mom and little boy coloring in a coloring book
Mladen_Kostic/E+/Getty Images
No Printer? Here's How To Make A DIY Coloring Book Without One

Every time I need to print something out I think to myself, I should really just buy a printer... but after browsing the options on Amazon for about five minutes I get completely overwhelmed and give up. So, if you're like me and don't have a way to print things at home (even though you've told yourself you're going to buy one every month for the last two years), and you have a budding artiste on your hands, then it's definitely worth learning how to make a DIY coloring book the old-fashioned way. As in, with paper and stuff. Your kids may even like it more than the store-bought options because it's so bespoke.

Sure, there are tons of free printable coloring pages for kids available online, but it can be kind of fun to think of creative ways to make one on your own, and you don't have to be an amazing artist to do so. You can order tracing paper if you don't trust your freehand sketching ability, or you can get creative with things you already have around the house. Who knows, you may even want to whip up a quick adult coloring book, which can help you unwind if you're feeling stressed. Don't worry about sticking to a strict formula when you're putting your coloring book together; there's no wrong way to do it. That said, the following ideas should help to make the process easier.


Use Stencils Or Cookie Cutters

Olha Daum / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Cookie cutters aren't just for baking, it turns out. Instead, you can use them for stenciling shapes onto a blank sheet of paper. The cutters tend to be big enough that younger kids can easily color inside the lines without getting frustrated. Whatever shapes you have will work (even if you only have Christmas tree cutters, there are no rules here). Of course, you can also buy coloring stencils, but cookie cutters are unexpected and work surprisingly well in a pinch.


Get A Little Help From Your Window

You probably have a few coloring books lying around the house that your child refuses to use because "they're already colored on" (aka each page has one small line of crayon on it). An easy way to make a new coloring book is to take an existing one and trace the images onto a blank sheet of paper. To do this easily, cut out a page from a coloring book, tape it to a window, then tape a blank piece of white paper over it. The light shining through the window will make it so that you can see the image through the paper, and tracing will be a breeze.


Draw Big Objects (In Pencil First)

You don't have to draw perfect characters to make a fun DIY coloring book. The key is to draw large objects and shapes that have enough surface area to color, and you may want to draw them in pencil first before going over the outline in a thicker marker like a Sharpie. Even abstract shapes like circles and other kinds of blobs and bean-shapes can be silly to color in, and it encourages your kiddo to get creative, think outside of the box, and dream up their own characters.


Use Tracing Paper

Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment/Getty Images

When in doubt, invest in some tracing paper. You can trace illustrations from your little one's favorite books and have them fill in the color. If you don't have a light box (which, if you don't have a printer, you probably don't have a light box), it helps to use the window trick mentioned above to get the image from tracing paper onto a regular sheet of paper. Album covers or coffee table books can also be fun to trace; if you're super careful and use something with a soft tip like a crayon you may even be able to trace from your iPad screen.


Turn It Into A Book

Once you've got your pages ready to go, it's time to assemble them into a book. It can be fun for your kiddo to decorate the front and back cover of their book, which can be two individual sheets of paper or a thicker piece of paper folded in half to make a jacket. You can simply staple the pages together (per WikiHow) or if you want it to look extra special you can bind the pages using need and thread, per this tutorial from mybluprint.

Don't forget to save the finished product after your kid colors all the pages (a DIY coloring book doubles as a keepsake reminder of your creative collaboration).