17 Best Pens For Sketching Reviews in 2021 (MUST READ!)


cropped ink building sketchbook best pens for sketching

Sketching by a pen is a beautiful and vibrant medium.   If you are in a pencil-to-pen transition, you may be looking for the best pens for sketching available on the market. Pen sketching needs a pen with superb control and a flawless flow of ink  – because you don’t have room for error!

A good sketching pen should glide smoothly on paper and be free of skipping and blotting so that your art can flow as freely as your thoughts.

cropped astronaut best pens for sketching

Please read to the end of my article for my ProTips and insider information to help you find your favorite pens for sketching! However,

If you are in a hurry and don’t have the time to skim through the entire article, here is the list of my 17 best pens for sketching:

 

  1. Sakura Pigma 30062 Micron << Best Overall
  2. Copic Gasenfude Brush Pen  << Best Brush Pen
  3. Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen Set  <<Best Set and Most Versatile
  4. Derwent Line Makers
  5. Zig Mangaka Pens
  6. Faber-Castell F167100 Pitt Artist Pen  << Best for Bold Color Sketching
  7. Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen
  8. Sta Pigment Liner Pens Set of 10
  9. Pandafly Soft and Hard Tip Refillable
  10. Prismacolor 1738862 Premier Illustration Markers
  11. Tombow 3 Piece Brush Set
  12.  Sakeyr Metallic Marker Pens
  13. Art-n-Fly Dual Tip Black Brush Pens
  14. Huhuhero 24 Colors Fineliner Color Pen Set Best Value for Money With Colors
  15. Sakeyr Black Fineliner Ink Pens
  16. Brite Crown Black Fineliner Pens
  17. Pentel Fude Brush Pen

 

Here are our best recommendations for pens for sketching:

 

1) Sakura Pigma 30062 Micron  <<Best Overall

If you are looking for a pen that can sketch and draw on all sorts of papers without smearing and bleed-thru, you may consider buying this ink pen set by Sakura. This set consists of six different pen sizes. Each pen provides precise line width, making these pens equally good for writing and sketching. These may be TOO fine for your needs if you are looking for thick or broad strokes. Here at VeryCreate we keep a mug full of these pens and they are our reliable go-to for fine line performance.  Be aware though, that the fine-lined pens are fragile tipped and tend to dry out easily.  So, keep a light hand when using and keep several of the thinnest lined pens handy so you have a backup if you use them a lot!

  • Offer skip-free sketching and writing in rick black ink
  • Uses patented pigment ink called Pigma that delivers fade-resistant and waterproof results
  • These sketch pens ensure no feathers and smears on most papers
  • Available in multiple widths from extremely fine to medium thickness
  • Available in individual colors and in many different sets of black, sepia or multi-colored
  • An ideal option for all those writings and drawings that need to be preserved for long time

Our rating: 95%

Sakura Pigma Micron Pen

Complete line available at Dick Blick:

>>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

>>Check price on Amazon<<

2) Copic Gasenfude Brush Pen << Best Brush Pen Option

Made by the reputable Copic pen company, this water-based ink pen has nylon bristles that mimick a Sumi-e brush.

  • Many different thicknesses of lines depending on the pressure you apply, the angle of the pen and the swiftness of your stroke
  • Water-based pigment ink
  • Archival
  • Fade-resistant
  • Very highly rated by owners
  • Wonderful for flowing calligraphy and flourished lines
  • Super-fine tip for detail work
  • Compatible with markers that alcohol based – which means colors won’t bleed

Our rating: 95%

Copic Gasenfude Brush Tip Pen

>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

<<Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

3)  Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen Set –  Most Versatile Pen Set

The flexibility of this set is just about perfect in a three pen set – from fine lines to calligraphy strokes.  The only disappointment is the lack of a sturdy carrying case.

  • For wonderful versatility, this set comes with a fine nib, a medium nib and a brush tip for bold strokes
  • The nibs were engineered to provide recovery bounce over long periods of use
  • Very responsive in the hand, they function  ideally with changes of pressure or direction
  • Deliver a smooth, consistent flow.
  • Archival ink
  • Non-smearing
  • Waterproof
  • Highly rated by owners

Our rating: 95%

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens and Sets

>>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

4) Derwent Line Makers

These pens work like a graphic pencil in that they lay down smooth, free-flowing lines, perfect for illustration.

  • Solvent-free
  • Quick drying
  • Available in black, sepia and graphite shade individually as well as in sets of 3 or 6
  • Water-based pigment ink
  • Light-fast

Our rating: 85%

Derwent Line Makers

Full Line Available at Dick Blick:

>>Check Price at Dick Blick>>

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

5) Zig Mangaka Pens

Sturdy tips with thin and thick lines loved by manga artists.

  • Very highly rated by users
  • Water-based pigment ink
  • Smudge-proof when dry
  • Available in a set of six – including two brush tips

Our rating: 85%

Zig Mangaka Pens and Sets

>>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

6) Faber-Castell F167100 Pitt Artist Pen- Best for Bold Color Sketching

Faber-Castell is known for its top-quality pencils. However, the German company is now also making pens for sketching artists and illustrators. Case in point: this large set. These pens are for drawing smooth sketches on any type of paper without incurring issues such as bleeding, smearing, etc.

  • Four line widths to fulfill different drawing and sketching needs— soft brush, soft calligraphy, bullet nib, and brush width
  • The Superfine, Fine, Medium, Bullet and Brush nibs
  • Available individually or in 38 different sets!!! at Dick Blick
  • Pigmented India Ink in multiple nib sizes
  • 58 colors
  • Use permanent ink that is acid-free and offer archival results
  • Waterproof and smudge-resistant once ink dries
  • Lines don’t fade away with time

Our rating: 80%

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens and Sets

For the complete line:

>>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

For limited options:

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

7) Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen

If you are looking for a sketching pen for some portable, on-the-go use, this pocket brush pen by Pentel Arts is worth considering. It is a single pen with a soft and stable brush tip. Its cap features a pocket holder, and it comes with 2 black ink refills to make sure you can use it anywhere and anytime.

  • Uses permanent pigment ink that is waterproof and fade-resistant
  • Features premium bristles in the tip to offer long-lasting use
  • Soft-touch offers thinner strokes meanwhile press it against the paper for broader strokes
  • Delivers skip-free lines that remain consistent in each stroke
  • Refill cartridges available

Our rating: 80%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

8) STA Pigment Liner Set of 10

  •  Extra fine tip Multiliner pens: 0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.2mm,0.3 mm,0.4mm, 0.5 mm,0.6mm, 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm, 2 x Brush.
  • Archival ink
  • Pigmented ink
  • Acid free
  • Lightfast permanent
  • Water proof
  • Highly rated by owners
  • Quick drying and smear resistant

Our rating: 80%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

 

 

 

9) PANDAFLY Soft and Hard Tip Refillable

It is a set of six pens that includes three pieces with soft brush tips and one-piece, each with an extra-fine, fine and medium tip. This pen set is suitable for beginner sketching artists and calligraphers. PANDAFLY has made these pens refillable to ensure budding artists can save some money on their stationery supply.

  • Use pigmented black ink that is non-toxic and water-based
  • Offer better results than pens that use dye ink
  • Can be used on different surfaces including wood
  • Some users report the tips are difficult to work with
  • Waterproof when dry

Our rating: 75%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

10) Prismacolor 1738862 Premier Illustration Markers

This 7-piece marker pen set is perfect for all those artists who like to sketch with more layers and multiple line widths. Starting from the fine micro nib to the chiseled tip, this Prismacolor pen set allows you to sketch without any sketching restrains. This pen set is also suitable for classical black sketching on white and off-white backdrops.

  • Fine tips for creating crisp details
  • A flexible brush tip for creating smooth layers
  • A chiseled tip allows broad strokes and coverage
  • Use rick pigmented ink that is lightfast (fade-resistant) and doesn’t bleed through paper either

Our rating: 75%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

11) Tombow 3-Piece Pen Set– Best for Brush Calligraphy

This Tombow pen set contains soft, hard, and twin tip markers that are ideal for basic sketches and calligraphy. Like any other good sketching pen, these also use water-based pigmented ink that lasts and ensures blot-free results.

  • Suitable for sketching, brush calligraphy, illustrations, and hand lettering
  • Use odorless ink that is non-toxic
  • Their flexible brush tips allow seamless transition from thin to thick lines
  • They are non-refillable pens

Our rating: 75%

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens

>>Check Price At Dick Blick<<

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

12)  SAKEYR Metallic Marker Pens

If you are unconventional with your sketching, then you may love these metallic marker pens by SAKEYER.  Not exactly what I would classify as ‘sketch pens’, nevertheless, it may just be that spark of uniqueness that will inspire YOUR sketching.

It is a set of 10 pieces, each with different color metallic ink. From adding embellishment to various craftworks to sketching on black backgrounds, you can use these pens for different drawing projects.

  • Contain shiny ink that features finely grounded particles— produces smooth and even metallic sheen
  • Perfect for black paper, wood, rocks and photo albums
  • Uses permanent ink that is non-toxic, odorless and doesn’t bleed
  • Feature a smooth and round fine tip that delivers consistent skip-free lines

Our rating: 75%

>>Check price on Amazon<<

 

13) Art-n-Fly Dual Tip Black Brush Pens– Best 3-Piece Set

If you like to keep your artwork minimalistic, you may like this simple yet complete set of pens by Art-n-Fly. It is a 3-piece set containing the same type of pen. However, every pen features a dual tip. One tip sketches fine lines, and the other one is suitable for broader and bold strokes.

  • Suitable for sketching as well as lettering and calligraphy
  • Features a forgiving brush tip— makes for stunning strokes with minimal efforts
  • Does not deliver waterproof results
  • Owners report the ink is not as vibrant as other brands

Our rating: 75%

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

14) Huhuhero 24 Colors Fineliner Color Pen Set- Best Value for Money

This assorted sketching pen set could be a great gift for budding artists. The manufacturer has maintained consistency throughout the set. Every piece features a 0.38mm tip that draws free-flowing fines lines that are equally good for sketching as well as writing and other illustration work.

  • Use water-based ink that entails minimal bleeding
  • The tip smoothly glides on the surface, and the ink quickly dries
  • Deliver intense water-based color results
  • Well-thought-out shape to ensure easy grip and free of hand strain

Our rating: 70%

>>Check price on Amazon<<

15)  SAKEYR Black Fineliner Ink Pens

If you are looking for a set of pens that can be used for sketching as well as writing and occasional elaborated illustrations, you may like this package by SAKEYR. It is a set of nine pens, among which eight have micro nibs of different sizes and one brush tip of 2-mm. This nib assortment allows you to take on all sorts of drawing projects.  Some owners report that the pens skip on the page and dry out very fast.

  • Fulfill all demands of sketching, drawing, cleaning outlines, elaborative line drawing, etc.
  • Use archival-grade ink that is waterproof
  • Pigment composition of these ink pens enable no-smear, bleeding, and fading

Our rating: 70%

>>Check price on Amazon<<

16) Bright Crown Fineliner Pens

  • Set of 10 includes 9 tips and one brush liner for great versatility
  • Acid-free
  • Archival ink
  • Waterproof
  • mixed ratings by users

Our rating: 70%

 

>Check Price On Amazon<<

17) Pentel Fude Brush Pen– Best Fude Brush for Sketching

Fude brush pens are primarily made for Japanese calligraphy. They are unique in that the barrel is a chamber that is refilled once the ink is used.   You can use any non-waterproof bottle ink you like.  It takes some getting used to for its best application. If you are a full-time artist, you will be able to make the most of this Pentel sketching brush pen.  If you are clumsy like me, it can make quite the mess to refill, though!

  • Tip made of nylon bristles that make the pen long-lasting
  • Refillable but doesn’t use waterproof ink
  • You can use regular fountain ink to refill the pen

Our rating: 65%   -I’m docking it a few points because you can’t use waterproof ink with it.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

How to Choose the Best Pens for Sketching?

cropped ink mt trees best pens for sketching

It primarily depends on the nature, amount, and skill level of your sketching. However, you can look for some recurring features that are present in nearly every top-of-the-line pen for sketching.

  • A good sketching pen should create free-flowing drawings without causing any skips.
  • A professional sketching pen uses pigmented ink instead of dyes
  • They need to be blot, splatter and bleed-free
  • A good sketching pen/marker needs to be easy to hold without putting a strain on the artist’s hands.

 

What Are the Benefits of Using Pen for Sketching?

There are various benefits of switching from pencil to pen sketching.

  • You can run your hand freely with a natural motion with no stopping to sharpen the tip of a pencil or redip a quill into an inkpot.
  • With no erasing capability, you have to commit to the creation with confidence and a bit more instinctively.
  • A sketch finished by a pen is very eye-catching due to its stark contrast in black and white.
  • A sketch made from a top-quality pen doesn’t experience smudging, which is common with pencil work.
  • Ink pen drawings are archival and long-lasting.  No need to worry about fading or change of pigmentation over the years.
  • It is a totally unique medium of art, not replicable with paints.
  • Linework using pens can be very appealing and unique to each maker, like a fingerprint or signature.  Artists call it “the show of the artist’s hand”.
  • Ink application has a texture and beauty all its own.
characture best pens for sketching
Caricatures are a perfect fit for ink pens!

Features that Make Sketching Pens Different from Each Other

Various features make one sketching pen different from the other. For instance:

The tip/nib of the pen: Some sketching pens have micro tips that draw fine lines. They are quite fragile, however, and the ink dries up fast with tiny tips.

Many pens have nylon and other soft fiber tips. They offer versatile use. With a soft hand, you can use them to sketch thin and fine lines. By pressing them against the paper with a slight force, you can use them to create broad strokes.

Ink: Some sketch pens use pigmented waterproof ink that is archival-grade, which means you can use it to draw and write in ink that doesn’t fade and flake with time. Some sketch pens use watercolors and water-based inks that are great for pastel-rich work.  Please be aware that dye-based colorant is not archival and will fade with sunlight exposure and time.

For a learn about the many differences of markers please read my article here.

Please read my review of the best watercolor brush pens here.

Refillable/Non-refillable: Some sketching pens use cartridges, and, in some, you can fill ink.  (Ask me how many times I’ve spilled the ink while trying to refill a barrel!).

However, most pens have a non-refillable configuration.

cropped ink mandalas best pens for sketching

ProTips:

  • Protect your sketching surface with a clean piece of blank paper as you sketch.  The oil from your hands can darken the fibers of the paper and weaken the performance of your ink.
  • Once you find your favorite brand, buy several to keep on hand.  Sometimes supplies run out at the most inopportune times!…or the manufacturer gets sidelined in production from a pandemic, for example!
  • Keep several sized pens at home for your studio and one with your field sketchbook for on the go!

Tutorials and Inspiration:

This comprehensive book is very well written with many easy to follow examples of many different strokes, pen styles, stippling and inspiration.  Mr. Dunn is a high school chemistry teacher and college instructor, as well as a gifted artist with half a million followers on the web.  Also available in Kindle format.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

 

 

 

 

Best Uses of Sketching Pens

Here at VeryCreate we keep a bunch of ink pens handy and use them daily!  The fine-lined ones are great for plotting up a grid, creating boxed lines around watercolors and writing super small thin lines when signing paper-based artworks.

Apart from making your sketches look more professional, you can also use sketching pens for calligraphy and lettering. Moreover, pens with fine tips can be used for any professional drafting. You can also use archival-grade sketching pens for furnishing documents and manuscripts that need to be saved in the same condition for a long time.

Conclusion

Even though every pen that I have discussed here has some winning features,  if I have to pick the best among the best, it will beSakura Pigma 30062 Micron. I’ve have chosen it as my top pick because it offers free-flowing, skip-free drawing with an ink that is waterproof and doesn’t bleed or fade. Also, its price is quite reasonable. You get six top-quality sketching pens within $10.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it better to buy a single pen or a set?

It depends on your use. If you are used to completing an entire sketch in one go while using the same pen, you should go with a single pen. However, if you like to sketch while using various line widths, a set will be a cost-effective option and handy for travel.

Are color pens good for sketching?

Yes, a color pen is good for sketching as long as it features the right tip and uses good quality ink.  I would research the lightfastness of the ink though, if you intend to sell your work!

Does every pen bleed on paper?

A pen’s bleeding usually depends on the quality of the paper.  If you are using paper with a coarse, fibrous surface, you will have to put up with bleed-through. Pens with pigmented ink largely offer smudge and bleed-free sketching because the molecules of ink stay on the surface of the paper fibers, instead of sinking in like water-based or alcohol dyes.

 

 

 

Anita HC

I hope you are enjoying this article! I love helping creators learn. My goal is to help you find the knowledge and inspiration you need. Check out our library of articles and visit often...I'm adding articles every week! Thank you again for reading!

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