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The Best Paint Pens For Arts and Crafts

The Best Paint Pens For Arts and Crafts

The Best Paint Pens

Paint pens integrate the control of a pen with the distinct raised texture of paint and the intensity of markers. Their design makes them intuitive to use so that it’s easy to add a pop of color into your life, whether you’re writing a menu or creating a mural. Read on to learn more about how to choose paint pens and which ones are best for specific applications.

Top Choice
Uni Posca Markers
A variety of Uni Posca Markers are available to bring your projects to life.
Uni Posca Marker - Application
Posca markers create vibrant art that doesn't compromise on detail.

Our, and the rest of the world’s, all-around favorite paint pen is the Uni Posca. First, its ink formula is bold and quick-drying. Posca colors are close to perfectly opaque, with just a hint of translucency that creates depth when layered. They can be blended when wet and come in novel options like subtle glitter or moody dark colors.

After creating a great paint formula, Uni poured it into a dazzling range of tip sizes. These pens come in sizes from extra fine, which are great for adding lines or details in a drawing (though the fine tips can catch on rough surfaces like toothy paper), to ultra-chunky extra broad. Our favorite size for most applications is the medium point, which works fabulously well for anything from laying in color in a drawing to making an eye catching sign. Unique among paint pens, the Posca also offers a brush tip. While the brush tip is wider and less precise than most brush pens, it creates lively and energetic lines.

Posca ink is permanent on paper and fairly durable on nonporous hard surfaces, though it can be scraped or scrubbed off. Use a sealant on anything that will get knocked around if you want to keep it forever.

Our one quibble with these pens: you’ll like them so much you’ll use them up, and they’re not refillable!

Paint Pen Considerations

There are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting a paint pen. Here’s what we thought about as we selected our recommendations.

Paint pen being removed from a bottle
Paint pen inks vary in removability.
Consider whether you want to create something permanent or temporary. Oil-based paint markers are much harder to remove and often marketed as “permanent.” That said, they’re not unremovable, and you often don’t even need to resort to nasty solvents like paint thinner. Coconut oil and mineral oil work well for breaking down oil-based paints. Water-based paint markers are much easier to remove—simply use a damp towel. If you leave the paint on for a few days, rubbing alcohol or a household cleaner will do the trick.
Person smelling a paint pen
A strong odor is common for paint pens.
Keep your work area well-ventilated since most paint markers emanate a strong odor. See the chart below to see which pens emit a strong odor and which emit a fainter scent.
Contrast of opaque and transparent inks
Most paint pens lay down rich, opaque paints.
Most paint pens put down thick, creamy paints that dry matte and opaque. Other paint markers create a subdued, slightly translucent look. For dark surfaces, opaque paints produce the highest color payoff.
Drying Time
Contrast of fast and slow-drying inks
The surface one writes on is the most significant factor in paint pen dry time.
Paint markers dry immediately on porous surfaces like paper but require more drying time on non-porous surfaces like glass. Most paint pens dry within a few minutes, but beginners may fare better with a fast-drying paint pen.
Paint Pen Recommendations

While the same paint pen can serve many functions, some are more suited to particular crafts. We've tested and found the best.

Best Paint Pens for Signs: Uni Posca Markers - Medium
Uni Posca Markers - Medium
Uni Posca Markers - Medium lay down bold lines that can be read from a distance.
Uni Posca Marker - Medium Application
For colorful, readable signs, Poscas do fantastic work.

We’ve already sung the virtues of Poscas, but they truly shine in signage. Do you ever wonder how restaurants and cafes create beautiful signs that emanate a cozy, personable DIY feel? Use the Uni Posca Paint Markers with medium-sized tips to create eye-catching signs for your business or upcoming party. Poscas require a longer drying time, but the paint will appear vibrant and stay on for a long time. On nonporous surfaces, they are removable with water or household cleaning formulas.

Pilot Juice Paint Markers
Pilot Juice Paint Markers have ink that can be easily removed.
Pilot Juice Paint Marker Application
Pilot Juice Paint Markers are well suited to menus that change often.

Pilot Juice Paint Markers deliver vibrant, opaque ink that has a bold and electrifying appearance on both light and dark surfaces. With their wide range of colors, including metallic and pastel options, a sign artist can truly express their vision. Their fast-drying qualities also render them an excellent option for signage. They are not permanent on nonporous surfaces and require minimal effort to remove—perfect for menus that need to be regularly refreshed.

Best Paint Pens for Glass Homegoods: Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers are available in black, white, and metallic tones in addition to soothing pastels.
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Marker Application
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers work on both dark and light glass.

Add a dash of color to the kitchen cabinet or your next house party by labeling glass homegoods with Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers. Great for both dark and light glass, they create a soft, muted finish reminiscent of children’s finger paints. While their color range is limited compared to oil-based Sharpie paint markers, they offer black, white, metallics, and pastels, which should cover the vast majority of labeling needs. Sharpie Water-Based Paint Markers, while water and fade-resistant, come off without too much effort for easy removal.

Molotow Liquid Chrome Markers
Molotow Liquid Chrome Markers lay down almost mirror-like lines.
Molotow Liquid Chrome Marker Application
Molotow Liquid Chrome Markers can add beautiful decoration to nonporous surfaces.

The super-shiny silver ink of the Molotow Liquid Chrome Markers shimmers on glass. It’s great for either decoration on clear surfaces or legible, durable labels on darker glass. It has such impressive water resistance we even recommend it for use in laboratory settings, though it can be removed with rubbing alcohol easily.

The Liquid Chrome needs a little more time than other recommendations to fully dry, and we don’t recommend using it on porous surfaces, as it will soak in and lose some of its gorgeous shine. Tip sizes range from a fine 1.0 mm to chunky 5.0 mm. This pen is not scent-free. Molotow Liquid Chrome Markers can make striking, almost mirror-like effects—try them and see!

Best Paint Pens for Photographs: Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Markers
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Markers
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Markers dry quickly, preventing smudges.
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Marker Application
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Markers add metallic pizzazz to photos.

Lettering and doodles give photographs a personal, intimate feel. The Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Marker’s bold, thick metallic paint is beautiful on glossy photographs. These pens dry extremely quickly so smearing will not occur. The paint is also waterproof and fade-resistant, so you don’t need to worry about your writing disappearing. Keep in mind that these markers are extremely difficult to remove, so test your designs and letters before decorating photographs. We have discovered that dabbing a small amount of coconut oil with a cotton swab onto glossy photographs will remove paint without causing damage.

Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers come in a wide range of colors.
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker Application
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers can coordinate with any photo's color scheme.

Transform photographs with Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers. These pens glide smoothly across photographs and produce vivid colors with a subtle sheen. Their water and fade resistance let you cherish memories forever. These pens require only a bit of prep—simply push the tip into the body, shake, and press the tip onto a surface until it saturates with ink.

We like these pens for their applications beyond photos—their ink is also vivid on fabric! That said, it bleeds through thin cloth like that of t-shirts easily, so put cardboard under any of those projects.

Test Results

We tested our pens for pigmentation, drying time, odor, and how easy they were to remove with water.

Paint PensPigmentationDrying TimeOdorRemovability
Molotow Liquid Chrome MarkersMedium PigmentationMedium Drying TimeMedium OdorDifficult to Remove
Pilot Juice Paint MarkersHigh PigmentationFast Drying TimeLow OdorEasy to Remove
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint MarkersHigh PigmentationFast Drying TimeStrong OdorDifficult to Remove
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint MarkersMedium PigmentationFast Drying TimeMedium OdorDifficult to Remove
Sharpie Water-Based Paint MarkersLow PigmentationFast Drying TimeLow OdorEasy to Remove
Uni Posca MarkersHigh PigmentationMedium Drying TimeLow OdorMedium Effort to Remove

Add a pop of color to your life with paint pens. Let us know which pens are your favorites in the comments below!