Paint markers are amazingly versatile and can be used to draw on a variety of surfaces including glass, ceramics, paper, stone and fabric. They're a great choice if you want a painted look on your craft projects without having to dig out your paintbrushes and other materials. Paint markers have all of the benefits of painting without the fuss!


They're very useful if you find drawing easier than painting – or if you want to write onto a craft project. Paint markers are widely available and are sometimes referred to as paint pens or acrylic paint pens.

Read on to learn how to use paint pens for all of your craft projects – and where to buy paint pens!

Looking to stock up on more art supplies? Take a look at our guides to the best watercolour paints, best acrylic paints and best drawing tablets for beginners.

Featured image by Unsplash/Mel Poole.

How to use paint pens

Paint pens can draw on pretty much anything! You can use them to decorate cups, to create rock paintings, to add some patterns to trainers or to upcycle an old phone case. Paint markers can also be used to create paintings without the need for a brush and dry quickly – perfect when you're in a hurry.

What are paint pens? They're essentially markers that are filled up with paint and are available in a wide range of colours from pastel to bright neon and metallic shades. They can be filled with acrylic paint or an oil-based paint, but some people also use the term to refer to permanent ink marker pens. Paint pens are available in most craft or art stores, as well as online retailers.

When you start using paint pens for a project, press the nib down on a piece of paper a few times to get the paint flowing. Acrylic paint pens will work on most surfaces, but you might want to test it on a small area before starting your project to check that it works on that material.

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Paint markers are easy to use on rough surfaces such as wood or paper, but will take longer to dry on smooth surfaces such as glass or ceramics. They may also come off smooth surfaces more easily.

If you're planning to use paint markers on a mug or plate, check that the ones you're using are food-safe. If they're not, then you might have to keep your makes for decorative purposes. You can usually fix the paints onto ceramics by baking them in the oven and there are lots of great tutorials online which explain how to do this safely. You can also protect your designs by sealing them using a varnish spray – if you use varnish then you won't be able to use the mug or plate for food or drink. You'll need to hand-wash your crockery to protect the designs as they may come off in the dishwasher.

Paint pens dry quickly and are opaque, so you can layer colours on top of each other. You may need to go over the colours more than once for best results. If you go over the paint while it's still wet, you can blend the colours together.

Paint markers are suitable for children to use with adult supervision – just check that the pens that you're using are non-toxic and we'd recommend giving them an old t-shirt or apron to wear to keep their clothes clean.

If you're looking for paint marker projects for inspiration, try our how to paint pumpkins project for Halloween, learn how to make a doodled vase (see the picture below) or make DIY painted plant pots.

How to use paint pens – doodled vases

Where to buy paint pens

Ready to get started? Here are some of the best paint pens to buy so you can start your next creative project…

1. Posca paint pens

Posca paint pens are one of the best-known brands of paint markers – and with good reason. These high-quality paint pens are suitable for use on a variety of surfaces, from wood to textiles. Posca paint pens come in a wide range of colours including pastel and metallic paint markers. Before you splash out on the complete set, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the pens and how they work. If you love using them, you can always add a set of pastel pens or metallics to your art stash at a later date. This set of 10 markers is a great pick for beginners with a selection of colours to play with. These pens have a thick 5mm nib, but Posca does produce paint markers with finer tips too.

How to use paint pens – Posca markers

2. Arteza acrylic paint markers

This set of acrylic paint pens from Arteza is perfect for beginners. It contains a selection of 20 markers in vibrant shades, including three metallic acrylic paint pens. These paint pens are quick-drying, non-toxic and opaque, so they're suitable for all of your art projects. As an added bonus, these pens also come with replaceable tips and tweezers, so you can remove old pen tips if they get damaged. Like the Posca paint markers, they work well on most surfaces including canvas, glass, wood and stone. The acrylic paint markers have fine 1mm tips and are brilliant for detailed work. Arteza has a 100% guarantee, so if you're not completely satisfied with the pens they'll send you a replacement pack.

How to use paint pens – Arteza acrylic markers

3. Derwent paint pens

Derwent has a well-deserved reputation for producing exquisite drawing and painting supplies – and these paint pens are no exception. The Derwent paint markers are lightfast and permanent when dry. They have 0.5mm tips suitable for adding detail to your artwork – you can even use them on your paintings. The Derwent paint pens are available in four different packs, so you can choose the colours that you want.

How to use paint pens – Derwent paint markers

4. Liquitex paint markers

This Liquitex acrylic marker pack is a great starter set for anyone wanting to experiment with paint markers. It includes four bold colours, plus white and black acrylic markers. They're highly pigmented so the results will be bright and lightfast. These are also suitable for kids to use.

How to use paint markers – Liquitex

5. MHSEcoFriendly acrylic paint pens

This set of acrylic paint pens is a good choice for children to use. They're affordable, eco-friendly and non-toxic meaning that they're safe for kids to draw with. This is a good set to buy if your children have been watching TikTok videos and have decided that they want to have a go at rock painting! They can be used to draw on a range of materials and have a fine 0.7mm tip. If you're using them for rock painting, try painting the rock with a layer of acrylic paint first and use these pens to draw your own creative designs over the top.

How to use paint pens – MHSEcoFriendly paint pens

6. Molotow One4all acrylic marker neon set

Add some vibrant colours to your DIY projects with this fun paint marker set produced by Molotow. You'll soon be adding flashes of neon to all of your creations! These paint markers are highly opaque with a slight gloss finish. They're UV-resistant too, so the colours shouldn't fade much over time.

How to use paint markers – Molotow One4all neon markers

7. Posca pastel paint pens

Your favourite Posca paint pens also come in a range of pastel colours! We think this beautiful set will inspire you to make stunning craft projects in a range of subtle colours. It can be used with other paint pens or you could just buy this set by itself and have fun combining the pastel colours on all of your makes. This set is high quality – like the rest of the Posca range – and can be used on everything from paper to fabric. These pens have slightly finer tips than Posca's set of 10 markers, so they're great for more detailed drawings. This pastel paint marker set would make a wonderful gift for an artistic friend too.

How to use paint pens – Posca pastel markers

8. Lyra Mark All multisurface paint markers

The Lyra Mark All paint pens can be used to create bright drawings on most surfaces including brick, plastic and fabric. These paint pens have a matt finish with a 2mm nib and come in a good range of colours.

How to use paint markers – Lyra Mark All paint pens

9. Posca paint marker set of 40

If you love your Posca paint markers, then this is the ultimate set for you to buy. It contains a staggering 40 paint pens to inspire all of your creative work. The paint marker set includes a beautiful range of colours, so you're bound to find everything you need in this kit. This would be a great gift for an artist, illustrator or an art student. It also includes an instructional how to leaflet with lots of tips and advice.

How to use paint markers – Posca set of 40

10. Molotow One4all paint markers set of 70

This is the ultimate paint marker set for professional artists and illustrators. It comes with a staggering 70 markers in every colour you could wish for. Unlike many other types of paint markers Molotow's paint markers are refillable, which makes them a great option if you use paint pens a lot in your work. This brand is non-toxic and highly opaque with a slight gloss finish.

How to use paint markers – Molotow set of 70


Sarah OrmeDigital Editor, Gathered

Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of – and before that our sister website – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine,, and She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints

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