"Just tell me what pens to buy."

As long as you dig the colors available, Sharpie Brush Tip pens are a great value. Based on performance, versatility, affordability and accessibility, they're an excellent choice.

What to use to color your Creative Progress Map

I became a pen nerd so that you don't have to.

Handful of colorful Sketch Markers by Copic

Sketch Markers by Copic

Recommended for widest range of colors (350) and no smearing whatsoever. They're a delight to use and I specifically recommend Sketch Markers because of the brush tip.
Cost: $$$

A pile of ProMarkers by Letraset in a variety of colors

ProMarkers by Letraset

Recommended for great range of colors (150) and they very rarely smear. They're my personal favorite for coloring on canvas and also work really well for on the prints.
Cost: $$

A pile of ProMarkers by Letraset in a variety of colors

Fine Tip/Brush Tip by Sharpie

Recommended for how widely available they are and lower cost. Fine Tip can smear at times, but Brush Tip does not, which is why I prefer them. Special edition sets offer more colors.
Cost: $

Next-level coloring tips

Map your progress like a champ by taking a few things into consideration before you start coloring.

Samples of the Sharpie color Berry shown on both satin canvas and a Color Tester on museum print

Coloring on canvas vs. print

Creative Progress Maps come on either museum-quality print or satin-finish canvas. So when it comes to coloring, your options are two very different materials. Ink from the same pen will not look the same on print as it does on canvas. Generally speaking, it looks darker on the print. That's why I offer a Color Tester for prints. To test colors on canvas, use the border on back.

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A close look at the appearance of the ink on Creative Progress Map print from Copic Sketch Markers, Letraset ProMarkers, and Sharpie Fine Tip and Brush Top

The right pens for the right look

Getting the look you want is more than just the pen color you choose; it’s also the pen itself and the appearance of the color on your print or canvas. Mainly, I’m talking opacity and how obvious the brushstrokes are. But also, how rich the colors appear. Some of us love the bold colors, while others prefer a more subtle pastel look. Choose pens that will give you the look you want.

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Shows about 30 Sharpie colors laid out in a row with a Color Tester for Creative Progress Maps on a museum-quality print

The number of colors you want to map

While lots of folks may be happy with 12 colors, there are those of us that would just rather have like 150. Or 352. That's why I recommend a few different brands that offer a variety of color ranges. If you have a local art store, it's a great place to go and check colors out, try pens, and chat up the artsy employees who can help you find the right thing for coloring in your map aka work of art.

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A beautiful bride holding her wedding bouquet, next to a series of four Creative Progress Maps showing the progression of coloring the Dress map with a palette inspired by the wedding bouquet

Choosing colors for a specific purpose

Some mappers will choose colors because they hold special meaning or they’re trying to match their map to their decor, etc. There’s no wrong way to do this. If you are excited about the idea of matching colors, go for it. If you don’t care and just want to color without thinking of these things, play ball. But if you do love the idea of choosing colors for a specific purpose, read on.

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