Which Gel Pens should I use?
There are countless different Gel Pen brands out there. Gel pens are similar in design to a Roller Ball pen with a small rolling metal ball encased in a metal nib that allows ink to flow through the space between the metal ball and the metal nib. The key difference between gel pens and ball point or roller ball pens is the thicker gel ink.
Most gel pens fall into an affordable category although there are some that are more expensive.
Different gel pen brands can have differences in:
- the quality of glitter,
- amount of ink in the barrel,
- nib size,
- range of ink styles,
- how smoothly the ink flows,
- the style and shape of the pen barrel.
All these things can affect how the gel pens color. While gel inks generally flow smoothly, some gel pens will have problems such as skipping or feeling scratchy when used. So, how do you choose which gel pens are right for you?
What exactly are Gel Pens?
Gel Pens are pens that use a water-based gel containing various pigments. The ink is slightly thicker, usually flows more smoothly and is wetter than the typical ink used in a ball point pen. In addition to the pigments some gel inks contain glitters of various sizes to add sparkly or metallic effects to the ink. Gel pens come in a wide variety of vibrant colours and ink styles and so have become quite popular amongst the adult coloring community. The variety of Gel Pens available now is huge. Due to the ink styles available, Gel Pens can add a range of different effects to your adult coloring pictures. There are broadly six different styles of gel pen inks: classic, glitter, metallic, neon, pastel, swirl.
- Classic style inks are close to the colours you will find in everyday writing ball point pens, often red, blue, black and green inks with no particular special effects
- Glitter style inks contain tiny particles of shiny materials eg glass, aluminium, bronze, copper, zinc in the gel and have a fine gritty texture that sparkles or glitters in the light
- Metallic style inks contain ultra finely ground particles of shiny materials eg glass, aluminium, bronze, copper, zinc glitter, much smaller than those found in glitter style inks. This finely ground material adds a shiny smooth appearance to the ink that makes the ink look like a smooth shiny metal.
- Neon style inks contain fluorescent pigments and some will shine in the dark under UV lights
- Pastel style inks have a more muted pastel color and have a “milky” or “chalky” look
- Swirl style inks are similar to pastel inks but they contain multiple colors in the one pen. This means that when drawing or coloring with these pens you can often see multiple colors of ink or a mixed effect of more than one ink color on the paper.
Information by Gel Pen Brand
We have provided reviews by gel pen brand. On each of the brand pages you’ll find:
- Comments about my experience using the gel pens;
- Any recommendations I have for particular uses;
- A color chart;
- A link to other adult coloring pictures I’ve done using ONLY those gel pens (where available).
Compare different gel pens
To give you a good comparison, the same test picture has been used for all brands. The picture is a simple one but does have some small details in it so the gel pens can be tested for how well they can be used to color in tight spaces. The following colors have been used in each of the pictures: yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, light blue, dark blue, light green and dark green. These colors have been selected as most of the basic gel pen packs for these brands have similar colors.
A comparison table of many different gel pen brands is available free to subscribers. The comparison table is based on my experience with that gel pen brand. A number of the most popular brands have been included in the table. If you click on each brand name you’ll also see a review of that particular gel pen brand.
Criteria for Comparison
The criteria used for comparing gel pens are:
- Barrel Shape
- Comfort Grip on Barrel
- Color Identified on the barrel or lid
- Color on barrel / lid accurately shows actual ink color
- Ink flow (Smooth, Skips, Scratchy)
- Brand includes Classic Gels
- Brand includes Metallic Gels
- Brand includes Glitter Gels
- Brand includes Neon Gels
- Brand includes Pastel Gels
- Brand includes Swirl Gels
- Pen Nib Width
- Range of colors
- Unique or Duplicate colors included in set
- Pen set sizes
- Open Stock available (able to purchase individual pens)
- Country of Origin
- Country Manufactured (Made in)
- Price Guide (eg $, $$, $$$, $$$$)