Colored pencils and markers may be the most popular options for adult colorists but there is another option out there that is gaining popularity: gel pens. If you can’t decide whether you want to use markers or pencils, gel pens may be a great choice for you since in many ways they offer the best of both worlds.
Pens offer smooth coloring
Gel pens use liquid ink just like markers which makes coloring much easier and smoother than the abrasion of graphite which colored pencils use to put down color. This is especially helpful for people who easily strain their hands while coloring large or very detailed coloring designs.
Good for detail work
Colored pencils are great for very detailed work because their points can be sharpened until their point is tiny. Gel pens may not have that advantage but they are still fine when compared to the much thicker marker. While you can get fine tipped markers those tend to be much more expensive that the normal variety. Gel pens on the other hand tend to be closer to colored pencils in price and do not require constant sharpening to maintain a fine tip.
Gel pens blend easier than markers
Gel pens and markers both use liquid ink which makes coloring much easier but can sometimes produce nasty blending streaks where the color of the first layer has already dried and the color from the second layer does not mix with it and instead layers on top to produce a darker color. Some of the higher range markers like Copic brand use a special ink that allows the layers to blend, but gel pens on the other hand all use ink that takes a bit longer to dry which gives you time to seamlessly blend different layers.
No need to sharpen
Many colorists love pencils for their low price and versatility but one thing that every pencil shares in common is the constant need for sharpening. Like markers, gel pens use ink so they do not need to be sharpened and will maintain their fine point for the life of the pen.
Gel pens provide lots of color options
Gel pens come in a crazy array of colors, shades, and even scents. For some reason gel pens started out as a much less “serious” form of coloring tool and that has opened up the possibility for gel pens of all sorts. You can readily find neon, pastel, glitter, and even scented pens that can smell like candy and fruit. This is definitely a huge strength of gel pens and you should view it as that. Get yourself a pack of glitter pens and use those to add extra spice to the detail work in your next coloring page.
The truth is...
That gel pens are just like pencils and markers in that they work best as a team, and not by themselves. Different designs and coloring pages will require different coloring tools and markers or pencils may be better for some, while gel pens will be better for others.
What is true about all designs however is that they can all benefit from the joined power of all three methods. By combining pencils, markers, and pens in your coloring tool bag you can put down an even layer of color with markers, then create texture with your pencils, and finish it off with some gel pen detail work to really make your designs pop.