Lake: Coloring Books review: A coloring book experience dedicated to artists

Lake Coloring Books on iPad
(Image: © iMore)

One of my favorite coloring book apps for iPhone and iPad has recently received a major update that brings with it a completely new user interface, gorgeous new illustrations, and a more intuitive way to color. It's free to download and there are daily illustrations you can color for free. With a $60 annual subscription or $8 monthly subscription, you get access to dozens of artist's collections with new art being added all the time.

New features now in Lake: Coloring Books

Lake Coloring Books on iPad

Lake Coloring Books on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

Lake has been divided into four sections with version 3.0.

  • Hey! is the discovery section where curated coloring pages change daily. It's also the first place to look for your free daily illustrations. This discovery tab includes a list of daily favorites, a spotlight on collections and new artists, and a list of the Editors' Choices so you can see what's new.
  • All Art is where you'll find every one of more than five dozen artists' books, each with at least a dozen illustrations in each. This section also divides art by types, including Collections, Free art, and art style (like animals or landscapes).
  • My Studio is where your colored pages and works-in-progress are kept. It's your personal studio. Every piece of art you've started coloring sits here, even if the original illustration is no longer a free download, you can still color and keep it.
  • My Gallery holds your favorite colored pictures. Did you find that perfect illustration that perfectly represents you? Make it a favorite so you can go back to it and color it again!

In My Studio, you can also work on a blank canvas. If you're feeling particularly artistic, you can make your own coloring illustrations. Chase your bliss.

There are a couple additional user interface improvements that are just delightful. When you hold your finger on one of the coloring books, its cover will fill in and show you the artist's example of a coloring idea. Once you've colored a page in a book, the cover of that book will stay colored in so you know at a glance which books you've colored a page in.

The color wheel is now one dedicated rainbow wheel. If you subscribe to Lake, you'll have access to dozens of additional shades.

Lake has also added a new artist to the collections of books, Cleonique Hilsaca. If you didn't already know this, Lake shares all of its monthly profits with its artists. So if you're sitting there fuming about how you don't like having to pay a monthly subscription for your coloring book app, just remember that there are about five dozen artists that benefit from your generosity.

Stress-relief at your fingertips

Lake Coloring Books on iPad

Lake Coloring Books on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

There are plenty of coloring book apps on the App Store. What makes Lake stand out is its dedication to the artists that create the illustrations you get to color. Each artists includes a short bio of their work and inspiration. The "Hey!" discovery tab is also a great place to find out about artists and their whimsical work.

When you spend a lot of time coloring, you start to learn what makes a good coloring illustration and what doesn't work as well. All of the illustrations that I've colored in Lake are perfect for coloring. All lines actually connect, making it clear what shapes need to be filled in. Lines have appropriate thickness so if you prefer to color unrestricted (if you turn off "color inside the lines"), it is very easy to see where one line ends and another begins.

There are four color tools and one eraser. The color tools include a watercolor brush, a spray paint tool, a paint brush, and a fill-in color tool. The tools are basic, but you aren't encumbered by too many options, which can be intimidating if you're not an artist.

You can download Lake on iPhone and iPad and sync your coloring progress via iCloud. So it's easy to pick up where you left off when switching from your iPad to your iPhone before you head out to work.

Not for coloring purists

Lake Coloring Books on iPad

Lake Coloring Books on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

My only complaint about Lake is that it's not as realistic with the coloring tools as I'd like. You can't blend colors, even water colors (though water colors do darken when you double-up a paint stroke). The paint brushes simulate brush strokes, but in a limited capacity. Once you paint over an area with a second stroke, the paint flattens out.

Options for each tool are also limited to just thickness. You don't have the ability to load the brush or dry it out.

Even with these limitations, I do enjoy popping in to Lake when I've got some free time and just spending a few minutes (or hours) coloring beautiful illustrations, especially on my iPad Pro with Apple Pencil 2.

Put your stress in a corner with Lake

Lake Coloring Books on iPad

Lake Coloring Books on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

If you've thought about coloring books for adults, but haven't yet tried one, Lake is a great place to start. There are free pages and free tools you can test out to see if it's your style, and you have the option of a monthly subscription for $8 or an annual $60 subscription.

If you're already a Lake subscriber, install the update and take a look at your new environment. You'll really enjoy the user interface changes. It's much easier to discover new artists and see what's in your personal studio.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).