Guide to Choosing White Gel Ink Pens and Markers

Guide to Choosing White Gel Ink Pens and Markers

March 25, 2014 - Posted by Elaine to Guides

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.


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 Favorite: Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Ink Pen

Pens by line width, from fine to broad
Pens by ink opacity, from translucent to opaque
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 mimics the way natural light reflects, and will really bring your artwork to life!

Product used: Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip 1.0

The timeless look of black and white makes white ink great for scrapbooks and photo albums. White ink on dark colored paper looks especially striking alongside black and white photographs — you can add fun captions and decorations to your photo album with a decorative gel ink pen.

Products used: Sakura Glaze, Sakura Souffle

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

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.

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 favorite: Sharpie Water-Based Paint Marker

Markers by line width, from fine to broad
Markers by opacity, from translucent to opaque
Marker performance on gloss paper - much clearer!
Erasable marker performance on chalkboard
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

An erasable board marker can also be used to add temporary decor to any smooth surface. Add a little bit of festive artwork to storefronts and shop windows to really draw customers, or you could ask the kids to decorate car windows for a family road trip! The ink also wipes away easily with a damp cloth.

Product used: Raymay Fluorescent Board Marker

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

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. Try a few of them in your next project, 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 Ink Pen 0.8 mm 2 sec Paper
Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip 1.0 Gel Ink Pen 1.0 mm 4 sec Paper
Pilot Juice Gel Ink Pen 0.5 mm 1 sec Paper
Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Ink Pen 0.7 mm 3 sec Paper
Sakura Glaze Gel Ink Pen 1.2 mm 2-3 min Paper, Photos
Sakura Souffle Gel Ink Pen 1.2 mm 2-3 min Paper, Photos
Uni-ball Signo Angelic Gel Ink Pen 0.7 mm 3 sec Paper
Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Ink Pen 1.0 mm 15 sec Paper, Photos
Yasutomo Y&C Gel Stylist Gel Ink Pen 0.7 mm 2 sec Paper
Kuretake Dry-Erase White Ink Marker 1.5 mm 1 min Chalkboard
Kuretake Zig Wink of Stella White Ink Brush Marker 1 mm- 3 mm 10 sec Paper
Marvy Uchida Bistro Chalk White Ink Marker 1.5 mm 3 min Chalkboard
Sharpie Oil-Based Paint White Ink Marker 1.0 mm 2-3 min Plastic/Glossy
Sharpie Water-Based Paint White Ink Marker 1.5 mm 15 sec All
Raymay Fluorescent Board White Ink Marker 1.5 mm 3 min Chalkboard/Glass
Uni Posca PC-5M Paint White Ink Marker 2.0 mm 10 sec All
All tests were done on black construction paper, with some exceptions demonstrating special ink qualities.

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