Which paint pens are best?
Paint pens are an essential part of any artist’s toolkit because they dry fast and can be used on nearly any type of surface, from metal and wood to pottery and fabric. These simple tools offer the control of a basic writing pen with the distinct texture and vibrancy of paint.
Paint pens are relatively affordable, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all at the same quality level. If you want a versatile pen that’s recommended by artists all over the world, the Uni Posca 8-Color Paint Marker Set is the top pick.
What to know before you buy paint pens
Different uses for paint pens
The best paint pen for you is going to depend on how you plan to use it. The versatility of these markers means that they’re valued by hobbyists and professional artists alike, but certain pens may be better for different uses.
- Paint pens for glass: If you’re designing window signage for a retail store or restaurant, look for a pen that produces paint that will appear vibrant for a long period of time. Glass paint pens will also perform better when using waterproof ink.
- Paint pens for fabric: For decorating hats, shirts and other garments, look for a highly pigmented pen with permanent ink that can withstand regular washing. Fabric paint pens should also have a somewhat fine tip.
- Paint pens for paper or canvas: Look for a pen with an extra-fine tip and ink that can be easily blended with other colors.
- Paint pens for wood: If you’re creating artwork on wood, look for a paint pen that won’t bleed or be absorbed by wood’s porous surface. A pen that uses oil-based paint and a fine tip is recommended.
- Street art: Paint pens are particularly popular among street artists and muralists. If this is your genre, look for a pen that uses permanent ink and features an extra large tip. A replaceable tip can be helpful, since paint pens are known to get clogged when working on extra large pieces.
Acrylic vs. oil paint pens
As with other styles of painting, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use acrylic or oil-based paint in your pen. Oil-based paint markers are constructed with a metal ball inside the casing. Vigorously shaking the pen will cause the ball to move around and mix the paint. These pens have a strong smell and take a long time to dry, but they’re also capable of producing vibrant and long-lasting art pieces. Acrylic dries quickly and is great for smaller pieces with lots of intricate detail, but acrylic paint may be harder to blend and could fade over time.
What to look for in a quality paint pen
Consider how you plan to use your paint pen, and make sure that the set you choose comes with all of the necessary colors. Some paint pen sets may have a focus on pastel hues, while others may have a neon, matte or metallic range of colors.
You can find sets that include four pens or 40, with the cost per pen increasing alongside the quantity. Keep in mind that a large quantity of pens is only recommended if you plan to use them all regularly. Infrequent use of a paint pen could lead to the nib drying out, particularly if you store your pens vertically.
Some paint pens come with replaceable nibs, which can be particularly useful if you like to experiment with various sizes and tip shapes.
How much you can expect to spend on paint pens
The cost of a paint pen set can vary depending on the quantity you wish to purchase. Most artists can expect to spend around $10-$30 for a set of at least six pens.
Paint pen FAQ
What are some other uses for paint pens?
A. Paint pens can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including glass, wood, rock and plastic. Many people use paint pens on automobiles and glass dishes, or they’ll use the markers to create their own T-shirt designs.
How should I store my paint pens?
A. To preserve the ink and prevent drying out, store your paint pens horizontally in a dry, cool environment.
What are the best paint pens to buy?
Top paint pen
What you need to know: Iconic and highly favored by street artists and muralists, this paint pen set comes with eight essential hues.
What you’ll love: Posca paint pens are famous for their versatility, vibrancy and durability. These acrylic pens produce ink that dries very quickly on nearly every surface imaginable. They’re also easy enough for beginners and professional artists alike.
What you should consider: Artists who like to blend lots of different colors may want to go with a different pen.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top paint pen for the money
What you need to know: This huge set is a budget-friendly way to get started using paint pens.
What you’ll love: The tips are sturdy and fine, making them perfectly suited for smaller art projects with lots of detail. The paint flows easily and is entirely odorless and waterproof. Fluorescent and metallic colors are also included with the set.
What you should consider: A few users were surprised to receive pens that were partially empty.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you prefer oil-based paint pens, this colorful five-pack is a good deal.
What you’ll love: Backed by Sharpie’s stellar reputation, these oil-based paint pens come in unique, vibrant colors like lime green and aqua blue. The medium-sized tip is suitable for most art projects, and oil-based ink is naturally better for blending colors.
What you should consider: These oil-based paint pens have a strong smell.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.