4 Gel Pen Techniques to Use in Your Adult Coloring Books
By Dana Hinders
In addition to making your to-do list a little more colorful, gel pens are fabulous tools for adding a personal touch to your favorite adult coloring book pages. You can simply use them to color in solid areas, but experimenting with new techniques can be a fun way to challenge yourself as a colorist.
- Add Texture with Cross Hatching and Stippling
This is a great technique to try if you're a beginner, because there's no real risk involved. If you don't like the look, just color over top of your textured areas like you normally would and nobody will ever know the difference.
Cross hatching means you're making tiny grids with intersecting sets of parallel lines. The closer together the lines are, the darker your colored image will appear. Stippling is just a fancy way of saying you're creating a pattern using lots of tiny dots. Place the dots closer together for darker areas of color and further apart for lighter colors.
The example below uses orange glitter stippling for the inner portion of the flower and red glitter cross hatching for the outer layer.
- Blend Your Gel Pens
Blending gel pens requires a little bit of trial and error, but can result in some interesting effects on otherwise simple patterns. For this technique, you want to use two different brands of gel pens. Pick one with a really "wet" ink, such as the Sakura Gelly Roll Pens. You'll also need one with a "dry" ink, such as the Art-n-Fly gel pens. (If you use two pens with very “wet” ink, you’re likely to end up with lots of smears instead of the pretty blended effect you crave.)
Start with the "wet" color, then color your "dry" pen over top of the edge of the shaded area and into the next section of your design. Repeat as necessary until you've achieved the desired effect.
The example below uses two different shades of Art-n-Fly green gel glitter pens and a dark green Sakura Gelly Roll pen. The result is reminiscent of a tie dye t-shirt, with flecks of glitter if you tilt the paper at a certain angle.
- Paint with Gel Pens
Did you know that you can paint with your gel pens? Start coloring with your darkest gel pen, then blend the area with a wet paintbrush so the color slowly fades away. If you don’t have actual paintbrushes, an extra makeup brush works just fine!
If you're going to try this technique for an entire page, it's best to use a coloring book with thick paper or a free printable printed on cardstock. Otherwise, the water can cause your paper to buckle.
- Combine with Markers
When it comes to adult coloring books, you don't need to limit yourself to just one medium. Combining your gel pens with markers can create some interesting effects.
The example below uses dark Bic Mark-It markers and Art-n-Fly's metallic gel pens in silver, blue, and pink. Selected areas have cross hatching, stippling, or highlighting drawn with the gel pens over the top of the dried marker area. The contrast between the dark markers and the metallic gel pens adds pizzazz to an otherwise simple design.
All example photos were created using pages from Stress Less Coloring: Flower Patterns. This book is part of the Stress Less Coloring series from Adams Media.