Best Markers for Adult Coloring Books

Best Markers for Coloring – Detailed Guide on Coloring Markers

When it comes to coloring, there is no medium quite as vibrant as that of markers. Trying to find the best markers for coloring can be difficult as not all markers work in the same way or are suited to every project. Luckily, there are many variations of coloring markers available today, allowing you to find the ones that are best suited to your requirements. In this article, we are going to discuss an assortment of coloring pens as well as provide you with some recommendations for the best colored markers out there.



Pens for Adult Coloring Books

Those who love to color know that there are many different coloring mediums and pens to choose from. When looking for the right pens for adult coloring books, there are a few things to consider, including the type of pen or marker you need, the surface you are using, the colors and sizes of coloring markers, and your price range.

Coloring pens and markers are often used for various illustration and design work or hand lettering due to their bright and quick-drying colors. This will depend, of course, on the type of coloring marker you choose to work with. Using colored markers is easy, providing you with a smooth application and finish. Another convenient attribute they have is that most colored markers can be refilled or even have their tips replaced so that they can last forever!

Best Markers for ColoringBest Markers for Coloring

These pens are great for adult coloring, art and design, and even outdoor projects for beginners and advanced users alike. Some colored markers are also good for blending and color mixing. These can be used in the same way one would use watercolor paints or oil paints, except they dry much faster and most do not run the risk of smudging. This makes it easy to use different techniques, play with colors, and find what works for you.

Coloring book markers fall into four different categories: alcohol-based, pigment-based, water-based, and oil-based markers. When using paper, cardboard, or canvas, the best coloring markers would be water and pigment-based ones, as these are easily absorbed and will show up with vibrant colors. Alcohol and oil-based inks would be better suited to tougher surfaces where they cannot seep through, such as ceramics, metal, glass, and plastics. These will also be more durable markers for use outdoors. There are also different types of color pigments within your markers, which include either paints, dyes, or inks. These are then combined with a base such as water, a solvent, or alcohol in order to give you the effects we see today.


Let us take a look below at what different adult coloring markers are available and what they are used for.


Gel Pens

Gel pens are wonderfully smooth and opaque upon application, allowing for more of a contrast and color variation on your surface. Made using a water-based gel and ink, these pens work well for fine detailing and smaller areas too. They are also available in various colors, including pastels and glitters. The neon-colored gel pens show up particularly well on black papers and cardboards if you are looking to add a pop of color to your illustration or writing work.

Using gel ink may not be as controlled as other pen or coloring mediums. This is because the gel within the pen is much thicker than usual water-based inks. So, your roller is often not as easily or completely coated in the gel when you are drawing or writing. Another downside to using gel pens is their high smudge factor. Because these are made with a water-based gel, they take longer to dry than other inks.


  • Beautiful pigments
  • Smooth application
  • Ultra-fine tip
  • Various color options
  • Easily accessible
  • Affordable


  • Better for detail and outline work
  • Difficult to provide full coverage, so can look scratchy when coloring
  • Ink has a longer drying time
  • High potential for smudging

Pens for Adult Coloring Books


Fine Line Markers

These water-based coloring markers are best used for fine details or writing and calligraphy. Fine line markers are readily available and usually come in an assortment of colors. They are made with a very thin plastic or fiber tip, which allows you to create controlled outlines and intricate lettering.

Fine liners can also be used to color in or shade smaller areas with bright splashes of color, although they are not made to saturate large areas with color. Because of the ultra-fine tips, these will not bleed through the page, but you may run the risk of tearing through if you apply too much pressure on thinner paper.


  • Super-fine tips
  • Great for fine detail and lettering
  • Amazing color ranges available
  • Easy to use
  • Entry-level to professional ranges available


  • Not for large areas of color
  • Cannot be refilled


Brush Pens and Markers

Brush pens are similar to felt tip markers in the way they work. However, these are made with different materials and the idea is to mimic the effect of a paintbrush. The different variations of brush pens include natural hair, which is usually from a weasel or sable, and these will be most like using a paintbrush. Then there are the synthetic ranges, which are made using nylon, and finally, you also get the plastic tips which are usually ultra-fine and firm for producing consistent lines and details.

The tip you choose will also have an impact on your work and what techniques you will be able to achieve. For example, using a hard, fine-tipped pen as opposed to using a soft, natural-haired, thick one. This explains why many artists choose these coloring markers for lettering and calligraphy.  Brush pens are useful as they come in different tip sizes too, meaning that you could use a broader tipped pen for larger areas or thicker, bolder outlines. Brush pens also come in different color and medium options, such as watercolor brush pens. These are made using a watercolor medium, which means they will work better on thicker pages and will blend well for coloring.


  • Different tip options available
  • Different tip sizes available
  • Can mimic paintbrush effects
  • Great for calligraphy and writing
  • Various color options available
  • Different paint or ink mediums available


  • Can be expensive
  • Black is the most popular color choice
  • Natural hair options are more pricey

Best Adult Coloring Markers


Permanent Markers

We have all used a permanent marker for some sort of branding or other long-term details around the house. These are alcohol-based, multipurpose coloring markers, durable enough to go on different surfaces. Permanent markers can be used on paper, cardboard, stone, metal, wood, and the list goes on. They really are an all-purpose medium.

These are perfect to use when you cannot afford any smudging, or when you need a marker that will stand up to the elements. Permanent markers dry within seconds and are fully absorbed into porous surfaces, making them the most durable marker option.


  • Permanent
  • Quick-drying
  • Waterproof and weatherproof
  • Smudge-proof
  • Refillable
  • Suitable for nearly all surfaces
  • Durable tip
  • Come in a few different colors
  • Inexpensive


  • Cannot be removed with water
  • Only black is weather-resistant
  • Strong smell


Now that we have an idea of the different coloring markers available, let us look at the different ink varieties and how they work.



Ink Varieties in Your Colored Markers

We know that colored markers and pens come in different mediums. Here, we will take a closer look at the ink variations and what projects they work best for.

  • Pigmented Ink: This type of marker is evident in the way the colors stick to the surface of your paper. This ink will not bleed through and will not be absorbed directly into your paper or other surfaces. These are made by keeping the color pigments separate from the water or gel base and not mixed in, thereby also making them water-resistant.
  • Dye Ink: These are more liquid than pigmented inks as the dyes are mixed in completely with the ink. This allows for better absorption and is best used on thicker cards or even canvas materials. These markers can be used for color mixing, blending, and washes.
  • Permanent Ink: Just as the name implies, these are what permanent markers are made from. Added to the ink is a chemical resin that gives this range of markers their waterproof and permanent qualities. These can be used on most surfaces and are toxic.
  • Alcohol Ink: These coloring markers are the easiest to blend with. Being alcohol-based, they are very fluid and sometimes even transparent, making them great for layering. A bonus when experimenting with this ink is that it can be used with rubbing alcohol to create some beautiful liquid effects on porcelain, plastics, and ceramics. These are, of course, permanent.
  • Oil-Based Ink: These are, as with using oil paint, very slow-drying markers. This means they are useful for those wanting to try to add texture and layers to their work. The added time allows for more workability and manipulation of your medium.
  • Translucent Ink: This type of ink is most found in watercolor markers. These allow for lighter layers, accents, and highlighting capabilities. They can be used with other mediums and most can be used with water so as to increase their fluidity and blending capabilities.
  • Opaque ink: This ink is as its name suggests: flat and thick upon application. It is often used in chalk coloring markers as it will not bleed through your page and allows for harder lines and better control.



Best Colored Markers

Now that we have covered the different types of coloring markers, their inks, and what they are used for, let us take a look at some five-star recommendations for the best adult coloring markers on the market.

Best Colored Markers


Best Markers for Adult Coloring Books: OHUHU Dual-Tipped Art Markers

Ohuhu is fast gaining a reputation for offering the best markers for adult coloring books. This set of 60 colors is made with non-toxic and water-based inks. Offering flexible dual tips, these coloring pens are brilliant for shading, blending, and whatever else you need them for. The fine tip is best used for writing, outlining, and detailed areas, while the thicker brush tip is best for coloring large areas and blending.

Although they are water-based, these Ohuhu markers will not smudge or bleed through your pages. These color-capped and coded markers are also perfectly organized in a convenient holster for easy storage and travel. An added benefit of these color markers is their design; Ohuhu has implemented their own unique casing to ensure a comfortable grip, allowing you to use these markers for long hours.

OHUHU Dual-Tipped Art Markers
  • Dual-tipped with a brush tip for shading and fine tip for small details
  • Set of 60 vibrant, highly pigmented colors with labeled color code
  • Fast-drying for easy layering and mixing without smudging
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  • Non-toxic
  • No smell
  • Water-based
  • 60 colors
  • Dual tip
  • Comfortable grip
  • Great for blending and color mixing
  • Carry case
  • Good price


  • Colors vary in opacity and consistency
  • Tips may fray easier than other designs or brands


Best Markers for Coloring: CALIART Dual-Tipped Alcohol-Based Permanent Markers

These permanent coloring pens are alcohol-based, making them perfect for any project! With 81 colors to choose from, you will have no shortage of inspiration. Being alcohol-based, these smudge-proof coloring markers can also be used outdoors, as they are waterproof and weather-resistant. If you are buying them solely for their coloring capabilities, then it is best to use them on thicker paper to prevent bleeding through.

These versatile markers can be used on a range of surfaces, both indoors and outdoors. These markers are dual-tipped, meaning you have two tip sizes, allowing you to write and create controlled lines as well as color in and shade bigger areas. The best part about this set is the compact carry bag, which is great for storing your markers and taking them with you wherever you go. These adult coloring markers are great for blending and shading work too, as they come with a blending stick which allows a smooth finish.

CALIART Alcohol-Based Art Markers
  • Alcohol-based permanent markers with 81 smudge-proof colors
  • Dual tips and round pen holder with broad chisel and fine point nibs
  • Color-coded caps allow for ease in organization and quick identification
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  • 81 colors
  • Includes atravel bag
  • Can be used on most indoor and outdoor surfaces
  • Great for blending and shading
  • Comes with a blending stick
  • Affordable


  • Alcohol-based, so will bleed through coloring books or thin paper


The Best Coloring Pens: TANMIT Fine Point Gel Pens Set

This set of 36 gel pens includes the following sets of colors: six pastel shades, four classic colors, six neon shades, eight metallic pens, and 12 glitter colors. With so many options, you are spoilt for choice! Tanmit gel pens are also safe to use and non-toxic. These comfortable rubber-grip gel pens are perfect for adult coloring books, scrapbooking, office work, or school. The pens are all packed neatly away in a clear storage pouch for easy access and reference.

These gel pens contain 25% more ink than other brands. This range also dries faster and will not seep through the paper you are using. Tanmit gel pens are best used for small areas of color, as they have a very fine point. Their pens glide on smoothly, and you should find their rich colors to be highly durable.

TANMIT Fine Point Gel Pens Set
  • Premium quality pens with colored rubber grips for easy identification
  • 36 different color types, being glitter, metallic, neon, pastel, and classic
  • Non-toxic, acid-free pens are perfect for writing, drawing, and sketching
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  • Five different color types available in one pack
  • 36 different colors in total
  • Easy grip
  • Smooth gel application
  • Quick drying time, so will not smudge like other brands
  • Good value for money
  • Non-toxic
  • Can be used for coloring, writing, journaling, schoolwork, and more


  • Gel may stiffen (just place your pen in some lukewarm water to soften it again)
  • Do not produce good coverage on larger areas that require more saturation
  • Can look scratchy if over-applied


The Best Brush Pens: ARTEZA Watercolor Real Brush Pens

Arteza Real Brush Pens are high-quality paint brush pens. These are made with nylon tips, ensuring smooth and supple application. Their tip is made with a tapered point, allowing you to use it for fine lines as well as broad strokes. Being water-based, these pens can be used with water to create your own watercolor works and allow for beautiful blending and color mixing. They can be used alone too for coloring, calligraphy, sketching, and more.

This set consists of 96 stunning colors, allowing you more options for creative expression. Using these brush pens provides you with more control and precision than one would achieve with watercolor paints, but with the same beautiful results.

ARTEZA Watercolor Real Brush Pens
  • Premium paint pens offer richer colors and finer, more flexible tips
  • Can be used dry or with water to create delicate watercolor effects
  • Brush pens have a soft, supple tip made of durable nylon brush hairs
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  • Effects like that of a paintbrush
  • Can use with water for watercolor techniques
  • 96 amazing colors
  • Real brush tips
  • Great pigment
  • Easily bendable
  • Water-based and non-toxic
  • Great brand


  • No dual tip
  • Tips are naturally very wet and may bleed through thinner paper
  • Stray bristles may fall out after heavy use


The Best Fine liner Marker Option: DYVICL Fine liner Fine Point Pens

This complete set of coloring pens contains 100 beautiful colors. These are the perfect markers for child or adult coloring, work, school, or play. Dyvicl fine liners are water-based and will not bleed through your page, making them ideal for journaling and adding color to thinner workbooks. Their inks have been designed to resist smudging and over-saturating the page. The 0.4 mm tip is the perfect tool for tight spots and attention to detail.

They have also included 50 cute stickers in this set, so that your inspiration can run wild. These fine liners come in a plastic, easy-to-store storage case with a color reference chart on the back. However, their caps and pens are not color-coded.

DYVICL Fineliner Color Pens
  • Fineliner color pens set contains 100 unique brilliant colors
  • Ultra-thin fine point with fine metal-clad tip for precision & durability
  • Water-based ink, acid-free, non-toxic, and minimal bleed-through
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  • 100 colors
  • Good for thinner papers
  • Less chance of bleeding through your pages
  • Tiny tip works great for small details and writing
  • Value for money
  • Quick-drying
  • Entry-level set


  • Not dual-tipped
  • Not good for large areas of color
  • Not good for shading or blending
  • Caps are not color-coded


The Best Permanent Coloring Markers: SHARPIE Fine Point Permanent Markers

When one hears the word Sharpie, we all know what someone is talking about. This brand of markers is of a high quality and is very affordable, making it the most-used coloring marker. This set of permanent markers comes with 12 bright colors that can be used on paper, wood, plastic, and metal. The brilliant thing about these markers is their almost instant drying time – no more smudging or smearing your art!

The Sharpie brand pride themselves in their inks’ resistance to fading and moisture. This makes it great for use on fabrics or outdoor surfaces as well. Because these are fine points, they will be best used for writing, work, and school or other craft projects. These will not work well for blending or covering larger areas and surfaces with color.

SHARPIE Fine-Point Permanent Markers
  • Proudly permanent ink marks on paper, plastic, metal, and more
  • Intensely brilliant colors create eye-popping, vibrant impressions
  • Remarkably resilient ink dries quickly and resists fading and water
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  • Affordable
  • Well-known brand
  • Permanent ink
  • Bright colors
  • Fade- and water-resistant


  • Fine point not suitable for large areas or shading
  • Will come through thinner paper



Using Pens for Adult Coloring Books

With so many great products to start us off, we can now move onto some helpful tips and techniques for coloring with markers. Depending on the coloring markers and paper you have chosen, these tips may just come in handy.

Coloring Pens


Picking the Best Coloring Book Markers

Having looked at the brands and product reviews, we know now which coloring markers are great for which jobs. Before we can purchase them, however, we must make sure that the brand we choose has filled all our project requirements. Below is a list of requirements you will need to look out for.



Take a look at the various markers available in the size that you will require. For example, if you are mainly going to use them as coloring pens, then you will need thicker tips and markers that are good for blending. There are three different variations here:

  • Fine Point: This is for fine details or writing and illustration.
  • Brush Tip: This is used for better coverage and smooth, brush-like finish.
  • Broad/Chisel Tip: This is used for bigger areas and blending colors.



Take note of what medium your colored marker is, what material the nib is made from, whether the grip is comfortable, whether it comes with a storage container, and so on. When doing broad areas, a softer and more supple tip would assist in providing an even layer of color and allow for soft and easy blending. When wanting to have a more defined or controlled approach, using a harder marker tip would be best.



It is always important to test your colors out before starting your project. This is because many shades do not appear as they are presented on their cap or box. They may come out brighter or sometimes much lighter on your page than what was depicted. Their final color will depend on the paper you are using, whether it was exposed to other colors, and the type of marker or brand you are using. Remember to wait for your marker color to dry on the page, as this will be the final color.



While this quality is relevant for art mediums, it is not exactly one that is associated with colored markers. As we know, even permanent markers will fade over time. However, some color pigments and compositions will obviously hold up better than others. Purchasing markers that are made with alcohol or pigmented inks rather than dye or watercolor will provide brighter and more durable colors long term.

Coloring Markers


Tips for Purchasing the Best Markers for Adult Coloring Books

The first thing to remember is that quality is everything. When purchasing coloring pens or markers, the higher-quality products will often be more expensive. You do not need to buy the most expensive option when you initially start, but it may be beneficial in the long-term.

  • If you would like to blend, shade, and mix colors, then alcohol or water-based markers will be your best bet.
  • If you would like to do some journaling, card making, or even sketching, fine liners or gel pens will be best suited to this.
  • If you are planning on doing a bit of everything, then a dual-tip option is probably worth looking at.
  • If you would like to add details or designs to outdoor or other surfaces, a permanent marker will do well for those jobs.
  • Remember to test your colored markers on your paper before jumping into coloring, as they may bleed through.
  • Using thicker paper or cardboard will work better with thick, water-based, oil, and alcohol-based markers.
  • Thin paper like diaries, journals, and sketchbooks will work well with fine liners and gel pens as they will not bleed through to the other side.
  • Watercolor paper or marker paper are the best options when using coloring pens and markers.

Adult Coloring Markers


Now that we know what to look for, let us take a look at some tips below when using markers and pens for adult coloring books.



How to Use Your Markers for Coloring

Using colored markers for adult coloring is both fun and easy. But like any medium, there are a few essential tips and tricks that you may find useful when first starting out.

  • Before you start your project, first figure out what your objectives are. Are you just coloring a picture in your book? Are you looking to do some lettering or calligraphy for a card, perhaps? The type of activity you have in mind will be impacted by the type of coloring marker you choose.
  • Remember to sit at a table or other flat surface so that you do not risk ruining or smudging your work.
  • If you are coloring your own sketch, always start by using a pencil or something else that you can erase. Working with markers is fun but permanent.
  • When working with color markers and pens, it is best to start with your lighter colors first in order to avoid any bleeding into other areas. This way, when you are ready to apply your dark colors, they will hide any bleed from the lighter ones.
  • Similar to painting theory, you can go over your picture first in a base color when using markers. This will then allow for the use of building colors and textures as you work through each layer, getting darker and adding more texture and detail.
  • Avoid over-coloring and flooding areas with color when using markers. This will cause your paper to become thinner and in some cases, it will change the paper texture and even cause tearing.
  • Combine other mediums with your markers. For example, using blending pens can assist with more even tones and seamless finish, or using colored pencils can add depth and color variation.
  • If you are using more than one medium or brand, make sure they will work well together before using them. For example, you cannot use an oil-based marker over a water-based marker or watercolor area.
  • Try to make use of various strokes or brush techniques in order to add depth and tones to your art.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, work slowly. When working with markers, it is sometimes difficult to avoid streaking and uneven lines. Going nice and slow will certainly help your chances of even saturation, stronger pigments, and more controlled lines and lettering.

Best Pens for Adult Coloring Books


Using Your Water-Based Markers for Blending

Blending with water-based paints, markers or pens can cause streaking or oversaturation of the page. If you are wanting to learn how to blend with your watercolor or water-based coloring markers, then take a look below at some great tips we have included here.

  • When blending with colored markers, it is important to remember to keep a light hand. No matter the medium, applying too much or soaking the area can lead to warped or damaged paper. The best paper to use with watercolor mediums or markers would be watercolor paper or marker paper, as these are thicker and will not allow a bleed-through.
  • Once your designs are dried, they can be reactivated with water too. If you would like to enhance the color, add some shadows or highlights, simply apply a small bit of water to the picture and go ahead.
  • The benefit of using these water-based tools is that they can be reactivated and re-worked by simply using some water. When using these markers, keep a glass of water nearby, it can be helpful to dip the tip of your marker lightly in the water to activate it before starting.
  • Often, the risk of using water-based mediums is the fact they are quick to dry out. Should this happen with your coloring markers, just try the water trick to rewet them and they should work again.
  • The only difficulty with water-based mediums is that their colors often change once they have dried or been blended. Therefore, it is important to always test your colors before starting and waiting till they have dried so that you are aware of their outcome and finish.


  • No odor and safer to use
  • Cheaper than ink medium options
  • Readily available
  • Can be used with water to alter consistency and colors


  • Sensitive to sun and fading
  • Takes longer to dry than alcohol markers
  • Sensitive to water damage
  • Cannot be used on thinner papers
  • Fewer colors available than alcohol markers


Using Alcohol-Based Markers for Blending

These markers are known for their blending capabilities. They are very smooth to use but they tend to dry very quickly. This just means that you will need to work fast, making them better for smaller areas that require full coverage.

  • When using alcohol-based coloring markers, it is best to not go over the area too many times as this will only darken your existing color. When wanting to use light tones, a thin and even application is best.
  • These markers are often transparent, making them great for layering and altering colors.
  • Alcohol markers do bleed through paper, so it is best to use marker paper. You also do not want to use too thick a cardstock either, as these sometimes have better absorption and will lead to bleeding or smudging.
  • If you would like to use your alcohol markers for coloring in, just place something behind your page so as not to ruin the other pages or your surface.


  • Most are refillable or provide a tip replacement
  • Colors are more transparent, making them great for blending and layering
  • Will not fade as easily
  • Water-resistant


  • Dry very quickly, so not for long projects
  • Can be pricey
  • Do have a strong odor
  • Contain chemicals
  • Will bleed through thin paper

Coloring Books Markers



Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Best Adult Coloring Markers?

Many reputable brands offer a range of coloring markers for adult coloring and design. The markers you choose would be based on the project you will be using them for. Many illustrators and designers enjoy working with markers of different sizes and mediums to obtain various texture and color results.


What Paper Is Best to Use When Working with Markers?

Thicker papers are better when using markers as they will not run the risk of bleeding through your page. The two most advised paper options to use are watercolor paper and marker paper. These are thick enough to prevent bleeding.


What Are the Best Coloring Book Markers?

When using markers to color in, water-based, oil-based, or alcohol-based markers are the best options. These are used for color mixing and blending techniques, while thinner point or gel options would be best suited to calligraphy and finer designs.


What Different Types of Markers Are There?

There are many different types of makers and coloring pens on the market. Some include watercolor, oil-based, and alcohol-based markers, gel pens, as well as chalk markers. Each has their own composition and works well for different projects and crafts. Your marker tips will also come in different sizes and can be made from different materials, which is why not all coloring markers are compatible with every craft.


Now that we know everything there is to know about the best markers and pens for adult coloring books, you can start those illustrations and designs with confidence. Have Fun! 


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