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 for traditional drawing? 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. 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. Pilot Pocket Brush Pen Soft – This pen is the holy grail of inking, you’ll find it in every professional illustrator’s collection. I highly recommend getting multiple pens, and as they begin to dry out you’ll have different levels of tone/color based on how much you’ve used them. This pen is so easy to use and creates beautiful variations in line width. It’s squishy when you press down and super flexible. If you only get one pen on this list, get this one.

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 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! 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 one of my favorite inking pens, and another staple in many illustrators’ collections. 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 and blotting ink on your page. The beauty of this pen is all in your pressure control but if you learn how to master that you will really enjoy this pen.

6. Sakura Pigma Brush Pen - This pen is my newest addition but I already love it. The brush tip is very squishy like the Pilot pen. 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.

7. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen - 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 since you can’t vary your line weight with brush strokes. 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 Pilot Pocket Brush Pen Soft and the Pentel Pigment Ink Brush 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.