Most people either prefer markers or colored pencils to work within their coloring books for adults but both of those groups also like to supplement their work with gel pens, particularly if you want to highlight an area with a glitter or metallic effect. ALL gel pens will smear if you don’t give them time to dry so be sure to work left to right for right-handed colorists and the opposite for lefties. For the lift of markers, you should store them horizontally so the ink stays evenly distributed and has a consistent flow. Gel pens are exceptions and should be stored vertically with tips pointing up.* Always store pens and markers with their caps on.
Best Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Pens
GelWriter Gel Pens This pack of 100 is one of my favorites. The bronze, browns, and golds in this set are spectacular to use on metal objects in your coloring and blend really well. I find this wet enough that if you are quick and hold both pens in your hand you can blend them as you work (being VERY careful not to smear of course) They work spectacularly well with the techniques that Cher Kauffman shares in the video at the end of this article for intermediate to advanced gel pen coloring techniques. If you happen to live near a Costco check to see if they are carrying these pens. If they are the price on them can’t be beaten! $19.99 for 100 pens. GelWriter has recently added a rotating stand.
Click to order Amazon US (Prices in Canada & the UK are too high to make this a good buy, sorry!)
Gelly Roll Gel Pens
Gelly Rolls have been around for a couple of decades and continue to be favorites with colorists and crafters alike. You may even have a few tucked into your scrapbooking or stamping supplies. Our favorite Gelly rolls are the starlight glitter pens and metallic pens. These pens have a visible sheen and glitter effects and bright colors that really accentuate areas in your coloring such as using metallic ones for a padlock on an old door in the elf’s cottage or the crowns sprinkled throughout Hanna Karlzon’s Dagdrommar / DayDreams & Sommernatt / Summer Nights Coloring Books. They are the priciest but a favorite none the less.
Sakura’s Gelly Roll Glitter Pens come in several different types of Gel Pens for Coloring
- Sakura Gelly Roll Stardust Meteor Pen Set which includes: silver, marine, copper, pink, green and blue. Click to Order Amazon Canada
- Sakura Stardust Galaxy Set which includes: rose, sky, lime, purple, golden and red.
Click to Order Amazon US ~ UK ~ Canada
- Metallic Gel Pens -1.0 Metallic: 2 Gold, Silver, Copper, Blue, Purple, Pink, Green, Teal and Red Click to Order Amazon US ~ UK ~ Canada
- White Gelly Rolls – These are really fun to use for special effects over your pencils or to highlight or dot however we actually prefer the Signo White Gel Pens for that purpose.
- Clear Glitter Gelly Roll Pens – Perhaps our favorite of them all is the clear glitter because you can apply it over the top of the pencil and some markers to get any color of glitter you want. Very effective for fairy wings or crystals.
- Classic Gelly Roll Pens– White, Black, Brown, Orange, Burgandy, Red, Pink, Purple, Royal Navy, Blue & Green
Click to order: Amazon US ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon Canada
- 75 piece Gelly Roll Artists Collection of Pens. Of course, the granddaddy and the best value, if you are splurging, is this pack with all of the pens.
Sakura also makes Gelly Roll pens in standard colors we aren’t fans of their Shadow Pens where gold or silver are mixed with other color pens, they just make a muddy uninteresting shade that’s not well suited for coloring although it probably has other purposes.
Gelly Roll Gel pen care
It is very important to put the correct cap on the pen between uses because unlike regular ballpoint pen ink, gel inks need to be kept sealed away from air. Prolonged exposure to air will cause the gel ink to dry out in the tip/ball chamber.
In our Gelly Roll ink system, there is a tiny silicone ball inside the cap that touches the tip and helps prevents any air from drying out the gel in the ball chamber when the cap is on. If this silicone ball is damaged or removed, the pen will eventually dry out and not work.
*Gelly Rolls can be stored horizontally or vertically because of the properties of gel ink. But if you store vertically, just be sure that you don’t drop them into whatever pen holder (like a pencil cup) you’re using. Jarring the pen (i.e. dropping into a cup) can cause air bubbles to form in the gel which will disrupt the ink flow.
The best way to see if a Gelly Roll pen can be revived is to start scribbling in circles and/or firmly tap the tip on a pad of paper. The motion makes the tip (ball) roll and causes the gel ink to be pulled into the ball tip chamber. It might take a few tries, but this might work. There is no guarantee though that this will start the pen again. Heating a Gelly Roll tip or shaking the pen will not correct the problem of a clogged nib. This technique only works for oil-based ballpoint pens.
To color in an entire picture in gel pens we have these options that get rave reviews from our fans:
LolliZ Gel Pens has great deals from time to time, so keep checking. They often sell two sets of 48 colors.
These set of gel pens contain 6 standard inks, 6 neon, 6 swirl, 12 glitter, 10 metallic, 8 milky.
Special Purpose Gel Pens
One pen I really couldn’t live without anymore is my White Uniball Signo Gel Pen with a broad point. I use it ALL the time for highlights on jewels, to run a line of dots around the edge of a flower petal, the list goes on and on. You will see the dots idea in the Peta Hewitt video at the end of this page. Go ahead and get the 3 pack because you are going to want one in all your coloring bags. Worth another mention is the clear glitter gelly roll. It doesn’t come in any of the packs but it’s such a workhorse and once you use it you will be addicted.
Click to Order White Uniball Signo on Amazon US UK Canada
Click to Order Clear Glitter Gelly Roll Pen Amazon US UK Canada
How to work with Gel Pens in you Coloring Books
This article had some neat ideas on using gel pens for coloring books that aren’t your basic filling in blank space rather this technique using stippling, cross-hatching, and scribbling. I had never thought to use this method for coloring but love the effect it gives you in their examples below.
Hatching is a series of parallel strokes. It can give your art a very uniform look based on the angle of the hatches. Try some cross-hatching for a different effect as well.
Stippling is basically placing several dots together to create a texture. Uniform dots, non-uniformed ones, the tightness of the pattern and even the use of several different colors can make big changes to your coloring. When you gradually change the density of dots you can make some really fun gradations that will give your coloring a more 3D effect.
Scribbling is just that; making a bunch of scribbles in an area to create that textured look. Again, the tightness of the pattern, different types of scribbles and different colors will make all sorts of interesting coloring. Experiment and see.
Gel Pen Videos
If you have been following us for long you know we are a huge fan of Peta Hewitt. She uses the gel pen techniques that I normally employ in my coloring, that of using gel pens to highlight and fancify my colored pencil work. This video shows her speed coloring a fish from Lost Ocean using gold and white gel pens at the end of the process to enhance her picture. I subscribe to her Youtube channel so I don’t miss anything. Some of her videos run long because she is a fabulous in-depth teacher and you will learn a TON by the end of it. This particular video is a quickie.
I really enjoyed this intermediate tutorial from Cher Kauffman on using Gel Pens with water and other fun effects.
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