The 7 Best Coloring Tools for Your Next Project

The Best Coloring Tools You Can Buy

When you start a coloring book company, there are things you expect.  You expect to learn about different types of paper.  It’s not a surprise when you become totally proficient at PhotoShop.  You also expect to meet other fabulous people — from coloring enthusiasts to marketing folks to other small business owners.  You might even expect to learn about the best coloring tools out there.  All of this is part of the process.

Then there are the things you DON’T expect.  You’re surprised to find how much of creating a coloring books company has nothing at all to do with coloring or books at all (hello, tax laws!).  You certainly don’t expect to suddenly find yourself sorting through military licensing agreements (WHAT?!?).  And you are TOTALLY unprepared for the amount of free stuff that people send you!

Free stuff???*

But I am not complaining.  (NOT AT ALL.)  Free stuff is as awesome as it sounds.  And, EVEN BETTER … most of it is free COLORING stuff!  We get piles of free pencils, boxes of free markers, envelopes full of paper samples, and tons of free pens.  And we get to try them ALL.

But the best part?  The best part is that between the (many, many, MANY) coloring supplies we’ve bought ourselves, and the oodles of stuff we’ve gotten to try out, we have gotten the chance to try A LOT of coloring supplies.  And we’ve got opinions on which are the best coloring tools out there.

And so, we want to share with you our VERY FAVORITE coloring tools!  (Fair notice: some of these have been supplied to us for free to try.  Some we purchased.  ALL of the opinions are entirely our own and not influenced by the generosity of the companies.  We won’t steer you wrong.)

Now, every colorist has a favorite medium.  I get that.  Some of you love gel pens.  Some are crazy for glitter.  I’m not going to get into a pencil versus marker debate here.  I’ll leave you each to your favorite genre of coloring tools, but within each type, we’ve highlighted the ones that we think are the best coloring tools.

Let’s get started!


package of markers

Chameleon Color Tones

These brush markers and perfect for easy blending and shading.  Our favorite thing about these markers is that you can vary the shade of the marker by touching the points together in the mixing tube.  (Go back and read that again!  How cool is that?!?)  These (like most markers) are not great for use on detailed, intricate designs, because they have a wider tip.  And, it’s important to remember that markers will bleed, so make sure to use them on coloring books with thick, single-sided pages (like ours!) with a sheet of paper in between the pages to prevent accidental marks on following pages.

Gel Pens

package of pens

Pilot G-2 Premium Retractable

Confession: I am a gel pen addict.  Every time I see a pack on sale, I think “I should try those!”  (This is why I have over a dozen packs on my shelf … they’re all for research, I swear!  Don’t judge!)  Honestly, I’ve tried a ton, and nearly all brands are mostly the same in terms of quality, ease of use, ink flow, and the number of colors in each set.  What sets the Pilot G-2s apart is how smooth they are.  The fact that they’re retractable is also handy because it means there’s no cap to lose (which I’ve done), so the pens don’t dry out.  Bonus: the pens are refillable, so you don’t waste money constantly throwing out pen barrels.  (Also, less stuff going in the landfills, so that’s a bonus.)

Glitter Gel Pens

colored pens

Linc Metallic Glitter Gel Pens

I love these pens so much that I’m considering becoming a retailer.  These are by far the smoothest glitter gel pens I’ve ever used.  And, they are surprisingly inexpensive — glitter gel pens (of any quality) are generally significantly more expensive, and for really great ones (like these!) I would expect to pay two to three times as much.  For the purpose of planning your palettes, keep in mind that the colors are a bit darker than the tops would have you believe; they’re more like jewel tones than pastels.  Also, I will say that these take longer to dry than regular gel pens, but they are SO worth it.

Colored Pencils

colored pencils


Step away from your old colored pencils.  These are sooooooo smooth.  I know, giant shocker: Prismacolor makes awesome colored pencils (I think they’re probably on every list of “best coloring tools” out there).  But SERIOUSLY — if you aren’t using these yet, you need to be!  Their soft core means that you don’t have to press hard to lay down color, and it gives you control of your shading.  These are also great for blending.

Colored Pencils (cheaper alternative)

colored pencils


Ok, so not everyone is prepared to drop major cash on Prismacolor.  (I get it.)  Though these aren’t as smooth as the Prismacolors, they’re also (at the moment of writing this) less than 1/3 of the price.  (Though not to say these are cheapo pencils, either.  These are actually rebranded Marco Raffine pencils.  I’d call them mid- to high- end.)  These are the ones I take with me when I travel.

Easy Shading

colored pencils

Koh-I-Noor Tri Tone Colored Pencils

These are so unique and fun to use that I had to include them.  Each pencil is made up of three complementary colors — which gives your artwork an immediate and effortless depth.  And, it makes for easy blending and shading.  (This set is listed as having 24 pencils, but it actually has 23 colored pencils and one blender pencil.)

Bullet Journaling

colored pens

PaperMate Flair

With so many fun colors to choose from, my Passion Planner looks like it’s been hit by a rainbow!  These pens don’t bleed through to the back of the page, which makes them perfect for journals, datebooks, and calendars.  These pens have very slender tips, which also makes them great for coloring intricate designs.

So now that we’ve shared OUR favorites … what are yours?  Which are the best coloring tools in your experience?  Which markers, pencils, or pens belong on our next list?  Let us know by email, Facebook post, tweet, Instagram post, or comment, and we might include YOUR idea in a future list!

Oh, and one more thing … would you like to *WIN one of our favorites?!?  We’re hosting a coloring contest in our Facebook group — the Craft and Color Club.  Come join us to learn more!  (And, if you’re reading this long after the contest is over — come and see what we’re up to now!  It’ll be good, I promise!)  And speaking of free stuff -- join our email list to get free printable coloring pages, discount codes, coloring tips, and exclusive early access to our new products!

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