How to choose a colour scheme for colouring

Choosing which colours to use for your colouring pages can be a colourist’s biggest challenge. From choosing an overall colour scheme, to selecting appropriate colours for shading and details, this challenge can sometimes stop us from enjoying our colouring pages quite as much as we’d like to!

Whether you are a planner or a “pantser” when it comes to choosing colours, we hope this guide will help you discover new ways to choose and combine colours, and inspire you to try one of these ideas that you haven’t done before!

Use a colour palette

The first, and most popular, option for choosing colours is to use a colour palette. Whether you use an inspiring colour palette from our website, find one on social media, or simply make one up on the spot, having a palette of colours to use gives you some direction and guidance, and lets you test how the colours look together before getting stuck in.

We love making our own colour palettes by looking at pictures and picking out the colours we can see – in the example below, we can see shades of blue, yellow, orange, and more. You can select as few or as many colours as you want to for your colour palette.

A colour palette challenge from Colouring Heaven

If you struggle to find inspiration of your own, we have over 40 colour palette challenges on our website. Make sure you tag us on Facebook and Instagram if you decide to use them!

Get inspiration

Many of the artists who contribute to issues of Colouring Heaven have drawn and coloured their own work, which can be wonderful inspiration for your own colouring pages. Additionally, some of our Collection issues featured brands like Care Bears™ and Percy the Park Keeper™, so why not get inspired by the original source material?

Although we don’t advocate for direct copying or imitation of any artistic work, being inspired by the colours can help you capture a similar mood, emotion or vibe. For example, take a look at the colours in these stunning example pages from Wheeshan Ong, featured artist of our Starry Night Special.

Wheeshan Ong - About the Colouring Heaven artist

Looking for examples of our artists’ work? We sometimes share these on Facebook or Instagram after a new issue is out, or you can have a browse of the featured artists on our website.

Learn about colour theory

Having a rough understanding of colour theory can be really helpful for choosing complimentary (or contrasting!) colour palettes. Luckily we have you covered with this one, as we have a fantastic article all about colour theory!

Colour theory wheel from Colouring Heaven.

It’s entirely up to you how you interpret colour theory and whether you follow the “rules” of colour combinations (although in our opinion, there’s no such thing!) but it’s definitely a good idea to understand what the colour wheel is and how it might impact your colouring and your choice of colour scheme.

To get started with colour theory, you can download our free colour wheel resource here!

Take on a challenge

If picking random colours doesn’t sound up your street, you could try taking on a different colouring challenge to make choosing colours more fun and less stressful, and to really push yourself out of your comfort zone. Here are some ideas from us:

  • One colour challenge
  • Two colour challenge
  • Black biro challenge
  • Themed challenge (eg. Spring colours, Halloween colours, Christmas colours)
  • Black, white and grey only

But that’s just a few examples – we’re sure you can think of many more!

We host a challenge every month in our lovely Friends of Colouring Heaven Facebook group. Why not join us there and take part? For example, in February, we challenged our colourists to colour this page in only grey and purple!

Grey and purple colouring page

Shades and highlights

Choosing colours is not all about colour schemes and palettes – sometimes it’s about picking what pencils to use for shading different parts of your colouring page.

For simple shading, we recommend sticking with one colour and using lighter and darker colours as needed. Don’t be afraid to go in with a rubber to lift or lighten some colours too!

A rabbit and flower colouring page.

We recommend staying away from harsh black, and instead getting creative with your shadows. Dark blues, purples, and browns all make wonderful alternatives, but be informed by your colour scheme and be creative! For example, red can be a nice shadow colour for pink.

Have a read of this article about how to make your colouring pages look more realistic for more tips on shading!

Pick at random

Simply close your eyes and pick a random pencil from your collection, and repeat until you have enough pencils for a full colouring scheme! This can be a great way to challenge yourself, use new colours, and break out of more traditional colour schemes and shading options.

A collection of short coloured pencils on top of a half coloured page.

This technique can also make colouring more fun! Plus, there’s no need to stress about colour palette choices – fate has made the decision for you!

What’s your favourite technique for choosing a colour scheme for your colouring pages? Pop over to Facebook and Instagram to let us know! And if you’ve found this article helpful, please consider sharing it or saving it for future reference.

Stay in touch

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all things Colouring Heaven. Be sure to share your beautiful colouring with us in our Friends of Colouring Heaven Facebook group and join our friendly, lovely community!

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