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The Best White Pens for Black Paper

The Best White Pen for Writing and Drawing on Black Paper

Writing and drawing with white pens on black paper is a fun way to add some pizzaz to a drawing practice. In our traditional black on white world of mark-making we’re accustomed to putting dark marks on white paper, and perhaps it’s the tonal reversal that’s compelling and unique about white on black drawings. However, finding a good white pen that will show up on black paper can be a challenge. At least it was for me, and I wanted to spare you the hours and expense of trying and testing a ton of pens that might prove disappointing.

A few months ago we invested in a big roll of black paper to cover our art tables. This paper is fantastic. It’s heavier than wrapping paper and thinner than Kraft paper, so it does a nice job covering the table without being too difficult to secure with tape.  With the tables covered, we were itching to draw on it with opaque pens, and white ones in particular. Check out White Drawings on Black Paper to see the drawing prompt that kicked off our search for the best white pens.

After a few false starts with pens that faded against the bold black backdrop, I picked up some white pens at the local craft store. Unfortunately, these pens didn’t cover the paper well and one skipped spots as I wrote. Hmmm. There must be a better pen out there!

It turns out that not all white pens are created the equal.

This prompted to me to do a little digging to find the best white pen for black paper.

The best white pens | TinkerLab

The Best White Pens: The Testing Pool

Here’s what we worked with:

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)

I brought my 4-year old into the decision-making process since she’s the one who actively uses the table as her own personal scribble zone.

white pen on black paper drawing

Signo Uni-ball (Amazon)
Our hands-down favorite. Since doing this test I have since ordered three more, and frequently travel with one in my bag. There’s a reason this pen gets 5-stars on Amazon. The ink runs consistently and it’s thick and opaque. It also writes like a regular pen, meaning that it’s not bulky like a paint pen. (3 for $7.50)

Ranger White Opaque Pen (Amazon)

This was our least favorite of the group. With the ball-point system, the ink came out in chunks and wasn’t smooth at all. Pass. (2 for $5.89)

Sakura Pen-Touch 1 mm Fine Point (Amazon)

This pen has to be primed by pumping the nib and up and down, to get it going. Not as bright as the Recollections pen (below), but it works. ($6.49)

Recollections Signature Broad (Michael’s Craft Store)

This pen was a favorite. It’s easy to write with the color is opaque. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something broad and thick. ($1.99)

Craftsmart White Paint Pen (Michael’s Craft Store)

This is one of the first pens we used. The ink flowed well and it was easy for my daughter to use. The only complaint is that the color wasn’t hyper-opaque. ($0.99)

the best white pen

child drawing white pen

If you come across a particularly fantastic pen or have an opinion on this topic, I would love to know about it. Share a link in the comments below.

Happy drawing!

the best white pens for drawing and writing

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26 Comments

  1. The play table is currently doing double-duty as our coffee table and I haven’t ever liked the aesthetic of the white paper, but the kids love scribbling…this is a great idea! Thanks for linking to the black paper roll and testing out the pens. Just out of curiosity – what else works well on black paper?

    • I love gelly roll pens on black paper. I think Sakura makes them.

      • Thanks, Sue. I’m adding that pen to my list!

        • Sue, Thank you so much for your production of “which white pens work best”. You made it crystal clear which made my selection easy.

  2. I love my signo uniball pens. It’s really hard to find a good opaque white pen.

    • Aren’t they great?! Thanks for your comment, Amy.

  3. You need the Gelly Roller. You can get it at Michael’s. It is hands down the best white pen out there. I love the black one too. 😉

    • That’s what I’m hearing, Michelle. I didn’t see them on my last visit, oddly. Will look for them!

    • The white Gelly roll pens I have are terrible. The ink skips on the fine tip and comes out like an old bic pen all splotchy on the wide tip. The medium tip will not even flow unless you shake it before and during use. An over all disappointment for all the hype I’ve heard, Honestly not worth the investment in my opinion.I would rather use whiteout if i could find a way to thin it for use in a pen.

  4. Wondering why would I spend money on white pens just for them to play they can use chalk on black paper.. Well it’s different with school assignments :))

    • Of course chalk is another option. I like the pens because they don’t cause a lot of smudging on the table. And I’m a pen junkie 🙂

  5. Just ordered some, since it’s so hard to find any good craft supplies in a small town in Canada. Can’t wait to get them. I’m sure my budding little artist will love them. Thanks for the breakdown.

  6. Three years later and your pen-testing article is relevant! I am looking for a white pen to write greetings on green Christmas card. Have just ordered your favorite, the Signo Uni-Ball, and await delivery. Thank you for running this test!

    • I’m so glad to hear this was helpful, Sally! Happy holidays 🙂

  7. I just found Arteza water color pens, brush in pen with the color in it. No messy brush with water, no water bucket, no brush to clean, so awesome. I bought the the 96 color set. I can’t stop “playing. great for kids too so much less mess. Just saying, try some if you haven’t used them….

  8. Uni-Ball Signo writes best but it drains real fast. Do know if they sell a refill for it?

  9. I have used the Gelly Roll pens for projects because they have great opacity, but in the meantime I’ve stopped using them for my little portable notebook because they tend to smear onto the opposite page (even when giving a good chance to dry). Do you have any sense of how the Uni-Ball Signo pens do or don’t smear?

  10. I love the Gelly Roll Moonlight 10 set, 0.50mm bold line, ice cream smooth, (really). I just bought my 2nd set.
    I like the uni ball too but find that the ink tends to flake when its dry.. even though I live in a humid area 🙁

  11. Is there a white ink pen with a 0.1mm tip available?

  12. The dylusions white paint pen is amazing on black paper…. However both my whites flooded i used dyans tricks for fixing them and i had no luck. I really loved the opaqueness and how it didnt just sink into the black and disappear. But im very upset disappointed that i didnt get half way through a flower and it stopped working then flooded. They were also out of the packages coming from amazon. The colored dylusions paint pens work better thrn the white but i still have flooding with several colors. Once they flood they are useless and no one has gotten back to me from ranger.

  13. I found this article from a simple Google search, very helpful! Thank you 🙂

  14. I found this on line at STAPLES.ca but no review yet. Very expensive! A 2pack for $24 or a 5pack for $38.
    JAM Paper White Gel Pens use high-quality, vibrant colour ink that enhances any art project, craft, or presentation.

    Colour: White Size: 0.7 mm Quantity: 2 per pack Our gel pens use smudge resistant, non-toxic ink and feature a rubber grip with a secure cap These pens are perfect for note taking, invitations, cards, letters, projects, and more, at home, school, or the office
    Has anyone tried these yet? If yes, would u recommend them?

  15. Posca paint pens are also excellent on black paper. White gelly roll pens now also come in various widths. They are very good

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