloring books for adults who wish to relax with their favorite Disney icons. Seriously, for this specific coloring theme, no other product compares!
- Kinkade, Thomas (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 128 Pages - 09/19/2017 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)
10. The Beauty of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book (Horror theme)
If you’ve got a hidden dark-side colorist in you (like I do), look no further than The Beauty of Horror. Just make sure you’ve got tons of red to spare in your coloring arsenal!
As the publisher puts it, this book is The Walking Dead meets The Secret Garden. I totally agree with this apt description!
Featuring Alan Robert’s gruesome yet intricate artwork, I’ve derived countless hours of joy coloring in all sorts of horrifying creatures. This includes zombies, ghouls, werewolves, sea monsters, and other delightfully terrible things.
In addition, I’ve used sharpies, color pencils, watercolor markets, and other mediums. Thus far, I haven’t seen any noticeable bleeding, all thanks to the high quality pages. Not in my case anyway.
Even better, Alan has released several more adult coloring books of a similar theme, all specially catered to those with a twisted sense of humor.
In short, there’s nothing else quite like The Beauty of Horror on the market. So, as a horror buff who loves to color, you’ll want to go for this!
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11. Japanese Coloring Book (Cultural theme)
I’ve been obsessed with Japanese culture since my first visit to the country in 2017. From the food to the bright colors of anime, I’m enthralled by their unique cultural identity – and how much pride the Japanese have for it.
This Japanese Coloring Book features a huge range of 300 designs. These range from fairly simple ones that can be finished in hours, to more intricate pieces that’ll take days to color. Designs include epic dragons, gorgeous cherry blossom gardens, traditional temples, and tons more iconic Japanese symbols.
Each clear-resolution artwork is single-sided. Thus, once more, you’ll have no problem framing up your completed favorites without sacrificing another.
In addition, I didn’t encounter any bleed-through nor black ink smudges. This was supposedly a problem with the original printing – but has since been rectified.
In short, if you’re as in love with Japanese culture as I am, the Japanese Coloring Book is one of the best adult coloring books of its kind.
12. Delicious Food (Yummy theme)
Dang, you can’t imagine how many times I’ve had food cravings while coloring this book! It’s packed with 25 mouth-watering drawings of sweet treats, yummy comfort food, and even some healthier fruits and vegetables that’ll get your hands coloring – and stomach rumbling.
As with most Jade Summer releases, the paper used here is high-quality (although a bit rough in texture) with a blacked back to help prevent bleeds. In addition, each tasty design has a duplicate. So, if you’re feeling quirky, you can always have another go at coloring your hamburger purple!
Both good food and coloring bring me pure joy. Thus, you have no idea how relaxed I felt as I went through Delicious Food. Overall, I definitely recommend this as one of the best coloring books for adults for this theme.
13. Country Cabins Coloring Book (Nature Homes theme)
I miss going on vacation – even more so given the current world situation. That being said, Country Cabins Coloring Book has really helped to whisk me away on a calming trip into nature, complete with a warm cabin.
This adult coloring book offers a nice mix of cozy interior designs and peaceful outdoor scenery. All pieces feature good linework that allows for ample coloring room.
There are 25 unique single-sided designs in total, with duplicates for each. My personal faves are the ones of beautiful cabin exteriors set amid a lush landscape of trees and sunshine. Lovely!
The backs of each design are blacked to avoid accidental bleeds – of which I did not experience any.
Overall, I feel Country Cabins Coloring Book is among the best coloring books for adults who want to relive their therapeutic nature getaways.
- Summer, Jade (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 111 Pages - 02/25/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
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14. Stained Glass Coloring Book: Nature and Landscapes (Stained glass theme)
This adult coloring book dives into the beauty of stained glass art. It features more than 32 unique designs of various motifs such as flowers, nature, and more.
Naturally, with this aesthetic style, the Stained Glass Coloring Book isn’t about intricate linework and high detail. Instead, the focus here is on making these lovely images pop with bright and boldly contrasting colors.
This is one of my favorite coloring themes on the list. However, for this adult coloring book, I suggest you stick only to color pencils. Admittedly, the paper quality is good but not great. Thus, markers and other similarly thick mediums are likely to bleed through.
15. Color Quest: Extreme Coloring Challenges to Complete (Puzzle theme)
If you enjoy both coloring and puzzles, Color Quest will surely scratch those itches!
Seriously, this is the best color-by-numbers book for adults I’ve ever completed. I find it very enticing to not know exactly what design I’m starting with – and then have the image slowly reveal itself the more I color in.
Above all, the motif variety here is fabulous. This includes animals, geometric patterns, plants, and so more – making the mystery reveal even better.
I also did not experience any bleed despite using medium markers, so the paper quality seems to be high. In addition, each design is single-sided and perforated.
16. Fanciful Sea Life Coloring Book (Sea life theme)
There are quite a few sea life coloring books available. However, I think my personal fave is Fanciful Sea Life, released by Creative Haven.
This book has a nice assortment of beautiful sea creatures to color in, including turtles, angelfish, whales, and more. My top pick has to be the dolphins!
All the linework is detailed yet non-intimidating. Above all, this underwater theme will give you a chance to try out a wide range of colors. I for one filled my sea creatures with psychedelic-type colors, making my finished work look slightly surreal.
The paper quality is good. Again, I didn’t encounter any bleed – and neither have most people I asked. Each design is single-sided and perforated.
17. The Psalms in Color (Religious theme)
I think this adult coloring book carries special appeal for people who are religious. It’s a celebration of memorable Bible quotes, all beautifully designed for hours of relaxing coloring.
Compared to Beauty in the Bible (a similar product), I think The Psalms in Color features much better linework with 56 designs that try to fill up most pages (i.e. less whitespace). Each piece is single-sided and printed on good quality, perforated pages.
Overall, I regard this as one of the best adult coloring books available that’ll make for a great Church get-together.
- Christian Art Publishers (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 128 Pages - 05/02/2016 (Publication Date) - Christian Art Publishers (Publisher)
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18. Greatest Hits: 100 Best Coloring Pages (Variety theme)
You may be someone who likes to color a little bit of everything, whatever the theme. If that’s the case, Greatest Hits will check all your boxes!
This coloring book is a massive collection of 100 beautifully drawn designs gathered together from Jade Summer’s different thematic releases. These include animals, holidays, flowers, mandalas, fantasy, and so much more. As you’d expect from the publisher, each design has a blacked back, printed on high quality paper.
Of course, with such a broad range, you’ll likely enjoy some designs over others. In other words, I like to think of this Greatest Hits as a perfect intro coloring book for new adult colorists to suss out the themes they really like before venturing further.