This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Being creative is fun and helps to relieve stress, but for many, it should also be easy to do. This is where coloring pens come into play as they are effortless to use, and you can produce some amazing results. Another advantage is that gel pens are for both younger kids and adults. Since there are so many options available for the best color gel pens, we are going to help you learn all about these wonderful pens and how to choose the best one for your purposes.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Gel Pens?
- 2 Purchasing the Best Color Gel Pens
- 3 Best Color Gel Pens Set
- 3.1 Best Medium Point Gel Pens: PAPER MATE Inkjoy Gel Pens
- 3.2 Best Fine Tip Gel Pens: CRAYOLA Gel Pen Set
- 3.3 Best Cheap Gel Pens for Coloring: REAEON Gel Pen Set
- 3.4 Best Pastel Gel Pens: PENTEL Milky Pop Pastel Gel Pens
- 3.5 Best Metallic Gel Pens: PENTEL Sparkle Pop Metallic Gel Ink Pens
- 3.6 Best Neon Color Gel Pens: LINEON Color Gel Pen Set
- 3.7 Best Glitter Gel Pen Set: AEN ART Glitter Pen Set
- 3.8 Best Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books: SHUTTLE ART Gel Pen Set
- 4 How to Use Coloring Pens
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Gel Pens?
First, let us learn a few noteworthy historical facts about gel pens. For instance, did you know that the first gel pen was produced in 1984 by a Japanese corporation known as Sakura Color Products? These types of gel pens then came to America later during the 1980s and were then known as Gelly Roll pens. Crayola then also began producing their own gel pens. However, they focused on the younger market and created more fun and sparkly gel pens for kids, which were easy to use.
So, what are colored gel pens? These pens are water-based, which makes them safe to use and non-toxic. A much better choice for children compared to the alcohol-based pen varieties. They also combine the features present in both rollerball and ballpoint pens. The water-based ink contains powder pigments and has a slightly thicker consistency compared to other types of ink. The ink provides an opaque color with a higher ratio of pigment that allows the colors to stand out on a page. The thicker consistency of the ink also helps to prevent smudging, but still allows for a smooth writing or drawing experience.
The gel pens are quite versatile and can be used for anything from writing or note-taking to gel pens for adult coloring books and other art projects. The ink flows smoothly without you having to apply a lot of pressure. This makes the pens comfortable to use over long periods, without causing your hand to cramp. Since you have nice control over the pens, you can easily use them for finer details, and applying only one layer of color is usually enough.
Many of the products today also dry faster, so they do not smudge easily and will not bleed through the paper.
Types of Gel Pens
Gel pens are, therefore, a great option if you enjoy the smooth application and vibrant colors. There are many color gel pen sets available on the market today. The pens come in a variety of opalescent colors and types that include the following.
- Pastel gel pens
- Metallic gel pens
- Fluorescent or neon colors
- Glitter gel pens
- Regular black and blue gel pens
- Two-swirl combination gel pens
The metallic, as well as glitter gel pens, are quite popular, especially amongst children who like sparkly things, so these are included in many of the color gel pens sets. The glitter gel pens will show up rather nicely on darker paper. Most of the pens are designed for comfort and have a rubber grip for even more comfort and control. Another type of pen is the white gel pen. This type of gel pen is great for using on darker or even black paper. You can also use the pen to add highlights to your previous color application once it has dried. You might have to experiment with different brands of white gel pens, as many do not perform the same way on black or darker paper, and some may be better than others.
You can also get a clear glitter gel pen, which can add some shine to some of your finished coloring projects. They not only work over gel pens but can also be used over markers as well as colored pencils. You can even use it with your white gel pen to add some sparkle to your highlights. The design of the pen is similar to other ink pens in that they consist of a barrel, which contains the mechanism for writing as well as the cap, and the reservoir where the ink is stored. The pen barrels can come in different designs and sizes, for example, a rubber grip. The nib sizes also come in different sizes ranging from fine to medium, or 0.18 mm to 1.5 mm.
We have already mentioned that the consistency of gel pens is slightly thicker than your average ink pen. However, some brands make gel pens that have a more liquid consistency or a “wetter ink”. These will more than likely bleed through thin paper and smudge, but many use them to blend colors, which you can do with your fingers or even a brush.
You will have to make sure you read up on the product you want to buy for this feature, which brings us to what you need to look for when it comes to buying the best gel pens for coloring.
Purchasing the Best Color Gel Pens
There are many brands and options when it comes to gel pens from cheap gel pens for coloring to your more expensive metallic gel pens and more. So, what pens do you choose? The best option would be to select a pen that best meets your needs. The most obvious factor to consider is how much you are prepared to spend. Then you must think about if you need an entire set or only a few pens. What type and colors do you need? Also, you should be aware that some gel pens are not meant for coloring, like an all-black set, or other pens that might bleed through your paper, which is why you should stay with coloring pens instead of note-taking pens. Below are a few more factors to look at.
Colored Gel Pens
There are many colors available when it comes to gel pens, so there is sure to be something for every creative project. The vibrant colors can help to produce some amazing and colorful results for any do-it-yourself project including things like greeting cards or gel pens for adult coloring books for stress relief. As mentioned, you have a choice in different types of gel pens from metallic gel pens to glitter gel pens, each of which is available in a variety of colors.
Many of the color gel pen sets also come with white gel pens for added effects and highlights.
There are also pens like the swirl gel pens that have a combination of colors that mix when drawing, creating an interesting blend of unique colors. Some color gel pens sets have one hundred pens or more, while others provide other color combinations and a few pens in a set. There are also sets that come with refills for convenience if you use your pens a lot. The color gel pens you choose should also have a reputation for not smearing or bleeding through the paper. The gel pens should also not be prone to getting clogged or drying up fast. So, read up on the gel pens you are looking for to see what the reviews say before purchasing, as gel pens can be a bit on the expensive side, and you do not want to waste your money.
Gel Pen Tip Features
There are mainly two designs when it comes to pen tips and that is your retractable and standard pens. The standard pens simply have removable caps on the tips, which you need to replace once you are finished with using the pens. The retractable pen is where the tip pulls back into the barrel, and you need to click the pen to expose the tip. The main purpose of both is to make sure the pen does not dry out. The main advantage of a retractable pen is that you cannot lose the cap and you only need one hand to click the pen, whereas you most probably need two hands to remove a cap.
Then you also have different size tips available from fine to medium size, the fine tip can do more detailed effects and is used for more precision work. The medium tips are more for things like shading or filling larger areas with color. A more common fine tip size would be your 0.7 mm, which is great for coloring books. Then, of course, you get up to 1.5 mm tips, the 0.8 to 0.1 mm being the two that are more popular tip sizes. These medium tip sizes are best for a variety of tasks from coloring to drawing as well as writing.
Gel Pens Featuring Comfort Grips
Since drawing or writing can take some time and should be a calming and relaxing experience, a pen should provide comfort for extended use. You do not want your hands cramping or becoming tired when using your gel pens. Also, people with conditions like arthritis can find it more comfortable to draw or write if the pen design is right. Some pens come with a rubber grip or some kind of soft cushioning where the pens are gripped the most. Those who are allergic to latex, also have latex-free options.
The pen barrel design itself might also be contoured or have added thickness to promote a comfortable grip.
Storage and Packaging
Many of the gel pens come in packaging that can also be used as storage containers. These containers can come in clear packaging so that the pens are displayed clearly and help you organize your pens properly. This is especially true for the larger sets, which need to be organized so you can find the pen you are looking for quickly. Many of the storage containers like the fabric pen holders have zippers or the more durable PVC containers may snap open and closed, all of which can help when traveling with your pens.
Best Color Gel Pens Set
When going through all the colored gel pens, the selection can seem a bit overwhelming. The list can include the best of any number of pen features from non-toxic options to the best ergonomic design and everything in-between. So, to narrow down the list slightly, we have compiled a few of the more popular gel pens available.
Best Medium Point Gel Pens: PAPER MATE Inkjoy Gel Pens
The Inkjoy gel pens come in a 14-pen gel pen set, 0.7 mm retractable tips, so you do not have to worry about replacing or losing caps. There are some amazing colors including charming purple, yellow twirl, pink pop, and a few more. The ergonomic grip provides comfort when drawing or writing. The pens are also perfectly weighted for added comfort and smooth application. The ink will dry three times faster, which helps to reduce any smudging. Each pen barrel is clear so you can see the ink levels. The barrels also come in each color, making it easier to identify and select the color you want to work with.
Best Fine Tip Gel Pens: CRAYOLA Gel Pen Set
The Crayola Gel Pens come in a decorative tin, making transporting the pens much easier. The gel pens are non-toxic and affordable, perfect for those four years and older. You have 20 colors to choose from that include some metallic and glitter varieties. The 1 mm tips are great for those more precise lines and can be used for scrapbooking, drawing, and as gel pens for adult coloring books. The pen is designed for comfort and comes with colored caps for easy color identification. The set comes packed in two separate trays within the storage tin. The pens provide smooth application and can be used on both light as well as darker paper options.
Best Cheap Gel Pens for Coloring: REAEON Gel Pen Set
The 200 pack Reaeon gel pen set comes in a convenient case and contains 100 unique colors as well as 100 matching refills. This size gel pen set is an affordable option for what you get. You do not have to worry about running out of a certain color too soon as you can simply replace it with an ink refill. The colors range from your standard versions to include some glitter, metallic, pastel, swirl, and neon color options. The pen tips come in 0.8 mm and 1.0 mm, which along with the various colors, offer quite a variety of gel pen options. The storage case is also of good quality and can be folded for easy storage. The non-toxic and acid-free inks offer only minimal bleeding through paper.
Best Pastel Gel Pens: PENTEL Milky Pop Pastel Gel Pens
The Pentel Milky Pop Patel Pens can be applied smoothly to both light as well as dark paper and can even write on photo paper. The barrel is extra long for a more comfortable fit and has a latex-free grip for added comfort. The pens provide medium lines with 0.8 mm tips, with ink that is non-toxic. The set comes in six assorted pastel colors that are lighter and less saturated than your standard colors and two white colors. However, these colors will appear vibrant against black or dark color paper. The pastel colors are more noticeable on your lighter color paper. The barrel is also clear, making it easier to check on ink levels.
Best Metallic Gel Pens: PENTEL Sparkle Pop Metallic Gel Ink Pens
You can get metallic pens in a color gel pen set that contains a collection of metallic, glitter, and other types and colors. However, the Pentel Metallic Gel Ink Pens are perfect for adding some color and making your artwork stand out on both white and black paper. These pens are great for use on all kinds of designs as well as for doodling, greeting cards, and drawing. The pens can also write on photo paper and come in eight colors including black, orange, pink, silver, gold, violet, blue, and green. The pens are comfortable to use with an extra-long barrel and offer smooth application.
Best Neon Color Gel Pens: LINEON Color Gel Pen Set
The Lineon Color Gel Pen Set comes with 108 unique colors including a substantial mixture of neon colors. The pens come in a sturdy, plastic box, making it easy to find colors and transport the pens when needed. The durable pen tips range from 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm for more fine drawings, so are perfect for adult coloring and doodling. The pens write on paper smoothly and do not bleed through paper and are acid-free as well as non-toxic.
Best Glitter Gel Pen Set: AEN ART Glitter Pen Set
This glitter gel pen set offers 100 gel pens with no duplicates and 30 percent more ink for a longer-lasting coloring experience. The clear plastic barrel is perfect for checking up on ink levels. The barrel also has a rubber grip for smoother application and comfort. This also helps when placing the pens on an uneven surface, so they will not roll away from you. The pens come with 0.8 to 1.0 mm tips that should provide a free-flowing application without any scratching. The pen ink is considered non-toxic and acid-free, so perfect for smaller kids to use. Also, the ink will not smudge or fade and is great for all kinds of projects from coloring and doodling, to greeting cards and other craft ideas.
Best Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books: SHUTTLE ART Gel Pen Set
These best gel pens for coloring offer 120 exclusive colors that can be used for scrapbooking, coloring, sketching, writing, and more. Included in the set are several different gel color types like metallic, glitter, pastel, swirl, neon, as well as standard. You should be able to find pens that work great on both lighter as well as darker paper. The pen barrel is clear so you can check the ink levels and identify the colors. The pen tips are durable and should last for a long time and provide a smooth application. The ink is non-toxic and acid-free, so the pens can safely be used by young and old. The packaging is clear and makes selecting the right colors easy and can also be taken with you wherever you go. The gel pen set is affordable and perfect for beginners or those who simply want to have fun while drawing or doodling.
How to Use Coloring Pens
Coloring pens are easy to use, and you simply need to practice a little to get various techniques right. Many of the pens remain wet on the page and can smudge, however, many brands are quick-drying, solving this type of problem. Although, some want the wet application to create certain effects with blending colors or creating a gradient of colors. Many of the gel pens say that they do not bleed through paper, however, it is always better to opt for a thicker paper that ensures no ink sinks through. This is important as many coloring books have pictures on both sides of the paper. Gel pens can be used in many ways, below are a few examples.
- You can use gel pens to color entire pages with vibrant colors instead of marker pens.
- Create an outline first so you can color with more precision.
- Gel pens, like the white color, can be used to add highlights. You can also use gel pens to add texture or accents to a page that has already been colored with a pencil.
- You can also create shade and depth to pencil drawings. You can use drawing techniques like cross-hatching, stippling, or other different stroke techniques.
- Glitter pens are a favorite for many and can add a bit of sparkle to any design.
- As mentioned, you can blend colors while they are still wet. When first doing this, it is best to test out the pens on a sample page to see how the ink responds. You may even like to try using a brush for this.
- Color your design in pencil, then do an outline with gel pens and use a brush to bring the ink over onto the pencil drawing. This should create a watercolor-like effect.
- The fine point gel pens are great for more intricate designs.
- You can try and revive a gel pen by firmly tapping the tip onto the paper and drawing in circles until the ink begins to flow again.
- Sometimes bubbles occur, which can hinder the flow of ink. Try to gently knock the pen on your palm to remove the bubbles.
- When it comes to storage, some recommend keeping the pens vertical with the tips up. The caps should also always be kept on or the pen retracted when not in use.
- However, some also say to store gel pens horizontally for the long term and vertically if you do not have the space and you are going to be using the pens often.
Tips and Ideas for Using Colored Gel Pens
When working with gel pens or any other marker or pen, it is best to always have some sample or spare paper handy to test your pens on before using them. If the pen does not seem to be working, gently tap on the paper to get it started. Below are a few more helpful suggestions for using gel pens.
- Store pens in color groups for easy access, so you will not have to go looking for colors you want.
- Make sure to store the gel pens in a cool and dark place as things like sunlight can cause the pigments in the ink to fade over time.
- If the pen packaging does not work for storage, you can purchase a storage container, or simply use jars or something like a make-up organizer to store and keep your pens in.
- You can combine your gel pens with pencils as well as markers to create interesting results.
- If you are a beginner, maybe start with gel pens that are quick-drying before attempting to blend or use other techniques.
- Use different types of gel pens for contrast or other effects. For example, first, use a glitter pen, then an opaque gel pen to dampen the sparkle a bit.
- When using more than one color, remember to start with dark colors and move on to light colors.
- Use your gel pens within one to two years of purchasing them.
- Try using a damp towel to remove any dried ink from the tip of the pen.
Drawing and writing with colored gel pens can be fun, relaxing, and rewarding. You can do many things with gel pens, from scrapbooking to doodling and coloring. The only problem is finding the right gel pens for you. We hope we have made it a little easier for you to choose the best gel pen for your creative project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Gel Pens Bleed Through Paper?
Many of the gel pens should not seep or bleed through the paper like other inks, as the gel ink is thicker. However, this is also influenced by the type of paper you are using. If it is thin paper, it is not guaranteed that the gel ink will not seep through. Some brands are also wetter or less viscous, which can bleed through paper but can be used for blending. Many brands also state they have faster drying times and will not bleed through paper.
Can Gel Pens Dry Out?
Yes, gel pens can dry out, especially if the caps are not on properly or the pen is not retracted. If the tips are exposed for too long, the ink can dry out. So, always make sure the caps are on properly when you are not using the pens.
What Can You Use Gel Pens For?
Gel pens are quite versatile and can be used for almost any design project. They are extremely popular with adult coloring enthusiasts but can be used for doodling, drawing, writing, notebooks, journaling, decorative lettering, and much more. The gel pens can also be used together with pencils and other media to add extra flare.
Are Gel Pens Expensive?
Yes, gel pens can be more costly than other coloring pens. This is because the ink is slightly thicker and can contain more pigment. The ink also writes more smoothly and should last longer. However, there are many good quality, budget-friendly color gel pen sets available.
How Fast Does It Take the Gel Ink to Dry?
The ink in a gel pen does not dry as fast as the ink in a ballpoint pen. This might cause some problems with smudging, however, there are fast drying pens available. Also, it can depend on the quality or type of paper involved. In general, it should take about 20 to 30 seconds, or sometimes more, for the ink to dry.