7 Tips for Storing Colored Pencils, Markers and Pens

Storing colored pencils, markers and pens correctly can improve your adult coloring and save you money.

Pencil, markers and pens spread all over the house?  Finding it hard to quickly find the color you want? Markers drying out not long after you buy them? Wasting your colored pencils because you have to sharpen broken tips?

Pencil Marker Storage

I have built up quite a stock of tools for my adult coloring (never mind the pile of coloring books and printables!). And I never thought about how I was storing colored pencils, markers and pens – some were in mugs, some I kept in their original packages, and some I just kept on my work surface – which means they were really on the floor because many have a tendency to roll – who knew? 😉 I never thought about  “right” or “wrong” ways to store them.

But there are, and if you are storing your tools incorrectly you could be unnecessarily shortening their useful life, and with markers making the colors less vibrant and smooth. Nothing worse than taking a marker or pen to a drawing and having the color skip, scratch or smudge.

Follow these tips to keep your pens, pencils, and markers in tip-top shape.
  1. Store dual-ended markers and pens horizontally.  If you store markers, like Prismacolors and Tombows, on their ends, the ink will settle at one tip and the other may dry out. Storing them flat will also make the pen or marker last longer because the ink in the barrel is less likely to dry out in general.
  2. Store single-ended markers and gel pens vertically with the capped tip facing down. This way the ink stays at the nib and is ready to go when you are – no slipping or streaking.
  3. Store colored pencils vertically or horizontally. If vertically, make sure the sharpened tips are pointing up. The tips are less likely to snap off, and you won’t have to sharpen them as much. If you store them horizontally, place a piece of foam or fabric over the tips to protect them.
  4. Always keep your colored pencils in a container.  If a colored pencil falls on the floor, not only will the tip break, the core can shatter making it practically impossible to sharpen – ‘bye ‘bye pencil. If you are using a few pencils a lot in one sitting, keep a little tray or cup handy to hold them so you don’t have to keep digging through your whole collection for the same color over and over, and to keep them from rolling off your work surface. I kept a couple of the divider trays that came inside my Prismacolor pencil tins for this.
  5. Keep colored pencils stored away from direct light or heat. It can be a nasty surprise to have a pencil lay down a glop of color when you wanted to use a light hand.
  6. Organize large collections in groups of similar colors. To make this easier, have one section of your storage for color groupings on the basic Color Wheel.  You will have an easier time finding just the color you want.
  7. Keep your markers and pens tightly capped. Some manufacturers say that you can leave them uncapped for up to 24 hours and the tips won’t dry out.  This may be the case, but the ink will keep evaporating from the pen – such a waste. Keep ’em capped.
Some ideas for storing colored pencils, markers and pens

What you use for storage depends on personal preference as well as where you color: desk, recliner, dining room table, subway…. I am a big believer in the Three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), so I made a portable container for my colored pencils, pens and single-ended markers by tightly packing toilet paper and trimmed paper towel roll tubes into a box, like this:Storing Colored Pencils MarkersObviously I’m no Martha Stewart, but this works for me.  I’ll eventually decorate the box with some colored-in line drawings.

If you’re not inclined to create your own storage, you can also use stuff you have hiding around the house such as glass jars and clear plastic food containers. You can also make your own storage by assembling purchased components; Ikea.com and Muji.com/us are fantastic sources for inexpensive trays, cups and other great pieces.

And finally, there are some reasonably-priced storage solutions you could buy.

Global Art Pencil Case, $17.56

COlored Pencil Marker StorageWhether you’re sneaking in a bit of mindfulness at the office or have just a few tools to store, this is a classy little case.   This version holds 24, but there are also ones for 48, 72, 96, and 120, and it is also available in brown as well as black.



Crafter’s Companion Marker Storage Trays, 6-Pack, $24.95

Storing Colored Pencil MarkersThis compact and well-priced stacking storage system holds 72 markers and is well-made.  You may want to glue or tape the trays together for more stability if you plan on moving the unit around.


Tran Deluxe Pencil Case, $31.85

Storing Colored Pencils Makers

Organize and hide away your pencils and markers in this binder-style zippered case  The case can hold 120 pencils: 60 slots  each hold up to 2 pencils, pens or markers. Made of waterproof material, the case is 10.5″L x 8″W x 3″H



Studio Designs Table Top Carousel, $20.06

Great for pencils, pens and single-ended markers, this rotating, self-contained carousel features 7 flat compartments and 3 tiers of pencil and pen Storing Colored Pencils Markersstorage.Rubber feet keep it from sliding around on your work surface. Overall dimensions: 10.5” D x 5” H. Note: Copic markers won’t fit into this caddy.


What do you use for storing colored pencils, markers, and pens?  Leave us a comment below to share your ideas!

Messy Pens image from www.tOrange.us


35 thoughts on “7 Tips for Storing Colored Pencils, Markers and Pens”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Great tips, thanks! My favorite medium so far is colored pencils and you’re right, good ones aren’t cheap (at least out of the 4 sets I’ve tested. Seems like you get what you pay for in this area) so they need to be taken care of! So far I’ve been storing in the original boxes but its a PITA to easily see and/or use in most cases. I love your DIY setup and the way my household goes thru paper towels and TP this should be easy lol!

    For loose odd and ends I’ve been using a smallish plastic tackle box which works great; compartments in the lid for sharpeners and erasers etc, and open space below for everything else. Works great and easy to tote around. I’ve considered a larger one for my gel pens, markers and pencil sets but haven’t found quite the right setup yet. Craft/Hobby stores have lots of neat drawer and modular setups as well, if you keep everything in one place like a desk or office. I don’t, so I’m all about portable 🙂

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      You raised a couple of good points, Stephanie! Visibility and Portability. It sounds like you’ve got a handle on both. One thing I like about the TP roll solution is that I can carry the box anywhere I want, but I need to get one of those rolly things so I have a solution that carries everything, including my Prismacolors and coloring books, everywhere. Thank you!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I almost forgot, I also keep stuff (after they’re back in thier protective cases/containers or whatever) in those rolling plastic Sterlite drawer sets (mine came from Target). They aren’t the fanciest things in the world (but I don’t care about that) come in many sizes, so I can move stuff from room to room and still keep it fairly neat….. Well, as neat as I ever seem to get anyway 😏 creative types can get away with “messy” right? It’s not clutter, its artistic organizing! 😋

  3. Madeleine says:

    Your pages are wonderful and bless you for your generosity! The shoebox and TP cores pencil storage is a great idea and I’m going to start saving the TP cores right now. I’ve seen some amazing storage systems on the internet but, beautiful and efficient as they may be, if it comes down to either/or, spending on storage or buying new pencils and books, well, to me it’s a no-brainer! I do have one of those Sterilite 4-drawers on wheels. They’re extremely convenient and not very expensive. Mine currently houses masses of knit and crochet accessories. I may see if Santa might fit one on his sleigh…(0;

    To all who read this, have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas.


  4. Thanks for all of your tips and suggestions. I’m finding them very helpful.

  5. Meribeth Clearwater says:

    i have begun saving the cardboard “six packs” that “finer” adult beverages are sold in… my boyfriend is actually a great freehand sketcher who is now using more color after being exposed to the chaos of bins and cups and cans of what-nots and mishmashes of coloring implements. I was forever spilling them, complaining about digging thru bins to find colors and all that. He put them in six pack containers and i got to do my second favorite thing in the world after that… sorting by color.. i swear if you bring your markers i’ll sort em and let you color in my color books. i love sorting markers, pencils, etc. who knew? I think at 44, I’ve found my super power. Anyways, the different compartments keep everything upright, and if you find a good sturdy box, the beverage doesn’t matter anyways, i mean these are wonderful as i have 4 six packs in a bin that are now separated by crayolas, sharpies, pencils and miscellaneous fine liners and calligraphy pens, and those without an “entire family” so that they don’t get lonely or feel isolated. I’ve tried a bazillion homemade ways to store em (including the tp roll solution which works great as well) but i love that i can pick what medium and just grab the sturdy color sorted box of joy and leave what i don’t need in the bin. hope this helps someone who’s got a ‘back to school shopping’ problem, like i do. we need a support group for that. stat.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      The six-packers is such a great idea – I wish I cold find some in my area but all the manufacturers seem to be using those awful, eco-unfriendly plastic doo-hickeys (is there a word for them?). Like you, I am having almost as much fun trying new stuff & organizing (and re-organizing) everything. I loved school when I was a kid, and particularly couldn’t wait for back-to-school shopping for supplies. These days I find it hard to not drag my husband into a Staples, Michaels, WB Mason, DeSerres, etc. to “just see what they have!” Thanks so much for sharing!

    2. Maribeth…I can’t figure out what those cardboard carriers look like! Could you tell me which ‘finer’ adult beverages I should be looking for at the store? Thanks!

      1. Beer, six-pack cartons for beer bottles.

    3. Kim Hansen says:

      Meribeth, the humor you used in your post made me smile on what’s been a rather difficult day. Thank you. ♡

  6. I use the contaners quick and other things come in.it works great

  7. I use an old Caboodle for my many colored pencils. Its roomy and has a handle so i can carry it around. A plastic tool case or even a fishing case would work i think.
    I also use ziploc bags to seperate some pens. I am a pen fiend. Lol.

  8. Becky Mann says:

    I use old pill bottles. They come in lots of different sizes. Then I sort them by color and keep them in a small crate/basket. Since I’m usually coloring in the recliner (lol), while watching Netflix, I can take each “bottle” of colors out or just get them directly from the crate. Life is much better with my “recycled” pen cups. I use gel pens, Sharpies and some fine-point markers. I LOVE to color.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      What a great idea, Becky! I love that you are coloring in your recliner – I do, too!

  9. I currently have mine stored in coffee cups/mugs. Never could figure out why I kept so many, now I know..lol
    I also bought a cart with bins.
    Coloring mediums on top, 2nd shelf has printable I’ve collected, what I’m currently working on, and pencil cases with extras in them.
    Bottom 2 bins are all if my books, approx 50.
    Can pull cart to whichever room I’m working in.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      Thank you for sharing, Connie! I’d love a rolling cart – can you let us know what brand you have? It is such a creative, good idea….and some people say colorists are creative – they just don’t get it!

    2. Christine Trinidad says:

      Can I store my gel pens horizontally?

      1. adultcoloring101 says:

        I think it depends on the gel pen. I store mine horizontally but have to give them a good shake before using. However, I also find that they clump less than when I keep them in a cup with the point down.

  10. Debbie King says:

    I love ALL your tips and tricks, keep them coming. I am (re)new to coloring and have been serious about 2 months now. At 55 I have found it to be very relaxing and great therapy. I invested in a storage set called “Everything Mary” from Create and Craft that was on sale and am so glad I did. It has been the best thing next to my books and tools that I have splurged on. I figured if I was going to invest in this hobby, I needed to have the right tools and containers to protect them because the cost of my tools has increased with the desire to learn more and color more. Plus, now everything has a home and I am more organized! There are 4 pieces to the set and they include a rolling square tote with extendable handle, a large tote with pockets and a handle which holds my books and tools I am currently using, a smaller tote I use with my portable books and tools, and finally a small tote for pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, and other small footprint items. I love this set and they change the patterns a couple times a year so there is a style for every one. No, I am not affiliated with either company, I just LOVE being organized. I am going to use the to idea for here at my table, great use for recyclables.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      Thanks for sharing, Debbie! I see quite a few Everything Mary options on Amazon…can you let us know which set it is that you have? I am intrigued!

    2. Where did you find that awesome storage system. Would love to find something similar to that. I bought one at Michael’s looks like a tackle box has a tray that pulls out. But the top tray is too short to put pencils in stupid to put all your pencils in the bottom together so this summer when have a garage sale see if I can get part of my money back for it. I don’t know why I didn’t go check to see if they would fit into it before I bought it some colorist said it was so great and it was on sale so I got it. Never do that again. Now have them in plastic totes for now but need to separate them by color because when I use some of each kind have to spend a half hour putting them back where they belong. One day will be able to afford a descent storage system. Until then will keep wasting time putting them back where they belong. Lol. Thanks if you could let me know where you found your neat storage at.😃

  11. I keep mine in picnic tote for silverware. They have handles so they are easy to move around. I bought mine at discount places. I think the most expensive one was 8 dollars.

  12. A hanging cosmectic case works great. There are multiple pockets for different products. At school I use an over the door shoe organizer so my first graders can easily find the color of marker or colored pencil they are searching for.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      Two awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing…

  13. I mainly keep all my markers and pencils in their original packaging, however, when working on a page I put hair ties on all the colors I’m using on the page. That way I’m not searching for that certain color over and over again. Which means if I have to leave my coloring, for whatever reason, I can come to it and not have to guess what exact colors I was previously using. I love coloring.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      What a great idea, Elida!

  14. Robin Wilson says:

    I have my markers in storage made out of gutter drain pipe, just goggle it, it is similar to your TP rolls on a larger scale and can be used vertical or horizontal and as big or small as you want. I got my pipe at Lowe’s for $8.

    We cut it with x-ato knife into 5 inch pieces. Most instructions say use washi tape but I found white duct tape at my $ store to match my pipe.

    My prismacolor are in the color escapes brand color pencil wood box, if you take out the dividers it will hold the 150 set.

    My other brand pencils I store by color in a roll bag I found in the scrapbook section at Hobby Lobby. It was made for embellishments and had a center seam. I took the seam out and it has 15 zippered pockets of various sizes and flips like a book.
    What is mazing about this is it currently holds over 250 pencils. It is not close to being full. It has no brand name on it but it is a bright paisley print outside and bright blue inside, cost was around $15 if I remember correctly.

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      So creative! I’ve never heard of any of these but I am on them!

  15. I use plastic foam packaging for my pencils. the different shaped and sized blocks make for a custom shaped size depending on your area and size of collection. The sharpened pencil easily penetrates the foam to hold for storage and keeps it in place snuggly till ready to use allways with a sharpened point how it was placed. Plus you can place them at a angle thats easy to grab as well as see.

  16. Marcia Weiss says:

    Hi coloring addicts!! After 1 year of coloring , I started a coloring club in my town. We meet at a coffee place that has a big table we use. It’s ladies only & we have a great time!!! We bring our supplies, books, coloring pages and enjoy chatting while we color. We use markers, colored pencils, gel pens, & at the end of the evening we share what we’ve done. We’ve all become friends & have a ball!!!

  17. Hello everyone. I scrapbook and do other crafts therefor I have a ton of different markers, colored pencils, gel pens you name it. And when my “original” pen caddy was full I found a neat idea of saving tin cans like from canned veggies. And I had my hubby drill a hole on one side. And so I covered the tins in some pretty paper and tied a bow and then I used an s clip to attach the tins (I currently have 4) to my peg board in my craft room. Or they could be put on a shelf. You can cover the outside of the can in any type of paper even wrapping paper. Works great and looks great.

  18. Douglas Hendricks says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve never really played to much attention to it until just now. I had a couple of my Sakura pens that were laid flat dry up and I’ve only had them for about 6 months or so. I’ve never had any dry up before, but I was away from my table for an extended period so I wasn’t using them as regularly. My Prismacolor color pencils I’ve always kept in the original container for lack of space more than anything. And you’re right, for the cost of pens, markers and color pencils I figured that I should find out proper storage for them all. This probably just saved me big dollars down the line. Again many thanks.

  19. Hi – I noticed that one of your tips is to store markers with their tips down so ink is available at the nib. It looks like the picture has them with the tips up? Is there a reason you aren’t storing them with caps down?

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      Good catch, Rebecca! I will for sure correct this!

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