Outlining an area (or your whole picture) in black pencil or a fine tipped pen if using pens, once you have coloured it will help it stand out better. This is especially true if you have used gel pens and the lines aren’t as crisp as when you printed them.
Use a rough surface to clean and shape your eraser so it has sharp edges. A small piece of rough board or thick cardboard is ideal. A clean wooden Popsicle stick, tongue depressor or stir stick can make a portable eraser cleaning board that you can store with your supplies. You can also cut a piece off the back of a cereal box (as long as it is clean) to use. You can use a small piece of fine sand paper as well, however, be careful the grit doesn’t get under your paper when colouring.
Pastels can create a quick and colourful background. If you don’t have pastels you can also use pencil shavings. Hold your pencil in the sharpener over a small piece of paper so that only the sides of the coloured ‘lead’ are against the blade, no wood. Gently give it a couple turns to create fine coloured shavings. Tip a little of the coloured shavings where you want the coloured background. Use a Q-tip, cotton ball or clean make up sponge to press the pencil shavings into the paper & move them around. Use a brush or clean cotton ball to wipe the excess off to keep your fingers clean.
Create affordable masks for your pastel, chalk or pencil shaving backgrounds by cutting out shapes from thin cardboard, such as cereal boxes. If you aren’t confident with your drawing abilities look up line art shapes online, print them out and glue them to your cardboard before trying to cut them out. You can also open a Word document, click the “insert” tab at the top and select “clip art. Type a subject into the box that opens at the right (star, cloud, circle, etc). You can also select “shapes” under the insert button. Click on the ones you want to use as a mask and resize them. Copy and paste them to make different sized ones. You may want to save your page so you can make more in the future. Change your printer properties to “greyscale” or “black and white” to save your colour ink. Laminating or wrapping clear plastic packing tape over your masks and storing them in plastic containers will help them last longer.
When working on a picture, either lightly write the number or name of the colors you are using and the area you are using them in on the back, or make a quick cheat sheet with a line of colour, the name and where you use it. This will help you replicate a favourite colour combination or remember what colour you can use to touch up an area.
If you want to create shadows but can’t remember what you had in mind for a light source, lightly mark an arrow to represent your light direction in pencil in the border of your picture.
Use pill bottles or small bead containers to put Vaseline, baby oil, solvents or other liquid blending media in to create a travel-friendly container for coloring outside on nice days or on the go. You can also use containers made specifically for airplane travel. For best results and less chance of accidents, wrap your bottle in paper towel and place in a zip lock sandwich bag.
Do you want to take your colouring to the beach or have a colouring picnic, but don’t want to get sand or other things in your carry cases? Use clean socks as convenient travel cases. You can tie a ribbon or use a rubber band around the opening to keep it closed, then when you get to your destination undo the top, roll the sock down so your pens or pencils are peeking out and get colouring! You can use this idea to make inexpensive up-cycled carry cases for your pencils or pens out of your single socks. You can separate them out by colour, type of media or company.