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Troubleshooting your Life of Colour Paint Pens

Trouble shooting, what are we talking about here? There’s always the string of everlasting questions and sometimes we hesitate to ask the how, when’s and why’s in the world of paint pens. No need to hesitate here because we are more than willing to help anyway we can and your feedback and constructive criticism is always valued. Let’s start with some commonly asked questions and answer them now with the best of our knowledge.

Why are my pens appearing to be watery and uneven in colour when I try to use them?

blue rock

The image above on this “rock in progress” shows different tones of colour on the rock. Let’s take a look at what’s happening and how to fix this issue.

Firstly this blue classic colour was a pen that has not been used at all today and I removed the lid and just went ahead painting the rock with it. The paint that has come from the pen is very uneven in colour due to the simple fact I did not prepare the pen for use, the labels on each of our Life of Colour pens are a constant reminder to care for your pens.

Take a close look at the instructions in the picture form below. Shake, burp, prime, paint, lid. Before initially putting your pens to use you may have followed these steps but do you always remember to shake and prime before every use? Take some advice from the pro’s- shake that baby before use, during use and after if you want. Pens cannot be shaken too much the ball bearings inside do all of the hard work for you and a well shaken pen will ensure your paint is well distributed. Remember- shaken not stirred!

My colours keep running together. How do I stop this?

There are a couple of possibilities that are going to answer this problem. Wet rocks! Whilst if you know how to utilise a wet rock it is most commonly your worst enemy. A wet rock waters down the appearance of your paint and also creates a bleeding effect where colours will run together with blurred lines. Being impatient! Be kind to yourself and your own work, whether you are an artist in the making or an experienced entrepreneur of art. Paint pens work best if allowed to dry between coats, tasks and layers.

Why does my paint pen seem dry?

If your pen is new, just purchased:

The felt nib is simply too dry to let the paint move, think of it as trying to wash the dishes with a dry sponge. The barrel of the pen is still full of paint, so before you start pumping like there's no tomorrow follow these easy steps:

  1. Remove the nib with a soft pair of tweezers while keeping the pen with the top up (leave it secured on a tall glass or pen holder).
  2. Soak the nib in warm water for a few minutes, pat dry and then carefully place it in the right place.
  3. Follow the steps on the side of the pen to prime it.

If your pen has been used:

If your pens feel dry  but when pumped the paint comes out "blobbing" out the sides of the nib and the nib looks dirty, this means your pen is not dry, it's clogged! Read further down below to know what to do.

How to prevent them from drying:

It is very important to look after your paint pens and always replace the lids properly to prevent them drying. Our younger artists sometimes forget or lack the finger strength to do this properly. It pays to double check every time after use.

Another good practice is to keep your pens stored horizontally, like so:

What’s the best storage solution for my pens?

There are plenty of storage solutions available for your paint pens. You could get creative using cardboard rolls, repurpose a shoebox or pencil case. If that’s not your style you may want to look at a craft box , tackle box (hubby won’t mind) or a specifically designed paint pen case available online or in your local art and craft store.

Whatever your choice may be we do suggest a few essential points;

  • Away from direct sunlight
  • Around room temperature (do not want them in hot or cold conditions)
  • Lay them flat to prevent leaks and drying paint

Paint is not coming out even though I keep pumping, what should I do?

First of all, we strongly recommend to NOT over pump the pens. If the nib is too dry or clogged, the more you pump more paint gets stuck in the chamber below the nib and this can cause blockages and leaks.

Start by reconditioning your nibs (explained directly below) and if that doesn't do the trick, move over to the next answer.

I have dry felt nibs in my paint pens - what do I do?

  1. Remove the nib with a soft pair of tweezers while keeping the pen with the top up (leave it secured on a tall glass or pen holder).
  2. Soak the nib in warm water for a few minutes, pat dry and then carefully place it in the right place.
  3. Follow the steps on the side of the pen to prime it.

How to fix a clogged paint pen?

Your nib is looking dirty and dry, and when you pump the paints flows through the sides of the nib. We'll help you unclog your paint pen, before jumping to this solution you should recondition your nib first, more often than not, this solves the issues.

  1. First up, put your pen on a glass or pencil holder so it's secure while you clean the top.
  2. Remove the cap and unscrew the top (the plastic part of the pen that has the colour of the pen and holds the nib in its place). 


  • Rinse the coloured plastic and the nib in the sink with warm water, then just soak it in warm water.
  • You'll see a tiny sponge on the inside of the plastic, don't forcefully remove it, but if it comes out you'll be able to clean it better and squeeze it dry
  • Dry it all up with a clean cloth when you see no signs of gooey paint.
  • Assemble the pen back together.
  • Follow the instructions on the side of the pen for the first use.



NOTE: The cleaned pen will drop watery paint first, this is the water in the nib and sponge coming out. Doodle, wait a few minutes, doodle again.


This might happen to you after a long time of having your pens, when the pen appears dry and gets overpumped or when a novice user overpumps a new pen. This causes the paint to dry up and "glue" the valve to the plastic screw.
If this kind of clog happens to you, you will be literally seeing the inside of the paint barrel once you unscrew the top, so, remember you have to place the pen in a vertical position!
You'll have 4 items: the coloured plastic, the nib, the sponge (in the photo is still glued to the plastic with dry paint) and the mechanism (which comes out whole). 
  • Rinse the 4 items, soak all of the except the valve mechanism, since it has metal.
  • Once it's dry, assemble again, the part of the valve mechanism with a tiny spring goes towards the inside of the pen.
  • Follow the steps on the sticker of the pen to prime it

NOTE: The cleaned pen will drop watery paint first, this is the water in the nib and sponge coming out. Doodle, wait a few minutes, doodle again.


Why is my pen leaking?

Pens can leak when they have had the pump valve over pumped, the nib is blocked, the nib inside of the pen has been fitted incorrectly or the top of the pen is partially unscrewed.

Clean your nibs (as described above) whilst you have the top of the pen off make sure the two plastic caps are flush in the pen this will prevent leaking.
The top of the pen should be screwed down tightly.

It is not necessary to continually pump your pen for paint flow- doing so will result in blotching and will give the appearance of a leaky pen.

The nib on my 1mm pen split what did I do wrong?

There’s a couple of valid answers to this question-the most common being rock choice. When a rock is very rough on the surface it will create a sticking point that your paint pen will get stuck in, just like rough sandpaper. If this happens too many times the tip will become mis-shaped and eventually split. Another common reason for split nibs is being heavy handed. If you find that you are having to press hard to get your pen to work then you may have an underlying problem going on (unprimed pen or blocked nib).

The nibs in my 1mm pens keep getting blocked - why, what can I do to fix them?

Let’s take a look at the common problem with the 1mm nibs, impatience. I for one am the biggest guilty party in this issue always trying to rush into the next task, I’m a “doer” not a “waiter”. When we rush layers of paint and try to add outlines, features onto our work that we have not let the paint set - the fine tip paint pen will pick up some of this paint in the nib which will in turn glog and eventually create a major problem. Another common cause for this is over pumping your pen and not cleaning the nib afterwards. So now we know what went wrong. The next question is how do we fix this? Remove your nib -leaving your pen upright in a cup and place the nib into a cup of hot (not boiling) water and leave it until you can see the nib has cleared, pat it dry and replace it into your paint pen. Treat it like new and shake, prime etc and you're ready to go!

Can I buy new nibs for my pens?

This question has an easy answer - yes you can! But before doing so you should make sure that you need to. Possible reasons for needing to replace pen nib

1. The nib in the 1mm is broken or split

2. The nib in the 3mm has worn down flat

3. The nib in the 3mm has dried hard.

So you’ve tried all the troubleshooting options and have decided you need to buy new nibs as your pen still has some liquid gold inside, the leading question now is, Where are the nibs available to buy?

Life of colour online store of course! Over here!

Get busy and fix those issues you have - don’t give up! 

Add a bit of colour to your day with Life Of Colour.

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