What Are Acrylic Paint Pens and How to Use

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Have you ever thought about using acrylic paint pens for your artwork? I have recently started using them and I think they are ideal for certain purposes.

Paint pens are a great substitute for using a fine liner brush and they can be used for doing detail work. Using acrylic paint pens is just like using markers, but instead of ink, you are still working with acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint pens, acrylic paint markers or paint markers as they are also called, can be used on most surfaces, including canvases. They come in a wide array of colors, and the colors are opaque. You can even use them to paint over acrylic paints.

Today we are going to take a look at how to use acrylic paint pens. Note that there are other types of paint pens available, including oil paint pens.

If you are interested in learning more about paint pens and how to use them, keep reading.

What Are Paint Pens?

Acrylic paint pens are exactly as their name states, pens that are filled with acrylic paint instead of ink. They look like markers, and they come in a variety of sizes and colors.

You can get acrylic paint pens with a variety of tips, from ultra-fine for detail work to extra-side for calligraphy. Some paint pens even come with dual tips, which is great because you don’t have to go out and buy two sets.

As I mentioned, you can get acrylic paint markers in many colors. The colors can range from pastels to neons and even metallic shades, and of course, traditional paint colors.

Depending on the quality of the paint pens and the amount in a set, you can usually get a decent set for around $20. I found the set I’m currently using on Amazon, and I paid less than $30.

Because these pens are filled with acrylic paint, they dry just as quickly as regular acrylic paints. I have found that they dry even faster, which is great when I’m working on fine details and want to add other colors.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint Pens on Canvas?

Acrylic paint pens can be used on most surfaces, making them ideal for painting on a canvas. The paint flows nicely, and in some cases, paint pens will work better than some brushes.

One thing that I don’t advise when working with paint pens on canvas is using them for painting large areas. Even the largest paint pen tip isn’t going to be nearly as wide as most brushes.

Also, there is not a lot of paint in these pens, so if you are using them for large areas there is a good chance that you will run out of paint before your painting is finished.

I suggest using your brushes to paint in areas that require a lot of color. Then you can go in with the paint pens and add the smaller details.

Benefits of Using Acrylic Paint Markers

Like I already said, I only recently began using paint pens, but I have come to enjoy them and I use them for many purposes. There are all kinds of benefits to using these pens.

#1. Paint Pens are Easy to Use

The main reason why I love working with paint pens is that they are so easy to use. Using a paint pen is just like using a regular marker.

You also don’t have to worry about a lot of cleanup when using paint pens. There are no brushes to clean, no palettes to clean. All you need to do is replace the caps until you are ready to use them again.

#2. Use Paint Pens for a Variety of Techniques

How well your paint pens work will depend on a few things, including the grade of paint, the amount of pigment, and the quality of the nibs. For the most part, they are ideal for several painting techniques.

These pens can be used for painting over other colors. You can use them to paint over acrylic paints as well as paint over work that has already been colored with other paint pen colors.

You can also use paint pens for blending, outlining, and fine detail work. Anyone who has shaky hands and finds it difficult to paint small details and lines with a fine brush will benefit from using paint pens.

#3. Bright, Vivid Colors

The colors found in paint pens are just as bright and vivid as traditional acrylic paints. Depending on the set, you will find that paint pens come in about as many colors as any other type of acrylic paint.

#4. Use on Any Surface

I talked about using paint pens on canvas. You can also use them on most other surfaces, including plastic, glass, and metal.

I like to paint on leather jackets and purses. I have found these pens to be perfect for this because they work great on rough surfaces. I’ve even used them on suede.

How to Use Acrylic Paint Pens

Using paint pens is pretty much the same as using regular markers, with a few differences. They are held the same way as markers, and they can be used for everything from coloring to detail work to writing and more.

Let’s take a look at how to use acrylic paint pens.

#1. Shake Them Up

Before you can begin painting with paint pens, you need to shake them up to activate the paint. This is known as priming the paint.

Expect to be shaking each pen for a minute or two before the paint is ready to use. Be sure to leave the cap on while shaking, otherwise, you could end up making a mess.

#2. Press Down on the Nib

Once you have shaken the pen and the paint is ready to use, you need to get the paint into the nib. To do this you will need to press the nib against a piece of paper or another surface.

It will take about 10 to 30 seconds for the paint to fully saturate the nib. Once the nib is saturated you can begin painting.

#3. Start Painting

Now you are ready to begin painting. You can create smooth strokes for outlining, creating designs, and lettering.

You don’t need to press down hard on the nib. If you do press too hard you will find that too much paint comes out.

Paint in small circles to fill in areas with color. You can also use the tip of the nibs to create small dots. I love using a white paint pen to create stars in the night sky.

#4. Re-Prime the Pens when Needed

You may find that you need to re-prime paint pens from time to time while you are using them. If the paint stops flowing, it is time to give the pen a shake.

#5. Give the Paint Time to Dry

You can easily paint several coats with paint pens. Just make sure that you give each coat enough time to dry before adding another coat.


While acrylic paint pens are something that I have only started using in the last year or so, I have a feeling I will be using them often, and for many purposes. I like the bright colors and the fact that they allow me to paint even the tiniest of details.

I am seriously considering offering paint pen paint and sip classes. Or, at the very least, adding paint pens to the supplies students will be using at acrylic painting parties.

If you want to try something different and fun, I suggest giving acrylic paint markers a try. You won’t be disappointed!

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