First there was Microsoft Paint, the only digital option for coloring obsessives.
Then came a flood of beautiful drawing and coloring apps that required too much skill for the average person (me).
Now the coloring gods have blessed us with Colorfy, an iOS app that soared to #2 among free apps within three days of its launch.
So why are tech-addicted adults suddenly flocking to an app that digitizes a beloved child’s activity?
This may be because the designs – over 30 of them – vary in complexity and difficulty. They mainly feature floral scenes or mandalas – geometric, intricate and often symmetrical patterns from Hindu and Buddhist artistic traditions. It takes attention and focus to complete a design, but it’s still easy enough for someone who’s never heard of color theory, let alone studied it.
Another thought is that the app might actually live up to its “color therapy” claim. Coloring is gaining popularity as a stress release activity, and a 2005 study in Art Therapy magazine found that coloring mandalas puts people into a meditative state. This seems logical considering that Buddhist monks sometimes spend days patiently creating sand mandalas, as they did recently for the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday.
The app successfully translates the simple fun of coloring to a handheld screen, but sometimes has some sharing issues. The app often displays a “Paint drawing before sharing” error message, even when painting is complete.
In recent years, a number of physical coloring books for adults have appeared, including the 128-page “Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book” which was released in May 2015.
Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, said color is a powerful force that can affect mood and help people express themselves.
“Many of us grew up with coloring books, so a coloring app takes us back to a time when our lives were less complicated and we had time to free our minds and play,” Pressman said in a post. e-mail to Blue Sky. The app makes it easy to express creativity anywhere, she said.
While kids’ coloring exercises have large fields that accommodate crayons and fat-tipped markers, Colorfy’s segments are often tiny, opening up the possibility of mimicking shading. But it also means clumsy, fat-fingered adults will have to rely heavily on the pinch-to-zoom feature to get close to the smallest gaps.
Colorfy launched on the App Store on July 6 and hit popular product curation site Product Hunt two days later. It has since racked up over 11,800 ratings with an overall five-star average.