Freebie: A DIY Paint with Water Coloring Book

Recreate the magic of 80s paint-with-water books with our free printable 80s coloring pages and DIY paint-with-water process.

We did a lot of road-tripping when I was growing up, and one of my earliest 80’s memories was getting to pick out new books and games for the car. A lot of activity books came and went, but one of my true blue, gotta-have-it favorites was Paint with Water books – a classic coloring book staple of the eighties! JEM, Rainbow Brite, Pound Puppies – you name an 80s cartoon and I had the Paint With Water book to go along with it.

It felt so refreshingly simple – all you had to do was add water! And although you didn’t get to pick your own colors, it was magic just being able to swish the brush back and forth and see them appear.

Our free printable 80s coloring pages sitting next to scissors and colored pencils on a white background

In honor of paint-with-water-lovers everywhere, I designed a few awesomely-80s coloring pages that you can use to create your own “magic” book (or just print out and have fun coloring with your minis!) This is literally awash in nostalgia! 🙂

Totally into the ’80s? Visit our full collection of eighties-inspired crafts and activities, or make some more ’80s-inspired art with our Memphis-Milano style paper sculpture project. OR hop right ahead to the ’90s!

To make DIY paint with water books you’ll need:


  • 2 Sheets of white heavy cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Watercolor pencils (or liquid watercolors)


DIY Paint with Water Book Instructions:

  1. Print our mini coloring book pages or use your own

    Download and print out our 80’s mini coloring book template (make sure to choose “borderless printing”) then cut apart the pages. You can also use any black & white printed page instead!
    DIY your own paint with water books with free 80's themed printable coloring pages!

  2. Use watercolor pencils to outline the black and white shapes

    Honestly, you could stop right there if you wanted to, and just use these as ridiculously fun kid OR adult coloring pages.

    But if you are totally into recreating the paint-with-water experience, grab some watercolor pencils (regular colored pencils don’t quite work for paint with water).
    DIY your own paint with water books with free 80's themed printable coloring pages!
    To get that magic instant watercolor effect, all you have to do is outline the objects in your pages with different colors. It’s that simple! If you are using liquid watercolors instead, just apply them straight from the tube, using the same method of outlining, then let them dry.

  3. Just add water!

    Once you’ve outlined everything, you can pass the pages over to your kiddos and let them water-brush away while you explain the mystery of floppy disks, frustrations of a tape getting stuck in the boombox, and the sheer joy of finding a quarter on the floor at the arcade. You *might* even want to print an extra copy for yourself!
    DIY your own paint with water books with free 80's themed printable coloring pages!

Radical Fact: Watercolor pencils work anytime water is added – so once you’ve prepped these, you can throw them all in a bag and save them for an on-the-go coloring emergency!

I’ve found the outlining part is a great mindless coloring activity for us adults (we get to choose the colors too!) And although you can do this with ANY printed page or hand-drawn design, these ’80s-style mini pages are a throwback classic.

Our free printable 80s coloring pages sitting on a pink background
Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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