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What is a White Gelly-roll Pen?

Hello Everyone!

One of the most asked questions is “What is a white gelly-roll pen?”

It is a white gel-ink pen that many colored pencil artists use as a secret weapon for creating a bright pure white highlight. If you are working on a bright highlight in the eye, metallic surface, glass, or on a black drawing surface it is a very, very effective tool.

Here are some examples of Gelly-roll pen in colored pencil artwork:

White Gelly-roll Pen Usage Examples: Left: the highlights on metal keys. Middle: the highlight of the eyes. Right: water droplets on waterfall

A white gelly-roll pen, when used with Prismacolor white colored pencil, can be very effective on creating a bright white color on a black drawing surface.

There are several different brands out there, and they are not all created equal. I have tried several different brands, and Sakura brand is by far the best in quality, followed by Pentel.  Sakura White Gelly-roll Pen can be purchased from Amazon or other online art supply stores.

A Gelly-roll can get a bit finicky. So, before you commit on applying on your work, here are some pointers:

  • Clean the tip often to remove the ink build-up

  • Have a scrap piece of paper and scribble before applying onto your piece. This helps to control the thickness of the line (i.e. no accidental big glob of ink on your artwork!)

  • Work fast and quick for thin, wispy hair

  • To make the line thinner, you can scrape off the white ink alongside the line you made while the ink is still wet.

  • Yes, you can color over the dried ink, but the color will not show as vibrant (it tends have that “coloring over the whiteout” effect). So make sure that colors are two to three shades darker/deeper if and when you need to color over it.

  • If you have over applied or made a mistake, carefully scrape off the ink with a scratch tool after the ink has dried

So, next time you are looking for an extra pop of white in your artwork, give it a try! The only downside to a Gelly-roll pen is that using it on your artwork will turn your piece into a mixed media because it is an ink, not colored pencil. So, if you are thinking of entering your artwork into colored pencil competition which often requires 100% colored pencil for your submission, you cannot use it. So how do we create white highlights without the help of a gelly-roll pen?  Stay tuned for the next blog where I discuss the ways to create white with only colored pencils.

(This blog was originally posted on 1/5/2015)

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