Desk Talk: ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Pen


Hey everyone! Today is round two of Desk Talk, a more comfy, conversational series of posts, and I’m gonna jabber about one of my favorite cardmaking things: ZIG Clean Color Real Brush pens.

These suckers have been around for awhile, and they are my absolute favorite thing to use when coloring images. Coloring is a pretty weak point for me, but these pens are so perfect for me, both in use and price.

I’ve had the 36 Set for awhile now, and I was getting so much use out of it, that I decided to go ahead with one of the largest packs, the 80 Color Set, when I saw it was $88 on Amazon. It’s still pretty low even now, at $94 (as of writing this post).

I know, it seems like a lot, but per pen, it’s great price, especially compared with other mediums, and I really use them so often. Since I’ve gotten the 80 pack, I’ve found myself reaching for the pens even more often! I definitely don’t regret this purchase!


First things first, these suckers needed to be swatched, because unfortunately, the colors on the back of each marker often aren’t true to the actual marker. Swatching also helps me easily see all the colors laid out.

I used the swatch cards provided by Jessica Frost-Ballas in THIS post, but pretty quickly figured out that I wanted to arrange them my own way. I’m not sure if it’s because everyone sees colors a bit differently, or I just have my own preferred way of grouping colors, but I wanted to reorganize them.

So I cut up the colored swatch into pieces, and then rearranged them according to how I saw the color groups, what I would use together when blending. After I did this, I made my own swatches, printed them on Bristol paper because that’s the paper I usually use with ZIG’s, and colored them in again. Like Jessica, I laminated the swatches for durability and swatchability (yes, I just made that up), and then, to remind myself how I grouped colors, I used a pen to mark groups. I can always wipe this off if I need to, but for now, it’s helpful.

A few things to note:

  1. I swatched these at night, in fluorescent lighting – yikes! Not the best lighting to view colors. Although I don’t have any problems with how I swatched them, if you want to make your own custom swatch arrangement, I’d recommend doing so in good natural lighting.
  2. I noticed while doing this is that some of the color names are kind of misleading, at least to me, so just be aware of that. For example, Peach Pink doesn’t look…peachy.
  3. I saved the original swatch that I cut into strips, in case I ever want to rearrange my swatch. This way, I don’t have to keep coloring and cutting swatches.


Like I mentioned earlier, the colors on the back of each marker often aren’t true to the actual marker. So again, like Jessica, I made little swatch dots for each marker. I used Bristol paper, since that’s what I use with my ZIG’s most often, and I didn’t bother with adding water to half the dot. I also sealed them with heat-embossed clear powder, and then hole-punched them and adhered them to the top of the pen caps.

Note: Scrappy Glue is my favorite liquid glue for paper crafting and so I used it to adhere the dots, but I found it didn’t hold super well after time. I’d recommend using Multi Medium Matte, superglue, or trying a hot glue gun.


To store my markers, I use the tried-and-true Deflecto Stackable Cube Organizer, mainly because I knew it worked for other crafters and I was way too lazy to spend time finding something else. I also store my Distress Ink markers in there, because I have so few and there’s enough space for them.

Like Jessica, I was mindful of the four compartments when swatching, so each compartment holds one of the swatch card colors. This is actually super incredibly helpful when looking for pens.

Be sure to check out Jessica’s post for more information and tips! A big thank you to Jessica for the swatch cards starting point!

Your thoughts

How do you store your ZIGs/coloring mediums? What is your preferred coloring medium?




10 thoughts on “Desk Talk: ZIG Clean Color Real Brush Pen

  1. Great idea. I like the time you put in to your set to make it work for you. That’s a lot of work but I know it helps when we make it our own. Thanks for the tips and tricks.

  2. Love the Zigs however, I haven’t had the luck everyone else has with the Bristol Smooth. I have found w/c paper best so far but I def. need to play more with them.
    I printed off the swatch sheets I think from Jennifer’s blog and even did the ends, however, I did the Glossy Accents on the 1/4″ circle swatches and it changed the colour. Now I think when I re-do it I will use your method with the clear embossing. Mini glue dots hold them beautifully on the cap ends though.
    My fave colouring mediums are Zigs, Copics and w/c’s but I haven’t mastered any of them yet but I am having fun learning. LOL
    A great post Clare, I enjoyed reading. Thanks for the tips.

    • That’s odd that you haven’t had much luck with Bristol, but I agree, W/C does work super well with them. I just usually use the Bristol because it’s smoother, but my favorite paper to use is the Michaels, if it’s the good kind lol!
      Yep, Jessica mentioned the Glossy Accents changed the color of hers too, and it’s a problem I’ve noted with other projects in the past as well.
      Mini glue dots is a great idea! Thank you! 🙂

      • I continue to try using the Bristol Smooth as I am convinced, its just me. LOL However, I have Michael’s 110 lb. cs but I am not sold on it (yet) for the Zigs, I expect it is not of the greatest quality for this but I mostly use it for my card bases. Yes, I have had the colour change with Zigs on my cards when using GA or Wink of Stella, basically any water based product but I know that now so I just don’t do it. LOL TFS!

  3. Just a quick question on the little dots for the caps…did I understand it right that you did NOT watercolor these or you colored half of the dot? I’m sorry I’m a bit brain dead, but I did get the 4-section bin and didn’t want to go through the process and be wrong.
    Many thanks for your help. I love your organization, behind the scenes, and well, really all your help!

    • That’s right – I didn’t bother watercoloring half the dot. I just swiped the pen across, clear heat embossed it, and then punched out the hole! Hope this makes sense! 🙂

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