The Best Gel Pens for Coloring and DIY Projects

Color gel pens offer mess-free transfer of vibrant colors to the pages of your most imaginative artistic endeavors. Discover the best gel pens for coloring, journaling, crafting, scrapbooking, and other creative DIY projects.

By Carol Benton | Updated Feb 16, 2021 8:44 PM

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The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Option


In years gone by, coloring books were found mainly in children’s playrooms and kindergarten classrooms. Today, adult coloring books proliferate, offering beneficial opportunities for relaxation and creative expression.

With the rise in popularity of adult coloring books, color gel pens present a viable option for enthusiasts who want a myriad of vibrant color choices and a mess-free experience. These pens deliver ink to the paper smoothly, and they are prized for their resistance to smearing, smudging, and bleeding through paper. With their outstanding aesthetic and utilitarian qualities, the best gel pens for coloring also provide creative functionality for crafting, journaling, card-making, DIY projects, and sketching.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Soucolor Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books, 122 Pack
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Fiskars 12-27457097J Gel Pen 48-Piece-Set
  3. BEST GLITTER COLORS: Aen Art Glitter Gel Pens, 100 Color Glitter Pen Set
  4. BEST ASSORTMENT: 360 Pack Gel Pens Set, Shuttle Art 180 Colors
  5. BEST ERASABLE: PILOT FriXion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Ink Stick Pens
  6. BEST FAST-DRYING: BIC Gel-ocity Quick Dry Retractable Gel Pens
  7. BEST ERGONOMIC: Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen
The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Option


What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gel Pens For Coloring

When choosing the best gel pens for coloring, writing, and art projects, several factors take center stage. The first consideration is, of course, color. With a head-spinning multitude of color choices available on the market, shoppers might carefully consider their color needs before investing. Additionally, the choice of fine, ultrafine, or medium writing tips affects the performance of pens in transferring color to the page in thin or thick lines. Finally, the issues of comfortable use, storage, and maintenance emphasize the practical aspect of making an optimal selection of color gel pens.


Gel ink pens are available in myriad colors to spark the imagination and get the creative juices flowing in even the least artistic users. Vibrant hues and subtle color variations produce dramatic results in coloring books and journals, craft and DIY projects, and greeting cards and artworks.

Many sets of color gel pens offer inks with glitter or metallic effects, which are available in a wide array of colors to add sparkle to the page. Sets also include a broad spectrum of standard colors as well as black and white gel inks suitable for drawing on light or dark papers.

Specialized color families lend variety and extraordinary visual interest to many projects. These include neon colors, pastel colors, and two-color swirl effects.

Standard vs. Retractable Tips

Color gel pens feature two basic designs with either retractable tips or removable caps for covering the tips. Either design accomplishes the necessary function of keeping air away from the tip when the pen is not in use. Because gel pens dry out at about the same rate as ballpoint pens, it’s an important precaution to protect and seal the writing tips.

The user activates a retractable tip by simply pushing a button, usually located at the top of the pen’s barrel. This facilitates a simple, streamlined, one-piece design for easily advancing and retracting the tip with one hand.

Alternatively, a color gel pen with a cap features a two-piece design. Remove the cap for writing and drawing, but remember to replace it when the pen is not in use. Although lost caps and two-handed operation make this design a bit more cumbersome, it might actually provide a more airtight environment to keep the ink from drying out in the tip of the pen.

Writing Tip Size

The size of a pen’s writing tip is an important factor to consider when choosing color gel pens for various purposes. Smaller pen tips facilitate precision writing and drawing, since they produce thinner lines. They are useful for journaling and drawing in adult coloring books. Larger pen tips produce thicker lines and yield optimal results for shading and color filling.

Many color gel pens feature a 0.7-millimeter tip size. This size is on the upper end of the fine-tip category. It produces fine lines but also serves well for devotees of coloring books.

Alternatively, the 0.8 to 1.0-millimeter tip size is a popular feature of many color gel pens. This tip is considered medium size, and it provides reliable service for a variety of coloring, writing, and drawing projects.


Coloring, doodling, drawing, and journaling activities afford a calm, Zen-like experience for participants. Many people engage in these artistic pursuits to relax and unwind. However, cramping, discomfort, and fatigue in the dominant hand can ruin an otherwise relaxing artistic session. Additionally, users who experience symptoms of arthritis in their hands might find that drawing or coloring amplifies these difficulties.

Many color gel pens feature soft cushioning around the lower part of the barrel to promote comfortable use. Some of these ergonomic grips are made from latex, but users who are sensitive to latex can choose a latex-free version.

In addition to soft, cushiony grips, users might look for color gel pens with contoured barrels or those with extra thickness. These ergonomic features tend to promote a more comfortable grip for reduced stress on the hand.


When not in use, color gel pens should be retracted or capped and stored vertically with the tips facing down. This storage method helps keep the ink at the tip, ready for the next use.

Manufacturers offer sets of color gel pens in containers that are suitable for storage and display. Clear plastic boxes or cylinders can hold pens stored vertically to facilitate organizing and displaying color gel pens on a desk or shelf, keeping them close at hand for sessions of creative drawing, coloring, and writing.

Alternatively, fitted plastic cases that close with zippers or snaps afford opportunities for organization, storage, and portability. Manufacturers include these cases with some sets of color gel pens, and their added value might appeal to users who like to take their art supplies along with them on excursions.

Our Top Picks

Because of the seemingly infinite array of color gel pens available on the market, coloring and crafting aficionados might become overwhelmed by the selection process. This list of top picks is based on information about high-quality gel inks, broad arrays of color choices, fast-drying ink properties, and ergonomic designs. Featuring quality products from reputable manufacturers, the recommendations might help you choose the best gel pens for coloring, crafting, journaling, and other colorful writing and drawing activities.

Best Overall

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: Soucolor Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books, 122 Pack

For coloring, crafting, and scrapbooking, this Soucolor Gel Pens Set offers a variety of vibrant colors packed in a handy grab-and-go polyurethane (PU) travel case. It includes 60 color gel pens with 60 matching refills as well as an adult coloring book for hours of relaxation and creativity. The array of vivid hues consists of 17 metallic colors, 10 glitter colors, 11 pastel colors, 12 neon colors, six rainbow colors, and four classic colors.

The pens have a cap design. Premium quality gel ink ensures smooth and precise color application with no smearing or skipping. The 0.8- to 1-millimeter ballpoint tips provide consistent color results for writing, doodling, drawing, and coloring. As an added bonus, the comfort grips make these gel pens easy to hold and comfortable to use.

Housed in their durable travel case, these gel pens can go anywhere in the pursuit of creative, artistic enjoyment. The durable case measures 7.2 inches by 10 inches by 1.6 inches, so it fits easily into a tote or backpack.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: Fiskars 12-27457097J Gel Pen 48-Piece-Set

No need to stress the wallet for accessing a vivid array of colors with these gel pens from Fiskars. The economically priced set includes 48 pens in distinct colors, including glitter, neon, metallic, and swirl variations as well as two black gel pens. An included plastic storage box adds to their value and makes it easy to keep these pens organized and ready for use.

Free-flowing, acid-free gel ink provides smooth color application from the 0.8- to 1-millimeter tips. A variety of color choices allow writing and drawing on dark- as well as light-colored papers. This set of capped gel pens does not include refills.

Best Glitter Colors

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: Aen Art Glitter Gel Pens, 100 Color Glitter Pen Set

Aen Art’s glitter color gel pens contain 30 percent more ink than other gel pens. This means 30 percent more relaxation time with adult coloring books, crafting, and art projects.

The set includes 100 distinct glitter-color choices for a rainbow of artistic inspiration. For neatness and convenience, the water-based and acid-free gel ink will not bleed through paper. With writing tips that measure 0.8 to 1 millimeter, these gel pens deliver smooth and precise color application for a DIY or art project.

Each pen barrel is made of clear plastic, so the colored gel ink is visible for quick identification. Additionally, the pen caps match the ink, so organization is a breeze. An included storage and travel case is made from clear, flexible plastic and measures 11.02 inches by 6.30 inches—ideal for tossing into a book bag or backpack.

Best Assortment

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: 360 Pack Gel Pens Set, Shuttle Art 180 Colors

Never get bored with the broad array of available color choices in this set of gel pens from Shuttle Art. The assortment includes 13 standard colors, 40 neon-glitter colors, 18 neon colors, 22 pastel colors, 25 metallic colors, 60 glitter colors, and two swirl colors. Each gel pen is matched with a refill ink tube, ensuring long-term use before replacement is necessary.

Shuttle Art manufactures these gel pens with high-quality ink that does not leak. The 0.8- to 1-millimeter bullet tips deliver smooth, precise lines and consistent color coverage on the page for optimal coloring, crafting, drawing, and journaling experiences.

Each gel pen features a clear plastic barrel so the ink is visible. Color-matching pen caps facilitate organizing the pens in the included clear plastic box. For shipping, an additional outer cardboard box minimizes damage.

Best Erasable

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: PILOT FriXion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Ink Stick Pens

Oops—made a mistake? No problem. These color gel pens are made with Pilot’s unique thermosensitive gel ink that facilitates smooth and clean erasures without marring the page. For the perfectionist or anyone who needs an occasional do-over, this set of retractable gel pens in 36 attractive colors provides ample opportunities to achieve artistic satisfaction.

With fine points measuring 0.7 millimeters, erasable Pilot FriXion gel pens draw fine lines and provide smooth color transfer. The plastic barrels with non-rolling caps show the range of 16 vivid gel ink colors. Refill cartridges are not included in this set. The entire set of 36 gel pens is packaged in a clear plastic bin featuring a cylindrical shape. It’s a handy storage unit for the pens and sits conveniently on a desk or shelf.

Best Fast-Drying

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: BIC Gel-ocity Quick Dry Retractable Gel Pens

The fast-drying gel ink from this set by BIC is an ideal choice for left-handed writers, since it minimizes the problem of smears and smudges when writing from left to right across the page. This set of fast-drying color gel pens includes 24 bright colors. Each retractable pen features a handy clip for attaching to a notebook or pocket as well as a contoured and cushioned grip for comfortable writing and drawing.

Based on the average drying times for blue, black, and red Gel-ocity gel ink, the ink dries three times faster than most gel inks. Drying times can vary for individual colors. Because of the fast drying time, these gel pens are ideal for note-taking or writing and drawing in journals and planners since they won’t smear or smudge when the user closes the book.

Made with 0.7-millimeter tips, these gel pens deliver color smoothly to the page for an effortless writing experience. They come in packaging made of plastic and cardboard, but the set does not include a storage container.

Best Ergonomic

The Best Gel Pens For Coloring Options: Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen

Hand cramping and fatigue can hamper hours of enjoyment with coloring books, craft projects, or journaling. To combat this problem, the barrels of Pentel’s retractable color gel pens feature latex-free grips for writing and drawing comfort. Metal accents provide a professional look, and the barrel colors portray the gel ink colors inside.

Fine tips measuring 0.7 millimeters deliver Pentel’s EnerGel ink evenly to the page. This quick-drying gel ink and fine tip can offer a smooth writing experience. Refillable EnerGel cartridges come in most colors but are not included in this set.

This 12-pack of gel pens offers black, red, blue, green, brown, orange, pink, lime green, violet, navy blue, sky blue, and turquoise color choices. This set does not include a storage case.

FAQs About Gel Pens for Coloring

Gel pens offer a no-mess way to bring vivid life to coloring book pages and other art, DIY, and craft projects. With their resistance to smearing and bleeding as well as their availability in a plethora of eye-catching colors, gel pens spark creativity and deliver dramatic results. When users begin to work with color gel pens, questions about their use and maintenance may come up. Here are the answers to some common questions.

Q. Do gel pens bleed through the paper?

For the most part, gel ink does not bleed through paper as badly as some other inks do. This quality makes gel pens a favorite of coloring book enthusiasts. However, gel pens are not 100 percent guaranteed to not bleed, especially through thin paper.

Q. Do gel pens dry out?

Gel pens dry out, especially if the tips are left exposed for long periods of time. That’s why it is important to replace the caps or retract the writing tips when not using gel pens.