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The coloring book seems like one of those rainy Sunday afternoon props that’s long been replaced with Angry Birds and Xbox Live. But did you know that coloring has been shown to reduce stress?

While you could doodle and sketch Discover the Art of Zentangle Drawings With Doodle Patterns for iOS & Android Discover the Art of Zentangle Drawings With Doodle Patterns for iOS & Android It doesn't matter if you can't draw, creating zentangles is a relaxing zen-like activity that's bound to lower blood pressure and get your creative juices flowing. Read More  or take things a step further with painting apps like Procreate Procreate: One Of The Most Beautiful and Powerful iPad Art Apps Available Today Procreate: One Of The Most Beautiful and Powerful iPad Art Apps Available Today Let's set the expectations at the outset here: this is not a post about how I used iPad app Procreate to create amazing artwork, because who cares. Read More and vector app Inkpad Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet Free iPad Vector Drawing App Inkpad Might Turn You Into A Designer Yet Pssst... someone's managed to design the Adobe Illustrator of iOS vector drawing apps, then forgotten to put a price tag on it. It's called Inkpad. Read More , coloring on your iPad is a far more passive activity. It can help you zone out, meditate, practice mindfulness Practice Mindfulness With Help From Your iPhone & These Apps Practice Mindfulness With Help From Your iPhone & These Apps Inner calm and tranquility? There's an app for that. Read More or simply express yourself creatively without getting paint everywhere.

Unlike children who are more likely to be found coloring Bambi’s nose a worrying shade of green, adults are far more likely to get a kick out the complex imagery included in these apps.

Colorfy (Free)

Colorfy is by far the most polished coloring book on the App Store, positioning itself as the “secret against anxiety” by providing detailed designs for you to color any way you please. The app comes with a good number of completely free designs, including ten floral patterns, five animals, five famous paintings, and 13 mandalas (among others), with more available via in-app purchase.

The included designs are high-quality and show very little pixelation even at maximum zoom. There are 27 basic colors included, with the “Autumn” pack also included for free. You can buy more colors by unlocking packs priced at $3.79 each, though unfortunately there’s no single one price you can pay to unlock everything.

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It’s possible to connect your Instagram account in order to browse and rate other finished pieces (and more login options are apparently on the way), and you can export and share your finished work via Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and email. Colorfy feels like a quality product, though things can get a little expensive once you start unlocking new designs and palettes.

Colorme (Free)

From a UI standpoint, there’s little to separate Colorme and Colorfy (a common theme among these apps, it seems). The app features 11 included designs to color, with an additional nine by purchasing the in-app pro upgrade for $1.99. The free app is supported by advertising, but upgrading to the paid version removes the small banner from the bottom of the screen.

Included designs are fairly simple, but the quality is right up there with Colorfy when zoomed in. There’s no need to buy any additional colors as you have a total of 119 shades available to you from the outset, and you can quickly switch between three colors using controls at the top of the screen.

Coloring view includes handy undo and redo buttons, in addition to a save button for exporting to Camera Roll and sharing options that are limited to Sina Weibo, email, text messages, or the clipboard. Colorme could use a few more designs but shouldn’t be dismissed — it is free, after all.

Note: Despite being recently updated (less than a week ago at the time of writing), Colorme has a tendency to exhibit some odd behaviour. At one point it removed half of the color from a finished design and on another occasion the undo button reverted to black not white. Be careful, and export your proudest designs!

Colorfly (free)

Suspiciously similar in name to Colorfy, Colorfly is a completely free coloring app with no in-app purchases or advertising to speak of. The app comes with an impressive 33 designs ranging from simple mandalas to floral patterns and animal scenes including fish, birds and elephants.

The coloring screen provides access to five quick-select pencils onto which you can assign one of 64 shades. A handy undo button in the top-right helps fix any mistakes, and there are dedicated buttons for saving to Camera Roll and sharing using the built-in iOS share sheet to social networks, contacts, and other apps of your choice.

There’s one thing stopping me from declaring Colorfly the best of the bunch, and that’s the fact that the app doesn’t seem to be optimized for Retina screens. I’ve tested the app on an iPad Air and iPad mini Retina and both show an unsightly amount of blurriness and pixelation. Your mileage may vary depending on whether this bothers you or not.

Momi Coloring (Free)

Momi Coloring is another completely free coloring app that includes an impressive 22 designs, including a range of styles from architecture and complex garden scenes to the rather unorthodox anti-smoking design pictured below. Most of the designs are high quality, though some pixelation is present when zooming in all the way.

As there are no in-app purchases, there are no colors to unlock either. Once you’ve selected a design, nine colors appear at the bottom of the screen, and you can choose between eight shades of each (for a total of 81). You can undo your changes and choose to save your work as a copy (which duplicates it within the app) or to your Camera Roll.

The app’s sharing options leave much to be desired (it would seem that you can only share to Wechat and Moments), but you can always export and share manually if you absolutely must.

Coloring for Grown-Ups ($0.99)

The only non-free app on this list, Coloring for Grown-Ups makes a light-hearted attempt at low-brow humour by providing an activity book for adults to complete. Just like the coloring activity books from your childhood, these are full of puzzles, mazes, and pages you’ll probably want to cut out and share with your friends.

The app itself is the digital equivalent of the printed work by the same name from Ryan Hunter and Taige Jensen, YouTube stars of POYKPAC and comedy writers for big names like MTV, Fremantle Media, and MakeUseOf favorite MyDamnChannel 3+ Hilarious Comedy Web Series You Can Watch For Free [Stuff to Watch] 3+ Hilarious Comedy Web Series You Can Watch For Free [Stuff to Watch] You Suck At Photoshop is still one of the best and most complete web-series ever made – watch it, and more. Read More . As such, you should expect some crude, dark, and edgy humour within.

This one is certainly less of a meditation tool, it even comes with a “drunk mode” which blurs your vision and makes it practically impossible to colour anything properly. It is an awful lot of fun, though!

Did we miss any good iPad coloring apps? How else do you zone out with your tablet?

Image Credits: Juhan Sonin Via Flickr

  1. Sally
    November 26, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    RECOLOR is brilliant! Loads of free colours, including gradients (the lightest bit is always where you touch the screen, so you have multiple choice!). The premium version only costs around £30 for a year and opens up thousands of pictures from a huge variety of themes. You can save to your photos, send by email, share on social media and also publish within the site and give and get "likes" from other Recolorists.
    I have just found PIGMENT - which is also brilliant. In this, you get various tools (pencil, spray paint, oil, sand, gradient, etc) from which to choose. You can also change the transparency of every colour from 1 to 100% and change the width of colour applied from 1 to 100. With this app, you have the option to paint within the lines, or go freehand and also to layer colours over each other, thus producing yet more colours!
    I'm addicted to both of these!

  2. KAREN sMITH
    May 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    FOR SOME REASON MY COLORFY IS STUCK AND I CAN`T GO ANY FURTHUR. DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW I CAN FIX THIS PROBLEM? THANKS, KAREN

  3. joan
    May 1, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Coloring Advanced was the original app that everyone else ripped off. It came out in 2014 before coloring was trendy. It is still the only app that feels the most similar to coloring with pens on paper. I doubt the people who made these apps even color or they would have designed the feel differently. They also have a tangles version. Compare it with these, you will see what I mean.

  4. Lynn Cornelius
    April 29, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    What stylist or fine pen do you use to color with on you ipad? I could use some help. Thanks!

    • Tim Brookes
      May 2, 2016 at 4:59 am

      Hi Lynn,

      Most apps support tap-to-color, which means that you don't really need a stylus. There are a lot of styli available for the iPad, but most of them are aimed at art and handwriting rather than these apps. I'm not sure whether a stylus would really be worth it for these sorts of apps, but you can pick up cheap ones at office supply stores if you still fancy giving it a go.

      Personally the best stylus I have used is the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro, and second to that was the Adonit Jot Touch. Both have a fine tip, both use Bluetooth, both cost about $100 (I think the Adonit is a bit cheaper since Apple released theirs).

      Tim

  5. Matt Door
    April 26, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Check out our app ZenColorZ - it's completely free without any subscriptions, advertisements, or other annoying pop-ups.

    And - second difference to the other lot: You can import pictures from your photo gallery, and this means also from social networking sites (given that you save the pictures to the gallery first). For instance, you can tap the wealth of coloring pages on Pinterest (it's HUGE), import them to ZenColorZ, and then happily color them :-)

  6. Deborah
    February 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Hands down...Friendly Garden. It seems to get overlooked in all the reviews I read. I've tried sooooo many of these apps. Many are just duplications of other apps. I keep returning to Friendly Garden for its color selection and vast range of pictures and categories. Nothing else compares.

    • Sashay
      April 13, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Hi Deborah,
      Give "Coloring Advanced Free Tangles" a try. It's free and also getting overlooked.

      • joan
        May 1, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Sashay I didn't see your comment! This is the app I am talking about too :)

    • lwr32
      June 1, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Have you tried the Color Therapy digital coloring books? I like them because they have gradient colors and metal colors. Quite a few coloring books I've downloaded don't have those or I have to pay a lot for them.

  7. Elle
    December 11, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Colorfly now has a free mode and a premium mode. Not as good as other apps when it comes to the amount of options for both the pictures and the color choices

  8. fcd76218
    August 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    If you are going to create coloring apps for adults, make them x-rated or at least risque. :P

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