These days there’s an app for everything, so it was only a matter of time before iPhone and Android developers jumped onto the adult coloring in craze bandwagon. The most successful adult coloring in app so far was released just last month. It’s free to download, and it’s called Colorfy.
I saw my niece playing with similar coloring games on an iPad about a year ago. But while kids can use Colorfy too, it’s aimed squarely at the grown up colorists’ market.
At the time of writing this post, the Colorfy app has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 in both the iTunes store and Google Play (from thousands of reviewers), so both iPhone and Android users appear to be pretty happy with it. Although it’s definitely popular with the majority of its users, I downloaded it because I’m curious as to whether it has much in common with the kind of pencil and paper, analogue coloring in that so many of us enjoy.
How to Download Colorfy
Colorfy is free to download from the iTunes store for iPhone users, or via Google Play for Android. The developers make their money from additional in-app purchases such as extra color palettes and coloring images, but you can use the app without spending any money.
How to Use Colorfy
From a usability perspective, Colorfy is simple and well laid out. It has a ‘Library’ of coloring images, divided into six sections which each feature different types of images. These are:
- Famous (based on famous paintings by Munch, Van Gogh, Klimt, Monet)
Users may scroll through designs and select one that appeals to them. Those with a small padlock symbol next to them need to be purchased before you can color them in, but there are plenty of free images available too.
After selecting an image by tapping on it, a palette of colors is revealed. To ‘color in’, users select a color from a palette by tapping on it, and then apply the color by zooming in and tapping on the area of the coloring in picture they want to apply it to. Then tap on another color, and tap on the image again to fill in another section, and so on until you’re done.
When you’re finished, with a single button click you can share your designs via Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Google Plus or Twitter. The image is exported with a white border and the Colorfy logo at the bottom, as shown on the images in this post.
But is it really coloring in?
Good question. It’s certainly ‘filling in with color’. Imagine having a magic painting finger where you only need to point at the leaves on a tree and they all turn green, and that sums up the experience. Then you fine tune your magic finger, point to the sun and make it purple. Or teal. Or even conventional old yellow.
The Colorfy app has little to do with the action of coloring in, so if it’s the soothing shush of your shading pencil moving back and forth across soft paper that floats your boat, odds are that this app will not be your thing.
If, however, the thing that thrills you about coloring in is mainly playing with color combinations, or if you’re someone who buys more than one copy of a particular coloring book to try out different colors on the same image, then you might enjoy the flexibility of the app. Colorfy has an undo button, so color choices may be changed in an instant. If color commitment is not your thing, that could be quite an attractive feature.
What I like most about coloring in is that it’s quite relaxing. I didn’t find Colorfy to be particularly relaxing, and as I already spend way too many hours staring at various screens throughout my day it ended up straining my eyes after a while. This was probably because I ended up zooming in and out a lot to get to smaller coloring areas on detailed pictures such as the Van Gogh.
That said, it was definitely a little bit addictive, and once I started an image I wanted to finish it. There’s something quite satisfying about ‘magicking’ a large section of color in with just the touch of a finger – minimal work and a quick reward, which no doubt accounts for much of the app’s popularity.
Of course you need to pay to expand your color palette and the available designs if you really want to get more detailed shades and images, but although I enjoyed playing around with the app, I didn’t feel compelled to go that next step and pay up. All the images on this page are free, as are the color palettes that I used.
What I enjoyed most about the app was completing a design and then playing with the background, or changing just one or two larger areas of color to see how different the image looked. This is something that cannot be done easily on paper, so if you like to experiment in this way, the app is quite freeing. The images above and below are the same, except for two large areas that I changed to black. The effect is quite striking.
If you’re a coloring in purist who enjoys the relaxation factor of coloring and subtle nuances of pencil shading, I doubt you’ll be too impressed with the blocky cartoon colors produced in this app. But if you can accept that Colorfy is essentially a more elegant version of a kids’ coloring game app, and has little in common with actual pencil and paper coloring in, it’s not a bad way to spend a few minutes here and there, creating attractive images to easily share online. It certainly feels like a more productive use of screen time than crushing candy.