Pencils vs Markers for adult coloring

If you’re reading this, it means you already know about the fun it is in adult coloring and you’re now at the point where you’ve come to learn more about what you like/dislike about this new hobby.

You may like better organic shapes or you may like a lot geometric patterns. Some may go for the simple illustrations, whereas some have the patience for the intricate designs.

The best question to begin with though it’s…what to use for coloring? Is it better with pencils or markers should always the no.1 choice?

Why get colored pencils

What we really like about the colored pencils is how easy they are to control. Sure, a marker’s ink isn’t able to give so much dramatic differences in color concentration, whereas a pencil may get lighter or darker depending on the pressure you apply while coloring.

coloring for adults

If you realize you actually want a darker hue on some area, you simply apply greater pressure while coloring. This is why you may get all those values of the same color to create gradients and or effects when using pencils.

Colored pencils are also giving you a nice tactile interaction with your coloring project. The smooth sensation of a colored pencil across of a nice weight paper is so relaxing. You may only get a soft, nice texture with a soft depth.

The downsides of colored pencils

The best part of the colored pencils is also their big flaw. Yes, you do get darker colors or higher saturations, but you do need to apply so intense focused pressure. This is challenging especially when you’re working with lighter paperweights, on both sides. You may end up with some stroke marks from the pencils.

When getting coloring books, try to get the models with 80-100lb. text stock on interior pages. The extra heft is going to give each page a good rigidity, closed to the cover stock one.

Keep in mind that a high paper thickness is longer lasting, whereas the risk for wear and tear it with the coloring pencil is minor.

Tips when using colored pencils

It’s not a bad idea to slide a thin piece of acrylic behind the page you’re working on. A more rigid surface is going to minimize risk for pressing and warping into the soft paper beneath.

If you’re looking though to get the richest array of color values, it’s best to look for some coloring markers.

The goods of the markers

One thing we all like when coloring with markers is that they give crisp, clean bodies of color. The high level of saturation from the ink flowing onto the paper is their strength, for sure.

We also appreciate the consistency in each stroke when coloring with markers. If you’re especially look for the uniform bodies of colors, markers are your best choice.

Even though we all like the accuracy and control of the colored pencils, the coloring marker sets come with “blender pens”. These pens let you mingle efficiently the neighboring marker colors into a single, soft gradient. Take your time and practice as the blender marker may give the opportunity of getting nice, one-of-a-kind color melding effects.

The flaws of coloring markers

There’s no doubt that we all like clean, solid field of crisp color from the markers. At the same time, we do have two handle two common problems: the ink is wet or the ink color is rather flat.

If you’re using some porous paper, ink may soak through, warp or, some may say, “bleed”. The coarser your paper is, the more damage you may expect from ink. This is why most adult coloring books come with fine grain paper.

Try to get coloring books that combine smooth texture, heavy weight paper (80 lb., the least) that even takes a bit bending.

As for the flat colors, we all know that markers can’t get lighter or darker just because of the tactile interaction. This is one challenge you have to take when trying the combine or graduate some hues or tones from one to another.

Tips when coloring with markers

It’s not very easy to blend markers. The best way to do it is to use similar bands of color, to progress from light to dark. You should use a blending marker to combine the bands into more cohesive transitions.

You do need to practice though and you do get best results when planning your process. Some may even see this as the best part when coloring with markers, so it’s an up to you. Take your time and be willing to learn new techniques for coloring with markers.

Which one is the best for you?

Only taking chances and coloring you’re going to see which one works the best choice for you. You may even discover that you like both colored pencils and markers, as the entire experience is different on so many levels. As long as you’re having the will and the time, why not try them both anyways?

Modern Calligraphy

Even though technology today is giving us so many various things to do, sometimes we just feel the need to go back to the basics and try some old-school hobbies. It’s the case of the modern calligraphy that is both rewarding and relaxing, on so many levels.

The art of “beautiful writing” isn’t that difficult to learn, but you need to give it time and to practice as much as you can until you enjoy your results.

Modern calligraphy is fun and calming as you fill the pages with letters and curls. It may become even a Zen meditation to you, as long as you’re managing to isolate yourself from the surrounding world.

What you need

You do need some supplies to begin with. If you’re going to try modern calligraphy, do it right from the very beginning and spend the extra buck for some quality tools. Calligraphy isn’t an expensive hobby, but you do need high quality writing tools and surface to write on in order to get good results.

  1. The nibs

the nibs

This may be the first thing you do need when planning to try modern calligraphy. You need nibs with a pointed tip that are very flexible and able to create nice looking letters.

There are many types of nibs you may find out there, but you should start with the ones especially designed for the beginners. They are reliable and sturdy, which is what you want at first.


  1. The nib holder

The nib holderIn the beginning, a straight nib holder is going to serve you better. You may find nib holders made with wood or plastic and what you really need at first is quite cheap.

You should go for the models that feature a general holder. You insert the nib by wedging the back end of your nib between the metal ring and the inner prongs and check to see if it sits really tight. You never want to go between the prongs.

  • The paper

As a beginner, you should try a smooth paper at first that is even a tad transparent. You do want to see the guide sheet underneath.

You want the paper not to bleed and the surface to be smooth so that the nib doesn’t snag. Don’t use regular printer paper as the ink may bleed too much.

You may give it a go with layout paper, but you really should try a thick paper that it’s not too textured. Some types of watercolor papers, Bristol papers are also options to consider.

You should use a guide sheet in the beginning so that you write straight lines and there are plenty of models out there to choose from.

  1. Ink

You do need to use ink for calligraphy and it comes premixed an ready to go out of the bottle. Nevertheless, there are many and various inks to try as you perfect in modern calligraphy.

The Ink

  1. Some small stuff

You also need a soft piece of cloth, a bowl of water and rubbing alcohol or soap for cleaning the nib before you begin.

All of the things you need in the beginning are easy to find in a big art supply store.

Getting ready

All nibs have some chemical residue from manufacturing and you want to remove it so that you don’t get any problems later on. You simply dip the nib into alcohol or scrub it with some soapy water. Rub it with a cloth to remove the entire oil residue as well.

You need a lot of room so that you move your arms around freely. As you are moving a lot your arm, elbow including, it’s best to place the ink to your right (if you’re right-handed). Place the guide sheet under your layout paper and use some tape to fasten it.

Take your time, breath in and dip the nib into the ink so that it’s covered evenly, halfway up the nib’s well.

Practice makes perfect

This may sound oversold, but in modern calligraphy is very true. You should practice as much as you can the strokes, the curves until you get to the letters and words.

Calligraphy practice

Here are some useful tips:

  • You need to apply the pressure on the down strokes and not on the upstrokes
  • You control the weight of the down strokes with the pressure you’re using
  • It’s important to hold your pen at 45degree angle from the paper
  • Your upstrokes need to be thin and consistent
  • Make sure that the Baseline is always consistent
  • Always take a look at the ascender/descender height
  • Maintain the x-height and the cap height constant

Take time and practice the basic letter shapes and how to connect them together. Try to group them in familiar looking shapes. It’s easy to see the similarities between g, j, p, q, y, z (down strokes) or between b, d, f, h, k, l, t (upstrokes).

Be patient with the round letters (a, c, e, o ) and make sure that m, n, u, v, w look also nice every time.

dip pen calligraphy

If you’re thinking about trying the modern calligraphy, you need to go a bit over the basics of the tools that you’re going to have to use. It’s important to know something about your tool, if you want to get the best out of it.

The ABC on a dip pen

The dip pen, aka “nib”, is typically made with capillary channels, just like the fountain pen nibs are. It’s mounted in a handle or a holder, which is commonly made of wood.

The holder may also be made of bone, metal and plastic and there are pens even made of glass.

A dip pen doesn’t have an ink reservoir so you do need to recharge the ink from an ink bottle or ink bowl to keep on drawing and writing.

ABC on a dip pen

You may also use small tubular reservoirs to clip onto your dip pen, so you may draw for more minutes, without having to recharge the nib.

You may recharge by dipping into an inkwell, but most professionals (cartoonists, illustrators) are typically charging the pen with an eyedropper, a brush, getting more control over the amount of ink used. Therefore, dip pens aren’t dipped, hence the name “nib pens”.

How to use dip pens anyway

Even though the modern calligraphy seems so easy to the unexperienced eye, there’s a lot of effort put into it, especially if you’re at the beginning.

There are many types of dip pens that you can try that give various results. You may want to try an oblique calligraphy pen or a straight one as well, but the main principle is still the same: you do need to pay attention when applying the various degrees of pressure to the nib.

dip pen

You should begin by choosing your ink and the penholder, with a thin nib. A plastic penholder will do also. Some go for the India ink as it’s smooth and ensures less grief, with minor risk for bleeding. Little secret to keep in mind: it’s not difficult to get India ink in most art supply stores and the same goes for the dip pen holders.

You may continue with drawing some guidelines. When you go for “off-the-cuff” look though, you may skip this step.

It’s also important to center your calligraphy and to space it right. You need exactly where you’re going to write so why not use a pencil for some guidelines. If this isn’t for you, you can also try the Edwardian style of the oblique calligraphy.

Be prepared for some spitting, spatter ink though, and take time until you get to enjoy your results.

Keep in mind these tips

There’s no need to disappear and give up. Modern calligraphy looks amazing and it does require some patience and attention.

  • It’s better to hold the dip pen just like any other pen, but shouldn’t use it like a regular pen though.

It doesn’t quite make sense, we know. It’s important to vary the pressure you put on the nib. For instance, when you make a down stroke, it’s better to press hard. You do need to take off the pressure though when you make an upstroke. As a matter of fact, the nib should barely touch the paper.

You shouldn’t keep on pressing hard as you go up because the nib is going to catch in the paper, causing ink spatter.

  • The hole in the middle of the nib is just like a “well” for the ink. Therefore, when you dip the nib in the ink, you need to make sure you dip it just past the well.

Even though you feel like the well isn’t full, there’s always some reserve.

  • You need to make sure the tip of your pen is in the same position, facing the exact same way when you go up, sideways and so on.

Try not to ever turn the tip of your pen, as you’d do with an ordinary gel pen. Keep in mind that you always have to move your hand and not the pen.

  • It’s important that every now and then you wipe off the nib, for smoother flow.

You could easily keep a cup of water handy and use it when you notice the ink doesn’t flow as smooth as you want. Dip the pen in the water and wipe the excess off using a soft paper towel.

  • As soon as you dip the pen in ink, put the nib on the paper.

If otherwise, you may have to deal with the ink not flowing onto the paper. If the ink doesn’t flow though, tap the nib smoothly on your page to see if the ink comes out or not.

When ink still doesn’t flow, you need to re-dip and do it all over again.

The last tip

As we stated again, modern calligraphy takes time and patience. When you’re done, wait for 3 minutes or so (this relates a lot on your down strokes) so that the ink dries completely. Wait until the very end to erase the pencil lines and…sit back to admire your work!