In the last decade or so, adult colouring books have surged in popularity, captivating millions with their intricate designs and therapeutic benefits. But did you know that adult colouring is actually not a new trend? The roots of colouring in for adults extend far back into history. In this blog post, we’ll embark on a colourful journey through time, tracing the evolution of adult colouring books from ancient times to the modern-day phenomenon.

Ancient Origins of Adult Colouring:

Our story begins in ancient civilisations, where early forms of colouring books emerged. In ancient Egypt, for example, archaeologists have discovered intricate colouring designs on tomb walls and papyrus scrolls. These illustrations often depicted scenes from daily life, religious rituals, and mythology, serving both decorative and educational purposes.

Medieval Manuscripts:

During the Middle Ages, illuminated manuscripts became a prominent form of art and literature in Europe. These handcrafted books featured elaborate illustrations adorned with vibrant colours and intricate patterns. While primarily religious in nature, some manuscripts also contained secular images that could be coloured in by monks and wealthy patrons.

Renaissance Colouring Books:

The Renaissance period saw a resurgence of interest in art and education, leading to the creation of colouring books for both children and adults. In the 16th century, colouring books known as “pattern books” became popular among aristocrats and artists. These books usually contained detailed designs of plants, animals, and geometric patterns.

Victorian Era:

In the 19th century, advancements in printing technology made colouring books more accessible to the general public. During the Victorian era, colouring books became a popular pastime for both adults and children. Many of these books featured intricate floral designs, pastoral scenes, and historical motifs.

20th Century Revival:

While colouring books for adults continued to exist in various forms throughout the 20th century, it wasn’t until the late 20th and early 21st centuries that they experienced a significant revival. In the 1960s and 1970s, the psychedelic art movement embraced colouring as a form of self-expression, producing colouring books filled with abstract designs and intricate patterns. However this was more of a niche product and not considered to be a very serious hobby and the fad sort of died away again.

When did adult colouring in become so trendy?

The modern era has seen an explosion in the popularity of adult colouring books, thanks in part to the rise of mindfulness and wellness practices. The first really successful adult colouring books were published in 2012 and the trend increased in popularity, exploding in 2015. In fact, two colouring books called Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford became the Amazon best sellers in April – the first time in history adult colouring books hit that level of success.

Nowadays, adult colouring is also offered digitally, through apps and can be purchased and printed at home and you can get pretty much any illustration you could think of!

From the ancient world to the digital age, the history of adult colouring books is a testament to the enduring appeal of creativity and self-expression. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, inspiration, or simply a moment of joy, colouring books offer a timeless opportunity to unleash your imagination and explore the beauty of colour.


Click here to check out our downloadable adult colouring in sheets in the art store!