Searching for the best anatomy coloring books might seem like just part of the adult coloring book trend, but did you know that these books have existed for more than thirty years? There are a number of surprising benefits to anatomy coloring books. Studies suggest that using one of these books may help your brain retain more information than hours of textual study and rote repetition.
Speaking of effective study – start here for all your NCLEX needs!
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 picks:
The 9 Best Anatomy Coloring Books
The Anatomy Coloring Book
This coloring book by Wynn Kapit has long been used to guide medical students through their studies. Unbelievably, The Anatomy Coloring Book has been used as a reference for over 35 years! Each page comes with concise text explaining how each anatomical system intertwines with the rest of the body. The figures are all hand-drawn and designed to make color-coding anatomy a simple, easy process.
The book features 162 dual-page spreads, each organized according to different systems in the body. Also featured is a color-key system that trains your brain to associate different colors with different anatomical functions. The system links the terminology with the illustrations, so you can make visual associations and absorb information. Coloring the pages makes the study an interactive process, which causes your brain to retain more information than it would otherwise.
Most importantly, the coloring book makes the study of anatomy fun! It’s a great way to relax after tough periods of more intensive study. This fourth edition has been edited for easier accessibility, with larger art, more concise textual descriptions, and bold headings that make reading simple.
Get up to 20% off some of the best NCLEX prep courses on the market today! That’s up to $15 in savings.
Kaplan Anatomy Coloring Book
Kaplan is one of most diverse education providers in the world, and their anatomy coloring book helps make studying simple. The book strives to give students clear descriptions, important medical terms, and realistic drawings to color. Coloring pages has been shown to be a more effective hands-on tool for anatomical study than textual study alone.
The 7th edition features larger images with more space, so coloring and reading are both easier. Also featured is a Color Guide on each dual-page spread, which gives you instructions for the best results in your color choices. Across from each illustration is a clear textual overview, with the key anatomical terms written in bold. There’s also a self quiz included with each page, and the answer keys are provided on the same page for easy access.
The most impressive aspect of this coloring book is the comprehensiveness. There are over 450 detailed and realistic illustrations, including in-depth microscopic views of tissues and cells. Also included are 96 flash-card format drawings of muscle structures, perforated so you can remove them and study while traveling. Not only are the body’s systems covered, but there’s also physiological information on development, muscles, tissues, and cells.
Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book
All illustrations in Netter’s anatomy coloring books are designed to help students make mental connections. You’ll reinforce the understanding of your muscle origins by looking at multiple dissection layers and angles. The pages also help you understand the way that individual organs integrate to create working anatomical systems.
For students who want to understand correlations between anatomical structures, this book is a must. Each illustration gives multiple views, dissection layers, and magnifications of systems across the body. The accompanying text includes key terms and important context to reinforce your visual recognition skills.
Every illustration is small enough to be colored quickly, but enlarged enough for you to familiarize yourself with small details. There are also tips for color choices in key structures. At the end of every section are review questions for easy self-quizzing. Especially helpful are the tables that review the makeup of muscles, nerves, and their attachments.
This is the ideal coloring book for students who like organized textual information to supplement their studies.
Gray’s Anatomy Coloring Book
This coloring book was a winner for a parents’ choice award regarding “doing and learning.” It’s a perfect coloring book for medical students who want to learn the basics, or for younger people who are considering a career in medicine. The pages are designed to be accessible to children and adults alike.
Each system of the body is drawn in easily-colored format. Accompanying text explains the functions of the systems. There are over 85 illustrations that can be colored. While this book might not be the best for medical students looking for in-depth reviews, it’s an absolutely wonderful book for introducing children to the complex systems of the body.
Related: Have More Fun Studying With These 11 Free Anatomy & Physiology Games and Apps
Princeton Review Anatomy Coloring Book 4th Edition
The Princeton Review is one of the most popular companies for study materials, and for good reason! Their Anatomy Coloring Workbook 4th Edition takes an interactive approach to learning the body’s system, helping to solidify anatomical concepts for easier recall later.
The main difference you’ll get if you purchase the 4th Edition Anatomy Coloring Workbook (versus the 3rd edition), is the additional injury and ailments appendices. We like to advise students to consider if the older edition may prove just as useful for them, given the minimal changes between editions.
One of the most important aspects of this book versus other Anatomy coloring books is all of the additional reference and resources you’ll receive on each page. Each anatomical concept and structure is given a comprehensive explanation. The included introductory section explains the terminology and makes coloring suggestions so you can maximize your study. Also included is a glossary of common terms that you can quickly reference as you color along. Finally, the book gives you multiple memorization techniques to practice in addition to the coloring help.
Twelve sections are included in the book: Introduction to Anatomy followed by a section for each of the major systems. 126 total color plates span the pages. It’s a great study tool for students across all medical fields.
The Human Body Coloring Book
This coloring book, published by DK Publishing, is a great workbook for students studying all types of anatomy. Each anatomical illustration has been carefully rendered by specialists to ensure maximum accuracy. The book’s structure takes you through each system of the body individually, covering everything from individual cells to the interconnection of systems.
The book is ideal for medical students who want a lightweight and easy study tool to bring with them. The product’s dimensions are about the size of a standard sheet of paper, and the entire book weighs only 1.3 pounds. It’s perfect for students who don’t want to add another heavy tome to an already-heavy backpack, or students who want their color coding to be more casual study.
The Physiology Coloring Book 2nd Edition
The Physiology Coloring Book 2nd Edition by Wynn Kapit is another super popular physiology coloring book recommended by students. This book is definitely intro-level, so it’s not necessarily going to be the best Physiology study guide, but it can still serve as useful for review that is low-stress and enjoyable coloring book for nursing students as well as anyone in the medical field.
- Helpful captions accompanying pictures
- Often bought in conjunction with The Anatomy Coloring Book 4th Edition
Anatomy and Physiology Coloring Book 12th Edition
This is among the best anatomy and physiology coloring books for students who are in their 1st and 2nd semester of Anatomy and Physiology in school. This anatomy study guide is especially helpful for students who are using the Marieb textbook. This anatomy coloring book is closely aligned with the textbook so that you can color along with each chapter!
- New edition includes crossword puzzles at the end of each chapter
- 100+ coloring exercises
- Includes self-assessments
Human Anatomy Coloring Book by Margaret Matt
This Human Anatomy Coloring Book by Maraget Matt is an affordable anatomy coloring book with super clear drawings that are detailed yet easy to color. The main downfall for this coloring book is that ink can bleed through to the other side (it’s printed double-sided), so it’s recommended to stick with colored pencils.
- Not too dry or detailed
- Requires at least a 24-pack color pencil set
- Can be used alongside your Anatomy & Physiology course
What to Look For in an Anatomy Coloring Book
You may think all anatomy coloring books do the same thing… color anatomy. But not all anatomy coloring books were created equal, nor do they all guarantee effective learning. Here are some of the features that the best anatomy coloring books have on our list:
Organization According to Body Systems:
The body is divided into a number of different anatomical systems. Regardless of the health profession you intend to enter, it’s important to become familiar with all of them. The best coloring books will be divided into system-based sections, so you can study each area of the body individually. Some books also include multiple views, dissections, and zoomed-in cell deconstruction for added retention.
Even though coloring is a relaxation method, the best coloring books will allow you to study while you do so. Look for books that have textual descriptions of each of the systems you’re coloring. It’s helpful to have information about the ways that the pieces of the system interact with each other. Also helpful are bolded key terms for easier perusal, along with glossaries, appendices, and color-coding suggestions.
To maximize your study’s efficacy, you want to make sure each of the illustrations is realistic. Look for illustrations that mimic the diagrams you find in your anatomy textbooks. Over-simplified illustrations will make it more difficult to recognize the systems later. You want to make sure each drawing has been rendered with enough detail to differentiate its unique parts. Also, you should ensure that the illustrations were completed by anatomical experts.
How Coloring Improves Memory Retention
Colors vividly and effectively interact with our brains. Sometimes, an illustration or simple sketch can convey more than paragraphs upon paragraphs of textual explanation. Learning anatomy is difficult and tedious, especially when you’re chiefly doing so through text. Even though anatomy textbooks have system illustrations, studying a completed drawing won’t help your memory the same way interactive coloring will.
Coloring books have a number of advantages when you’re studying anatomy:
- They promote deeper memorization
- They create visual relationships between your mind and the systems
- They incorporate kinesthetic learning, ideal for “hands on” learners
- Coloring is easier and more fun than repetitive textual study methods
Multiple scientific studies have shown that color promotes memorization. When different colors are used, the contrasts attract the attention of your brain. You then become more focused on the stimuli like the shape of the anatomy and the accompanying text. Colors also enhance mental arousal, which leads to more comprehensive long-term memory retention.
Your brain thinks in images. When you color, you create a visual relationship between the system and the information you want to learn. Coloring enhances the neural pathways that create your mental associations. It’s better for your long-term retention than text-based repetition exercises.
Other Benefits of Adult Coloring Books
1. Coloring Helps Improve Your Focus
Experts say that coloring is a way to help your brain stay sharp. Coloring itself hasn’t been widely studied, but the skills and focus involved in coloring are similar to the brain engagement involved in traditional craft activities. These activities have proven cognitive benefits. Coloring is a way of teaching your brain to focus its attention on one task.
Studies suggest that focus-based activities like arts, crafts, puzzles, and coloring will lower the risk of developing memory issues and thinking problems that precede dementia. For people whose creativity started in their middle or old age, the risk was particularly reduced.
2. Coloring Lowers Stress & Anxiety
Studies show that coloring geometric patterns and mandalas is a way to lower anxiety and stress levels. You’ve probably seen the testimonials of coloring hobbyists, or maybe you’ve already experienced the effects yourself! Because these patterns are so complex and structured, the brain is lulled into a meditative state when you color.
Anatomy textbooks are similarly complex. As you color, you’ll help ease the stress and anxiety you’ve accumulated. This makes coloring an especially good idea to end NCLEX study sessions, or to use as a break activity between intense memorization periods. You’ll still be studying, but your brain is also being given a chance to relax.
3. Coloring Gives You a Break From Technology
There’s a good chance that you spend most of the day plugged into technology doing important things like scrolling nursing memes and cat videos. Many students access their textbooks online, and many study materials are published through the internet. You also probably casually use a phone or computer in your day-to-day life. But studies show that the societal dependence on technology might actually be harmful. Even though technology gives us access to more information than ever before, there are benefits to getting away from technology.
When you look at a screen constantly, your brain’s ability to regulate your sleep schedule and anxiety is interrupted from blue light. Taking a break to color is a good way of letting your brain reassert itself. It also gives you space to breathe and enjoy the day-to-day moment.
On-the-go? Make sure you keep it all organized with these nurse bags!
Consider these other top coloring books for your classes or test prep:
Have you tried any of these anatomy coloring books? Tell us what you think about them by commenting below!