You can use anything to color, but the process is even more fun and relaxing when the tools are right for the job. These are available for different budgets and in a huge variety of colors. Of course, everything starts with the paper.

Using a high-quality paper will let you make the most of whatever media (what you use to color with) you choose. If you use regular printer paper, you may want to stick to using tools that won’t bleed like pencils or gel pens. Thicker, white cardstock or even printable artist-quality paper will be easier to work with and make the colors pop.

Here’s what to look for when you’re selecting tools for coloring: 

  • Colored pencils

Pencils are the most accessible tool that many people will already have in their home. Any brand will work well for most paper types and are easy to use. Lower cost pencils are often harder than even budget art pencils, so look out for artist pencils that have a softcore. These will break less and can be blended to achieve unique results and an even wider color range.

  • Gel pens

Gel pens require more patience to use single they have fine tips, but they’re available in thousands of colors and interesting finishes that other tools don’t have available like glitter and metallic shades. These pens are made for writing, so they usually won’t bleed through even regular printer paper. You’d be surprised to learn that you can often blend the colors prior to the pen drying!

  • Alcohol markers

These markers are blendable and can be applied in layers to build color depth. Many alcohol-based markers are dual-tipped so they have a fine tip and a wide tip for larger spaces of color. These are wet, however, so they bleed through paper unless you select a thicker paper made for wet media.

  • Water-based markers

These markers are easy to find and include basic Crayola markers, though professional varieties exist. The colors are saturated, but they’ll bleed through most paper. Water-based markers can be blended but this is more difficult, and paper can be damaged by the moisture.

  • Watercolor pencils

Watercolor pencils are as easy to use as colored pencils but can be blended using water. Colors can be blended or tapered in a soft gradient to create dynamic effects in your coloring. Since you’ll be using water, select a higher quality paper that can handle extra moisture. Cotton or printable art paper is great for watercolor pencils.