Should You Use Colored Pencils or Gel Pens for Adult Coloring Books?

Reaeon 200 Gel Pens Coloring Set 100 Gel Pen plus Refills for Adults Coloring BooksReaeon 200 Gel Pens Coloring Set 100 Gel Pen plus Refills for Adults Coloring Books

Are colored pencils or gel pens best for adult coloring books?

Do you love chilling out with coloring pages or books? While there are certainly no hard-and-fast rules to making use of what is an enjoyable stress-relieving pastime, many people think colored pencils or gel pens are the preferred choice for adult coloring books while some prefer one over the other.

Adult coloring books have been called “the best and cheapest form of therapy” for good reason. Whether you’re a collector or a part-time enthusiast you may be wondering about your choice of instruments.

I’ll tell you in this article how and why they are both great choices!


Comparing pencils and pens for adult coloring books

Colored pencils let you fill in many detailed areas easily and smoothly. In my experimentation I’ve been partial to colored pencils because I can get very natural colors. Gel pens come in great color assortments, including metallics, pastels, and neons. The set I own has 60 of these beauties – and a few that even change color to boot!

pencils and pens for adult coloring books

Here is a rundown of how the 2 stack up with consistent use:

  • You don’t have the potential of bleed through happening with pencils since they are not ink-based, which is also the reason they don’t smear or smudge.Because pens are ink-based there is always a concern about that pesky seep-through.
  • You might need to periodically sharpen your pencils when they get dull, but that’s about it; no concern that they will dry out.
  • There are a fair amount of colors that pencils come in; but gel pens do as well, if not more, as well as more unique color styles like metallic gold or silver.
  • With pencils you can fill in larger areas with color; with pens this is more challenging since pens are thought of as an instrument for writing and thin lines; however there are unique ways to expand upon this with pens.

colored pencils or gel pens for adult coloring booksCan you “color” with gel pens as well as you can with pencils?

It’s a little different approach. I wouldn’t say “color with” as much as I would “create with” 🙂 Gel pens have a “roller ball” tip so they will glide like silk once you get that ball rollin’ (using your test sheet)

Don’t limit them to just “color blocking” or filling in spaces. For me, anyway, that can get monotonous. I save that for the teeny-tiny details. You can employ some special techniques and have more fun!

Good techniques include cross-hatching, pointillist “dots” or come up with your own unique pattern instead (e.g., stars, spirals)

With anything ink or pigment based, yes, there’s always that risk of smearing. You want to color from the top and work your way down, and work from the left to the right if you are right handed, or vice versa for lefties  which will offset the chance of smudging.

Gel pen ink does dry quickly, but like all ball point pens, they always find a way to smudge, bummer 😛

I made a video to give you an idea of how these techniques work...You just might surprise yourself next time you’ve got a coloring page or book in hand when you try them!


Pencils or pens for adult coloring books? You decide!

Well as they used to say in the early 2000s, “It’s all good” True that!

Gel pen seep through is minimal at best if you use some of the techniques I describe above and in the video. Also with lighter colors it might not be noticeable at all on the other side. Solid color fills produce a heavier ink flow.


Shuttle Art 120 Unique Colors Gel Pen Set for Adult Coloring BooksShuttle Art 120 Unique Colors Gel Pen Set for Adult Coloring BooksGlitter Gel Pen by Aen Art, Set of 100 Unique Colors Glitter PensGlitter Gel Pen by Aen Art, Set of 100 Unique Colors Glitter PensUS Art Supply 50 Piece Adult Coloring Book Colored Pencil SetUS Art Supply 50 Piece Adult Coloring Book Colored Pencil SetPrismacolor 3599TN Premier Colored Pencils, Soft Core, 72-CountPrismacolor 3599TN Premier Colored Pencils, Soft Core, 72-Count


Colored pencils will allow for filling in larger detail areas and you can also combine shades and color tones to see what cool effect you can come up with!

So, bottom line: Why not try each (or combine them) and have the best of both worlds? After all the point is to relax and enjoy yourself, and maybe have a finished picture to hang up somewhere too!

About Jennifer

Hi all, I'm just a humble arts and crafts blogger who also enjoys aquariums, goofball comedies, and sushi. In addition to art I am also owned by 3 pampered cats.

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