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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 or take things a step further with painting apps like Procreate and vector app Inkpad, coloring on your iPad is a far more passive activity. It can help you zone out, meditate, practice mindfulness 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 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.
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.
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!
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) [No Longer Available]
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) [No Longer Available]
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. 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