18th December 2013

Secret Garden Pens and Pencils


** UPDATE – The give-away is now over, but read on for info on pens and pencils **

I’ve just shipped a big order of Secret Garden colouring books to the North Pole, so it seemed an opportune moment to post a blog about my favourite pens and pencils for inking the botanical pages.



You can win the copy of the book shown here (which I’ve tested all the pens on, I’m not sure if that increases or decreases it’s appeal?!) plus all the art supplies I recommend by entering the prize draw on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Details at the end!


Back to the blog…

I’ve had a few emails from Secret Gardeners mentioning they were having some trouble with ink bleeding from one page to the next. So, is this a pen or paper problem?

The publishers and I tested lots of papers – colouring and scribbling with different varieties of pens and pencils to find the best stock for the book. I wanted something with a tactile finish like the papers I use in the studio, but which also allowed us to print on both sides to preserve that lovely story book feel and which of course held up to a splash of colour! The paper we finally picked ticked all those boxes, beautiful yet practical.

I must highlight however that no paper will be 100% durable against all varieties of pen and to everyone’s unique pen stroke (the pressure you apply when colouring).

To get the very most out of your book, my top tips are:

1.     Avoid permanent markers or any pen with a heavy  or very wet ink flow (like Sharpies or Crayolas).

2.     Test your pens somewhere sneaky at the back just in case they bleed or smudge.

3.     If they do, try another variety.

4.     A little heavy handed? Try a lighter touch; soft sweeping strokes instead of prolonged nib to paper contact (avoid ‘scrubbing’ or going over the same area repeatedly).

5.     Don’t forget coloured pencils! The smudge proof alternative!

6.     Take a peek at my Secret Garden Gallery on Facebook for inspiration from fellow colouring-in artists.


Here’s just 4 of my current colouring Top Picks:


1. Staedtler Triplus Finelines 0.3mm nibs, 20 pack.

Staedtler Triplus liners

These are my absolute fav pens for colouring. The nibs are fine enough to capture the delicate details and the ink flows smoothly onto the page without pooling or feathering. Keep your pen strokes light to avoid bleeding but retain those opaque blasts of colour.

Staedtler Triplus Liners

Staedtler Triplus liners


2. Staedtler Ergo Soft Triangular Coloured Pencils, 24 pack.

Coloured Pencils

Most artist’s quality coloured pencils will work great, I like these ones in particular for their soft blendable colours and the nice hand feel of the triangular barrel. Derwent also do a great selection. Coloured pencils have zero risk or smudging or bleeding, so the safest option if you have ink anxiety! Unlike with pens, you can blend and gradient pencils to create some really beautiful effects. Keep a pencil sharpener to hand to assist with those intricate bits!

coloured pencils

coloured pencils


3. Staedtler Pigment Liners 0.05, 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3nibs.

Staedtler pigment liners

The 3rd Staedtler pick – I do use other brands, honest! These little grey pens are my bread and butter. I use them to draw almost everything in the studio, including the original artwork for this book. The opaque ink runs smoothly from the delicate nibs and allows you to add intricate monochrome detail with lots of precision. Love them!

Staedtler pigment liners

Staedtler pigment liners


4. Bic 4 colour pen.


Guilty pleasure time! Like a dirty cheeseburger, this pen wins no awards for finesse or elegance but has a certain rough and ready charm that you like to (occasionally) indulge in! The nib isn’t great and the biro ink can be temperamental, but hey, it’s doodley and mucky in all the right ways and you’ll always have one at the bottom of your cutlery draw…

Want to see more examples of cracking colouring in or share your own snaps? Check out my Secret Garden Gallery on Facebook.



Want to win this book and all the pens and pencils mentioned?

Here’s how:

1.     Twitter – Tweet using the hashtag #SecretGarden

2.     Instagram – Like the Secret Garden Competition photo

3.     Facebook – Like the Secret Garden Compeittion post


Nitty Gritty…

1.     You can enter as many times as you like via as many platforms as you choose.

2.     Winner will be picked at random and announced via twitter / facebook / instagram at 12 noon (UK time) on Friday 20th December

3.     Prizes will be mailed to the winner wherever they are in the world.

4.     Good luck!

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