Thoughts on the Uniball Signo UM 153 (White Gel Pen)

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I am on the hunt for a method for adding white, opaque ink to my artwork. There’s nothing like a white detail to bring an otherwise flat piece of artwork to life, and I love experimenting with dimension. The Uniball Signo UM 153 has been my first white ink experiment, which I chose based on a study of different product reviews on Amazon.

uniball signo um 153

Below is a list of its pros and cons, based entirely on my own experience using it:


  • OpaqueThis pen is a white gel pen, so the ink sits on top of whatever else you’ve done instead of fading in or blending. It’s nice and opaque, which means it really pops on colorful or dark backgrounds. Here’s the first piece of artwork I made using the pen, which was super fun to create:

gouache ink white gel pen illustration

  • It's easy to useBecause it’s a gel pen and not a paintbrush or a pen and ink setup, the Uniball Signo UM 153 is really easy to use. It’s great for making art in a house with toddlers, because I can pick it up and set it down without worrying about any cleanup. That earns MAJOR bonus points right now!
  • It's bright whiteAs you can see, the ink in this gel pen is a brilliant white. I can’t see any touches of cream or grey in this one, which is exactly what I wanted. Here’s another recent piece that shows off the clarity of its color:

henna pattern in white gel pen on gouache background


  • Uneven flowUnfortunately, this white gel pen does have its downsides. My main problem with it is that the flow can be really uneven, and I can’t figure out what I can do to make it more predictable. It’s also really hard to get any sort of coverage over a stroke that didn’t fill in well originally, so it’s not like I can just wait a bit and go back to fix it. Doing so can tidy an illustration up a little bit, but not completely. Here’s a closeup of a section of the moon and stars illustration that turned out less than ideal:

closeup of white gel pen performance

  • Hard to get startedSo far, the biggest factor in the pen’s flow rate seems to be consistent use. The more you use it, the better it works, but starting a drawing is a real bear. You can counteract this by scribbling on a scrap piece of paper before you work on your actual piece, but it’s still frustrating. Here’s another closeup of the drawing – I’d set the pen down for a while and restarted on this star, and you can see a definitely difference in quality of this section:

another closeup of white gel pen performance

I came back to this drawing after a while and started on this star. You can definitely see a difference in the strokes created by the white gel pen here.

Where to find it

If you’re intrigued, I found these pens on Amazon. That’s another pro – they’re very affordable!

Final verdict

I won’t repurchase the Uniball Signo UM 153, but I will continue to play with the ones I have already. If you decide to test them out, tag me on Facebook or Instagram so I can see what you create!

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