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 office desk unless you work in a field 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 Overall: 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 a given, but it’s also tamper-resistant. It’s not erasable, even with the use of chemicals. You also get nine different tip sizes in a set of nine black drawing pens. This one is a favorite among architects.
Best Value: Sakura Pigma Micron 01
The Sakura Pigma Micron is available at a really reasonable price, particularly considering the features you get. 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. Better yet, these are disposable drawing pens, ideal if you tend to travel and lose your pens a lot.
Best Black Pen: Staedtler Pigment Liner
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 tend to run 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.
Best for Coloring: Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens
This one is for serious cartoonists who will already be well acquainted with the name Faber-Castell, 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 last for years.
The India ink is also what you’d expect—smudge-proof, acid-free, and water-resistant.
Best All-in-One: Tombow Dual Brush Pens
Many drawing pens have interchangeable tips, but you won’t have to fuss with all that if you opt for 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 available.
Best for Professionals: Copic Sketch 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.
Note that Copics can be really delicate and 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.
Best Brush Pen: Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen
For cartooning, shading, or extremely detailed drawing, brush pens are a great, portable alternative to paintbrushes—like this Pentel option. With a single smooth stroke, this brush pen can create fine to broad lines, thanks to its durable bristles. The pen's permanent, pigment ink is also fade- and water-resistant to suit all of your artistic endeavors, while two refill cartridges allow for seamless ink replacement. Its cap with a pocket clip also makes it ideal for travel.
Best Technical Pen: The Rotring Radiograph
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.