Gel pens are like an elevated version of a regular ballpoint pen.
What makes them stand out is that they have noticeably thick and vibrant ink, and they come in many colors.
In other words, there are many possibilities for what you can do with gel pens. Popular use cases include:
- sign papers,
- write letters since it has very bold ink that stands out on paper,
- color adult coloring books,
- drawing and creating doodles,
- sketches, and
- typography for your artworks.
Some gel pens are waterproof, which comes in handy if you want to incorporate them into your paintings.
There are also gel pens that are specially formulated with metallic, pastel, and neon ink that can add an extra kick to your artwork.
If you are like me and have a problem with hoarding pens, but never seem to be able to use them up, then this article is perfect for you! I will be discussing 7 amazing ideas to make use of gel pens.
#1 Color Your Coloring Books
These past years, adult coloring books have gained popularity as an “off-screen activity”. If you own a coloring book, or if you plan to buy one, using your gel pens for coloring is a no-brainer.
The thick ink of the gel pens creates a very noticeable, vibrant look on your coloring paper. It also helps to color small areas with accuracy.
Pro Tip: Keep a light hand when coloring to avoid damaging the paper. The ink will flow out easily even with a light touch.
One thing to note is that the color might come out streaky and you might be having trouble blending colors together due to the nature of its ink. Your best bet is to color solid blocks while using a consistent circular motion while doing so.
Although kids can also use gel pens to color their coloring books, most kids would have difficulty gripping and controlling a gel pen without getting too messy.
#2 Sketch And Doodle
Create interesting sketches and doodles using the varying colors of your gel pens. Doodles are basically anything that comes up in your mind so there’s no limit as to what you can draw.
Maybe you can attempt to sketch a character, an object, or just doodle random patterns, combine them all together, it’s all up to you. It’s a form of self-expression through art that doesn’t have limits
What the gel pens offer is their thick, vibrant ink that comes in numerous colors that will make your sketch and/or doodle “pop”.
You can also create interesting textures using metallic gel pens or use them on black, or brown paper.
#3 Practice Calligraphy
When I first started getting into calligraphy as a kid, the first pen that I used to practice with was a gel pen. I used it to practice the form and structure of the strokes of the letters.
A general rule of thumb in calligraphy is that upward strokes are thinner, and downward strokes are thicker. I would manually make the downward strokes thicker by shading repeatedly until I am contented with its “calligraphy-like look”.
Although it doesn’t really capture the whole calligraphy experience like with calligraphy brushes, it’s a great way to practice and familiarize the structure of typical calligraphy lettering.
#4 Create Typography Design
Typography design is the art of arranging and/or manipulating fonts to showcase a message aesthetically.
Gel pens are perfect for creating typography design because of their thick, vibrant ink and at the same time because of the precision that it offers.
There are numerous gel pen colors that you can use on your design, and you may incorporate them with other mediums as well. Using metallic, pastel, or neon gel pens may also add a unique and quirky touch to your design.
#5 Incorporate Gel Pens Into Your Paintings
There are a lot of gel pens that are waterproof and can be used to draw your lineart for your paintings and add details as well.
A lot of watercolor artists use waterproof gel pens to draw their lineart because it is precise and it doesn’t bleed – even when the paper is loaded with water.
It can also be used to add details and elevate your paintings such as accentuating features, filling in areas that need a very dark black shade, drawing black hair, emphasizing objects, creating patterns, etc.
It’s very important to make sure that you are using a waterproof gel pen because you won’t be able to undo the ink once it bleeds on your paper. There are cheaper gel pens that may not be waterproof, so it’s smart to test your gel pens on a separate piece of paper before using them directly on your painting.
It would be best to use gel pens from trusted brands, but of course, it’s all up to you.
#6 Use A White Gel Pen For Highlighting
Using a white gel pen is a technique used by many watercolor artists to achieve precise and noticeable highlights on their drawings.
A white gel pen is perfect if you want to add small highlighting details such as a small white dot as a reflection on the eyes of your character, highlights on the different parts of the face, or even as a reflection on shiny objects.
You can also add additional details such as patterns, or maybe a stray white hair, etc.
Again, just make sure that you are using a waterproof gel pen so you don’t make a mess of your painting.
Note: some white gel pens differ from others, usually cheaper brands may not show up noticeably on top of paintings and/or illustrations.
You can watch this video by artist Sarah Renae Clark to see which white gel pen is the best for adding highlights:
#7 Write A Handwritten Letter For A Special Someone
Make use of a waterproof gel pen to make your letter timeless. That way, even if the paper gets wet, the ink won’t bleed and it can still be read after the paper has dried.
If you want to add a fun “pop” to your letter, you may even use varying colors such as green, orange, purple, or pink to express your feelings creatively.
You could also write a letter on black paper and use a metallic gel pen to write your piece. Metallic gel pens show up best on black paper and their shimmery finish is really noticeable. It’s like an edgy, unique type of letter that would surely stand out and be memorable 🙂
A handwritten letter is something that is timeless and will never go out of style. Show your appreciation to your friends, families, or your significant other by writing them a letter and using a gel pen to make it even more presentable.
In art, there are no rules and there is no limit to what you can create with gel pens. Feel free to experiment and explore other ways to make use of your gel pens and take advantage of their vibrant, thick, and waterproof ink.