Best Watercolor Pens

As any artist knows, you can create some truly stunning work by using watercolor.

The only problem is that sometimes a paint brush just isn’t that convenient. A watercolor pen can be incredibly helpful for creating high quality work when you haven’t quite mastered your brush strokes yet.

They’re also a great place to start if you are looking to dabble with watercolor. 

best watercolor pens

There are a lot of stunning watercolor pen kits on the market from a range of different brands. You truly are spoiled for choice!

If you are struggling to decide what option will be the best for you, you’re in luck.

Read on for our list of the best watercolor pens out there. We’ve also compiled a nifty buyer’s guide to help you to make your decision.

OUR TOP PICK

If you are looking for a high quality watercolor pen for calligraphy or doing artistic lettering, it is certainly worth your time to consider the Tombow Dual Brush Pen.

This is certainly one of the most popular options out there, and they actually work well for other things such as some relaxing coloring with an adult coloring book.

This particular set comes with 9 fantastically bright shades in total and it also comes with a colorless blender. This isn’t a wide range of colors, but it is certainly sufficient if you want to blend the colors yourself.

The pens are fairly long, ideal for larger hands and more precision. What really stands out is that the pens come with two nibs in total - a felt brush and a fine point nib.

It doesn’t matter what end of the pen you used last either - the caps for the pen will slot into each other when you are using the pen. This can make it so that you are less likely to lose the caps.

The pen is pretty impressive as a whole when it comes to performance too. It features vibrant colors, whether you dilute them with water or not.

It is certainly much better for things like calligraphy due to the slightly rigid tip, but this also means that it’s easy to control. This versatile pen is a great addition to any artist’s tool box.

Pros

  • Vibrant colors
  • Dual nibs
  • High performance

Cons

  • Tip is somewhat rigid - may not be good for all art styles

EDITORS CHOICE

For great value for money, you can’t go wrong with the Colorit Watercolor Brush Pens.

The set is ideal if you want to paint or draw on the go as it comes with a handy travel case that is padded to protect the pens. This is not all there is to love, however.

The set comes with 24 different colors in total that are very unique and colorful. There’s plenty of variety for all sorts of painting styles, from luscious greens to striking pink.

The pen feels fairly lightweight when you hold it, and you can easily see the color name just by checking the barrel. One of the coolest things though is that these pens are actually totally refillable.

All you have to do is twist the bottom of the pen and put the refillable ink cartridges in. This is also great for the environment as there’s less trash to dispose of and you can enjoy the pens for much longer.

The pens are also really fun to use, and they feel good as you are holding them in your hand. They don’t run when you use them either, so you can create gorgeous art without any fears.

The ink glides effortlessly across the paper, and gets stunning results. The only downside in our eyes is that while 24 colors may be ample for some, for others that aren’t too fond of blending it may feel a little bit limited.

Pros

  • Refillable
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fun to use

Cons

  • Somewhat limited color options

BEST VALUE

These popular watercolor pens are ideal for creating stunning work on the go. It comes with a range of different colors, from earthy greens to understated neutrals. They are very easy and enjoyable to use too!

The pens are a little bit shorter than what you may expect from a watercolor pen, but this is actually a good thing.

The pens are pretty soft, which makes them a little more difficult to use for things like calligraphy but if you want a pen that feels like a real brush this is certainly a good choice. It may take a little time to get used to if you’re used to firmer tip pens.

These pens are perfect for when you need to build up a couple of layers, and they blend really well after you’ve put them into a little water.

The biggest issue is that they do take a while to get to grips with, as you will need to use them in a certain way to yield the best results.

They are a great choice if you want drawings and paintings with more definition though.

Pros

  • Range of colors
  • Soft brush style
  • Good blendability

Cons

  • They can be a little tricky to use at first

RUNNER UP

If you want watercolor brush pens that are perfect for getting the optimal control that you need to make professional looking artwork, it is certainly worth your time to consider the Ooku Watercolor Brush Pens.

These pens are great for versatility!

The pens are more akin to paintbrushes but with the versatility of a watercolor pen. They generally have a soft tip made out of nylon, and you can even use them with other materials such as markers, crayons and pencils.

The pen is durable and will last a long time. You can use them to make fine, medium and bold strokes, and this makes them ideal for a range of different kinds of painting.

The pens are very easy to use, and all you need to do is add ink or water. They’re also leak proof! It is worth remembering though that the colors aren’t always the best for blending colors.

Pros 

  • Leak proof
  • Soft tip
  • Durable

Cons

  • The colors aren’t the best for blending 

RUNNER UP

If you’re looking for watercolor pens with outstanding vibrancy, look no further than the Arteza Real Brush Pens. Coming with a wide selection of colors, these pens are ideal if you aren’t a fan of blending.

The pens are ideal if you like the feel of real brushes, and this is all down to the soft tip of the pen. This tip is made out of nylon brush hairs and this helps to make it exceptionally durable.

It’s perfect for creating minute details in your work.

The pens are incredibly simple to use, and easy to control. Many customers are not fond of the storage case, however.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Lots of bright colors available
  • Soft tip

Cons

  • Storage case isn’t the best

Best Watercolor Pens Buying Guide

Why Should You Buy A Set of Watercolor Pens?

There are a range of reasons why it is worth buying a set of watercolor pens. To start with, they are incredibly versatile. You can use them for all sorts of things, such as painting, drawing, calligraphy and so much more. You don’t even have to use them with water if you don’t want to.

Watercolor pens are also quite portable, so if you want to paint while you are off traveling they are a good choice for that. Normal paint sets can be a little hefty to carry around so this is a good alternative if you are an artist on the move.

Customizable color palettes are also the norm with watercolor pens. You can set your color palette to your liking so that you are able to achieve exactly the hues that you need. 

Things to Consider

Watercolor pens can come in a bunch of different styles, so it can sometimes be a little difficult to choose the best pens that are going to fit with your individual painting style.

There are so many different things that it can sometimes be difficult to narrow down what will be the best possible decision for you.

If you are struggling to choose what watercolor pens you should buy, here are just a few of the things that you should be thinking about.

Firmness

When it comes to buying pens, you should think about the firmness of the pen that you are buying. For instance, a firm felt tip pen may give you a varying amount of hardness, but you may not get a range of different lines from them which can make it difficult to make different types of strokes.

With that being said, these sorts of pens generally are a little bit easier to control so they’re a good choice for new painters trying to get to grips with their pens. They’re also a good choice for projects that require a lot of detail and those projects that are relatively small.

On the other hand, a softer pen will be better if you’re looking for more versatility in the lines that you can make. The caveat is that they can be harder to control, which means that you are going to have to take some time to practice using them. 

Blending

Mixing colors is important when you are creating watercolor art. For this reason, considering the blendability of the watercolor pens you are buying is important. The best watercolor pen will allow you to blend the colors with precision when you use wet on wet and wet on dry techniques.

If your pen doesn’t blend well, then you may end up getting a painting that looks rather amateurish and unattractive.

It’s difficult to know what the blendability of the pens will be like before you buy - often, you are unable to try them out in advance. In this case, your best option is to check other customer reviews. That way, you can have more confidence that the pen you buy can mix well with the other colors you have. 

Color Options

Many artists would rather blend a bunch of different colors in order to get the perfect hue that they are looking for. Some people simply don’t have the patience for that, and that’s perfectly fine!

If you aren’t fond of color mixing, then you should tryand find a watercolor paint set that has a wide variety of different color options. It can often be easier to work with watercolor pen sets that provide you with a lot of colors, and watercolor pens that come in large sets can usually save you a little bit of money in the long term.

They will let you replace the colors you use most often when you run out, and you won’t have to buy entire sets every time that you run out. 

In order to narrow down your selection, you should probably attempt to write down a list of the colors that are the most important to you. This is going to help you to find the set that will be the best for what you need and for your style of painting.

If you tend to work with very bright colors, for instance, then you are going to need a watercolor pen set with a lot more colors than if you were painting a black and white portrait. Make sure that your color selection fits your individual requirements.

Color Separation

If the colors you are using are made out of a number of dyes, they may end up separating when you apply water.  Having these different hues can make your art work look that much more interesting.

With that being said, they can also have an adverse effect of making your art work look entirely different than you expected it to. So, if this is the case, it’s always worthwhile to swatch test every color pen that you have just so you can see how they react with the water.

Toxicity

Toxicity essentially refers to the amount of chemicals that are used to make a watercolor pen. Generally, a lot of current watercolor pens are not toxic and so they don’t release fumes and smells into the air.

Of course, there are also pens out there that do have a lot of chemicals in them, and ones that release odors. You should avoid these if you intend to give the pens to children. 

So, what are you supposed to do? If this is the case for you, then you should buy pens that are known for having very little tool toxicity. You should also make sure that you thoroughly research the product in advance to check if the product has a high toxicity level. If it doesn’t, then you’re fine!

Tip Size and Material

You can find watercolor brushes in a range of different materials, though what you get will depend on the results you are aiming for.

If you get a bristle tip brush pen it will feel a little bit more like your standard paint brush, and these are ideal if you want to have coverage for bigger areas and you want it to look more like you’ve used a paint brush.

A felt tip pen, on the other hand, is generally made out of plastic materials and the tip is usually much more firm than that of a bristle tip watercolor pen. These kinds of pens are often a little easier to control and the lines they create are consistent.

As far as tip size is concerned, you can either find pens with broad or fine tip sizes. You are better off using a fine tip if you are applying it to a smaller project or if you are doing tiny details, whereas you are better off using a broad tip if you are going to make more striking, bold lines. 

Price and Performance

When you’re thinking about buying a set of watercolor paints, it’s important that you consider your budget. Paints can cost a lot of money, so you will need to assess whether the set you are considering buying will provide you with the value for money that you require.

Consider whether they are worth the price for their performance level - if not, you are better off looking elsewhere. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main disadvantages to watercolor pens?

There aren’t many disadvantages to using watercolor pens.

Two of the main problems with them is that they are usually made out of cheap plastic materials that are not environmentally friendly, and they can dry out quickly if they aren’t stored correctly. 

How do I use watercolor pens?

To use your watercolor pens, ensure that the thoroughly shake the pen before you use it. Grab a smooth paper that is thick enough not to leak through - acid free is usually best.

Then, begin to press the nib of the pen against your paper and you should eventually begin to see the ink coming out of the pen. You will then need to apply some pressure on the brush, and start painting. 

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

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