The 8 Best Drawing Pens of 2020

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Drawing pens were once solely the domain of engineers and architects, but that changed when illustrators, cartoonists and other artists discovered them, too. Some of these pens are noted for being very precise — not something you’d necessarily need at your desk at the office unless you work in a career that involves extremely intricate penmanship or illustrations. Tips typically range from .03 to .8 mm. But other drawing pens are also known for their creative bells and whistles, like shading and fill-in abilities.

Whether you’re just doodling, creating an image that will rival Picasso’s work or laying out plans for a new skyscraper, at least one of these pens should hit the mark for you.

Best Technical Pen: The Rotring Radiograph

Rotring Rapidograph Technical Drawing Pen
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This one isn’t a cinch to use — it takes some practice to get used to — and you might need the help of the manual to put it together. Why go to all that trouble? Because customers give this pen five out of five possible stars. Its precision is off the charts. The needle steel tip allows for super-fine lines and controls the ink flow very well. You can choose from different widths for varying line sizes. The barrel includes a color code that can tell you the line width you’ve selected. The capillary cartridge system is refillable and you’ll never have to clean the ink helix because it’s replaced every time you change the cartridge. 

If you’re an engineer or architect, this pen can’t be beaten. The three-pen junior set is a little pricey, but it’s worth it if you depend upon your writing instrument for your livelihood. 

Best Value: The Sakura Pigma Micron

The Sakura Pigma Micron is available at a really reasonable price, particularly considering all you get for your money. You have your choice of various tip sizes and colors, and the ink is of good quality and won’t fade. There’s no feathering or bleed-through on most types of paper, making them perfect for drawing finer lines and accurate images of things like foliage or hair.

These are disposable pens, ideal if you tend to do your drawing on the go and you lose your pens a lot. The drawback? They’re a little on the unattractive side, not much to look at, but do you care if you’re going to be tossing them away when they run dry?

Best Pen for General Workplace Use: The Staedtler Pigment Liner

Yes, workplace use. Who says a great drawing pen can’t do double duty?

Staedtler’s Pigment Liner is said to rival the Sakura Pigma Micron in a lot of ways, but the Pigment Liner’s tip is slightly longer. This is a good thing if you’re in the habit of running your pen along the side of a ruler or if you want to write with it, too. You have a choice between five different tips. The .05 mm is one of the most popular and is best suited to those with light hands. Best of all, this pen is really inexpensive — well under $10. 

Best All-in-One Pen: Tombow Dual Brush Pens

Many drawing pens have interchangeable tips, so you can achieve the effect you’re looking for as an artist. You won’t have to fuss with all that if you choose Tombow’s Dual Brush Pens. As the name suggests, each marker has both a fine tip and a flexible brush tip. The fine tip is on the opposite side of the flexible one. The brush tip creates lines ranging from fine to bold, making it ideal for shading, and the set includes a blender pen to help your shading along.

You have a choice between blendable or soluble ink, both of which are non-toxic, so they’re perfectly safe if your kids should get their hands on them — and they’ll probably want to with all the bright colors that are available.

Best Black Pen: The Uni Pin Fineliner Drawing Pen

Not all black inks are created equal. Some lean more toward gray. The Uni Pin Fineliner delivers if you want true, consistent, jet black lines rather than starbursts of color, although it does come in a variety of colors, too.

Uni’s trademarked Super ink is waterproof and fade-resistant, which is pretty much mandatory, but it’s also tamper-resistant. It’s not erasable, even with the use of chemicals.

You get nine different tip sizes in a set of nine black pens. This one is a classic, a favorite pen of architects. 

Best Drawing Pen for Artists: Copic Markers

Copic says its pens are “the markers created for creative people,” and this one has indeed won rave reviews from serious artists. The alcohol-based ink is rich, dark, smooth and silent — you and others won’t hear the pen itching across the paper. It won’t bleed or soak the paper the way some pens often do, and it’s also waterproof.

Copics are really delicate because everything that makes their pins so great also makes them sensitive. Of course, you can always buy the disposable version if you tend to be heavy-handed. Otherwise, you can choose the refillable Marker with its replaceable nibs. The Original works well for basic drawing, but the Copic Sketch is designed for professional artists and it produces more refined art…and it’s priced accordingly.

Best Colors: Prismacolor Premier Illustration Marker

If drawing comics is your thing or you want great flashes of color for some other reason, Prismacolor’s Premier Illustration Marker set is for you. We’re talking jump-off-the-page color here and you don’t have to give up anything else to get it.

The ink is fade-resistant and waterproof, and the feather nibs and multiple sizes to choose from let you easily control your lines in one stroke, whether you want them bold or fine or somewhere in the middle.

Best Pen for Fill-In Work: The Faber Castell Pitt Artist

This one’s for serious cartoonists who will already be well acquainted with the name Faber Castrell, one of the most well-regarded art manufacturers in the world. Known for its thick, rich lines, the Faber Castell Pitt Artist is great for coloring. You get three classic colors — black, sanguine and sepia — and four different nib sizes with the wallet set. It’s a sturdy pen, built to keep on going.

The India ink is what you’d expect — smudge-proof, acid-free and water-resistant.