Introduction: Colouring Inside the Lines

First of all, I want to say that, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong on colouring outside the lines. I guess that most of the time, the reason is more a question of "free thinking" than anything, ant that's great. We shouldn't be so concerned about teaching our children to colour inside the lines, but let them grow up and respect their own evolution pace. Fine motor skills come with time, don't worry.

That said, I foster a 9 years old kid with a severe intellectual and fine motor delay, due to a microcephaly. He is a very funny and happy kid, but he gets usually frustrated because he is not able to colour inside the lines as fine as his sister (6), or his classmates (7). He wants to colour inside the lines, but he can't. That is the point.

So, the other day, I was at some stationer's shop, and saw a book that claimed on its cover that it helped children to colour inside the lines, becouse the drawing (or the paper, I am not sure, as I didn't look inside) had something special (I have no idea about what it was, honestly). I guessed that something like that could make my kid even happier, but I didn't buy the book. Instead, I started thinking about it and I eventually had this idea.

I hope you like and try it, and that your children to enjoy very much. But please, don't be obssessed with "colouring inside the lines". The aim of this project is just to make children happy. If some learning comes with, it is just welcome.

PS. Sorry if my english is not very correct... it is not my mother tonge. I hope you can understand me anyway, and I will appreciate your corrections.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

These are the materials and tools I have used. All of them are stuff that I already had lying around at home.


  • White Glue
  • Charcoal
  • Water


  • Mortar
  • Tea spoon
  • Metallic filter
  • Some recipient (I used an ordinary glass)
  • Syringe

Step 2: Prepare the Mixture

Well, the idea was to make some kind of "paint", or "putty", or something similar, with which to redraw the lines, in order to convert them in a physical barrier, that is more difficult to overstep with the crayon.

I had used white glue before to make my own paint, and relief effects in drawings. To do so, you have to mix white glue and water with something to "charge" the paint (usually powder plaster) and something to "dye" it. I thought that a similar approach, maybe with less water and more charge, would work. But... there wasn't any powder plaster at home the day I decided to try, so... I ended up using charcoal. I guessed that its physical properties where similar enough to those of powder plaster. And I guess I was right, becouse the result worked pretty well.

First, I made powder from barbecue charcoal. I used a mortar to do so. Once it was powdery, I added white glue and stirred it with a spoon. I was too thick to mix it apropiately, so I added some drops of water, and continued chrushing and stirring with the pestle, until I thougth that it had the desired consistency: more or less like yoghurt.

Step 3: Filter

Then, I tried to suck the mixture with a syringe, but it was impossible, becouse there was still some particles of charcoal that were too thick to pass through its tip.

So I had to filter it. I used a metal filter from the kitchen as it was another mortar, crushing the mix on it with a tea spoon and collecting the drops in a glass.

After this, I could suck the mix with the syringe.

Step 4: First Test

Then, before using this mix on an actual drawing, I tested it making a circle on a paper. I used the syringe to do so. There are more details about how to do it on next steps.

The picture at the left shows the circle just after drawing it. I tried to show the volume.

The picture at the right shows the same circle the next day, once it has hardened.

I liked the effect. The relief was enough and the colour was very nice, very neat black.

Step 5: Redraw the Lines

So, given that the idea seems to result well, let's use this "paint" to redraw the lines of a drawing.

All you have to do is to use the filled syringe to put a narrow string of black putty all along the drawing lines, and let it dry.

Look at the first picture to see how I hold the syringe. I recommend you to do it the same way. At first, I was trying to hold it as it was a pen, but it doesn't work very well, because you can't press at the same time you move, so you can't make a well continuous string.

Another tip is to start by the middle of the drawing. Otherwise, you surely are going to accidentally put your hand over an already painted line, and blot both drawing and hand.

Step 6: Enjoy!

The next day, when it was dry, I gave the drawing to the kid. It is a pity that I am not allowed to include a picture of his face. He was soooo happy!

I include some pictures of the drawing being coloured. You can think that, well, it is not very well coloured anyway, but I can say that there is a big difference with other drawings he has recently painted. The hat and pants are almost perfect. And I could see how the pen was actually stopped by the borderlines.

As an example for comparison, the last picture shows another one he painted few days after the one I hacked. I think the difference is obvious.

The only problem, if you want to find one, is that the resultant lines are a little rough, they aren't nice to touch with a porous pen. Probably the result would be better with less charcoal and more glue. But, anyway, in conclussion, I consider this experiment as a success, and it was very satisfying and funny as well.

So, I hope you liked it. Try it at home and tell me your experience.

Thank you!

Glue Challenge 2016

Participated in the
Glue Challenge 2016