When I posted my most recently finished double spread from Hanna Karlzon’s Själsfränder on Instagram, I received several comments and messages about how I covered the black outlines with those light colors I used for the blossoms. Actually, ist quite easy – but be careful, it can end up in being a lot of work… 🙂 The key to this is using a white marker or gel pen beforehand – and I thought I’d show you which supplies I use or have used for that and which work best for me. So here’s my little comparison!
– uni-ball signo broad, white
– uni Posca, PC-1M, white
– Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen with bullet nib, 1,5 mm, white
– Paper Poetry Gel Pen, white, 0,8 mm
I’m testing the pens in “Enchanted Forest” by Johanna Basford. For coloring over the lines, I used Earth Green Yellowish 168 (Faber-Castell Polychromos) and Cobalt Turquoise 105 (Prismacolor).
You can enlarge all the photos in this post by clicking on them.
uni-ball signo, broad, White
You can get this one in most stationery stores, which is where I bought it as well. The brand is Mitsubishi pencils (they also make the Posca pens, see below). It’s a white gel pen (on the pen it says “permanent ink”), but, and I can say this in advance, it’s my least favourite from those four pens.
I made short little strokes, but as you can see, the ink flow was quite bad. The pen gave me a scratchy feeling on the paper and the ink was quite doughy (when I lifted the tip off the paper, it was stringy like cheese!). I don’t use it too often, and this might be a problem as well, but I haven’t gotten this pen for longer than maybe one and a half years, and I don’t think it should be that way after this short time. Aside from that, I find it hard to go over the same area twice, which is why I usually don’t do that.
The good thing is: the ink is very opaque and IF it covers the lines (and doesn’t scratch it all off), it does its job quite well.
Unfortunately, this is what happens when coloring over the lines. It requires a really light hand when used under Prismacolor pencils (blue) and I found it nearly impossible to work with Polychromos (green). If you keep in mind that the Prismas are really one of the softest pencils you can find, then the result is quite bad. The Polychromos are way harder than them, and even if I tried to be very careful, most of the ink was scratched off the paper.
I really don’t like working with this one. I do know that many colorists on Instagram recommend it, because they are somehow able to work with it, but I’m not and therefore I don’t recommend it.
uni Posca, PC-1M, bullet shaped nib 0,7mm
Posca pens are famous for their great opacity – that’s because it’s acrylic paint in form of a pen. Isn’t that fabulous? I think it is! You can even paint on rocks with them and in case you damage the nib while doing this, you can buy replacement nibs individually. Posca pens come in 21 colors and seven differently shaped nibs, and – most important! – because it’s acrylic paint, they do not bleed through paper. That means that you can do a whole background with them (e.g. a black one) without finding stains on the back or the next page of your book.
If you’re one of my german readers, you can buy Posca pens at art supply stores such as Boesner or Gerstaecker. I don’t know any art supply stores outside of Germany, but Poscas are quite popular, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find some. And if you can’t find it at your local store, there’s always Amazon.. 🙂
Of all the pens I’m gonna show you here, the Posca pen is definitely my favourite. Not only does it provide the best coverage of all, has the best ink flow and is very easy to work with: It sticks to the paper and doesn’t scrub off when used under pencils – but here you can see how it changes the color of the pencil. This especially occurs when using Polychromos.
It’s also not too easy to color over the acrylic paint because of its slippery texture. And if your paper is not really white (as it is in my copy of Enchanted Forest; it’s a bit more yellowish in that), your outlines will be quite visible, because Posca is whiter than white.. 🙂
Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, 1,5mm bullet nib, white
I bought this one via Amazon after one of my followers recommended it on Instagram. Of those four pens, the FC is the most easy to work with, but also the least opaque.
On the pen it says “india ink”, which should be waterproof. This might be important if you’re using Derwent Inktense, Caran d’Ache Neocolor II or other kinds of watercolors on your page.
This is what I meant by “least opacity”. I can barely spot the difference between the covered and the uncovered black lines after one layer of ink (left). I did a second layer in the right picture, but I think you will need about three layers to gain some opacity. However, you’ll never get the same results as you do with a gel pen or acrylic paint. But there might be some occasions where you’ll need exactly that kind of outcome. 🙂
When it comes to usability, the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen is definitely the winner of this comparison! As you can see in the picture above, it sticks to the paper and isn’t scratched off when you color over it. I even think that with some darker color (like Cobalt Turquoise in this example) it really looks fabulous, because it automatically gives the edges more depth. It also doesn’t change the color of your pencil compared to the outcome on the paper. So if you can deal with some not so opaque ink and only want your outlines to be a bit less visible (or if you’re willing to do some more layers), this is definitely YOUR pen!
Paper Poetry Gel Pen, white, 0,8 mm
I bought this pen at a german art supply store called idee:Creativmarkt – my german readers might be familiar with it. The brand is called Rico Design and seems to be a german one as well. It’s a classical gel pen and it comes in a variety of colors, anyway I only bought a white one.
Unfortunately the outcome is similar to the first pen in this comparison. The ink is a bit thinner than the uni-ball’s, making it flow better, but you’ll need to do short strokes anyway.
Using it with Prismacolors was quite okay, but again, the Polychromos pencil is scratching the ink off the paper. Not as much as it did with the uni-ball Signo’s ink, but still: it doesn’t really stick. I use this pen especially when I’ve finished my coloring and need a result between Posca (very opaque) and FC Pitt Artist (not so opaque) and when the paper I’m using is very white. For me, it works great for this purpose, but not for covering the lines in the first place.
I hope that helped you decide which pen might be for you!
But in the end, I think you still have to try it out yourself – because everyone has a slightly different technique of coloring which makes one or another pen more or less suitable for your needs. And it also depends on the paper! I mostly color in Hanna Karlzon’s books, where I almost only use Posca, because I feel that this works best with that kind of paper. For this test I used my UK version of Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford and I had the feeling that the FC Pitt Artist worked better than I had expected before starting.
Anyway, I think it’s a good reason to head over to your local art supply store, gather some white pens and even show me something new? 🙂
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