Discover the best drawing pens for artists!
Before you even start making pen and ink artwork, you will need to make two important choices: what kind of pen(s) and paper will you use?
On another page we discuss the best types of paper to use if you are making pen and ink artwork that you plan to sell. On this page, we'll talk about the best brands of artist pens to use if you want to create pen and ink drawings that will stand the test of time.
When choosing a drawing pen, it's best to look for one that is labeled "archival". Archival pens contain inks that won't fade or lighten over time (as long as the artwork is properly handled, stored and displayed).
Archival pens are the best choice for fine artists because you want your drawings to last as long as possible, especially if your artworks will be sold. At the very least you definitely want your art to last a lifetime, preferably for centuries or even millennia! Your art stands a greater chance of long-term survival if the materials you use are archival.
That said, it’s worth noting though that in this digital age, you might not be overly concerned with longevity if your main intention is to scan your artwork to sell as reproductions, rather than sell the originals. In that case, archival pens are a bonus but not a necessity, as long as you’re aware that the ink will likely fade over time (and sometimes quicker than you might think).
Good quality artist pens will meet the following criteria:
- fade-resistant / lightfast
- pigment ink *
* Drawing pens are filled with either pigment ink or dye ink. Artwork created with pigment ink will last longer and retain color better than artwork created with dye ink.
The Best Drawing Pens
Based on the above criteria, here are my top 4 recommended drawing pens for artists. I have used each of these brands so I can vouch for their quality!
I've provided links below to the relevant products so that you can easily find them on Blick Art Materials, my favorite online art supplier. I'm a member of Blick's affiliate program, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I'll receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Click here for more info.
Prismacolor Premier Illustration Markers
Prismacolor Premier Illustration Markers are a popular choice when it comes to artist pens.
Although they are labeled as "fine line markers", these Prismacolor markers are actually more like pens than markers. They come in a range of nib sizes, from 005 (the smallest) to 08 (the largest). In addition to black, they are also available in blue, brown, green, orange, purple, red and sepia.
The tips of these artist pens are very durable. In the past I've used other art pens that had nibs that became easily bent if too much pressure was accidentally applied, but I've never had that problem with these Prismacolor artist pens.
Two things I really like about the Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Markers are that:
they don't bleed through the paper
they can achieve excellent line quality
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens are another excellent choice for pen and ink artists.
These pigmented ink artist pens can produce nice smooth lines that dry quickly and won't smudge once dried.
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens are available in 6 sizes, from 005 (the smallest) to 08 (the biggest). They are sold singly and in sets.
They come in a variety of colors in addition to black, such as sepia, blue, blue/black, brown, burgundy, fresh green, green, hunter green, orange, purple, red, rose, royal blue, and yellow.
Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pens
Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pens are another fine choice when it comes to archival artist pens. They are only available in black and come in 4 sizes, from 01 (the smallest) to 07 (the biggest).
Ohuhu Fine Line Drawing Pens
If you would like a pen set that includes more sizes as well as a brush tip, Ohuhu Fine Line Drawing Pens are an excellent option. (As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Each set comes with 8 pens that range in size from 0.2mm at the smallest end of the scale to a 1mm bullet tip at the largest end of the scale, plus a pen with a versatile brush tip. The brush tip can be used to create variable line widths and also to fill in large spaces more quickly than the smaller pens. Currently these pens are only available in black, but Ohuhu might add more colors in the future.
I especially enjoy using the Ohuhu Fine Line Drawing pens in conjunction with Ohuhu alcohol markers, because the ink from the pens doesn’t smudge when colored over with the alcohol markers, which makes them great for creating an underdrawing. They also work well when adding details on top of alcohol markers.
The 4 brands of drawing pens mentioned here are amongst the best pre-filled ink pens that artists can buy, and they are relatively inexpensive as well, with each pen usually costing under $2!
If you're not sure about which archival pen to buy, visit your local art supply store where they usually have a pad of test paper next to the pens so you can try them out before you buy.
Return to the Pen and Ink Table of Contents, where you can find info about creating your own pen and ink drawings, as well as links to pen and ink artists!
How to Draw Course
If you'd like to level-up your pen-and-ink drawings, check out the How to Draw course by the Great Courses Plus! It's the most comprehensive course I've seen for teaching beginners the fundamentals of drawing!
While most tutorials on the web are limited to teaching you the steps to drawing single objects, this course takes the time to teach you the core skills you need to draw anything you can imagine!
You can access the course immediately with their free trial, along with hundreds of other courses that can be streamed to any device or TV!