Coloring your ceramics is a great way to personalize your decorative mugs, plates, pots and bowls. Some people like to use paint on ceramics but coloring with permanent markers is another easy method. And best of all, pen ink dries much quicker than paint. But it depends on what kind of pens you use. Here’s what kind of pens you should look out for and some awesome ceramic coloring ideas to inspire you.
Drawing on ceramics: Paints vs pens
When it comes to decorating ceramic ornaments, paint might seem like the easy choice. In particular, paint pens are very popular because they're easy to use, the ink dries pretty quickly and the colors are permanent. But paints and paint pens aren’t the only tools you can use. Marker pens are another option and there are many benefits to using them.
For starters, the ink dries much quicker than paints because the layers of color are much thinner. This doesn’t necessarily mean pen ink will fade quicker either* - but this depends on the type of marker you’re using (we’ll discuss that in more detail, below).
Pens also tend to be easier to draw with than a paintbrush as we’re all naturally more accustomed to holding a pen in our hands. That means when you draw with a pen on your ceramics, you can create intricate details and smooth outlines much more easily.
*Note: Alcohol inks are permanent but they aren't lightfast. If they're exposed to sunlight regularly or for long periods of time, the colors will fade. So, it's best to store your creations away from direct sunlight if you want them to last.
What kind of marker pens should you be using?
There are two main types of marker pens - Water-based and alcohol-based. If you’re going to draw on ceramics, you should be using alcohol pens. This is because alcohol-based marker ink is permanent and waterproof. Plus, the ink dries extremely quickly. Water-based ink, on the other hand, takes much longer to dry.
Both types of ink can be hot washed off or scratched off ceramic surfaces, but it's much easier for water-based ink be removed or smudged - even when you think it’s completely dry.
Some other features you need to look out for are:
- Sharp, vivid ink - the more vivid the colors are, the more eye-catching and visually pleasing your designs will be.
- Wide range of colors - the more color tones a pen set has, the more creative you can afford to be.
- Blendability of ink - adding a tonal gradient is a simple way to make your design look more interesting. The more easily you can blend the inks, the quicker you can complete your drawing without stressing.
Chameleon Pens are a great example of alcohol-based markers you can use to color your ceramics with. The inks are bright, permanent and capable of producing a wide tonal range due to one unique feature: the Mixing Chamber. This integrated system allows you to access multiple color tones with just one pen. All you have to do is fuse your pen nib in the Mixing Chamber for a few seconds.
As you shade, you’ll see the color slowly go from a diluted tone back to its original saturated shade. It’s a quick and easy way to create gorgeous, seamless color transitions. And this is with a single pen.
Need some inspiration for your ceramic coloring?
Even the most spontaneous of creative souls need some inspiration from time to time. Here are three ideas to help kickstart your next coloring project.
1. Something simple but cute
Maybe you’re new to drawing on ceramics and are wary of making mistakes. Or, you just prefer a simple design on your mug. Whatever it might be, drawing something as simple as a cartoon face or a funny phrase in a cute handwritten typeface is just as fun as drawing something intricate.
Take a look at this cat face mug @casadaloise posted. Drawn with Chameleon Pens, it’s easily achieved using a pen and a steady hand.
2. Colorful patterns
If you want to add a splash of color to your ceramics, why not draw an eye-catching zentangle or mandala? Then, color it in with whatever colors take your fancy.
Top tip: Play around with color schemes and practice your pattern before putting pen to ceramic surface.
3. Soft tonal gradients
Adding highlights and shadows is a great way to help your artwork appear more striking. You can bring this to your ceramic creations too.
For example, take a look at this awesome ceramic art created by Sanne (@sannevangorkum). It’s one of our favorite mixed media creations (we shared it on Pinterest here) and features a beautifully shaded rose. The tonal gradients on the leaves and petals are subtle and help the rose look much more striking than if it didn’t have it.
What you’ll need for ceramic art
- Plain ceramic items (e.g. a mug or plant pot)
- Chameleon Pens
- Rubbing alcohol - to clean the ceramic item beforehand and ensure there’s no grit on the surface
- Q-tips or cotton balls
Once you’ve got these items, you’re ready to start decorating your ceramics. Happy coloring!
Want to learn more about what you can do with Chameleon Pens?
If this blog’s inspired you, have you ever tried drawing on cushions, crochet or wood with Chameleon Pens? That’s right - Chameleon Pens don’t have to be used on just paper or card. Check out our ultimate guide to using Chameleon Pens. We’ll cover everything from basic pen techniques to design ideas - everything to help you build up your penmanship.