Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rock Painting Tip: Use Paint Pens Instead of a Brush for Detailing

Sometimes my rock is too small or my hand too unsteady to paint fine details with a brush. Regular Sharpie markers smeared and changed color when a sealer was applied. Micron pens scraped the paint off my rock and dried up quickly.

Update: Monday, October 24, 2016

Since the date of the original post, I have discovered the Uni Posca marker and consider it the best pen/marker for rock painting. This post has now been updated to include the Posca pen. (Click here to see my experiments with the Posca Pen.)



Four pens suitable for rock painting are the: 

 



While only one of these pens is my perfect solution, they all enable me to add details to my painted rocks without using a brush.

I drew a simple kitty using each pen to illustrate how they perform on a rock. (FYI: Smooth stones are easier to draw on than pitted stones.) 


Uni Posca Marker (water-based paint filled)


Uni Posca Marker - My Perfect Rock Painting Pen

 Pros
  • Available in various colors
  • Many tips available from extra fine point to extra broad
  • Can be used on unpolished and polished stones
  • Dries quickly
  • Does not blur or change color when sealer is applied
Cons
  • None


Elmer's Opaque Paint Marker (acrylic paint filled)


Elmer's Painters Pen
 Pros
  • Available in various colors
  • Fine tip available
  • Dries quickly
  • Doesn't smear or change color when sealer is applied
 Cons
  • Fine tip is not as fine as I'd like


Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Pen


Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Pen

Pros
  • Available in various colors
  • Fine & extra fine tips available
  • Dries quickly
  • Glossy
  • Doesn't smear or change color when sealer is applied
Cons
  • Fine tip is not as fine as I'd like (I have not tried the extra-fine tip)


Sagura Pigma Brush (archival ink)


Sakura Pigma Brush

Pros
  • Available in various colors
  • Dries quickly
  • You can control the thickness of the line by amount of pressure used when drawing
Cons
  • The kitty drawn with the Pigma Brush smeared when I applied a polyurethane varnish (Delta Ceramcoat)
Polyurethane sealer smeared my kitty design




Tip
  • After redrawing the kitty with the Sakura Pigma Brush, I carefully sealed the rock with a thin coat of Mod Podge first, then I applied the Delta Ceramcoat  
Apply Mod Podge first then polyurethane sealer when using Pigma Brush

I previously used three of these pens interchangeably but my new favorite is the Posca marker.


How to Prevent "Sharpie" Permanent Markers from Blurring When Sealed

60 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa; I'm happy to share it with you and others. I searched high and low and experimented quite a bit to find pens I could use with rock painting.

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    2. Hello :)
      I have some sharpies to draw in stones. But it doesn't work realy well. Am i doing something wrong? Sorry for my english, i'm from germany.

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    3. You're not doing anything wrong, Anonymous. Sharpies do not work well on rocks. I've heard POSCA pens do work well but have not tried them myself.

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    4. Hi Cindy
      I've tried Posca pens but rather thick nibs in fact I'm struggling to find any pens that work fine enough but thanks for your info �� lindsey

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    5. Hi Lindsey
      Many other rock painters recommend the Posca pens (although I haven't tried them myself). Did your Posca pens have an Extra Fine Point nib?

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    6. I would love to find a good white pen with an extra fine point,all the ones i have tried either glob out all at once,i may have to go to bottled ink and a quill,thanks and good luck!

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    7. Kathy w. - I understand your frustration regarding fine point pens. I have heard that the White Uni-ball Signo Gel Pen works well on rocks. I haven't tried it myself and don't know if the nib is fine enough, but you may want to check it out. https://www.amazon.com/Uni-Ball-Impact-UM-153-White-Rollerball/dp/B00JRGBH5K/

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  2. Replies
    1. You're so welcome, Barbara. I found myself tensing up when I had to paint details with a brush and these pens have come in very handy.

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    2. Very good info didn't get any help from art shop.

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    3. I imagine many people in the art shop have no experience painting on rocks. I'm glad you found this blog post helpful. I'm happy to share the rock painting tips I learn through experimentation and trial & error.

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  3. Great info for a newbie. I too have trouble keeping a brush steady and the many varieties of pens is overwhelming (and expensive to trial). Thank you Cindy.

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    1. You're welcome, Annette. Believe it or not, I'm still searching for the perfect tool for detailing on rocks. I thought I found a new one, but these pens are still the best so far.

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  4. Thanks for sharing the results of your research Cindy - appreciate it very much!

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    1. You're welcome, Lisa. I'm glad you find it helpful.

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  5. Thanks so much for all of your tip that you post. You will never know how much I appreciate you. I have missed up so many rocks trying to use a brush. You are a Blessing!!

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    1. I'm happy to share my tips, Theresa, and it's wonderful when someone like you leaves a comment to let me know they've found the information helpful. P.S. I still mess up rocks whether I'm using a brush or paint pen. :-)

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  6. This is a great post. I am sure you have saved me some money and time.

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    1. I'm glad you found the post helpful. I'm still searching for the perfect paint pen, but these come close.

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  7. Nice to read this article will be very helpful in the future, share more info with us. Good job! painters woodbridge va

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    1. I'm happy to hear you found this information helpful, Mickey, and thanks for the compliment. As I come across tips, solutions and how to's, I'll be sharing them here.

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  8. Would nail art pens be a viable option for rock art?

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    1. Carla - nail art pens might be a very viable option for rock art and just what I've been looking for. They would definitely have a fine tip (great for detail work). My concern would be if they adhere to the stone and can be sealed without smearing or changing color. I'm going to have to try one out and if it works, update this post. Thank you so much for the suggestion!

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    2. Just wondering if you tried the nail art pen? Thanks

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    3. I haven't tried them yet, Mishe, but they're on my list to purchase. Other rock painters have had good success with nail art brushes. Do you have any recommendations for a good nail art pen or where to purchase one? I don't get manicures so I'm not familiar with the whole nail art thing.

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    4. How about a Sally's or hair place??!!!!

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    5. Sharon - I'm sure Sally's would have the nail art pens. I did see one at Walmart but for some reason I was hesitant to purchase it. I do use nail art brushes and find them very helpful for rock painting.

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  9. As all the others said - great info, thanks for posting! Yes, I too had trouble with the sealing urethane "melting" normal Sharpie marks so I'll try this. I've also tried a different technique recently - spray painting the whole rock BEFORE doing the artwork. I like that approach better because I then have more control when painting the design because the surface isn't as rough. Haven't tried a clear urethane yet to keep the rock color intact but plan to. (Meaning I've always started with a colored spray paint before the artwork.)

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    1. I'm glad to hear you find my rock painting info helpful. I agree that priming a stone before adding the design is a good practice. I tend to use white acrylic paint and brush it on but that's because I don't like the fumes and mess of a spray paint. Your technique would certainly be much faster! Now, if only we can find pens that don't ever smear when they're sealed!

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    2. My technique to avoid smearing or running is to spray a very light coat of urethane, let it dry, apply a second coat a bit heavier, let it dry, then apply a third, finish coat. Yeah, a bit time consuming. And I also agree that the fumes are bad; fortunately I've got some room out in the woods to do my spraying, not a luxury that everyone has.

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    3. Thanks for sharing your technique, Blanco's Art. Those times I have used a spray-on sealer, I also keep the first coat thin and light. As you mentioned, it's important to let the spray sealer dry between coats too.

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    4. I paint all my stones with Rustoleum glitter paint (not with lumps of glitter by the way it's really fine) the shine is lovely and dried really fast unlike other varnishes

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    5. Thanks for the info. The Rustoleum clear glitter spray sounds like a great alternative if you want a shiny finish for the stones.

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  10. I appreciate you sharing all this info, it is extremely helpful!

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    1. I'm glad you find the info helpful. I'm always experimenting and learning new things about rock painting and happy to share my results.

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  11. Try Posca and Molotow one4all markers! They are the absolutely best for rockpainting!

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, P Smokergarden. I have heard of Posca but not the Molotow markers. I need to try both of them.

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  12. I use Sharpie extra fine oil base markers to draw on natural stone tiles.. gives a nice thin line and does not smear when coated. However, if I bake my tiles they tend to darken the colors.

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    1. Thanks for letting me know the Sharpie extra fine oil base markers give a nice, thin line, Dennis. Now I'll definitely put them on my craft supply shopping list.

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  13. Thank you for all these hints for painting on rocks. I am new to this so all suggestions really help. The one thing I am having a problem with is clogging my fine and extra fine points when drawing on rocks that have a base coast of Acrylic paint. Sharpies seem to work the best, but am having trouble finding extra fine points. Also I have had some success with Gelly Roll pen..their lines are not extra fine though.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you find my rock painting tips helpful. Unfortunately, I can't give you much guidance about using pens on rocks because I've also had problems - tips clogging, pens drying out, pens smearing when sealed. I've heard Posca pens work well (and come in fine/extra fine points) but Ihave not tried them myself. As a matter of fact, I'm still searching for the perfect pen!

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    2. Souffle pens are really good

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    3. Thanks for the info about Souffle pens.

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  14. Thank you for sharing your comments. I am also looking for the best paint pens. I am enjoying the relaxing time I spend painting my rocks.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying rock painting, Barb. If you find a good paint pen, please let me know. I have discovered that using clear top coat (meant for fingernails) as a sealer doesn't smear most pens but I don't know how durable it is.

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    2. I cut up scourers (only use sponge side)you can dab any pens without smearing large packs in pound land and each one I cut into 4!lindsey

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    3. Thanks for the tip, Lindsey. I love it when household items can be used as a rock painting tool.

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  15. I just ordered and received the Uniposca ultra fine paint pens from Amazon, and I love them! The tips are nice and thin and they are harder than the other Posca paint pens and I think they will hold up better. I got a set of 12 for around $18.00.(free shipping with my Amazon prime) Also, I have discovered another paint pen that I really like! Craftsmart brand which I found at Michaels. They are sold in singles or sets and are cheaper than the Posca, and have the added bonus of being able to use coupons for additional discounts. They sell them in different nib sizes, and the fine tip is pretty thin, though not as thin as the ultra fine Posca. They are sold in the craft acrylic paint department hanging from hooks over the regular paints. Make sure you buy the regular paint pens and not the chalk paint pens, they sell both and the packaging looks similar, you have to read.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you're happy with the Posca paint pens, Debbie Joy. You're correct - they are on the pricey side. Thanks for the tip about the Craftsmart brand at Michaels. It's good to know there's a less expensive alternative out there. I just wish there was a Michaels in my town. One day I'll have to place an online order with them. :-)

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  16. Cindy can you help with this? I have used Sharpie markers but after using just a short time, for example drawing several words on about 4 rocks, the ink no longer will flow from the tip. I have tried letting it sit for awhile and using alcohol as suggested online. I have to throw them away and could go through several pens per day if I were painting much. I have googled and googled and don't see anyone having this problem. It happens with medium pt, fine pt and extra fine pt. all of them! I ordered Posca pens on Amazon in March and they have never arrived. What is going on with the Sharpies??

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    1. Debra - I wish I could be of more help with this one. My guess is the roughness of the rocks is damaging the nibs on the Sharpie pens rather than the ink drying out. I wonder where your Amazon order of Posca pens is? A recent comment to this post mentioned the Craftsmart brand of paint pens sold at Michaels are pretty good. Most rock painters stay away from Sharpies because there are also issues when applying a sealer.

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  17. Thanks for sharing useful content!

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  18. Cindy, great site! Very informative for the beginner 'Rock-eteer'! I am just starting out myself and really enjoy it. I'm having trouble finding just the right sealant though. What do you use that works well for you? I had a spray sealant that I used and it SMELLS TERRIBLE! Like bug spray!! I want to be able to sell or give as gifts and sure don't want that lingering. lol

    Enjoying your helpful tips, thank you!

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    1. I'm happy to hear you find my tips helpful and informative, Serenity. I dislike spray sealers because of the toxicity and the smell. I use a first coat of Mod Podge followed by Americana Duraclear Satin Varnish.

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  19. Hello, finally I found someone who gave detailed information aboaut the pens you use. Thank you so much, the only problem, Amazone does not deliver to Israel. Where else can I purchase the paints. Please.....Lea

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    1. I'm happy to hear you found my information helpful, Lea. Amazon does deliver to Israel if you go through their Amazon Global site. I believe you'll be able to find what you're looking for using this Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/International-Shipping-Direct/b?node=230659011
      Otherwise, my suggestion would be to do an internet search to see if anyone close to you sells the supplies you desire.

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  20. I'm debating between the pen size for posca. Would medium be too large?

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    1. Kristen - A medium-size Posca pen would be too large for detail work but if you're going to use it for coloring larger areas, it would be fine.

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