Maybe I am one of the weird ones (that’s not me in the photo; it’s stock, but it’s a good sign that I’m not alone), but even at 32, I enjoy coloring books. Just like my purchases of manga, graphic novels, and illustrated books, I buy many of my coloring books as a form of poor-man’s art collecting. But not just because I want to own the beautiful work, but because with a coloring book, I get to add my own touches, my own interpretation, and sometimes, given enough white space, my own designs within the images.
While on rare occasion I will buy a cheap (and cheaply made) coloring/activity book just for the fun of being a kid and coloring, most of the ones in my collection are of exquisite images: mandalas, renaissance fashion, detailed First Nations animal art, fairies, vampires, et al. Squirelflight and I will mark pages with our initials in faint pencil if we really want to be the one to color a certain image, and if there’s contention, I bless the gods and my partner that we have a scanner, because I can scan the image and print it several times over for us to color. Some images are so beautiful, we don’t touch the original, but scan and print for the fun of it.
But there are ways of getting coloring pages, whether for fun or for the meditative, soul-trance quality of taking your time to bring vibrant life to an elegant set of black lines and white spaces. When I wrote this eHow article on creating printable coloring books, I had gone through site after site looking up places that provided printable pages for free, not having realized how many there were to choose from!
While they may not compare to the level of quality of my books, they can provide hours of free (mostly, if one does not consider paper, toner, and art supplies into the cost) entertainment for you, your children, or anyone.
Educational Coloring Pages (mostly not educational, but a lot of variety along the left side bar)
Karen’s Whimsy: Dragon Images and Beyond (some of the fantasy art is incredible, check the left sidebar)
One thing I like most about going to my friends’ family’s 4th of July celebrations each year, is that they have a table always set up with coloring books, crayons, markers, and pencils, and we get to pick a page, sit with it a while, and put our names on it. I’ve done it at other parties (it’s where I discovered the “Vulva”–Warning: adult term used in real title–Coloring Book, and first realized I could “paint” my coloring books with nail polish for added shine and glitter.)
And for people who really want to let their imaginations fly, you can try the Anti-coloring Book, which is more a book of drawing prompts (one step toward getting a sketch book), rather than the traditional image-you-color-in books.