You Can Now Make Your Own DIY Adult Coloring Book From History's Most Amazing Book Illustrations

Guys, stop what you're doing immediately and listen to this! Some of the most famous museums and libraries in the world have put special images from their collections online as part of #ColorOurCollections, a celebration of historical book art and illustration that will allow you to make your own DIY adult coloring book from historical art images. Some institutions are drip-feeding us one or two images a day over the course of the celebration (which runs until February 5th), while others — like the Smithsonian, the Bodleian and the Historical Collections of Oregon's Health & Science University — have gone all-out and produced their own printable PDF coloring books for the occasion. Book nerds, get ready to be immersed in a world of woodcuts, inky flourishes and very confusing dragons.

The world of rare book illustrations is often very closed off to the public. (I'm married to a medieval academic who hangs out with manuscripts a lot; trust me, I know.) This makes some sense — after all, old books are delicate things. But there's some absolutely fantastic art in them there books, and the digitizing effort around the world — where museums and libraries put increasing amounts of their collections online for free — gives us access to treasures we'd normally never glimpse. It's important because it shows us how worthwhile and beautiful these things are. And adult coloring books are in vogue for their therapeutic properties; coloring is supposed to help you focus, calm you down and give you meditation-level stress release.

Here are 15 of the very best (read: most hilarious) rare bits of book art now available for you to color (with PDF links provided for each, so that you can assemble your own coloring book). Break out the crayons and start your engines. And don't bother staying between the lines.

1. Hamlet Is Surrounded By Confused Female Faces

Source: Folger Shakespeare Library

Here's Hamlet in his element: doing something peculiar, staring at a sword, and thoroughly confusing a bunch of ephemeral ladies. Bonus points for his extremely weird facial expression.

Download the original here.

2. Dragon Fight!

Source: Bodleian Libraries

If you need me to explain to you why two-headed dragons fighting each other (and apparently devouring random flowers while they're at it) makes good coloring-in material, you and I are not going to be friends.

Download the original here.

3. The Snazziest Bicycling Outfit

Source: New York Digital Libraries

How can you possibly resist giving this early velocipede-rider a snazzy purple jacket, or a green cap, or bright red wheels? Flames on the sides of her shoes also permitted.

Download the original here.

4. Pondering Fraternities

Source: University of North Carolina

Print this out as a gift for a younger relative who is heading off to college and will need to make some important decisions about Greek life, like "Is it more or less fun than coloring?" (YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER, FRIEND!)

Get the original here.

5. The Menu For Your Next Dinner Party

Source: Smithsonian

Sweet-faced urchins holding immensely oversized pieces of food: check. Strange halos: check. Elaborate window-frames for the urchins to stand in: check. All's right with the world.

Download the original here.

6. Old-Timey Waltzing

Source: University of North Carolina

This can be elaborated into "very bored but dutiful-looking waltzing, because Jane insists on teaching everybody what she learned on the Continent even though it's far past tea-time".

Download the original here.

7. Inaccurate Hippo Eats Inaccurate Crocodile

Source: Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has really gotten into the coloring idea: its Flickr stream has up to 1000 images. This, however, is a particular gem, because basically nothing about it is scientifically accurate (what kind of hippo eats crocodiles? Why does the crocodile look like an angry lizard chihuahua?), which gives it unique charm.

Download the original here.

8. The Prettiest Princess In Space (University Of Missouri)

Source: University of Missouri

I do believe they call this "aesthetic inspiration." Color it, put it on your wall, use it to direct all your fashion decisions, etc.

Get the original here.

9. Cheerful Dragon

Source: Dittrick Medical History Centre

Isn't he adorable? Don't you just want to color him in iridescent colours and them take him for a walk? I can't imagine he'd be very fast, but he seems VERY friendly.

Download the original here.

10. Animals Behaving Very Poorly

Source: University of Missouri

Animals, if we are to believe these historical illustrations, cannot be trusted. They will plop down on your desk whenever they feel like it, have strange tongue-fights, gore innocent knights and insist on sitting in the laps of virgins. Color this in to remind you to always be wary of ancient creatures and their nefarious ways.

Download the original here.

11. An Epic Monk Writing An Epic Letter

Source: Bodleian Libraries

There is basically nothing as epically "LITERATURE IS IMPORTANT, GUYS" than this picture of a person writing inside one of the most ornate illuminations in literary history. Complete with cherubs.

Download the original here.

12. Swooning Picturesquely Out The Window

Source: Smithsonian

We all need motivation to match our curtains to our swooning outfits, and keep our towering hairstyles free of foliage. Let this picture be your inspiration.

Download the original here.

13. Handsome Man Not Sure About All This

Source: Oregon Health & Science University

What is happening to this handsome man? Why must he be strapped in this way when he is already so strapping? And what could all these letters mean? Put some flush back in his poor beleaguered cheeks.

Download the original here.

14. A Non-Threatening Flower

Source: University of Missouri

Here is a historical image that is soothing, non-controversial, and without the slightest hint of the demented. How refreshing.

Download the original here.

15. A Multi-Talented Circus Troupe

Source: New York Public Libraries

Personally I think the man pushing a lawnmower up a high wire deserves special attention and a spotlight against his tent. And that's not even mentioning the children being suspended by their feet (which must be violating some laws, right?).

Download the original here.