Guide to Choosing White Gel Pens and Markers

Guide to Choosing White Gel Pens and Markers

October 26, 2015 - Posted by Elaine to Guides, Gel Pens

Guide to Choosing White Gel Pens and Markers

White ink creates unique contrast on dark colored surfaces, making it a valuable tool in the pen case of any artist, scrapbooker, cartoonist, or designer. We carry a large selection of white ink products for all types of applications, and have created this guide to help you navigate through our white wonderland.

Read on to learn more about white ink and find the ideal tool for your project!

  • Tip Material: Metal tips, like those found on gel ink pens, produce thin, consistent lines that are ideal for precise line work in lettering or illustrating. Felt or brush tips, like those found on markers, produce thick, bold strokes with some line variation depending on the amount of pressure applied.
  • Line Width: A pen with a thin line is great for fine details — for example, if you are adding tiny white highlights to a drawing, a gel ink pen is best. On the other hand, if you're making a signboard that needs to be visible from more than a foot away, then a marker is a more effective choice.
  • Opacity: Less opaque inks allow the underlying surface color to show through, resulting in a subtle look. Opaque inks provide greater contrast and are easier to read or see, so choose an opaque white ink product for any project that calls for high visibility.

We divided our selection of white ink products into two main categories — white gel ink pens and white ink markers — and put all of them to the ultimate test.

White Ink Gel Pens

Watch this video for a quick look at some of our favorite white gel pens!

The images below show the variation and performance of these white gel ink pens. Even within the same brand, different models had varying levels of opacity and line width.

Finer tipped pens tend to be more transparent, since the pen tip is too narrow to accommodate the flow of a thick, opaque ink. It took multiple passes over the same text to get the finer pens to perform even close to the opacity of the the broader ones.

On the other hand, the broadest pens laid a thick line right from the first pass, but had significantly longer dry times. The two decorative pens in particular, the Sakura Glaze and Sakura Souffle, were easily smudged because these inks took over two minutes to fully dry.

Staff Favorites: Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Pen, Sakura Decorese Gel Pen

White Ink Gel Pens
White ink gel pens by line width, from fine to broad
Pens by line width, from fine to broad
White ink gel pens by ink opacity, from translucent to opaque
Pens by ink opacity, from translucent to opaque
White Gel Pen Applications: Highlighting Comic Art
White ink pens are great for adding highlights to comic or manga art. After you've finished inking your favorite characters, add white highlights to eyes, hair, and clothing to make your drawings more vibrant. The white accents mimic the way natural light reflects, and can really bring your artwork to life!

Product Used: Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip DX

White Gel Pen Applications: Scrapbooking
The timeless look of black and white makes white ink great for scrapbooks and photo albums, and it is especially striking alongside black and white photographs. Add fun captions and decorations to your photo album with a decorative gel ink pen! Certain pens, like the Decorese, are specially made for writing on glossy photo surfaces.

Product Used: Sakura Glaze, Sakura Souffle

Also Consider: Sakura Decorese

White Gel Pen Applications: Handmade Cards
White ink is not only for writing on black paper — it also shows up wonderfully on kraft paper, colored construction paper, colored envelopes, and much more. White ink on various colored backgrounds adds a light touch to DIY greeting cards, invitations, and other paper crafts.

Product Used: Uni-ball Signo Broad

Also Consider: Uni-ball Signo Angelic

White Gel Pen Applications: Correction Fluid
A bonus feature of white ink pens is that the bold, opaque ink doubles as correction fluid! Correction tapes are convenient, but are often too large for small errors. Artists and students alike will appreciate the portability of a correction pen that is great for cleaning up the edges of an illustration or clearing smudges before photocopying a document.

This writing sample shows white ink performance on top of a Sharpie marker and a Sakura Pigma Micron pen.

White Ink Marker Pens

Watch this video for a quick look at some of our favorite white marker pens!

Porous-tipped markers produce thick lines, and these are no exception. The markers we tested all have a tip width of at least 1.0 mm and are not recommended for fine detail work, but would be ideal for marking large text on a poster or chalkboard. The non-erasable markers can also be used on a variety of craft projects.

White ink markers perform very well on glossy paper, smooth matte paper, and nonporous surfaces like glass or plastic. Low-viscosity paint ink makes them less suitable for porous surfaces like construction paper, which absorbs the ink too quickly

Staff Favorites: Sharpie Water-Based Paint Marker, Uni Posca Paint Markers

White Ink Marker Pens
White ink markers by line width, from fine to broad
Markers by line width, from fine to broad
White ink markers by opacity, from translucent to opaque
Markers by opacity, from translucent to opaque
White ink marker performance on gloss paper
Marker performance on gloss paper - much clearer!
Erasable white ink marker performance on chalkboard
Erasable marker performance on chalkboard
White Ink Marker Applications: Chalkboards
If you want to replicate a vintage, chalkboard-inspired look, then try a chalk marker — it's easy to use, you can update your design anytime, and you won't have to deal with messy chalk dust. Best of all, chalk markers are erasable with just a little bit of water, so you won't need to worry about making mistakes.

Product Used: Marvy Uchida Bistro Chalk Marker

White Ink Marker Applications: Window Art
An erasable marker can also be used to add temporary decor to any smooth surface. Doodle festive artwork on storefronts and shop windows to draw in customers, or ask the kids to decorate car windows on a family road trip! Both the RayMay Board and Uni Posca ink can be wiped away easily with a damp cloth.

Product Used: RayMay Fluorescent Board Marker

Also Consider: Uni Posca Paint Marker

White Ink Marker Applications: DIY Gift Wrap
In need of a last-minute gift wrapping idea? Reuse a brown paper bag as wrapping paper! Depending on the size of your gift, you can use a grocery bag or a smaller lunch bag. Just cut the bag apart until it lays flat, and then use a white ink marker to add some flair. You can draw dots, swirls, stripes, geometric patterns, or any other designs you can think of.

Product Used: Sharpie Water-Based Paint Marker

White Ink Marker Applications: Decorations
A permanent white ink marker can transform an ordinary, solid-color item into an unique customized piece! We drew whimsical designs on one of the many plastic pen cups we have here in the office, and the result was an instant makeover. This marker works well on plastic, glass, and ceramic, so you can also use it to decorate phone cases, mugs, flower vases, and more!

Product Used: Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Marker


Though not as ubiquitous as black or blue, there are occasions when white ink truly shines. Whether these pens further inspire your creativity or simply get you through a busy workday, they are a valuable and versatile tool to have on hand. Pick up our JetPens White Ink Pen Sampler, which contains all of our favorites, or take a look at all our white ink products here.

Our customers are always discovering unique uses for their white ink pens and markers — some of these pens have even found a permanent home in research labs, or in medical clinics for marking x-ray radiographs. Do you have a unique use for white ink? Tell us below in the comments!

Model Type Approx. Line Width Opacity Dry Time Ideal Surface
Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip 0.8 Gel Pen 0.8 mm 2 sec Paper
Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip 1.0 Gel Pen 1.0 mm 4 sec Paper
Pilot Juice Gel Pen 0.5 mm 1 sec Paper
Sakura Decorese Gel Pen 1.0 mm 1-2 min Paper, Photos
Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen 0.7 mm 3 sec Paper
Sakura Glaze Gel Pen 1.2 mm 2-3 min Paper, Photos
Sakura Souffle Gel Pen 1.2 mm 2-3 min Paper, Photos
Uni-ball Signo Angelic Gel Pen 0.7 mm 3 sec Paper
Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Pen 1.0 mm 15 sec Paper, Photos
Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist Gel Pen 0.7 mm 2 sec Paper
Faber-Castell PITT Artist Marker 2.5 mm 10 sec Paper
Kuretake Dry-Erase Dry-Erase Marker 1.5 mm 1 min Chalkboard
Kuretake Zig Wink of Stella Brush Marker 1 mm- 3 mm 10 sec Paper
Marvy Uchida Bistro Chalk Chalk Marker 1.5 mm 3 min Chalkboard
Sakura Pen-Touch Paint Paint Marker 2 mm 30-40 sec Glossy, Multi
Sakura Solid Paint Marker 3 mm 1 sec All
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint - Fine Paint Marker 1 mm 2-3 min Plastic/Glossy
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint - Medium Paint Marker 2 mm 30-40 sec Glossy, Multi
Sharpie Water-Based Paint Paint Marker 1.5 mm 15 sec All
Raymay Fluorescent Board Chalk Marker 1.5 mm 3 min Chalkboard/Glass
Uni Posca PC-1M Paint Marker 2 mm 20 sec All
Uni Posca PC-5M Paint Paint Marker 2 mm 10 sec All
All tests were done on black construction paper, with some exceptions demonstrating special ink qualities.

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