Remember the smell of a brand new crayon box? Most parents have pleasant memories of coloring pictures in a coloring book, and would like to pass that on to their children. Coloring books are readily available, but how much more fun would a custom coloring book be — full of your child's favorite images or even some of your own photos and drawings?
Here are some ideas:
Download coloring and activity pages
Several websites offer coloring pages you can download, such as Crayola, Nick Jr., and many more. A simple Web search will yield thousands of results that you can sift through to find just the right images to please your child. You could even combine the coloring pages with activity pages such as word searches, dot-to-dot pages, or mazes if your child would enjoy that. All of these activities are easy to find via Web search.
Use favorite photos
. It's also possible, with a little effort, to turn a favorite photo into a coloring page. Some free websites will convert your photo to a line drawing, with varying results, like Dumpr and BeFunky (use the charcoal effect). There is also a "Pencil Sketch" option within the free photo editor, Picasa, which can be downloaded from the Internet.
Photos that work best have large central images with strong lines. For example, a fairly close photo of a dog on a beach might translate well into a pencil sketch, where a photo of a forest might look crowded with thousands of small lines and shapes.
Draw your own pictures
If you're artistic, draw your own coloring images. Use bold, simple outlines. By looking through commercially produced coloring book pictures, you'll quickly get the idea of the type of image that works best.
Once you have collected the images you want to use, there are various ways you can turn them into a coloring book.
Computer images can be simply printed out, and hand-drawn pictures can either be used as is or scanned into a computer and then printed — or duplicated with a copy machine. Setting the copy machine to a darker setting sometimes is helpful with hand-drawn pictures.
You can bind the pages into a book by punching notebook holes and simply putting them into a notebook or theme folder. Or you can take them to a copy shop and have a comb binding put on your pages. Check with the copy shop for other binding options.
3. Professional publishing
There are online publishing services as well that will print your pages and bind them like a paperback book. Generally, to use these services, you will need to convert your images into .pdf files if they are not already in that format. Then you upload your pages to the publishing site, where you can usually do some formatting until things look just right. The finished product will then be shipped to you.
Try making a custom coloring book to please a child who has a very specific interest, such as a certain animal or car. One mother surprised her dragon-loving daughter with a coloring book filled with dragons, more dragons and only dragons. A custom coloring book would be a unique and personal gift from a parent, grandparent or anyone looking for something special.