The Best Gel Pens for Coloring and Journaling

Jul 21, 2021 | 15 comments

Looking for the best gel pens for coloring your adult coloring books? Or perhaps for beautifying your journals? We curated this list just for you!

Coloring and journaling are hobbies that have risen to popularity the past few years and aside from it being a fun activity, it helps relieves stress and practices one’s mindfulness.

Filling adult coloring books is a great way to release your inner creativity, even if you are not very much artistically inclined. Coloring brings out the creative side of your brain by experimenting with different color schemes.

There are different mediums like colored pencils and markers made for coloring books, but while they are the most commonly used, there are other tools you can use, like gel pens!

Here we explore more about gel pens and we listed the ten (10) best gel pens for coloring (and journaling, too!). Spoiler: Sakura Gelly Roll Pens topped our list!

(Some links are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you.)

Table of Contents

What to Look For When Choosing Gel Pens

Colored Pencils vs Gel Pens: What is Better?

How to use gel pens for coloring

The Best Gel Pens for Coloring

  1. Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens
  2. Aen Art Gel Pens
  3. Papermate InkJoy Gel Pens
  4. ColorIt Gel Pens
  5. Tanmit Gel Pens
  6. Shuttle Art Gel Pens
  7. Fiskar Gel Pens
  8. Chromatek Glitter Gel Pens
  9. Crayola Signature Detailing
  10. Reaeon Gel Pens


What to Look For When Choosing Gel Pens


Gel pens have a large variety of colors that will keep your creative juice flowing. Gel pens come in vibrant hues and subtle color variations that will give you dramatic results.

If you only need classic colors, a simple set with the standard colors is perfect for you. for those who like to experiment and be adventurous with their art, there are gel pen sets with neon/glitter/pastel/metallic colors. They also come in unique colors so your options are wide.

Also, just remember to choose your colors carefully. Some gel pens, like pastel gel pens, work better on darker paper, and some gel pens perform great on light paper.

gel pens for coloring books

Number of Gel Pens

There are gel pen sets that come in a pack of 100 pieces so you’ll have a variety of colors in your collection. If you are fond of journaling, scrapbooking, or coloring books, you’ll be more than satisfied with these sets.


One thing you need to avoid when you’re looking to purchase a gel pen set is the brands with a reputation for bleeding through the other side of the paper as well as smearing. Gel pens like these will end in messy artwork and will make the result illegible.

Look for gel pens that are fast-drying to avoid smears and that don’t bleed through the paper.

Ink Flow

Gel pens can be a bit more expensive than other types of pens, so it’s important to look for brands that are of good quality. Look for gel pens that write smoothly and do not get clogged up easily. You don’t want to just throw away a still full pen just because it’s not writing anymore.

Tip Size

It would be great to have gel pens of different tip sizes for different uses.

If you want to use your gel pens for coloring broad areas, you’ll want to have wide-tipped pens to cover the area quickly. If your gel pens are for journaling or scrapbooking, you’ll want to have fine-tip pens.


There are brands that sell refills for their gel pens. This is going to be very helpful so that you can work on your project without having the problem of your drawing tools running out of ink.

Look for gel pen sets that include refills to get more of your money’s worth.

Standard vs. Retractable Tips

Basically, gel pens come in two designs: retractable tips or removable caps for covering the tips. Both designs function to keep the air away from the tip when it’s not in use to protect it from drying out. Ultimately, choosing what to get will depend on your preference whether you like the retractable ones or prefer the basic removable cap design.


Large sets mostly come with a convenient case so that your pens are well-organized and the colors are easy to find. Look for sets that come in a sturdy plastic container with compartments that can accommodate your pens in a group.

You can also choose a zippered box to keep your pets safe and protected. This container will be highly portable and can be great for traveling.


Many gel pens have comfortable soft or rubberized cushions on the barrel to make gripping them more comfortable when you’re going to hold them for a long period of time. This feature provides an ergonomic grip, effortless writing, and reduced stress on the hand.

Environmentally Friendly

If you want to get environmentally friendly gel pens, get the set labeled with acid-free and non-toxic ink. This will ensure that the medium you are using is safe and can be used by kids as well.


The price will vary depending on the size of the gel pen set you are planning to get. Are you getting a standard set with only the basic colors or do you plan to get the large set with a wide array of colors? If you have a set budget, you can always expand your gel pen collection over time. 

Colored Pencils vs Gel Pens: What is Better?

You may ask what’s better for coloring between gel pens and colored pencils.

This may be quite subjective.

adult coloring books

Colored pencils are more commonly used by both kids and adults because they can use used for shading and layering colors. They are extremely versatile to use and are erasable when you make mistakes, but the leads can be easily breakable when too much pressure is exerted.

On the other hand, gel pens are just as accessible but just not as commonly used as colored pencils. The gel pens can’t be erased, but they do give off solid colors after the ink dries.

These two mediums are very different and the choice will ultimately depend on your preference and art style, but you can always use them both to make your artwork more unique.

How to use gel pens for coloring

When coloring, gel pens may not be your first choice, but if you want to elevate your creations, using gel pens for coloring is a delightful experience!

Here are a few ways to use gel pens for coloring:

  • An alternative for markers. Use gel pens instead of markers to color an entire page of your adult coloring book and you’ll be surprised at the result!
  • For highlights on top of a colored pencil or marker. Gel pens can add more details to your artwork.
  • Use gel pens for accents on your coloring pages.
  • Gel pens are great for adding texture and depth to designs.
  • You can also use gel pens for smearing and blending colors.
  • For finer details, you can use gel pens. Especially when working with mandalas. Gel pens are great for details and intricate designs.

The Best Gel Pens for Coloring

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens

The Sakura Gelly Roll Pens are probably one of the most popular and the best gel pens for coloring available in the market. These gel pens come in many different types including Classic, Metallic, Moonlight, Stardust, and metallic outlining pens in Gold and Silver.

They are vibrant and glide smoothly on paper. This easy-glide feature is the reason why gel pens are more relaxing to use than colored pencils. And you can even use them on black paper! For that extra pop, you can apply two layers on top of each other. These gel pens also come in a variety of tip sizes from 0.3 to 0.7mm.

The Sakura Gelly Roll Pens are highly popular because of their superior quality although their price point is a bit higher than other brands.

The Gelly Roll Pens come in different packs and we recommend you to get the 74-piece set. It comes with a reusable plastic case and the following:

  • 14 pieces in Metallic (0.4 mm);
  • 17 pieces in Classic (0.3 and 0.4 mm);
  • 20 pieces in Moonlight (0.3 and 0.4 mm);
  • 13 pieces in Stardust (0.5 mm);
  • 10 pieces in Shadow (0.7 mm).

What We Like:

  • Comes with a sturdy case convenient for organizing the pens
  • Have different tip sizes
  • High-quality ink
  • A wide array of colors
  • Has a color chart on the backside of the label

What We Dislike:

  • The tips get a little gummy with continuous use
  • On the expensive side

Aen Art Gel Pens

The Aen Art gel pens collection comes in a hundred glittered colors and is designed with larger ink cartridges that hold 30% more liquid than ordinary gel pens. This means you have 30% more ink to enjoy your adult coloring books, journaling, crafting, and scrapbooking projects.

The gel pens have water-based and acid-free gel ink that won’t bleed through paper. Tip size is 0.8-1.0mm that delivers precise and smooth color application for your various art projects. The pens also have ergonomic rubber grips for comfortable writing and coloring for long periods of time.

The set comes in a plastic travel case making it possible for you to bring these pens with you every day. The variations of pens come in separate plastic cases which is heaven for those who love to organize their art materials.

What We Like:

  • A wide array of rich colors
  • The organize packaging
  • The soft-grip barrel
  • The extra amount of ink
  • Fine tips for detailed drawings

What We Dislike:

  • No refills available
  • No pastel colors in the set

Papermate InkJoy Gel Pens

With a quick-drying ink and comfortable ergonomic grip, the Papermate Inkjoy gel pens are perfect for coloring to relieve stress. The pens glide smoothly on paper and are well-balanced.

Papermate Inkjoy gel pens dry three times faster than other gel pens and therefore reduce smearing.

The set comes in 14 colors and the pens have 0.7mm retractable tips. While the color range is limited, it is a perfect set for beginners.

While these pens are designed more for writing, you can still use them for coloring.

What We Like:

  • Quality over quantity
  • Fast-drying ink
  • The special comfort-grip
  • Retractable grip (no more missing caps!)
  • Smooth ink application

What We Dislike:

  • The color variety is limited
  • Ink is very fluid and easily spreads on paper

ColorIt Gel Pens

If you are looking for gel pens for your adult coloring books, this might be what you are looking for.

This set has 48 colors (12 metallic, 12 neon, and 24 glitter) and refills are included. It also comes in a cute sparkly travel case! The pens are named and color-coded so refilling them will be a breeze.

The ColorIt gel pens have a transparent barrel to check the ink level easily and have a rubberized grip for effortless writing and coloring. The ink dries quickly and they are bleed-proof on regular paper. The gel pen ink is water-based, acid-free, and non-toxic.

The tip size is 1.0mm so color application is smooth and easy, perfect for coloring.

What We Like:

  • Made for adults so the pens last longer
  • Quick-dry ink
  • Ink refills are included in the set
  • Beautiful and bright shades
  • Compact case for storage
  • Affordable price

What We Dislike:

  • The ink is a little watery

Tanmit Gel Pens

Tanmit is one of the best gel pens for coloring as they offer a wide variety of shades including pastel, metallic, neon, rainbow hues, glitter, and more.

There are 3 different tip sizes you can choose from: 0.6mm, 0.8mm, and 1.0mm. The larger tip size is best for coloring and the finer ones are for detailing and writing.

The set comes in a transparent folding case with compartments holding 240 pieces: 120 pens and 120 refills.

The gel pen ink is of superb quality so there is no skipping or fading.

What We Like:

  • The great color selection
  • Ink refills are included
  • The storage case is durable and convenient
  • Ink is ling-lasting
  • Comes in different tip sizes
  • Smooth and easy application
  • Cheap price

What We Dislike:

  • The refills are not labeled so it may be difficult to match the pen colors
  • The caps are tight and hard to open

Shuttle Art Gel Pens

With a broad array of color choices, this Shuttle Art gel pen set will be a great addition to your art materials. This set includes different types of pens like pastel, glitter, neon, swirl, and metallic. You will never get bored with this assortment!

What’s even greater is each gel pen comes with a refill ink tube so these will last you a long time.

The pens come in 0.8mm-1.0mm tip sizes with high-quality ink that delivers precise, smooth, and consistent application for optimal drawing, coloring, and journaling experiences.

The grip is triangular and is comfortable to use. Your hands won’t hurt even when coloring for long periods of time.

Shuttle Art gel pens have a “magic” shade that looks black on the outside but changes color when applied on paper. Surprising and fun to use!

What We Like:

  • Amazing variety of colors without duplicates!
  • Has unique inks like neon and swirl
  • Tips are durable
  • Comes in a sturdy, practical case
  • Reasonable Price
  • The “magic” shade

What We Dislike:

  • Some caps are loose
  • Some of the inks become duller on paper

Fiskar Gel Pens

With 48 different colors included in the set, this Fiskar Gel Pen Set has enough shades for coloring and drawing landscapes and fashion figures.

It comes at a cheap economic price that gives you glitter, neon, swirl, and metallic color variations, as well as two black inks. The set is housed in a plastic storage box that makes it easy to organize and store the gel pens.

The gel pen ink is non-toxic, acid-free, and free-flowing which provides a smooth application. Tip sizes range from 0.8mm to 1.0mm which is great for both coloring and journaling.

What We Like:

  • Great variety for a medium-sized gel pen set
  • Rich and bright hues
  • Great on both light and dark paper
  • Affordable price

What We Dislike:

  • The lighter shades of pastel and swirl skip out sometimes
  • Does not come with ink refills

Chromatek Glitter Gel Pens

This gel pen set is of superb quality but does not break the bank. The biggest set comes in 100 pieces, 50 pens of rich colors, and 50 refills to make them last longer!

With their rich hues and smooth ink flow, the Chromatek Glitter gel pens are absolutely one of the best gel pens for coloring. Coloring using these gel pens is enjoyable because of the ergonomic rubber grip that will give your hands comfort even with long periods of gripping them.

The pens have a tip size of 1.0mm and have clear plastic barrels to easily monitor the gel ink.

The gel ink follows safety standards and is acid-free and non-toxic.

What We Like:

  • High-quality gel pens at a reasonable price
  • Beautiful and vivid colors
  • Smooth application
  • Also comes in a 60-piece set (30 gel pens with 30 ink refills)

What We Dislike:

  • Ink runs out quickly
  • Some pens skip
  • Some colors don’t show up on darker pages

Crayola Signature Detailing

If you are looking for gel pens that are great for color detailing and texture, this budget brand is for you.

The set includes 20 pens in glitter and metallic hues and comes in a tin storage case.

The pens have a smooth application and appear nice on light or dark paper. They have a black barrel with a rubberized grip for comfort and colored caps to help you identify the pen’s color.

The gel pen ink is safe and non-toxic and follows safety standards.

What We Like:

  • Comes in a pretty tin box that can be a perfect gift
  • Colors are bright and saturated
  • Smooth application and does not bleed through the pages
  • Has fine tips for precision and detailed works

What We Dislike:

  • The glitter inks lack sparkle
  • Caps are too tight
  • Some pens leave ink skips

Reaeon Gel Pens

Here’s another set with a hundred pieces!

Reaeon Gel Pens have neons, metallic, glitter, pastels, and classic colors, and the set comes with ink refills! These gel pens will last long so you will enjoy more coloring, journaling, and scrapbooking.

The tip sizes range from 0.8mm to 1.0mm and the ink is free-flowing and applies smoothly on paper. The ink is non-toxic, acid-free, and has minimum bleeding on paper.

The set comes in a plastic case and is easy to organize and store.

What We Like:

  • Great color collection
  • Comes with ink refills
  • The perfect tip size for coloring
  • Free-flowing ink that applies smoothly on paper
  • Great customer service
  • Affordable price

What We Dislike:

  • Not great for detailed coloring
  • Some pens needed “scratching” first to get them started


Are gel pens great for coloring?

Gel pens are like ballpoint pens although they do have more advantages. They have fine tips for detailed coloring. They also contain highly pigmented ink for bright and saturated colors when dry. Gel pens have a smooth application and are easy to apply to the paper. And lastly, they come in a variety of colors and special effects. So I’d say yes, gel pens are great for coloring.

Do gel pens bleed through the paper?

Most gel pens do not bleed through regular paper compared to other inks. This is why gel pens make a great medium to use for coloring books. Although some brands do bleed through especially when the paper is thin.

Do gel pens dry out?

Yes, they do, especially when you leave the pen tips exposed for a long period of time. Always replace the caps or retract the tips when you’re not using the gel pends to avoid them drying out.


We hope that this post has helped you out in picking your next favorite coloring tool.

Although there’s no doubt that colored pencils and colored markers are the most popular tools for coloring books, gel pens have earned their place among colorists because of their versatility and remarkable characteristics.

Brands like Sakura, Aen, and Papermate have superb quality with their gel pens, and are personally some of our favorites! 

As always, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your art journey!

Visit our blog for more reads like this!

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