So what is a Gel Pen and why are so many using them for Adult Coloring?

Coloring of Bird with CulaLuva Gel Pens

So what is a Gel Pen and why are so many using them for Adult coloring?

A gel pen is a pen that has Gel Ink in the inner tube instead of ink. Gel Ink is a water based gel that has pigment suspended in it to make an opaque substance. That is how you get those bright and vivid colors you are all getting to know and love. 

Gel Pens do work a little differently to the normal pen & ink that you are used to using. So it is important to be familiar with its anatomy and how to use and care for them. 

Gel pens have been around for years and many have loved using them for writing in journals and taking notes, I have personally used them for note taking most of my life starting  at nursing school & university. I even got reasonably good at drawing stick figures and when I say reasonably good I mean I got good because I got very fast at drawing stick figures in lectures LOL.! I should give a disclaimer here that the actual stick figures themselves were very bad and I would even say that a 5 year old would do a much better job. I do see that there are courses over the web these days perhaps I should enrol? A doodling course as well would be great.

Literally anything you can use a pen or a pencil for you can use with a gel pen and we have many customers using gel pens in scrap booking, card making, invitations, bible journaling and journaling. Writing drawing and doodling. If you use them for anything else not mentioned, please let us know and we can add it to our ever growing list of gel pen usage.

We do have post in here about Gel Pen Anatomy and it is worth having a look at this, as it goes into detail about how a Gel Pen is made and what the names of the components are. There are 2 very important things to know about Gel Pens so that you can have trouble free usage.

  1. Always keep the lids on the pens when not in use to avoid the ink drying out or leaking.
  2. If you happen to get a pen that wont let the ink flow. On a scrap piece of paper draw in circles until you get the ink to work. Should take a few seconds but every so often you might get a stubborn pen in which case you just keep drawing in circles until the ink flows onto the page. 

Adult Coloring is growing very huge as a relaxation hobby and gel pens are now being used in very large quantities for coloring.

My initial reaction was, why on earth would I want to use pens to color a picture? Isn't that what colored pencils and crayons are for? Actually to be perfectly honest, my first question was why on earth as an adult would I want to start ‘coloring in again?  Surely that is a rather backwards step into childhood, that I would rather not have to re-live... but that is another story for another time.. LOL ... perhaps?

Let’s get back to why would I want to use Gel Pens to color in a picture.  Normally as you know ink pens are used for writing and I thought would include Gel Pens. After all that is all I have ever used a Gel Pen for. I personally have loved writing with Gel Pens. Yes, they do use up the ink quicker (That is normal because of the thicker Gel Ink as opposed to normal ink which is much thinner) but they are so lovely to write with. The Gel Ink is so much smoother to write with and that means less stress on my hands and fingers. Even better now that I am lots older... yes the arthritis has crept in and I do not particularly want to go through the thumb joint operation again (once was enough) so using Gel Pens to write with has made that part less painful.

But I still struggled with the concept of Adult Coloring??? 

I do not know who came up with the idea of using Gel Pens for coloring (or in fact Adult Coloring to start with) in our new adult coloring phase but as it turns out it is a great idea. It really is as relaxing as many say and for those of us (like me) that are creatively challenged, I can still make a reasonably good looking picture by coloring and its classed as a creative work. 

So I should point out, that I have taken to Adult Coloring like a duck to water and have found it incredibly soothing even when I am getting myself very perplexed about which color pen to use next... LOL

Gel Pens as mentioned already, write so smoothly that they place less friction on hands and fingers so are easier to color write draw and doodle with. Because of this smoothness Gel Pens make it easier on those with painful joints. If you happen to be a person who still takes written notes then these pens make it less physically stressful as well. Not so tiring on your body. The Gel Pen will still place less stress on your joints and allow you to color for longer periods. Unlike a pencil there is less physical drag on on a page with a gel pen. The great feature of taking notes with Gel Pens is the array of colors available and this is wonderful to be able to add to note taking by using those colors to distinguish different sections of your notes.


Apart from it being easier on the hands and joints the colors are stunning and really make the pictures pop off the page with a great variety of vivid colors and there is a gorgeous shimmer from the glitter pens. There is a shimmer from the CulaLuva brand anyway. To let you in on a little secret, I took up this new past time of adult coloring and I have to admit I am hooked & so is Suzanne the other owner of CulaLuva. She is way more addicted than I am. Most of the coloring that is done by CulaLuva is the work that has been colored by Suzanne. She sneaks off in her little cabin with the two dogs Pebbles & Peanut and they all cuddle up in the recliner together and color away for hours. If Pebbles had thumbs I am sure she would be coloring as well. She watches Suzanne so intently I think she helps the ink onto the page. She definitely chooses the colors.

Anyway back to Gel Pens and their uses. So Adult coloring is a great use for these pens as the colors do really bring to life any picture you are working on. We have seen great works from our customers who have used both gel pens and coloring pencils on the same piece and are getting very adventurous by using many different mediums together and are even blending the Gel Pen colors now which is very effective. 

We would love to hear more from you our CulaLuva Customers on your own experiences of coloring drawing and doodling with gel pens. We would love to share your works on our website if you would like us to that is. Our focus is you and your experience so please don’t be shy we look forward to hearing from you all. If you are anything like us in that you don’t think your creative works and coloring are good enough … we don’t look for perfection. If anything your story and your work will show us who you are, the unique and wonderful individual that you are, so please share as this will give others the ”motivation” to share theirs as well We don’t want this blog to be all about CulaLuva.

What is a Gel Pen?

What are Gel Pens anyway?

Gel Pens have been around for many years. They have been used in many ways including, writing, note taking, drawing, doodling, scrap booking, invitation & card making. They are renowned for vivid colors that pop off the page. More recently the popularity of Adult Coloring has drawn Gel Pens into this great way to relax and unwind. So we thought we would give you a heads up on what your Gel Pen is made of and what the important parts are.

As you can see by the infographic there are a few components that go into making a Gel Pen. Gel Pens are comprised of:

A. Pen Body

which makes up your outer tube: the inner tube, nib, rubber stopper, lid and the end cap

B. Gel Ink

which makes up the ink and the type of ink


The Outer Tube is the hard protective skin for a gel pen. It can come in varying widths, lengths and thicknesses depending on the brand. Its function is to house all the inner components and the gel ink so your pen functions as it should and is protected. It also adds to your comfort as to how you hold the pen and even having health issues like arthritis for example will in some cases make you decide how thick (wide) your outer pen should be. For some of us getting older means we need a bigger grip as our hands and fingers may not be as nimble as they once were. 

The Inner Tube houses the Gel Ink and just like the Outer Tube this inner tube can come in different widths and lengths which is why you should never try to measure the ink amount in pens by just looking at the level of ink in each tube. It does vary between brands as to size of the Inner Tube. This is definitely a time not to judge a 'book by its cover'.

The NIB (some call it a TIP) is another important component as this is the part that determines the smoothness and flow of the ink onto your page. Again depending on the brand depends on the size NIBs you end up with. Some come with the same size for the entire set and some come with 2-3 different sizes depending on the quality of the product. The CulaLuva brand comes with 3 Non-Interchangeable NIB sizes (0.6, 0.8 & 1.0mm). Generally the size of the Nib will be determined by the type of Gel Ink inside each Inner Tube. For example the Glitter Pens come with a 1.0mm NIB because you need a bigger size to allow the glitter to pass through without clogging the NIB . These different size pen nibs gives you more flexibility with your work. It gives you the ability to get into smaller places to color, draw & doodle. The nibs/tips are not interchangeable (think of the mess you would make with ink everywhere taking off the tips) The great thing about CulaLuva having 3 different sizes is that you will get less clogging issues because of the different sized nibs/tips.

Remember also that these Gel Pens have smooth flowing gel ink so your pens should write and color smoothly. You will however find that there will be a different feel to the flow between the 3 tip sizes. This is normal and comes about because of the sizing. The smaller sizes do not feel as smooth as the larger ones, but still flow smoothly. The reason being is that the smaller the nib/tip the less ink that flows through to the page, hence does not feel as smooth as a larger size. 

You will see by the infographic below that there is also a small amount of OIL at the opposite end to the NIB. The oil is there to prevent the ink from leaking and drying out at that end.

One of the most important parts of a Gel Pen is found inside of the Lid and it is the Rubber Stopper. This small part sits inside the Lid of the gel pen and once the Lid is placed onto the pen this Rubber Stopper sits over the Nib. This important action prevents the gel ink from leaking and STOPS the gel ink from drying out.

The Gel Pen lid should always be placed back onto the pen after each use, and you can tell when the lid is correctly place by listening or feeling for the click. If you feel or hear a click the cap/lid is where it should be and can be placed back into your pen holder (whatever you choose to use). 

B. Gel Ink

Gel Ink is made of a water based gel where pigment has been suspended. This makes the ink very thick and opaque. That is why these inks can be used on darker surfaces. So the ink creates a bolder more opaque line.

Pen ink including Gel Ink is measured by Ink Weight, & not by looking at the amount that is present inside the Inner Ink Tube. So weight is the only way to make sure every pen has the same amount of ink and it’s the best way to be able to compare to other brands. Even different brands have different widths & lengths of the Inner Ink Tube so it is impossible to compare them by looking unless you know their weights.

Things you need to remember are that Gel Ink does take a little longer to dry than normal ink because of the way the ink is made. However the CulaLuva Gel ink does dry quicker than many brands. We always suggest you test it first on the medium you are using because it will depend on the paper or card you use at the time. Many serious gel pen users suggest using a blotting page or piece of paper to be placed over the recently used coloring page or written work so it can soak up any excess ink until it is completely dry. Again we always suggest you test everything you do first to make sure you do not make a mistake. 

Many of you have asked us what is the best way to store your GelPens and even though there is no actual rule we always advise that it is best to lay the pens down, hence the trays each of the CulaLuva sets come in is a perfect way to store them. But it is not something that you have to do. We suggest laying them down as it may take pressure off the ink inside the inner tube but we have many customers that store their pens in an upright fashion without any issues.

As you would have also read, the CulaLuva pens are smooth to write with so should make your creative time a pleasant frustration free activity.

REMEMBER also to check your brand to make sure the gel pens are Non-Toxic, Odorless & Acid Free, like the Culaluva range. Not all Gel pens and Gel ink are made the same. You can also get access to the downloadable CulaLuva eBook once you have purchased a set of Gel Pens by clicking on the link inside the first email you receive after purchase. This eBook will cover most of what you need to know about gel pens and their use. Plus you get 4 free coloring pages.

CulaLuva Gel Pen Anatomy Infographic

This infographic is designed by the girls at CulaLuva 2016. Can repost the full Graphic giving link backs and credit. No part publishing. Please contact us if you wish to use this or need more information.