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

46 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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  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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