Using Paint Pens On Canvas

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Using Paint Pens On Canvas

Friends, I’ve been dying to purchase a set of paint pens, specifically the POSCA ones, to try on my canvas paintings because there are so many times when I’m adding detailed work to my art that I wish I just had a paint pen in that color! I finally gave in and so far I love them.

What are the Uni POSCA Paint Pens?   

They are a highly rated, water based paint pen with a very opaque pigment. I’m not sure exactly what kind of ink is inside, however, given that it is opaque and water based, I’d say they are very close to acrylic. That means that, just like acrylics, they are permanent on porous surfaces and will stain. They will wash off of our hands.

In case you’re wondering, YES these are the pens that a lot of rock painting artists use. 

In my own testing of this product, they are AMAZING on canvas! They come in multiple points. The pack that I bought is the fine point 15 color set. 

Can you use paint pens on canvas?

Definitely! They are just like painting with acrylic paint on a fine brush only the paint is in the form of a pen. They are PERFECT for creating intricate tiny details in your paintings without having to use a “steady hand”. 

POSCAS are extremely opaque and consistent. By “consistent” I mean that you can create a long line that has has consistent pigment to it. The line does not “run dry” or change thickness. You don’t need to shake the pen in between lines either. 


Can paint pens paint over acrylic paint?

Yes! The black canvas you see in the picture below was a standard white gesso canvas that I painted over with black acrylic paint. These paint pens will paint over any color of acrylic paint. 


Why use paint pens?

If you’re like me sometimes you get a “shaky hand” when you’re supposed to have a “steady hand” when doing very detailed work. I’m talking about intricate designs, outlining, lettering, very fine detail patterns, etc. all with a round brush.

They make round brushes with all different fine points. I often use a “20/0” round, “10/0” and “0” for creating fine lines.

On the canvas above, I demonstrated three different brushes: a 10/0, 3/0 and a 0. You can kind of see the variation in thickness from creating the paint line. The top line was done with an POSCA paint pen in “purple”. 

The one downside to using the paint pen is that the line itself doesn’t look like a “paint stroke” but more like a consistent marker stroke. So if you are going for something more “expressive” and “artsy” you may want to stick with the brush. However, if you need something that has to be consistent (where you don’t have to re-load the brush constantly) then the pen is very helpful for that!

The Opaqueness Is AMAZING!

What really excites me about these paint pens is how opaque they are! You can see in the images below and above how bright and solid they show up over black.

I tested this out by making a large “Mars Black” coat of paint on the canvas. Then waited for the paint to dry and marked over it with different colors of POSCA markers. You can see how solid and consistent they are. 

They look AMAZING on black canvas! You can see how bright they look against the black. These would look great for doing a chalkboard design.


What about for kids painting & paint party use?

I know a lot of you follow these tutorials because you paint with your kids and/or you like to have personal paint parties! You may be wondering if they would be beneficial for that use and I think they are definitely worth it!

Sometimes children get frustrated when using the tiny round brush. Using the paint pen gives your child more control over the line because it’s just like using a marker. Less frustration is always beneficial! 

As for paint party use, these can be super fun! You can add fun quotes, lettering and simple design details to your paintings with these paint pens. And your beginner painter party participants won’t have to fret over using that tiny 10/0 round brush. 

Where can I get Acrylic Paint Pens?

I bought mine from Amazon. This was the exact set that I ordered and I ordered the “fine” point.

They come in multiple points (which was confusing to me). The medium seems to be a popular choice but I went for “fine” because I knew I would be using these only when I wanted a fine line on my painting. They also make an “extra fine” point. 

You can also get them at BLICK, JoAnn and it looks like Walmart sells them too! I’m unsure if you can get them in the store at any of these retailers or if they’re only available online. 


Highly rated paint pens for canvas painting:

I recommend finding water based paint pens because you are using them over acrylic water based paint. Water based paint pens are opaque and can also be painted over with acrylic paint.

Here are some top rated listings on Amazon for water based paint pens: 

Artiqo Paint Pens



Artistro Acrylic Paint Pen

JR White Acrylic Paint Pens


You can also use oil based paint pens over acrylic paintings (once they are completely dry). However, it may not be as easy to paint over the oil pen with acrylic paint. 

Sharpies can be used on canvas too!

Black sharpies are great for making bold, black outlining details and they are readily available so we don’t have to run out and buy a special pen for just one small step. 

I sometimes like to use metallic sharpies for fun lettering and designs (like on the mermaid tail in this painting).

Mermaid Painting Tutorial Using A Metallic Sharpie On Fin

The only downside is that sharpie is notorious for bleeding and they look extra shiny on the canvas. To avoid the “bleeding” possibility, I typically wait until the end to do detailed sharpie work. Also, make sure the surface you are painting over with sharpie is completely dry. 


Do you use paint pens in your paintings?

Comment on this post to share your experience! What’s your favorite brand of paint pen?



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22 thoughts on “Using Paint Pens On Canvas”

  1. I use Posca paint pens for painting rocks. I will now try them on the canvas. I purchase them through Marker because I can get a better deal on sets and get points for my purchases. Thanks you for sharing your talent with us. It helps keep me inspired.

  2. Hi! I would just like to say that while the posca pens do work on canvas if you’re doing a lot with them the coarse canvas material can cause the pens to lose their sharp point. I had this happen after drawing mandala patterns on a 40×40 canvas. By the end all the pens had lost their sharp tip. I’m using the PCM5. Don’t get me wrong, they still work afterwards and the paint still comes out nicely but they lose a bit of precision. I will continue using mine on canvas as that’s what I bought mine for but if it’s not what you bought yours specifically for then it’s a good thing to keep in mind.


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