Creative Corner: Inside (or outside) the lines of your own DIY coloring book

The Pitt News is partnering with a student ambassador from the Center for Creativity to bring you some simple crafts you can do at home.


Caroline Kulczycky | Guest Blogger

It’s week four of being in quarantine, and I really need to meditate.

I’m definitely going a little stir crazy. Ok, a lot stir crazy. I’m always simultaneously stressed out AND bored — I didn’t even know that was possible. Fresh air, Netflix and reading can only do so much. Sometimes I need to bring out the big guns — colored pencils and crayons.

Coloring can be incredibly meditative, and it isn’t just for little kids. Everyone needs a little relaxation in their lives, and there’s something so soothing about the simple act of coloring. It helps you focus on one creative task, and who doesn’t like to look at a bunch of pretty colors?

Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a DIY coloring book from a few simple materials you might have lying around at home. Hopefully, the final product will serve you well as a way to infuse some creativity and relaxation into your life during your time confined at home. 

1. Collect supplies



There are a variety of ways to go about this project, but you only need a few simple supplies to make a functioning coloring book — some paper for the pages (remember, thicker paper will prevent pen lines bleeding through later), a folder, scissors, a stapler, glue, clear tape, old magazines and newspapers, pens, pencils and, of course, coloring supplies like markers, crayons and colored pencils. 

Caroline Kulczycky | Guest Blogger


2. Construct the cover 


The cover is going to hold your book together so you can use it throughout this (probably) lengthy quarantine, so it’s best to make it as durable as possible. There are tons of ways you could go about this! You could fold cardstock or a sturdy piece of construction paper in half. You could use a blank journal that has an existing cover. Maybe you’re the real deal and want to use cardboard and leather to make a fancy homemade hardback book cover. Sadly, I am not the real deal, and I am low on resources during this quarantine, so I need to think outside the box. My new favorite way of creating makeshift book covers is by using old folders from back when I went to classes on campus. Those were the days. To make a book cover out of a folder, simply cut the folder to the desired dimensions, and snip off the flaps on the inside so they don’t get in the way of your coloring book pages. 


3. Decorate the cover


After you create the base of the book cover, you can decorate it! A fun way to make an interesting book cover is to use collage. To decorate your book cover using the collage technique, cut and paste pieces of magazines, newspapers, photos and any other type of paper onto the front and back of the cover. Better yet, use some clear tape to attach the clippings— it’ll make your booklet cover shiny and water-resistant!


4. Put together the (blank) pages


Now it’s time to construct the inside of your coloring book! This part is similar to what I described in my last Creative Corner blog post on zine-making. All you have to do is gather up the sheets of paper, line them up, fold them in half hamburger style and cut the resulting booklet to the dimensions of your coloring book. 


5. Assemble the book


Depending on your book cover, there are a bunch of options when binding the booklet. You can use binder clips. You can use book rings. You can even punch holes on the left edge of the booklet and sew it together. For my coloring book, all I did was put the page booklet inside the cover and staple the spine to connect them. Not the most sophisticated binding technique ever, but it’ll do. 


6. Outline the images


The hard part is over. Now it’s time to let your imagination run wild! The advantage of creating your own coloring book is that YOU get to design what’s inside. Who cares if you have artistic experience? Focus on the process of drawing rather than the final result. Sketch outlines of the people you’re quarantined with. Draw your favorite quarantine meals. Distractedly doodle while you’re watching TV. Feeling in the mood to really clear your mind? Use your favorite pen or Sharpie to draw patterns rather than representational pictures. Repetition is your friend — drawing the same abstract image over and over can give your brain a break. Need some ideas for patterns to create in your coloring book? Checkerboard, pyramids, paisley, stripes, triangles, spheres, cross hatching, diamonds … the possibilities are endless! I’ve always been partial to geometric patterns, so I found it incredibly relaxing to draw a bunch of cubes in my coloring book. And spirals. But mostly cubes. 


7. Color!


Need I say more?

Whether you like to color inside the lines or outside the lines, coloring books can benefit everyone, especially during this stressful quarantine. So, pop in your headphones to listen to some quaran-tunes, turn off CNN, clear your mind and color away!

Caroline Kulczycky | Guest Blogger


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