Using paint pens for rocks instead of traditional acrylic paints and brushes gives you more control of the design details, and makes rock painting more convenient. They’re also easily portable (no hauling around bottles, brushes, and palettes), letting you take your crafting wherever you go. I’ve created a list of the best paint pens for rock painting, along with the pros and cons of each one, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
Best Paint Pens for Painting Rocks
- Posca Paint Markers are the delight of the crafting community right now, and are definitely worth the hype. These pigment paint markers are non-toxic, water based, and permanent on porous surfaces like rocks. Not only are they my choice for the best paint pens for rocks, they’re also one of my favorite rock painting supplies overall!
Posca Paint Pens come in a variety of different bullet tip sizes, including extra-fine (.7mm), fine (.9-1.3mm), medium (1.8-2.5mm), and broad (4.5-5.5mm). There are also brush, metal fine, and chisel tip styles available, but are more suitable for other uses. For rock painting, the extra-fine, fine, and medium bullet tip markers are the most popular for their size and versatility.
The color range for these paint markers is also huge. 37 regular colors, as well as 6 fluorescent colors. Plus 8 metallic and 8 glitter colors. You can layer colors and mix colors, and the tips are washable and replaceable. There is really nothing I don’t love about them.
Really, they’re that good.
Beginner recommendations: I recommend starting with a fine tip variety pack of colors, and a set of white in multiple tip sizes. This will make a great basic multipurpose marker kit for rock painting.
- Sakura Pen-Touch paint markers are a great all-around paint marker for a variety of surfaces, including smooth rocks. They’re opaque, which creates bold colors even on dark surfaces, and they’re waterproof. They come in 3 tip sizes (.7, 1.0, and 2.0mm).
The biggest downside?
The limited range of colors. Pen-touch markers are available in red, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, black, gold, silver, and copper. My favorites are the metallic 1mm bullet point markers, the finish on the metallic pens looks beautiful on painted rocks.
- Pitt Artist Pens
Wait, these aren’t paint markers. What are you trying to pull here?
Ok, true. But while Pitt Pens aren’t technically paint pens, they work similarly. These high quality artist pens are filled with India Ink, which is permanent and fade proof. The dark colors cover especially well, while the lighter colors are more transparent and able to be layered over a white base coat for interesting effects. The tip is solid enough in both the regular and brush-tip versions that it won’t bend or smush.
While pricey, Pitt Artist Pens will last a long time and can be used for a variety of other mixed-media projects. They’re great all-around pens to have in your craft stash. A black and a white pen are great pieces to start, and are a no-brainer to use if you already have them in your art stash. Find them at the big craft stores or small independent art stores.
- Sharpie Oil-Based paint pens dry a bit glossy, for a finish that is different than the rest of the rock painting markers. They come in 15 colors, dry quickly, and are easy to buy individually if you only want a few colors. The biggest bonus of these markers is that they can be found in most big box stores, which is a convenience over the other options. Sharpie Oil-Based markers also don’t bleed or change colors when sealed like regular sharpies do. Because these are oil-based paint markers, clean-up is more difficult than water-based brands.
Related Post: Easy Rock Painting Ideas for All Ages
A Note about Drawing on Rocks with Sharpies:
Can you use Sharpies on rocks?
Well, yes. Technically it works. Regular Sharpie markers will show up if you use them to draw on rocks. But should you use Sharpies to draw on rocks? It depends.
If you’re just looking for a quick fun rock craft to do with kids, then Regular Sharpies will work. But if you want to make painted rocks that last without fading and can be placed outside, you’ll be way better off using one of the other markers above.
Some tips for using Sharpies on rocks to improve your results:
- Use a base coat of acrylic paint or sealer. Rocks are porous, and Sharpies will bleed into them, creating a blurry design.
- Sealing rocks painted with Sharpie markers requires an extra step. Using a brush-on or spray sealer directly over Sharpie will smear and blur, ruining your design completely. For better results, first let the rocks dry for at least 24 hours. Apply 2 or more coats of Mod Podge or white glue, then apply sealer after drying.
Other Pens for Rock Decorating:
I personally prefer acrylic paint or paint pens for rock painting. But there are a few other good options if you want a different look, or want to use what you might already have on hand.
Gel Pens. Used for a multitude of applications, gel pens are also great for drawing on rocks. Use them for drawing more intricate designs directly onto rocks or over an acrylic paint base coat. They’re available in a multitude of colors, as well as metallics, neons, and other specialty types. Sakura Gelly Roll and Signo Uniball are high-quality brands with excellent coverage. Gel pen tips can be really tiny, so broad/bold tips will show up better on rocks while still giving a detailed design.
Signo Uniball White. This specific gel pen is kind of the unicorn of white pens. It has thick and opaque white ink that doesn’t require going over your lines multiple times. Whether you want to draw detailed designs directly onto dark stones or to add details over regular acrylic paint designs, the White Signo Uniball is an excellent choice.
Chalk Pens (or Chalk Markers)- Some people like the specific look of chalk markers, and may already have them at home for other projects. If you like the look, these will also give good coverage.
Enjoy painting, you can do so much with paint pens and rocks!
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