There are a lot of pens out there. A lot of them work, but not a lot of them work good. When it comes to illustration, a standard ballpoint pen just isn’t going to cut it (speaking of ballpoint pens, this is the best one I’ve found. I was also impressed by this one and this one).
Here I’ve put together a list of my favorite pens.*
1. Pentel Energel — These pens are good for everything. I use them for both writing and drawing. The name Energel is a little confusing because it might make you think of Gelly Roll pens. These are different and much more versatile. Energels have replaced ballpoint pens for me — they dry fast, the ink is a dark solid color and it comes out effortlessly, and they’re good price. There are quite a few models available — Energel X, Energel RTX, Energel Alloy, the original capped Energel, and Energel NV. All of them are refillable except for NV. The only difference between X, RTX, and Alloy is the material it’s made from — all three are retractable. The other two have a cap. There are lots of different color options, although I only use black. There are 3 options for tips — fine (0.5), medium (0.7), and bold (0.9). My favorite is the fine point.
2. Sakura Pigma Microns — There are a lot of pigment pens out there, and I’ve tried a lot, but none of them beat the Microns. The ink in the Microns is the best quality (waterproof, acid free, fade resistant) and they just work better. They’re a little pricey but they’re worth it if you need pens for illustration. If you like pigment pens for writing, you’re better off with these. There are also other types of pens and markers by Sakura that use the Pigma ink.
3. Sharpie Fine Point Pen — There is a lot of confusion when someone hears the word “Sharpie Pen.” The one people typically think of are the smelly ultra fine tip permanent ones. Those are not the ones I like.
I’m just going to clear this up right now: the fine tip permanent sharpies are just a fine tip version of the regular permanent ones. They are not for drawing on normal surfaces such as paper. A lot of people use them as if they were pigment pens. They are not. They are for writing on surfaces like plastic or metal.
The kind that I use are pigment liners. They are made by Sharpie, but they do not smell and have nothing to do with being permanent. Sharpie is well known for making permanent markers, but they are an office supply company that also makes highlighters, pens, and pencils.
So the pen that I want to talk about is simply called the Sharpie Fine Point Pen, and it is a pigment pen similar to the Microns I talked about earlier. They are more versatile than Microns, however, and you can find them in regular office supply stores when Microns are only available in high end art stores. These Sharpie pens are easy to use and work for both drawing and writing.
Those are my top 3. What are your favorite pens? Tell us in the comments below!
*I’m hoping to add more in the future!