This Minimalist Coloring Toolkit Is All You Need to Color Like a Pro

It doesn’t take a closet full of supplies to create beautiful works of art.

By Laura Newcomer

Space is precious, and we get that most people don’t have the room (or the budget!) to fill shelves upon shelves with colored pencils, gel pens, markers, and other coloring accoutrements.

While having limited storage space might make you feel self-conscious as you browse shots of meticulously organized, wall-to-wall coloring supplies on Pinterest, let us assure you that it won’t hamper your coloring abilities in the slightest.

In fact, scaling back on your supplies may actually make coloring more enjoyable. That’s because having fewer supplies on hand reduces decision fatigue, which can mess with creative flow and stress you out. (And that’s the last thing anybody wants to feel while coloring!) Pairing your coloring tools down to the bare essentials also stimulates creativity, as you’ll be challenged to develop unique colors, shades, and textures using only a few tools.

Bottom line? A small set of coloring supplies is no less valuable than a stocked closet. Once you have your favorite adult coloring pages in hand, you can fulfill all of your coloring needs with only the following items. 

Quality Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils on Blue Background

Before committing to a giant set of pencils, it’s a good idea to try out smaller sets from a variety of brands so you can decide on the brand and the style (e.g. oil-based, wax-based, or watercolor) of pencils you most prefer. Then, it’s time to invest in your permanent colored pencil collection.

There are two ways you can go about this: Purchase a packaged set, or invest in individual pencils.

There are pros and cons to each of these approaches. Buying a packaged set means you’re guaranteed to have a variety of colors. On the other hand, it may also mean you end up paying for—and storing—colors that you’ll never use. If you’re picky about your colors, then it may be a good idea to purchase individual pencils instead. This also gives you the chance to gradually expand your pencil collection as space allows.

No matter whether you opt for a set or individual pencils, 12 colors should give you a base palette that will allow you to create a variety of looks without filling an entire drawer. When choosing your colors, keep in mind how the pencils can be layered to create other hues.


Other Drawing Tools


These are totally optional. You can enjoy a long tenure as a coloring book lover with nothing but the colored pencils you selected above. But if you want to learn new skills and add different textures to your drawings, you may want to invest in alternative tools such as pens, markers, and/or crayons.

When you’re strapped for storage space, it’s smart not to load up on all these extras in one go. Instead, start by purchasing one of each of the drawing tools you’re interested in using. Get a feel for the different media, and then decide whether you want to dedicate more space to any of these tools. As with pencils, your personal preferences will determine whether you want to buy a full set(s) or individual pieces. Most artist-quality pens and markers are sold individually online and at art stores like Michaels or Blick Art Materials.

Manual Pencil Sharpener

Metal Hand Pencil SharpenerFor durability and functionality, you can’t beat a classic metal hand sharpener. Choosing metal instead of plastic means the sharpener won’t break easily—so you won’t have to worry about storing several sharpeners in various stages of disrepair. Using a hand sharpener in lieu of an electric one will also help your pencils last longer because electric sharpeners tend to eat up pencils more quickly than manual ones.

If you’re really trying to pare down, you could use other common household tools—such as an X-Acto knife and/or sandpaper—in lieu of a dedicated sharpener. But, fair warning, they take some practice and might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. Pencil sharpeners are tiny and totally worth investing a few bucks in.

The Extras

The tools mentioned above are all you really need to color like a pro. But if you have a little more space, you might consider adding the following tools to your collection. While not absolutely necessary, they can help you enhance the look of your drawings.

  • Blending pencil or blending stumps. These help you blend colored pencil seamlessly. Blending pencils can be used on their own with colored pencil. Blending stumps are great to use with baby oil or mineral spirits like Gamsol (another good addition to the arsenal if you want to add another helpful tool to your arsenal).
  • Drafting brush. Use this tool to brush your paper occasionally while you’re in the process of creating a drawing. This removes pencil shavings, eraser crumbs, and other debris so it doesn’t smear and change the texture or appearance of your drawing.
  • Fixative. When sprayed onto a finished drawing, fixatives help preserve your artwork over time. Fixatives are especially helpful for pages colored with materials like colored pencil or pastel. (And check out this video for tips on how to use fixatives!)

Armed with this minimalist set of drawing tools, you’ll be empowered to take on any coloring book challenge—all without sacrificing your living space to thousands of pencils.

Tags: Tips & Techniques