As once written by the English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton:
"The pen is mightier than the sword".
This is especially true in the hands of a master sketch artist. After all, every idea that has ever occurred in the minds of all engineers, architects, illustrators, cartoonists, and movie directors has been translated from mere thoughts and into reality through the aid of a pen.
To help you put your own thoughts into motion, we’re going to be showcasing 10 of the best pens that you can use for sketching and drawing.
This is a professional grade pen, it features everything that a sketch artist might look for in a pen.
Read more about it on Amazon.com
Another top tier pen on the market, professional grade. This pen is refillable and features replaceable nibs too.
Read more about it on Amazon.com
Tips to Picking a Sketching Pen
There isn’t really a specific buying guide that you need to go through to get yourself the ideal pen for sketching. You simply need to try as many as you can and find out which ones work best for you. However, there are a few tips that all sketch artists can use before buying a pen.
If you’re going to be working with watercolors, you’ll certainly need to get a pen that features waterproof ink. Most waterproof pens are identifiable through reading the labels on their body. However, if it’s not so clear, look for pens with pigmented ink, knowing that pigments are particles that don’t dissolve in water.
You also want to make sure that the ink is fade-proof as most inks tend to dull after they dry or after being exposed to direct light for extended periods of time. And finally, some pen tips tend to bend with pressure, so it's advised that you try out the pen before you buy it to ensure it’s sturdiness and durability.
Another thing to keep an eye for are pens with refillable cartridges, this way you won’t be spending a lot of money on buying new disposable pens.
While our list includes a number of refillable pens, an alternative to that is to use a fountain pen and fill it with your own favorite ink. But please note that not all waterproof inks can be used in fountain pens as some ink pigments can clog them.
Best Pens for Drawing and Sketching
1. Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
- The Go-To Tool for Art, Work & Play: Black pens create precise marks that stand the test of time
- Assorted Point Sizes: Contains 1 of each Micron pen: 005, 01, 02, 03, 05, 08
- Archival Quality: Pen ink is waterproof, fade resistant, bleed free, quick drying, and pH neutral
The Pigma Micron pens from Sakura are one of the top go-to choices for many artists and illustrators as they provide the accuracy and the smoothness required to achieve the most minute details. These pigmented pens provide unwrinkled lines with consistent and crisp ink colors that dry very quickly without muddying your canvas.
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens are featured in a variety of nib sizes that allow you to attain the line width which you desire precisely. Available nib sizes are 0.20mm, 0.25mm, 0.30mm, 0.35mm, 0.45mm and, 0.50mm. They also come in a number of colors that include black, blue, orange, purple, burgundy, sepia, royal blue, hunter green, and rose to name a few.
Some of the features that make these pens so sought after are that they’re waterproof, chemically stable, and fade resistant. They also don't leave behind any smears or feathers, and they don’t bleed through on most papers. These pens conform to both ACMI and ASTM non-toxicity standards.
However, note that they’re not evaluated for any sort of skin cosmetic use, not that you would want to use these pens on skin 🙂
- Smooth and skip-free lines
- Available in a variety of sizes
- Crisp and vibrant ink colors
- Waterproof and fade resistant
- Completely non-toxic materials
- Can be a little scratchy
- Very short-lived quality
- Dries out really fast
2. Rotring Rapidograph Technical Pens
- 3 Piece Pen Junior Set includes 3 rapidograph pens (.25MM, .35MM, .5MM), 1 Tikky (burgundy) 0.5 and 6 ink cartridges
- The precision ink pen with the innovative refillable capillary cartridge system
- For tracing paper, vellum drawing paper and lineboard
The Rapidograph is an extremely technical drawing pen in terms of design and performance as it utilizes Rotring’s rather unique capillary cartridge. This pen needs some getting used to at first, but once you figure out how to use it properly, you’ll be blown away by the results.
Unlike a gel roller, the Rapidograph doesn’t just glide its way across the canvas, it’s rather slow and steady, which ultimately leaves you with very precise linework. One of this pen’s strongest selling points is its pressure equalization system which ensures a clean ink helix every time the cartridge is replaced.
The Rapidograph features a stainless steel nib for better stability. Further, the line width achieved by the pen is indicated on the color-coded barrel. Please note that as a technical drawing pen, you should expect it to bleed through some types of paper.
- Extremely precise line work
- Refillable capillary cartridge
- Fast-drying and waterproof ink
- Comes in 3 different pen sizes
- Very steep price tag
- Not for beginner artists
3. Prismacolor Premier Illustration Markers
- Fine, chisel and brush tips ensure you can make precisely the right mark
- Richly pigmented ink is acid free, lightfast, permanent, water resistant, smear resistant when dry and doesn’t bleed through paper
- Fine tips create crisp details, chisel tip provides broad coverage and a flexible brush tip for smooth layers
If razor-sharp outlines are what you seek, these premier illustration markers from Prismacolor will do the job justice. The fine tips of these markers make for incredibly crisp details, while the chisel tip is utilized for broader coverage. You can also use the flexible brush tip to lay down some silky-smooth layers
These markers are filled with pigment ink that’s completely acid-free. This permanent ink is also resistant to water and smear. You wouldn’t believe the excellent line quality that these pens achieve. Not only that, but these markers don’t bleed through paper whatsoever.
The Prismacolor Premier Markers are available in various tip sizes that range from 0.05 to 0.8 and they’re featured in plenty of colors that include red, brown, blue, green, purple, orange, and sepia. It’s also worth mentioning that the tips of these markers are very durable, so you won’t have to worry about them bending.
- No bleed-throughs whatsoever
- Provides excellent line quality
- Available in various tip sizes
- Extremely versatile and handy
- They can easily smear lines
- Not really the smoothest
- They dry out very quickly
4. Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens
- Pigment liner bonus sketch set of 6 line widths
- 4+2 free pack in stand up easel case
- Lightfast waterproof smear free ink
The Pigment Liner is a slightly long drawing pen that can perform double duty as your average workplace pen. It feels pretty soft and it produces super smooth lines. The tips are of a metallic material and are quite lengthy, allowing you to use them against rules without smudging or scratching.
You can find these Staedtler pens are available in 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, or 0.8mm widths. They’re ideal for sketching, drawing, and writing. They’re also great for filling and coloring. These pens are waterproof, smear-free, and quick-drying. Moreover, these pens are very affordable and extremely popular.
- Easily affordable price tag
- Versatile and multi-functional
- Available in 6 different widths
- Waterproof and smear-free
- Smaller nibs aren’t so durable
- Can very easily smudge
- They dry out pretty quickly
5. Copic Multiliner SP Black Ink Marker
- This black pigment-based ink pen is great for details, fine art, design, comics, modeling, journaling and papercrafting
- Waterproof, archival and photocopy safe
- Compatible with Copic Marker Ink
Copic pens are among the top tier of drawing pens on the market today. These pens are favored by a lot of fashion designers, comic book artists, and architects. Their rich dark, low-odor, ultra-blendable, alcohol-based ink allows for smooth and noiseless performance on paper.
As waterproof pens, they are less than likely to smudge or over-soak the paper. They also provide an ideal mix for rich blending. The pens come in two types: refillable and disposable. The refillable models are often preferred as they don't require much maintenance.
The Copic Multiliner SP pens are available in 10 replaceable nib sizes for the black SP and 2 replaceable ones for the color SP. However, despite being albumin bodied, they’re very sensitive and can easily break if they fall from afar. The good thing about these pens, though is that even on the worst types of paper, they’ll perform impressively under any angle.
- Very smooth and noiseless
- Available in refillable models
- Featured in various nib sizes
- An ideal choice for rich blending
- A little bit too pricey
- Sensitive construction
6. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
- Item Number: 167100
- German (Publication Language)
This pack from Faber-Castell includes 4 Black Pitt pens with various nib styles for tackling different art applications. The pack includes a superfine (0.3mm) pen, fine (0.5mm) pen, medium (0.7mm) pen, and a brush (1-5mm) pen. These pens are filled with high-quality, highly pigmented India Ink that’s water and smudge resistant.
This premium India Ink works on multiple canvases and it will not bleed through paper. You can also layer the colors on whichever canvas you choose such as books, paper, sketches, or journals. Not only are these pens great for sketching, but you can also utilize them for calligraphy and hand-lettering
- Great versatility and durability
- Includes 4 different ink thicknesses
- They move super smoothly
- Filled with high-quality India Ink
- They run and dry out quickly
- Some smearing here and there
7. Lictin Black Waterproof Fine Liner Pens
- 【7 drawing pen】: Black waterproof sketch pens with different nib sizes: 0.05mm, 0.1mm, 0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.8mm and brushes (1mm); each meets the needs of various uses.
- 【High quality】：Lictin black sketch pen is waterproof and odorless, has excellent high quality, and is durable and vibrant. Waterproof pigment ink will not fade on most papers, no smudges, bleeding or ink leakage.
- 【Wide application】: The flowing ink has smooth sliding, which allows you to freely draw, contour, thin line drawing and other drawing techniques. Architects, designers, illustrators and sketch painters love these high quality sketch pens, suitable for painting, sketching, illustration, art, drawing, design, advertising, animation, contouring, etc.
While they might seem a little stiff at first, the Lictin pens provide smooth linework once you break them in. They also come at a very affordable price considering for waterproof and odor-less pens. These pens are great for sketching, illustration, drawing, and designing.
The pack includes 7 pens with various nib sizes that range from 0.05 to 0.8mm and a 1mm brush. The nib sizes are indicated on each pen to avoid any confusion. The water-based ink is very vibrant and doesn’t turn dull once it dries out. Furthermore, the tips are fairly sturdy and durable to prevent bending.
- Very affordable price rag
- The ink doesn’t fade when dry
- Produces smooth linework
- Sturdy and durable tips
- The ink dries out quickly
- Not the finest drawing pens
8. Uni Pin Fineliner Pens
- Assorted degrees
- Great for drawing, sketching and designing
- Ensures exact results
This ultra-fine pen features a rich, fade-proof ink that has great resistance of water, which, as a result, makes it resistant to smearing as well. This pen feels very good in hand and has an overall sturdy construction. It's available in various colors and widths that range from 0.05 to 0.8. One of this pen’s strength is its fade-proof ink, which won’t fade away even under continuous light exposure.
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Waterproof and smear-resistant
- Available in various widths
- Quite scratchy and rough
- Relatively short lifetime
9. Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers
- Updated color palette now includes N79 Warm Gray 2
- Ideal for hand lettering, watercolor, fine art, illustrations, doodling, journaling, coloring and more
These extremely versatile dual-brush pens feature a nylon fiber tip on one of their ends for bold strokes and a fine tip on the other end for some smooth line work. The nylon brush offers great resilience that allows it to retain its point after every stroke. Each pack contains 9 colored pens and 1 colorless blender. Also, they’re available in various color schemes.
With these pens, you have the ability to use 2 colors simultaneously or just use the colorless blender pen. Further, these pens don’t leave a mess behind as their tips tend to self-clean after doing some blending. There’s no limit to the amount of application where you can use these pens, from hand-lettering and rubber stamping to sketching and coloring.
- Great bang for your buck
- Flexible and extremely versatile
- Can be used in various applications
- Resilient and self-cleaning nylon tips
- They dry out pretty quickly
- Can bleed through thinner paper
10. Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pens
- Portable, neat and easy-to-use versus traditional paint and brushes: Ideal for painting on Location
- Permanent pigment ink is both fade- and water-resistant
- Durable, Premium bristles help create fine to broad lines in a single Brush stroke
Looking for a portable and easy-to-use pen for painting in location? Search no further. The Pentel pen is definitely going to be a neat addition to your art kit. This pen is filled with pigment ink that’s both fade-resistant and waterproof.
The ink cartridges can easily be refilled so that you won’t need to buy new pens every so often. Further, the pen features premium and extremely durable bristles that will allow you to change the thickness of the lines from fine to broad within a single brush stroke.
- Portable and very easy to use
- Fade-resistant and waterproof ink
- Ink cartridges can be refilled
- A great choice for beginner artists
- The brush is a little flimsy
- Ink flow is inconsistent
Just like art itself, the art utensils needed by the artist are all pretty much subjective. What one artist might deem as quite handy and excellent in performance can be another artist’s trash. It’s all about experimenting really. Thankfully, most pens are inexpensive, so you can just do some trial and error until you find the perfect pen for you.
However, we highly recommend the Sakura Pigma Micron Pens because they offer everything a sketch artist might look for in a pen, apart from refillable cartridges, sadly. But if you’re hellbent on getting a refillable pen and you have a bit of money to spend, the refillable models of the Copic Multiliner SP Black Ink Marker will get the job done beautifully.