Lettering Supplies

Lettering on Black Paper: Pens & Paints

“What do I use to write on black paper?” is a question that is asked a lot. It’s easy to write on white, of course, but lettering on dark surfaces is pretty glam. There are pens, paints and inks for this, and this post rounds them all up for you.

lettering on dark surfaces

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and purchase something, I make a small commission — but you still pay the same amount! I only put affiliate links on items I use and love.)

Brush Tip Pens

The easiest thing to use for brush lettering on dark surfaces? Well, brush tip pens, obviously! Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck finding many brush pens that show up on black paper.

lettering on dark surfaces

My favourite is the Kuretake Zig Fudebiyori Metallic, but there is also the Kuretake Zig Wink of Luna metallic (real) brush pens! Both come in different colours.

I’ve also seen the STA metallic brush markers on Instagram — and they do come in white as well! — but I haven’t managed to find a place to buy them yet.

Related: New Year, New Pens | The Ultimate Brush Pen Review

Bullet Tip Pens

Now regular tipped pens have a whole lot more of variety — and colour — for us to play with! Unfortunately, you have to stick to regular cursive or do faux calligraphy. Still, there are many options!

lettering on dark surfaces

Two big favourites are the Sakura Gellyroll and Uniball Signo Broad. I’ve both in white and ink flow is rarely an issue. The Gellyroll comes in a variety of pastels while the Uniball also comes in silver and gold.

Sakura also has a line called the Sakura Souffê, also in pastel shades. It is slightly trickier to use because it doesn’t really show up when you first write, but it dries opaque! Just don’t go over lines that are half-dry unless you want to thicken it.

But what if you’re not working on paper? Well, then it’s time for some oil-based markers! Most of these tend to be bullet tip so you will have to do faux calligraphy, but hey. Whatever works, right?

UniPaint, Pilot Super Color and Kuretake Zig Painty are my go-to oil-based markers, and they do come in many colours and sizes. My favourite is the Pilot Super Color though — it has an extremely fine tip and the gold is gorgeous!

Inks & Paints

Of course, we’re talking about brush lettering, so we can use the stuff you normally use on brushes!

lettering on dark surfaces

We normally use watercolours for brush lettering, and they can work on dark paper too — just not all of them. If you want to use watercolours on black paper, make sure it’s a good pigmented set!

Watercolours are usually quite translucent — that’s part of their appeal — but this means if you want it good and solid on dark paper, you are likely to need multiple coats. Or you can just go for a chalky look!

Alternatively, you can look into other types of paint and ink that are more opaque.

lettering on dark surfaces

My go-to whites are Daler Rowney’s Bleedproof White and Designer Gouache in Permanent White. The gouache also comes in a huge variety of other colours. Another option from Daler Rowney you can try is their Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic. It is really smooth to work with!

Of course, there are also white inks you can venture into. I’ve only ever tried one white ink (the Dr Ph. Martin’s Bombay Indian Ink in White) and it was horrible, so instead, I’m going to leave you in the hands of the master. Lindsey (@thepostmansknock) has a fantastic series on white ink comparisons over here.

lettering on dark surfaces

Last but certainly not least, you can use Finetec paints. These are my absolute favourite. They comes in a huge variety of metallic and pearlescent colours that show up perfectly on dark papers. All you need to do is add a little water to get it going and then brush letter away!

Which is your favourite for lettering on dark surfaces: brush pen, pen or paint/ink?

Give it a shot and let me know! Mine’s a toss up between paint and regular pens!

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