Best Pens for Inking

Are you looking to start drawing and don't know what pens to purchase? Tired of what's currently in your inking arsenal and want to try something new? Or are you just curious as to what pens I use? Then continue reading!

I've gone through tons of pens, some great and some not so much. After all of these years of drawing I feel like I've got a good understanding of what works. To save you the hassle of trial and error with pens, here is a list of what I'm currently using and why I use them. Perhaps what works for me works for you as well!


My Inking Pens

1. Pentel Tradio Stylo Pen – While this pen is a part of my collection it is not a regularly used pen. I chose it not for the way it inks but rather the way it feels when I hold it. It's much thicker than most of my other pens so it feels sturdy when holding it. It's also pretty short which makes the hand flicking motion easier. This pen is comfortable for long drawing sessions but don't expect the most beautiful lines from it. I use this pen when I'm doing messy sketches and to loosen up my hand gestures.

2. Speedball Sketching Project Set used with Super Black India Ink – Normally you see these types of pens (called dip pens) in calligraphy, but they're also great for drawing. This particular set came with two pens and 6 nibs total. With the pointedness of the nib you can get very fine lines for detail. I save these dip pens for when I'm doing precise line work that requires total control over line weight. The only thing you need to be careful with is dipping the pens into too much ink which blots a huge puddle on your drawing. I've ruined a few drawings that way. Take it easy on the ink and you'll be good to use these for your detailed line work.

3. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens - This pen is my most used pen. It's functional, reliable, and offers a variety of sizes ranging from extra small to bold brushes. I often use the two extremes (XS & B) but occasionally I'll make use of the middle sizes (S, F, M). I can get detailed lines with the smaller sizes and I can get bold brush strokes with the bigger sizes. The ink never gets blotted, it doesn't smear with Copic markers (if you let it dry), and the ink seems to last forever. My only con is the durability of the tips. I have a heavy hand when I draw and so I've bent a few of the smaller sized tips. If you're a gentle drawer then you shouldn't have this issue.

4. Prismacolor Brush Tip Marker - This is actually labeled as a marker but it functions more like a brush pen. It's similar to the Faber-Castell artist pens, but this product has lots of COLOR options! For the drawing above in this blog post I primarily used these pens. They lay nicely over Copic markers and it's easy to add a variety of line weight with the brush tip. Most of my drawings were created with this pen in some capacity.

5. Pentel Pigment Ink Brush Pen - This is easily my favorite inking pen. It creates beautiful, full brush strokes with a nice texture. It feels like a paint brush without having to dip into any paint. There is a little bit of a learning curve with the pen though. You need to practice applying pressure to master your brush strokes. Learn to use the smallest amount of pressure for your thin lines and learn how to press hard for your thick lines without pressing too hard. The beauty of this pen is all in your pressure control but if you learn how to master that you won't need any other pen!

6. Sakura Pigma Brush Pen - This pen is my newest addition but I'm already in love with it. With a little more time this brush may become my favorite to use. The brush tip is very squishy which gives it a bit more flexibility when drawing. I can move my hand in all directions and it feels like the pen naturally moves with me. The tip also retains its shape well even with a heavy hand and I don't have to worry about a bent tip. It's easy to use (easier than the Pentel Brush Pen) and there's not a learning curve with it. You can pick it up and instantly start drawing beautiful lines. Right now I'm having the most fun with this pen.

7. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen - Ah last but not least! I am a little bit sentimental with this pen since it's the very first pen I started inking with. I use it in variety of sizes (01, 03, 05, 08) to achieve different line weights. The quality of the ink seems less than Faber-Castell but the tip retains its shape better, especially on the finer sizes. It's still a good quality pen, and the great thing about this pen is that it's the most accessible. Even if you don't have art stores near you, most stores carry this (even Walmart!).

TL;DR the most essential inking pens in my opinion are the Pentel Pigment Ink Brush Pen, Sakura Pigma Brush Pen, and the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. I can't do without these pens. However, all of the listed pens are worth checking into and I've linked places where you can buy them.

Hopefully this is helpful! Let me know if you have any more inking questions.