How Long Do Gel Pens Take to Dry? What You Need to Know

We can’t think of a signature without a good quality gel pen in this modern era. And gel pens are used for coloring or crafting nowadays.

But how long do gel pens take to dry on paper? It is a question that many people ask themselves when they are using these pens for the first time. Gel pen ink doesn’t dry as quickly as ballpoint ink, which can cause problems if you’re in a hurry or working with thin papers.

It actually depends on the surface that how long the ink will take to dry. If you use gel ink on suitable paper, it’ll take 20-30 seconds or a little bit more to dry.

However, gel pens have some advantages that make them worth using over other types of pens. In this article, I’ll cover how long it takes for gel pens to dry and some tips for getting the most out of your gel pen experience!

Drying time of gel pens
How Long Do Gel Pens Take to Dry | All You Need to Know

How Does Gel Pen Works?

Gel pen was first introduced by the company Sakura in 1984 in Osaka, Japan. The company started as a Crayon producer in back 1921. And just after the innovation of rollerball pens, Sakura got the idea to make the water-based ink more versatile. [source]

In fact, it works in the same way as a ballpoint pen. But inside a gel pen, a few pigments are suspended in the gel-based watery ink. That’s why the color becomes more opaque and thicker than other ballpoints.

The main magic of these pens is the characteristic gel ink. The ink remains in solid form inside the pen.

When pressure is given on the tip, and the rollerball tip touch the paper, gel transfers into liquid form and supplies ink. When you take back the pressure, the ink again returns to its solid form. The special rollerball tip supplies fresh ink inside the pen every time it rounds for smooth writing.

How Long Does Gel Pen Take to Dry?

Quick Drying Paper for Gel Pen

Basically, gel ink drying time will vary depending on the types of paper or other surfaces. If you are using a suitable paper means absorbent paper for writing or sketching, then it’ll take highest 20 to 30 seconds to fully dry up the ink. But it’ll not be the same for normal paper or other surfaces.

Matte Paper

Gel ink will take less time to dry on matte paper. Compared to glossy finish paper, it does not have a thick, shiny coat on it. So, the paper will absorb the ink and take less time to dry.

Glossy Paper

Definitely, gel ink will take a long time to dry on glossy finish papers. Since these papers are very smooth with shiny coating and non-porous, the ink will not get absorbed properly.

So, it may take up to hours or more to dry the ink. Even there are some glossy papers on which the gel ink never dry!

Wood Surface

Since wood is a porous surface, you can easily use gel pens on it. Due to the porous nature, ink may take up to one minute to dry properly. But it’ll dry definitely.

If you write on such a wood surface that is extra smooth or has a shiny coating on it, the ink may take longer to dry.

Other Surfaces

Gel pens will take more time to dry on less porous surfaces. On a surface with special finishing, the ink will take some time to dry as it needs more time for absorption, and you need to wait until all the gel inks are dried properly before using the paper again.

For example – the ink will take more time to dry on a plastic surface as it’s non-porous. And there is also a high chance of ink smudging.

Simple Tips for Using Gel Pens

Gel pens are a must-have tool both for professional artists and amateurs. It will add an extraordinary dimension to your art projects as they provide bright colors. You can use them for coloring, doodling, highlighting, drawing, shading, and for many other purposes.

Since they are not like an ordinary ballpoint pen, the ink takes time to dry, and sometimes the pen dried up entirely. So, if you don’t want to ruin your artwork by smearing the ink or don’t want to run out of ink in mid of drawing, you can follow the tips given below.

Avoid Ink Leakage

You may not love to see that your artwork is ruined due to ink leakage. That’s why you must need to put the cap on when you are not using the pens.

Most of the quality gel pens have a rubber linear below the cap that makes them vacuum-sealed. The design is made mainly to prevent ink from leaking.

When you put on the cap, you will hear a “click” sound for most of the gel pens, which means that it is air-tight. Now you can keep it in any position, and there is no fear of leaking.

Prevent Ink Smearing

You may have already known that gel pens take some time to dry after being applied. So, there remains a chance of smearing or smudging the ink if you don’t become careful.

So, you shouldn’t touch your artwork immediately after coloring with gel pens. To avoid dragging your hand on the wet ink, wait sometime after coloring an area and then go for other areas. How long you need to wait depends on the surface, you are using the pens.

If you are using it for drawing, then use absorbent paper so that the ink dries faster. You’ll find suitable paper for using gel pens in the market.

Keep Ink Flowing

Sometimes, your pen may skip the ink flow. This problem occurs due to the tiny dot of ink dried on the rollerball tip and prevents it from rounding. You can get rid of this problem just by using a wet wipe on the tip and removing the dried ink.

If you don’t see any dried ink on the tip and still don’t get the expected ink flow, then gently tap the tip on a piece of paper or draw circles on it. Hopefully, the ink will start to flow again as before.

However, if you don’t use gel pens frequently or leave the cap open for a long time, you can face this problem. Sometimes, the water-based ink may evaporate over time or clog inside the ink cartridge like fountain pens if you don’t use them for a long time.

So, to get the most out of a gel pen, try to use them regularly.


Remember that you must need to use suitable absorbent paper if you are using gel pens professionally. It will help in quickly drying the ink. Again, all the gel pens will not work well on black paper or dark paper.

So, choose your pen accordingly. Using gel pens on normal coloring books will make the ink bleeding, and you’ll also face smudging problems.



Q: Why Do Gel Pens Take So Long to Dry?

The gel ink is different from the ordinary ballpoint pens and is thicker than usual. So, the drying time depends on the surface you are using. If you use them on special gel pen paper, then they might dry quite faster.

If you use highly finished paper with no pores or with coating, then the gel ink may take hours to dry or may never dry! 

Sometimes climate also fell an impact on the ink drying time. High humidity in the air means ink will take more time to dry.

Q: How to Make Gel Pen Dry Faster Than Usual?

To make the gel ink dry faster, the first thing you can do is to choose a perfect paper for sketching or writing. Please stay away from glossy papers as it’ll take ages to dry the ink or will never dry. 

Another thing you can use to dry the ink is a blow dryer. But you may need to control the air strength properly so that your drawing doesn’t spoil instead of drying. Keep the wind blowing at a lower level, or you can also slowly blow air from your mouth. It works effectively!

If you are doing an important project, you should choose a small tip size pen. It’ll supply less thick ink that helps in the quick drying process. We all know that smudges happen or writing takes more time to dry when a pen generates more ink than needed, and it happens most of the time when you use a bigger size tip pen.

Nowadays, artists are also using ink blotter or blotting paper, whatever it is named, to prevent smudging and making the ink dries faster.

Q: How Long Do Gel Pens Last Actually?

Sometimes a pen may last for months or sometimes for years. It totally depends on the capacity of the ink cartridge and how often you use the pen.

Different gel pen brands are providing various sizes of ink cylinders. So, all of them will not last the same. Again, the large the capacity of the ink holder, the more that pen will provide service.

If you just use a pen only for signing or writing, then it’ll last considerably longer periods of time than the pen you use for drawing or coloring.

Q: How Can I revive Dried Gel Pen?

Gel pens use a water-based ink that may clog or dry out sometimes when you don’t use them for a long time. In that case, you can revive gel pens quickly as there are so many techniques available there.

Sometimes air bubbles are stuck inside the ink cartridge that makes the pen seemingly dead. But only by shaking the pen make it work again. Again, if the ink clogged, only by pouring some warm water into the ink barrel revive it. For this, you will need to remove the ink barrel from the plastic tube body.

You can also use a blow dryer to heat the pen and back it to life. However, you’ll find a complete guideline on how to fix a gel pen that won’t write on our website.

Final Thoughts

With modern technology, gel pens are used not only for writing or signing but also for coloring or crafting. But the problem occurs with the ink drying time. It’s not like ballpoint pens that dry immediately.

But hopefully, with the tips and tricks mentioned above, you can make your pen work better! Now it is easier than ever before to use gel pens properly.

Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

Recent Posts