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.

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