A few weeks ago, I posted a little bit about the colouring for grown-ups craze that is happening at the moment. I’ve been rather swept up by it, and have spent a considerable amount of time looking for the right tools. That search has more often than not ended in frustration as I inevitably discover that the tools I want to use are not available locally. So I thought I’d write about the colouring tools I’ve found available here in Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s probably worth noting that this is based on my own research and visiting physical and online stores. Availability in your area may be different.
There are tons of grown-up colouring books available locally, though Exclusive Books seems to have the widest range of the physical bookstores I’ve visited. All the major online stores have colouring books listed as well, including Raru, Loot and Takealot. You can also make use of Raru’s Amazon import service to get hold of those colouring books that only seem to be available through Amazon, though this is fairly expensive (though no more expensive than purchasing from Exclusive Books!)
There is a wide range of options for colouring in, each with their own pros and cons. I’ll list some of the ones I’ve tried below.
Price: $ to $$$ (depending on brand)
Pros: Great for blending effects; wide range of colours available for a reasonable price.
Cons: Hard on the hands and wrists; hard to get smooth blocks of colour.
Suited for: Books that are printed on both sides of the page; just about anything else.
From normal coloured pencils that you can pick up in Pick n Pay, to high quality Derwent or Faber Castell artist pencils you’ll find in art stores, coloured pencils are a good way to get a huge range of colours at a reasonable price. I use Derwent Coloursoft pencils.
If you use coloured pencils, make sure you buy a good sharpener as well – it will save you a lot of frustration down the road! I found the Maped ‘Colour Peps’ sharpener at Pick n Pay; it leaves a rounded point, which is perfect for coloured pencils (the tips tend to break if you sharpen them to vampire stake sharpness).
There are also watercolour pencils available, which could certainly be used for interesting effects!
Pros: Smooth colour; easy on the hands and wrists.
Cons: Bleeds through normal paper; some brands are very smelly.
Suited for: Books printed on thick paper or only on one side of the page; colouring large areas quickly.
There are a number of options here, from normal kokis that you can find in any stationery store, to the popular Sharpie markers and Copic pens.
Sharpies are quite pricey and have a very strong smell, but some people don’t seem to mind that – you’ll probably have to try them yourself to confirm this. Many local shops stock these but don’t have much of a colour range; I’ve only seen colourful packs at PNA.
Copics are available in the normal and ‘Ciao’ variants locally, but are very expensive: expect to pay around R80 for the normal pens and around R60 for the Ciao ones (these pens are refillable and have replacement nibs available, so that’s something to factor into the cost!). I’ve found these in PNAs and art stores like Herbert Evans (they also have the refill ink). They also have a fairly strong smell, so be sure to try them out at the store before buying. The Ciao pens have a special brush tip, which gives the lovely feel of painting without the mess. They also produce a wonderfully smooth colour and come in a huge range of colours. The colour changes slightly once the ink has dried, so this is something to keep in mind while testing colours.
Follow Copic Marker South Africa on Facebook if you’re interested in these pens – they often post when sales are happening around the country. Herbert Evans art store is also having their annual sale at the moment, and Copics are 40% off!
Pros: Little to no bleed through; vibrant colours; perfect for precise colouring with lots of small details.
Cons: Not well suited to colouring large areas; no way to blend colours.
Suited for: Images with lots of fine details; double-sided books.
The most readily available fineliners in SA are the Staedtler Triplus and Stabilo point 88. I use both as some of the colours are slightly different. The small ten packs of both these pens are readily available in many stores that sell stationery, but the larger sets or individual colours are quite elusive, especially the Staedtlers.
Gel Pens: I see a lot of Americans using Gelly Roll gel pens, but I haven’t found any locally. Most stationery shops do sell generic gel pens, but I haven’t come across any with a very good range of colours. I sometimes see people using white gel pens for highlights, which seems like an interesting option.
Kids’ Art Supplies: Crayons or retractable crayons are also fun options, as are pastels, charcoal pencils, and just about anything you can think of.
What are your favourite colouring materials?