Do Felt Tip Pens Work On Canvas? What You Must Know

Felt tip pens markers are a great go-to medium for artists. But do felt-tip pens work on canvas? What are the best materials to use for canvas boards, and where should you be using felt-tip pens? We have the answers!

Felt tip pens shouldn’t be used on canvas because they fade when exposed to UV light. Using felt-tip pens on canvas can also damage the pen. Other markers such as acrylic paint, water-based, alcohol-based, and oil-bad markers are good options for canvas artwork.

So, while many people do use felt-tip pens on canvas, you have to keep its purpose in mind. This article will explain why using felt tip pens on canvas may not be a good idea.

Can You Use Felt-Tip Pens On Canvas?

It is important, first, to define what a felt tip pen is and what canvas boards are:

A felt tip pen is a marker with a core made out of felt or other tightly packed fibers encased in a glass, aluminum, or plastic container, which contains ink and an alcohol base absorbed into the fibers. The pen’s tip often features a cap to prevent it from drying out.

Canvas is the most common support medium for oil painting and is made up of durable material such as linen, which is stretched across a wooden frame with a stretcher bar.

 Canvas material stretched across a wooden frame is commonly referred to as a canvas board, or it can even be called a canvas panel (if equipped with an aluminum frame).

This creates a textured surface that is easily mounted and long-lasting. Canvas is also referred to as linen and plain-woven fabric and made from cotton. This gives it strength and durability. Many canvas boards are also waterproof or water-resistant.

So if you use a felt tip pen, with ink and slowly evaporating alcohols, the ink will be transferred and stay on the canvas. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use felt tip pens on canvas.

Are Felt Tip Pens Lightfast?

Felt tip pens aren’t lightfast, but permanent markers are. So, when you’re looking for felt tip pens, if you come across a permanent marker (which felt tip pens can be referred to as sometimes), it will be marketed as fas-drying, smudgeproof, waterproof, and lightfast.

In fact, all alcohol-based markers, such as Copics aren’t lightfast and will always fade. Some may last for a few weeks, others may last years before they eventually fade.

So why do these inks fade? Firstly, it occurs due to exposure to UV light rays from the Sun and other sources, from exposure to oxygen, heat, humidity, and even due to an imbalance with non-archival papers. This changes the chemical composition of the ink that leads to fading. It can even, in the bet of cases, just fade over time.

Should You Use Felt Tip Pens On Canvas?

Felt tip pens allow you to work very precisely to create some beautiful artwork and you are able to truly express yourself through lines and vibrant colors. However, they are primarily intended to be used on soft, smooth surfaces like paper, which won’t damage the tip of the pen and will easily absorb the ink contained inside it.

Therefore, if you use a felt tip pen, its slow evaporating alcohols and colored ink will stay put on the canvas, but any long term exposure to UV will make it fade very quickly. This is because felt tip pens aren’t lightfast (resistant to light/sunlight).

In addition, your felt tip pen will be destroyed if you use it on canvas. The canvas’ hard, molded surace will scratch and fray anything with a felt tip. So, you shouldn’t use felt tip pens on a canvas.

Even if a felt tip pen says that it’s permanent, that doesn’t mean that it’s lightfast, which is what’s important for your artwork. This is incredibly important because you don’t want to hang up something that could fade in a month and become a shadow of its former self.

Which Markers Should You Use On Canvas?

So, if felt tip pens are off the table, which markers are there that do work on canvas? The best results can be dound in acrylic paint markers, because the ink/paint/acrylic is transferred smoothly and does not fade easily (they are lightfast).

They are also highly pigmented which makes the colour stand out and is better absorbed by the canvas, making them imitate oil paintings, which work best on canvas.

Water-based markers that contain water solutions, sometimes with glycerine, which are used with the ink. These ink/water solution is very well absorbed on canvas and hte ink will not fade for a long time once they have dried. They don’t, however, produce colors that are as clear and vibrant as those from alcohol-based markers.

Alcohol-based markers use a mixture of dye ink and alcohol to create a solution that is commonly-used in Sharpies, Prismacolors and Copics. They are alcohol soluble and waterproof.

The perfect markers for canvas, however, are oil-based markers, which are permanent, water-resistant, and will not fade easily. Furthermore, they run smoothly on canvas and are free from abrasion. And, most importantly, they won’t jam or dry out at their tips, amking your painting experience a lot easier.

Which Medium Should You Use For Felt-Tip Pens?

So, if canvas isn’t the right medium for you to draw/paint with a felt tip pen, what is? How can you take advantage of the variety of tip and inks that are available to create rich artworks with crisp lines and vibrant colours?

Most people will use sketchpads to create artworks with a felt-tip pen. You should find a sketch with thick paper that has as little texture as possible. Don’t forget that bleeding and spreading are a constant risk when drawing with a felt pen and that the ink can easily seep through to the paper behind the piece of paper that you’re using.


If you’re considering using felt tip pens on canvas, you should definitely reconsider. Felt tips do work on canvas and have been used in the past. However, they are not very effective or lightfast, which means that the artwork will eventually fade from UV exposure. Consider rather using markers such as oil-, water-, or alcohol-based markers.

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