I was casually browsing Chinese artist blog, and the artist states that he/she uses 圆珠笔 签名笔 and 水笔 as medium for art.

I know what a ballpoint pen is. However, I am not sure what kind of pen is 签名笔. Is it a fountain ink pen?

Additionally, I am very confuse about the term 水笔, since I thought it refers to watercolor. However, when I search pictures on internet, only pen pictures appear.

  • iciba: 签名笔 释义 a felt-tip pen; bkrs: 水笔 1)(写小字的毛笔) stiff-haired writing brush 2)(画水彩画的笔) water-colour paint brush 30(方) (钢笔) (fountain) pen 签名笔 not a word, 签名 sign, signature, 笔 brush,pen,write etc.
    – user6065
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 10:12

3 Answers 3


圆珠笔 simply refers to ball pens. No questions there regardless of the dialect or personal usage preference.

签名笔 could be referring to gel ink pen in common sense. But for artists I highly doubt that. A good possibility is technical pens. I am an architect myself and this is essential for anyone who wants a clean drawing. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_pen

水笔 is definitely not water color. It's a formal term for pen.


油性笔 pen with oil-based ink = 圆珠笔 ballpoint pen

中性笔 gel pen = 签字笔, 啫喱笔

水性笔 pen with water-based ink = rollerball pen

自来水笔(钢笔) fountain pen


中性 (medium-based) means the ink between oil-based ink and water-based ink, i.e. gelled ink.


I do not know what is 签名笔, i only know about 签字笔, which could be a general term to refer those kind of pen being used to sign, but native speakers may use this word to refer gel ink pen.

水笔 could be used to refer to paintbrushes, but in some dialect it also a name for pen.

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