What’s the best white pen?  (For use with watercolor, gouache, bujo, and more!)

What’s the best white pen? (For use with watercolor, gouache, bujo, and more!)


Hello Friends! It’s Kat, from MeowMeowKapow! To me, white pens are an essential member
of my doodle team. They’re great for making precise highlights
over a number of media, making corrections in your writing, and cleaning up the edges
of a piece if your masking tape didn’t quite do its job. But I’ve had problems in the past-specifically
because I discovered that my preferred white pen, the uniball signo angelic, would reactivate
Sennelier’s Opera Rose paint and become pink, instead of white. To test out these 11 pens, all of which are
listed in the doubly doo, I pulled out one of my bee paper watercolor journals and made
a grid with the things I wanted to test these pens over. We’re trying them on top of that sennelier
paint I mentioned, on pure black ink, prismacolor colored pencils, black gouache, other random
watercolors, and Daniel Smith’s opera rose as well to see if that reactivation thing
is unique to Sennelier. I also almost forgot my 11th pen, the Sakura
Jelly roll, so it had to be squeezed in at the bottom. That’s fine though, many of us are familiar
with the Jelly Roll so there shouldn’t be many surprises there. There’s a separate notebook you’ll see
as well that has thin paper in it, to see if there is any weird oiliness or bleed-through,
and to check waterproofness at the end. To walk you through what’s happening here
with the first pen, this is a Pilot Juice, which comes in a pack of five for $10. One interesting feature of it is that it’s
a click pen, so you don’t have to worry about losing the cap. There are two tests being performed on the
black ink swatch-we’re testing to see the opacity of a single line with each pen, as
well as to see if you can layer the pen well on top of itself without getting a weird texture,
and while still adding opacity. The prismacolor test is a little bit difficult
on this paper and that’s totally my fault-because I’m using cold-pressed watercolor paper
so there’s a lot of texture and for some of the pens it’s difficult to see if they’ve
had any affect. We’ll just say that’s an added layer of
difficulty to the testing and move on? For the book with the blue numbered circles,
I’m filling in the numbers with the pen to see if they bleed through the back at all,
and there will be a waterproof test at the end. Everything else, we’re just simply trying
to see if they reactivate or don’t layer onto these other mediums, like the gouache. This second pen is from a company called Art-N-Fly. I’d never heard of them before, but their
name sounded kind of….. chintzy and I assumed their pens would be a joke. Surprisingly, this pen is actually really
nice! It came in a pack of three for $9, so at $3
a pen they’re not exactly cheap, but they’re not exactly expensive, either. It has a very thin, bright white line. And while it didn’t layer over itself very
well, it did layer over everything else nicely, so I was really surprised at its performance. Pen number three is the Uniball impact, which
are 1 pen for $4. Mostly, I knew what to expect from this pen
since I use the angelic version quite often, and the only difference I can tell between
the impact and the angelic is that it has a slightly wider line. I suppose that could have been inferred from
its name, though. Unsurprisingly, it reactivated with that pesky
sennelier paint, just like it’s Angelic sibling-but excelled in every other test! Pen four is the Uniball Signo angelic, of
which you can get 5 pens for $8. Up to this point, they’ve been my primary
white pen and my favorite aside from when using that one specific color we’ve been
testing. They’re being tested here because they’re
my current standard, but I’m hoping to find a single pen to use no matter what medium
or colors I’m working with! I mostly like that their ink usually flows
really well and they’re a very vivid, bright white. Both uniball pens, by the way, ended up not
being waterproof. I suspect that the ink they use is somehow
similar to gouache in some way, so if this is a feature you do or don’t want in your
pens, now you know! Pen five is the Sakura Decorese, which is
five dollars per pen. I’d never used one of these before and wasn’t
expecting much from it given my experience with the Sakura Jelly roll, but I was definitely
surprised by it! The ink comes from this pen very readily,
and is also very very opaque white. It layered on top of everything super visibly,
including the prismacolor pencils! The Jelly Roll pens usually have a much more
delicate and transparent ink so this was a super cool find! Because of how quickly the ink flows from
the tip of the pen, I did feel like it was a bit difficult to accurately place down lines,
but that’s definitely something easy enough to adjust to. Most other pens make you scribble a little
bit to get them working so having a pen that lets you use it easily from the first stroke
really isn’t a problem at all. The sixth pen is the Uchida Reminisce, which
was one pen for $4. On its packaging, it proudly stated that it
was archival quality, and that it has a super comfort grip. The grip was nice alright, but the pen mostly
wasn’t. It failed the sennelier opera test, and the
layering test, and was otherwise fine enough in the other tests. Also, this pen ended up not being waterproof,
if that’s important to you. Pen seven is this weird giant Faber Castell
thing, coming in at one pen for $5. I didn’t really know what to expect from
it, and as long as you’re okay with a really chunky nib to work with, it’s actually pretty
decent. One weird thing about it, though is that it
doesn’t really seem to get any more opaque when you layer it. But I guess that means it’s the ultimate
in consistency? Eighth up to bat is an oil-based sharpie,
which cost $5 for one. I’ll save you some trouble and just say… It’s definitely not best suited for use
in the ways that I’ve been demonstrating. It barely has any white pigment to it at all
on paper, but I’ve used it before on non-porous surfaces and it works great there! Pen nine is an old friend, by which I mean…. Old foe. I used to use this Sakura pen touch in high
school and hated it then, but couldn’t remember why. Today, I remembered. The ink flows super inconsistently, and you
pretty much have to build up a pile of it somewhere and use that to dip the pen in because
it refuses to write properly otherwise. At five dollars per single pen, despite the
fact that it technically passed most the tests…. I would not recommend this pen. Oh, by the way, it was the only one that sort
of bled through the thin paper, by which I mean it left some weird kind of oil stain
that bled through the other side. Again, really not into this pen. And it’s the only one I would definitely
say stay away from. Tenth up is this Posca ultra fine pen, which
cost $7. I’ve seen these pens all over the place,
but never got to use one myself so I was curious! While the other two pens that needed to be
shaken and pressed to work were not super great, this one was easy to use, flowed well,
and has visible coverage on all mediums! It’s not the brightest white, but it certainly
gets the job done. Like the Faber Castell pen, this also doesn’t
really seem to get more pigment build up when layering, but again…. that just means consistency! Our last pen is one that a lot of people have
at least heard of-the Sakura Jelly Roll. I stopped using this pen as my primary white
because while it is reliable in its coverage and flow, and can eventually be built up to
work more opaquely….. It starts out very light. I’ve never been satisfied with the coverage
its ink provides, and kept finding myself going over and over and over every time I
wanted a brighter highlight or something, so while they are definitely smooth and usable
pens…. I’d only recommend these for someone who
prefers something a bit more subtle. Now that we’ve got all the pens down on
this thin paper, I tested out their water resistance by just smearing a water brush
over them. The only ones that budged at all are the two
Uniball pens and the Uchida Reminisce, which I already mentioned. Not being waterproof isn’t necessarily a
flaw, because it does mean that if you mess up you can always wipe it away and start over
again. This is more just to fully understand the
capabilities of the pens, really. Looking back at the tests, pretty much every
pen did well in almost every category, so it really comes down to opacity and whether
or not they reactivated with that sennelier opera rose. For the record, the pens that failed the sennelier
test were the Pilot Juice, both of the uniball pens, the Uchida Reminisce, and the oil-based
Sharpie. Of the remaining pens, there were three that
stood out to me as overall best coverage and flexibility of use. The first surprise was that Art-n-Fly pen,
which I really didn’t expect much from but actually performed quite nicely. Because they come in a pack of three, it’s
easy for me to just stash one in my travel kit, leave one at home, and throw the third
one in a bag or something without worrying about not having access. Very cool. I was also really delighted by the Sakura
Decorese pen, which I would say had one of the most vibrant and smooth inks I’d ever
tried! You can’t really tell from the footage,
but if you look at it up close in-person it dries slightly raised from the surface of
your paper, and has a slight glossy sheen to it. I have no idea what it’s made of, but I
like it! And last up, there’s a reason people keep
talking about Posca pens. While it doesn’t really get to the brightest
white out there, it’s really smooth to use and I like that it has quite a bit of reliability
in both its flow and its opacity. There’s also bonus points given that I’ve
seen people use these on multiple non-paper surfaces so I suspect it has much greater
potential than what I’ll use it for. What do you think? Which one of these would you like to try? Do you have a favorite white pen already? Let us know in the comments! Until I see you next time, I wish you peace,
love, and shimmering highlights. Bye!

47 Comments

  • Valarie Connell /DrawingWithFire says:

    Great video Kat! 😁 I have the uniball signo & jelly roll, but I'm not impressed with either one. This was definitely very helpful, tfs!! 😃

  • Daphinie C says:

    I’ve been having the same issue with my Uniball Signo on my Daniel Smith watercolors as well. I’m already planning on getting a Posca pen for to try on plexiglass so now I’m even more excited. Thanks for another great video! ❤️

  • Gracie Shack says:

    Awesome! video thank you Kat! ❤️ And I am learning a lot from your videos too! And gel pens are good! They are very helpful! especially if you need white highlights in watercolour paintings! And have a nice day!🌻

  • Dr. Oto Kano says:

    I LOVE YOU!!!!! Omg, this was so enjoyable to watch. You were so thorough in your testing, it was so satisfying. Thank you for taking your time to do it and share the result with us.

  • Ley Saulnier says:

    Ah, the hunt for the perfect white pen! I've tried both the Uniball Signo and the Sakura Gelly Roll and never found a huge difference between either. I find they both fade into whatever I'm writing them on and are never that bright a white. I recently grabbed the Posca marker however and it is rocking my world! I wish I had a steady enough hand to use a teeny brush and white gouache or ink from a bottle but alas, I do not.

  • In Liquid Color says:

    Yaassssssss! Okay, going to watch the video now 😀

  • Ari Weaver says:

    Awesome! I really appreciated this. It included several pens that I had not heard of before.
    I have actually recently purchased a different product from Art-N-Fly: their black, waterproof fineliners in the multiple tip sizes pack of 6. I picked them up because I was irritated that the pack of Microns I previously purchased were completely dried out with extremely infrequent usage within about 3 months. I've had the Art-N-Fly ones for almost two months now and so far they are all still completely functional, albeit with still infrequent use. From what I've seen they are actually waterproof, too. I don't know how well they compare to Microns in other ways as I have limited experience with them, but I was pretty impressed by these Art-N-Fly pens. 🙂 I didn't know they came in white! I'll have to try those. ^^
    Thanks again!

  • mor118 says:

    your videos are great! i really like your style and your recommendations are really helpful. thanks:)

  • CyaneInk Art says:

    The white pen problem! I have tried so many, but lately settled to Uni-ball Posca ultra-fine, works well. I used to have grey tone sketchbook and I really needed great opaque white. Also I like to use white gouache. I have also Pilot G-2 White, it works almost same as sakura gelly roll, only the line is thinner. And I have bunch of Sakura gelly rollers just in case! I try to buy Poscas when they are on sale and I'm always looking cheaper alternatives.
    I like white pencils too. Caran d'Ache luminance is the most opaque white pencil I have. Also pastel pencils work great.

  • Donna G says:

    I have used the Sharpie oil-based white and the Sakura Gelly Roll white marking pens over watercolor paint which has dried and aged. The Sharpie pen is useless for adding white highlights to old paintings. It just isn't opaque enough no matter how much I go over the watercolor. However, it works great to replace the lettering on my keyboard. The Gelly Roll pen came with a set of pens called Souffle. When I first used it, I was using it as I would any other marker; but, then discovered that all I had to do is just make one stroke at a time in the area I wanted to work on. As the ink dried, it got more opaque. So, it works for me. But, the line is not very fine. If I need a finer line, I use my white acrylic ink and a dip pen.

  • beepear says:

    Current favorite has been the Uni Signo. While I have yet to use it, I fell so in love with the red UniPosco brush pen from an ArtSnacks box I bought a white to keep on hand for highlights. Will definitely need to order the decorese, although I'm a little torn on the idea of a shine.

  • Rick Goedegebuure says:

    Everything for sciene😂💙

  • That Anxious Artist says:

    Yes, this is exactly what I've been needing! I think I'm definitely going to be buying the angelic, and I might try that art-n-fly as well. Thanks for this video!

  • M.D. Campbell says:

    Wow, what a terrific exploration of these disparate products! My go-to is the Gelly Roll 08, just because it consistently works the best. The Signo is okay, but for me has been unpredictable. Craft Smart and Sharpie make the liquid based pens, but those aren't good for fine details. Overall, I try to avoid using white gel pens unless necessary, only because they can be so different from pen to pen. But, when I have to, I go Gelly. Also, I don't recommend using any kind of gel pen on colored pencil. The wax can gum up the ball chamber and ruin the pen. Been there. lol! Thanks, Kat. This was very well done! 🙂

  • Vanessa Rottencandy says:

    The Sakura Decorese?! Looks so fancy😁 I mostly use the Uni-ball signo broad. When I purchased it the first time, I didn’t even know that it is like everybody’s favorite. Well, when it ran out, I bought a Pilot gelpen…aaaand I could see why! The pilot one was compared to Uni-ball gelpen a real disappointment regarding opacity. By the way, I have a white Posca Brushpen, which is dried out now, due to heavy inktober abuse. 😅At first I wasn’t so sure about it, since I had some paintflow issues and it’s not the most opaque one….As I used it more, Istarted to really like the pen because it was a good way to achieve some more painterly white effects on the go.

  • arleebean says:

    What a super handy video!! I’m so glad you thought them out in so many different ways. I usually just ask myself, "How’s the flow? Is it opaque?" And am often unpleasantly surprised when I test it on something specific and the pen reacts strangely. This is great. :]

  • Kathryn T. says:

    My go-to for things like this is the ph martin’s bleedproof white ink and a 3-0 size watercolor brush. That’s … not a great option for a lot of people, I realize. But I put it out there.

    Did the DS opera have the same problem?

  • Hotea says:

    Loved this video! I struggle with using the Uniball Signo because it has an extra thin line on the side? I just stuck with the gelly rolls but they aren’t as bright as I want them. Helpful video and new subscriber!

  • S M says:

    Definitely going to be trying the posca and decorese! I deeply enjoy your content, thank you for this

  • Nut Case Art says:

    I recently started to use the Sakura Decorse for mix media or water color paper.
    I'm found on marker paper, or cardstock it falls short for some reason but that's why I use Uni ball Signo's on those more smooth papers.

  • LanaGoesArt says:

    This is probably the biggest selection of white pens I've ever seen! The posca pen gets more opaque depending on how you store it. It's best with the nib down. I use it quite often. ☺

  • SakuBunny says:

    Maybe I'm not seeing it or you don't have it, but is there a scanned version of the test pages that I can sit and look at?

  • Sadie Saves the Day says:

    This is such a comprehensive review! I love all the different surfaces you tested them on. I'm still not a pen kind of lady, but if I ever were, I'd have to check this out again.

  • Kim Leon-Guerrero says:

    Thank you so much for the great review of white pens. I’ve been using the uniball signo but I find it clogs up and that can be very frustrating. I switched to the Sakura decorese and I’m really liking it a lot.

  • fufufuaru says:

    WOW, this is the most comprehensive white pen comparison and testing. Thanks for making this! And yeah, I was surprised when the uni ball signo (both broad and angelic) picked up the paint and colored pen underneath it (can confirm with the Tombow ABTs and Crayola super tips.) Because of that, my sakura gelly roll got more use.

  • Sina Ouerghi says:

    I loved this! Thank you so much for doing this for all of us!

  • Sophie With Markers says:

    Ooo, just the video I needed right now, thanks! 😄

  • Kasey Snow says:

    Nice review! Thanks for taking the time to make this.

  • Ellen Kelly says:

    Have you tried the Gelly Roll Bold yet? They're a fairly new-ish product with a thicker nib than their standard or fine. I've been selling it over the Uniball Signo at the store where I work based on price alone. It costs the same as other Gelly Rolls, and has a bolder line than the Signo… Which makes me sad a little, because I love the Signo, but find them inconsistent with ink flow sometimes. Great video! Thanks for all your hard work.

  • Colleen M says:

    GREAT review! Thank so much!

  • Gracie Shack says:

    Gel pens are great I got a new set and will be reviewing them. your views are wonderful Kat!

  • Tomino says:

    ahhh i really love your videos. this channel deserves so much more!

  • Kaatydid Art says:

    This is such a useful video! I'm a total sucker for my Signo, but it definitely takes some layering to get a nice highlight on watercolors #impatient I'm honestly surprised about the Art-N-Fly? It looks awesome, and I think I will need to get my hands on some of these pens! ♥

  • peter pitre says:

    Thank you…. Very helpful.
    My favorite opaque white pen is Molotow One4all Single White with the Specialtech 1mm.Nib … It my mix media white pen.
    🎨✒👍👌✌

  • Marysu Bennett says:

    What about the water based Sharpie or are the rumors true that it's leaving the realm?? It's been my go to for years!!

  • The Mind of Watercolor says:

    Hey Kat. Just now found this video from you. Awesome, thorough comparison, thanks! I may try a couple of these I'm unfamiliar with. I primarily use the Sakura Gelly Roll with the Signo as a close back up. The Gelly is so very dependable and consistent, and for the type of painting I do just the right opacity. I rarely need a literal "white" highlight and I like to be able to glaze color over the pen marks so permanence is important to me. The Signo, while a bit inconsistent, is still great if I DO need that literal white highlight and won't be painting over it. Great one-two punch.

  • kaylaglazz says:

    I haven't watched yet but I know that sharpie one is crap lmao

  • narkissa03 says:

    Thanks for making this! I bought a white gel pen about a year ago and I absolutely hate it so I’m going to try the Uniball Impact and see how it works for me

  • logan622 says:

    I’m actually looking to find a white pen to color a specific area of plastic for an art project… any thoughts on which of these pens would dry the smoothest, without leaving any streaks? TIA

  • Where the fuck is my goat says:

    I’ve been looking all around for a good white pen. I got the uni-ball signo (the non-angelic one) but I’ve been having a problem; when I use it to cover up something, it looks great and opaque at first, but when it dries, it’s more transparent. For instance, I was using a pink bell pen for outlining, I messed up, and I went to cover it up. However, when I came back a few minutes later, it was a light pink instead of just white. The same thing happens on watercolor or markers, especially with darker colors. Any advice?

  • sophie lee says:

    Thank you so much for making this video

  • Bob Younger says:

    Best Pen , white paper ? OR best pencil. Why does my pencil act like stone over glass?

  • Crystal Vincent says:

    Thank you for this video! I recently started using prismacolours and really needed to find something that I could use to brighten my highlights.

    Being new to the medium in general and doing well, I'm not the type to leave a blank spot for bright whites so I needed something buildable. I've become a fan of your videos! Quick, concise and super informative. Thank you!

  • David McNelley says:

    Could you write out what you said about what it is that white pens reactivate in 0:21–0:25?

    I had trouble catching those words.

    Sonaliay's upper rose something or other?

  • Sammy 124 says:

    Hey Kat! I know this is pretty old, but have you tried the pentel milky pop gel pen? I got it on a whim one day at hobby lobby and I love it!

  • Effie Cross says:

    Thanks for doing this video, it had a lot of great information. I think that a great white pen or marker is something most of us are always looking for. I love my Poscas, and I've found the Sharpie water-based paint marker to be very similar to the Posca, in case someone can find them easier or cheaper than the Poscas.

  • Tanika de Koning says:

    It's pritty hard to find the Wright white pen I try again and will see

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *