Posted on / by Stina / in Reviews / 2 comments

Top 5 Pens for Illustrating

I’m a big believer in the best pens being whatever you have to hand, as when you have an idea any pen will do! I’ve seen some amazing pieces created with some of the cheapest biros, so not having “the right pens” shouldn’t be an excuse (unless you’re attempting to paint a mural with nothing but an old potato).

That being said, I get a lot of people asking me which pens I use for my sketchbook and hand drawn work – so I thought I’d share some of my favourites in a blog post.

If you’d like to share some of your own favourites, please do so in the comments section!

Kuretake Mangaka Flexible
Favourite for: Outlining

I really like the flexible tip on this one as it allows me to use different pressures to achive both thick and thin lines. The ink comes out smoothly and is smudge proof when dry, which makes them particularly nice for outlining.

Kuretake Zig Brushables
Favourite for: Shading and adding colour

I use a lot of different markers for colouring but I keep coming back to these for my sketchbook work. The markers have dual tips with a tint of the same colour at the opposite end, which makes them great for adding highlights and shading. They are a bit unforgiving when using for large blocks of colour (so much so that I usually switch to Promarkers for this) but the brush responds well to changes in speed and pressure when applying single strokes, so I find them really comfortable to sketch with.

Uni Pin Fine Line
Favourite for: Detailing

I find this pen really versatile and use with all kinds of papers and mediums, but mainly for detailing. The ink dries quickly can withstand a good amount of layering with watercolours or markers without bleeding. I can be a bit heavy handed sometimes but the nibs are durable and can withstand it well. They’re more expensive than other fine liners but I find they last longer so I don’t replace them as much.

POSCA Chisel Tip
Favourite for: Large scale and live drawing

The 8mm chisel tip is always my go-to for big work, particularly live drawing events. The ink comes out clean and opaque, dries fast and leaves a nice finish. The chunky barrel and sturdy flat tip makes it easier to keep steady when working at odd angles. The ink doesn’t come out so fast that it drips, but you can pump it to get that effect when you need it.

Koh-i-noor Toison D’oh Lead Holder
Favourite for: Sketching and Shading

Ok, so this is technically a pencil, but it would be a shame not to include it as I use this pencil during pretty much every stage of my process! From the initial sketch through to the final details. The lead is nice and durable so I’ve even used it for marking out scale when starting a mural. It comes with a handy sharpening tool at the end too!


2 thoughts

  • Great post Stina

    Those that I recognise are the Posca and the Uni Pin, both of which I use, and I am deffo going to try out that dual tip marker.

    For the most part, Sakura micron pens are my ‘go to’ for sketchbook work. I used to use Rotring Isograph pens an awful lot before micron pens etc were available, but the regular cleaning is an absolute ball ache, particularly for the fine tip, but…you can’t beat them for clarity and density, the sharpest line you will ever draw.

    I have in my collection Faber and Castell Pitt Pens, Copic Markers and a huge collection of Prisma Markers (though rarely use them nowadays).

    Now, off to check out Cult Pens!


    • Thanks, Lorrie!

      Microns are pretty awesome. aren’t they! I have a Sakurah brush pen too that I use from time to time.

      I used Pitt Pens almost exclusively for the second half of my Daily Doodle project but switched after I had a go with Uni Pin Fine Liners as they just felt smoother to draw with.

      I have a few Copics but couldn’t get on with them as they’re a bit unforgiving – especially when trying to get flat consistent fill. I see some really amazing work created by people who’ve mastered them though!

      I’m tempted to go on a Cult Pens shopping spree too now!

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