What Are Oil Paint Pens and How to Use?

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Working with paints and brushes may not be for everyone. There are some who are just not able to control a brush when creating fine details, and some people have very shaky hands.

But, this doesn’t mean that one should shy away from working with oil paints. There are other options you can use for those fine details, including oil paint pens.

These oil paint pens, also referred to as permanent marker paint pens or oil paint markers, can be used to paint on a variety of surfaces, including canvas, metal, stone, glass, and more. The pigments adhere well to most surfaces, and they are much more difficult to remove than water-based paints. This means your paintings won’t degrade over time.

The paint in these pens is permanent. Any artwork created with oil paint pens is going to be resistant to fading, abrasion, water, etc.

I know many artists who love using these pens for rock painting, which has become quite popular in my area. People paint rocks, then leave them in random places for others to find. They in turn leave their own painted rocks, and the cycle continues. It’s pretty cool.

Today we are going to talk about oil paint pens. You will learn what they are, how to prime them for use, and how to use them. 

If you are ready to dive into the world of oil-based paint markers, keep reading.

What Are Oil-Based Paint Pens?

As I mentioned in the introduction, oil-based paint pens are permanent marker paint pens. They can be used on numerous surfaces, and they are ideal for painting fine details.

The great thing about these pens is that they are permanent. You never have to worry about your paintings fading, chipping and peeling, etc. They are also water-resistant.

These paint pens contain oil-based paint instead of ink. Sharpie has oil-based paint pens that are fun and easy to use, and they are relatively inexpensive.

If you want to create art that is durable and long-lasting, but don’t want to use paintbrushes for those finer details, I say paint pens are definitely the way to go!

Water-based paint pens are fun to use, but they aren’t nearly as versatile as oil-based paint pens.

What Are Oil Paint Markers Used For?

There are so many uses for oil paint markers. They can be used for school projects, for projects around the house, and of course, for creating lovely works of art. As I mentioned, these pens can be used on just about any surface you wish to paint on.

These oil markers can also be used for writing. You will find oil paint pens with a variety of nib sizes, which means you can even use them for calligraphy. They are also often used for creating window art in storefronts.

Why Should You Use Oil Markers?

If you love bold colors and a lot of contrast in your artwork, you need to give these oil markers a try!

#1. Oil Paint Pens are Durable

There are other types of paint pens, including Sharpie paint pens, but I find that oil-based pens are the most durable. They are ideal for all types of painting projects.

#2. Oil Paint Pens Dry Quickly

One of the biggest drawbacks to oil painting is that it takes so long for the paint to dry. This is not the case when you are using oil paint pens.

Believe it or not, your work can be dry in five minutes or less! This of course depends on the weather and the temperature in the room where you are painting. If the environment is cold or humid, it will take the paint longer to dry.

After the paint dries, it will need about 24 hours or so to cure.

#3. Oil Paint Pens are More or Less Permanent

Oil-based pens are not only durable, they are permanent, hence the term permanent pens. The ink/paint in these pens is water-resistant, and they will not fade over time. They are also resistant to abrasions.

The only way you can remove the paint from any surface is to use a solvent such as rubbing alcohol or acetone (nail polish remover). If your artwork is to be displayed outdoors, the permanency will depend on the surface you are painting on, weather conditions, and temperature.

Getting Started: Priming Oil Paint Pens

Before you can begin painting with oil paint pens, the pens need to be primed. You can’t just open up a package of these pens and start creating right away.

Priming the pen involves getting the ink to flow to the nib. You only need to do this one time, and after that, the pens will always be ready to use.

To prime an oil paint pen, begin by removing the cap and holding the pen upright. The tip should be pointed upward.

Use your finger to press the tip all the way down, as far as it will go. Replace the cap and shake the pen vigorously while it is still in the upright position.

Like nail polish, there is a ball inside the pen. This ball will help the paint to mix and be ready for use.

Remove the cap once again, and press the nib down on a piece of scrap paper several times until the paint begins to flow. Test the paint by drawing a line. If you can draw a line without having the color run out or break up, the pen is ready to use. If the line does break, shake it up and prime the nib again.

Using Oil Paint Markers

There are all kinds of ways that you can use oil paint markers. I have often used them to paint details on acrylic and oil paintings. They can even be used to erase mistakes on acrylic paintings once the acrylic paint has dried.

You can use oil-based paint pens for window lettering and art. If you are into crafting, you will love oil paint pens for painting on mugs and glasses. They can be used on wood, canvas, and just about any other surface you would paint on.

Oil-based paint markers are used just as you would use any other markers. All you have to do is draw and color, and let your imagination go wild!


If you find that you have difficulty painting fine details with a liner brush, or if you just want to play around with something different, I recommend giving oil paint pens a try. They are loads of fun to work with, and your artwork will be pretty much permanent.

Try using these pens in addition to brushes and regular acrylic or oil paints to add details and colors to your paintings. You won’t be disappointed!

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*image by shkolnica-123.mail.ru/depositphotos