We typically focus on colored pencils here at www.bestcoloredpencils.com, but there is another large category of art supplies that are growing, particularly in regards to adult coloring books: colored pens! So what are the best colored pens? Similar to colored pencils, there are many factors that one should consider when looking for a set of colored pens and hopefully our colored pen reviews will help shed some light on this subject and give you the information you need to make your next purchase. But before we get into it, we have listed our top choices in the table right below for those who want to get to the picks and skip over the reading. For the rest of you, hop below and let’s learn about colored pens.

What is a Colored Pen?

Surprisingly, quite a few people have never tried a colored pen for coloring purposes or for adult coloring books. Sure, just about everyone has used a pen for writing but how often do you think to try them out for coloring? And many people who have tried using them for coloring have used the standard pens that they also use for writing! The definition of a colored pen is quite wide, and there is a lot more flexibility that exists in what can make a viable colored pen.


Our simple definition of a colored pen for art is a pen that produces acceptable ranges of color and can be easily applied while providing adequate control. That’s it! Simple enough. For a more thorough explanation and definition, there are plenty of sources out there. You will find a huge range of variables that exist from one pen to the next, and each one will have its own pros and cons and personal preferences. Some pens will be better-suited for protraits while others are better off being used for calligraphy. We will break down some of the most common types below.

What to Look for in a Colored Pen

Now that we have introduced the different types of colored pens and colored pen inks, let’s discuss what to look for in a colored pen you are considering purchasing. It is important to figure out what your specific needs are before purchasing a colored pen set. The characteristics of colored pens range much more than colored pencils, so if you don’t perform your due diligence you might end up with a set that is not at all suited for your planned intention.

What Type of Application?

Do you plan on using your pens for highly-detailed works such as landscapes or portraits? Or are you simply looking for something


that can be suitable for adult coloring books where simply filling in spaces is all that is necessary? If you want more freedom in regards to both control and color intensity then we would recommend trying a ballpoint pen or fiber tip pen. If you are simply looking for impressive, deep color output then try going with a gel pen or rollerball pen.


What kind of colors do you need?

Since coloring pens inherently don’t blend well, it is important to have a pen for each color that you want or need. Some types of pens will have much wider ranges of color selections while others will be quite limited. Specifically, your oil and gel-based pens will have a much larger collection of colors to choose from than your water-based pens.


How clumsy are you?

This one might require taking a bit of a blow to your self-esteem, but if you are inherently clumsy then you might want to consider going with a colored pen that utilizes ink that dries much quicker. Any of your non-water-based pens will dry relatively quickly which reduces the likelihood of smearing.


Do you Expect Freedom in Stroke Depth?

Colored pens are unique from colored pencils in that some of them have a dynamic writing head. In other words, the head can physically change shape depending on applying pressure and angle. This can result in thicker strokes, thinner strokes, and everything in between. This is similar to a standard paint brush and really makes colored pens stand out from colored pencils, colored pastels, or any other artistic medium with a static or “fixed” head. Being able to manipulate the shape and size of the stroke can add a nice range to what is possible, but it can also be a bit challenging for a beginner.


Best Colored Pens

Below are some of our top choices for colored pens. To make things simple, we chose the best choice for each type of pen we have discussed. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of other good options but these should serve you well if you want to give them a try. However, as always, we encourage you to experiment and try new products because different sets will work better for different people!


Best Gel Ink Pen

Artist’s Choice 100 Gel Pens with Case Extra Large Set


The bang for the buck with this product is just great. You get an enormous range of colors to choose from so you should be able to find a color that works for just about any piece that you have. The application is smooth enough, although you might feel that some of the higher-end brands produce a bit thicker and more pronounced color. That being said, the output is still plenty vibrant considering these are gel-based and for the price, we simply can’t complain.

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