When to Color with Pencil and When to Color with Pen
By Dana Hinders
Once you've selected the perfect adult coloring book, you'll need to decide what to color with. Colored pencils and gel pens are both very popular, but each offers unique properties that can be useful depending upon the effects that you wish to achieve.
5 Factors to Consider Before You Start Your Next Project
Although some colorists prefer to work exclusively in one media, there are good reasons to consider switching back and forth between gel pens and colored pencils.
- Range of Colors
Both colored pencils and gel pens come in a wide range of colors. However, gel pens also offer metallic and glitter options that can be used to add dimension to your work. For this reason, they are often preferred by people who enjoy coloring mandalas and other abstract designs.
Another advantage of gel pens is that they can apply intense colors with a minimal amount of effort. With colored pencils, greater pressure is needed to build up a bold layer of color. This can be difficult to accomplish if you suffer from carpal tunnel or other hand and wrist related issues.
- Blending Colors
Both gel pens and colored pencils can be blended to some extent, but the results you'll achieve will differ.
With colored pencils, you can blend using a colorless blender pencil, Vaseline, or baby oil. This takes practice, but very realistic images can be colored using these techniques.
Gel pens can be subtly blended by overlapping lighter colors with darker colors to create a graduated effect. A small amount of water can also be used with gel pens to create a watercolor like blended effect.
- Ease of Use
If you're trying to cover a large area, colored pencils will likely be easier to use. However, if you are working with fine and very detailed images, gel pens give you precise control without the need for constant sharpening.
Some colorists like to scan an image and enhance their work using image editing software. In this case, gel pens are preferable. The bold strokes of a gel pen are easier for a scanner to detect than the marks of a colored pencil.
- Ability to Correct Mistakes
If you're worried about the accuracy of your coloring, colored pencils are the preferred choice. While you can't erase colored pencils with a standard pencil eraser, it is possible to correct mistakes with a specialized art eraser. In comparison, gel pens require you to be accurate in coloring the first time around.
- Preferred Type of Coloring Books
Although the majority of coloring books on the market are printed single sided, there are still some that are printed as double sided pages. Colored pencils will work better in these types of books. While gel pens won't necessarily bleed through double sided pages, they may create "ghosting" lines on the back side.
There Are No Limits
The best thing about the adult coloring craze is that there are no rules. You can color your favorite images however you choose. Work with gel pens one day, choose colored pencils the next, or combine the two together to create a completely unique look for your next project.
Example photos are colored pages from OrnaMENTALs Feel Good Words To-Go: 50 Portable Feel Good Words to Color and Bring Cheer by Sue Chastain.