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11 Best Pens & Pencils for Designers

11 Best Pens & Pencils for Designers

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Despite what we may think, for someone who works in a creative space, no piece of tech will replace a quality pen or pencil for quick sketches of ideas and projects.

The problem is, like many other product landscapes, the options that are available when it comes to a good pen are almost endless and can cause headaches and confusion when trying to find the best one for your type of work.

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With that in mind, we wanted to build a guide for designers, artists & illustrators to the best pens available, including the best pens for drawing, writing, calligraphy, and more.

But before you can start sketching your next big idea that will change the world, knowing what to look for and things to consider for each product is important.

Just below our pen & pencil comparison table is a guide on how to buy the right pen or pencil.

 

The Best Pens & Pencils for Designers

When we started to look around and gather information for our list, we realized that there were a lot of options out there, and we needed some help. For our recommendations for the best pens, we reached out to the JUST Creative Facebook group to see what actual pens artists use.


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Click on any of the links below to get more information on a certain product, or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, keep reading for more information.

  1. Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 — The best pen for designers & creatives, especially for sketching, line art & lettering (Editor’s Choice)
  2. Rotring Technical Pen Set — The best high-precision pen set for technical drawings & flawless lines.
  3. STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER — The most comfortable & durable pen for everyday use
  4. Blackwings 602 (Pencil) — The best pencil for sketching and drawing
  5. Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set — Best for Expert layering, Blending, and Shading.
  6. Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen — The best pen for cartoons, calligraphy, and oriental artwork
  7. Platinum Carbon Pen DP-500S Extra Fine — The best fountain style pen for sketching- great for varying line thickness
  8. MoMa MUJI Gel ink pen — The best gel pen for a fine line and smooth flow
  9. Pencils Pre-sharpened No. 2 — Best for office use
  10. BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils — The best mechanical pencil set
  11. Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens — Best for calligraphy artists

Also, see our post on the best mechanical pencils for artists and designers. If you are a designer and are looking for tools to enhance your creativity, see our post on the best pens for artists and the best pastel pencils.

The Best Pens & Pencils Compared

Title
Sakura of America 1.0mm Bullet Point Fade-Resistant Graphic Pens (SAKXSDK149), Black
Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen and Two Refills, Black Ink
Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists,...
Blackwing Palomino 602-12 Count Pencils with Heritage, Gray, Unisex
ROtring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set, 3-Pen College Set (0.2–0.5-mm)
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
-
Reviews
218 Reviews
1,231 Reviews
19,200 Reviews
-
910 Reviews
Price
$4.46
$18.42
$64.99
$30.00
$58.21
Best Overall
Title
Sakura of America 1.0mm Bullet Point Fade-Resistant Graphic Pens (SAKXSDK149), Black
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
Reviews
218 Reviews
Price
$4.46
Buy Now
Best Budget
Title
Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen and Two Refills, Black Ink
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
Reviews
1,231 Reviews
Price
$18.42
Buy Now
Best Value
Title
Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists,...
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
Reviews
19,200 Reviews
Price
$64.99
Buy Now
Best Pencil
Title
Blackwing Palomino 602-12 Count Pencils with Heritage, Gray, Unisex
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
-
Reviews
-
Price
$30.00
Buy Now
Best High-Precision
Title
ROtring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set, 3-Pen College Set (0.2–0.5-mm)
Prime Status
Amazon Prime
Star Rating
Reviews
910 Reviews
Price
$58.21
Buy Now

 

What To Look For When Buying Pens & Pencils

If you’ve ever stopped by your local office supply store and strolled down the pen aisle, the number of choices available to you is staggering. It is no wonder that many creatives will go through pen after pen until they find the best one for them. So…

What’s the best pen for a designer?

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Below we list the best pens for drawing and also the best pen for writing, the best pen for sketching, the best pen for calligraphy, as well as the best pencil overall, with advice on how the choose the write (pun) pen for you.

 

How To Choose the Right Pen or Pencil for You

pens and pencils for designers

In 1621, English author Edward Rober Burton coined the famous phrase;

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

While Edward was talking about how the written word can be more powerful than direct violence, for some creatives, the right pen can be like having Excalibur in their hand. But before you start trying to remove a pen from a stone, consider these qualities to look for first.

Archival

Finding a pen labeled as an archival pen, are pen that contains links that aren’t going to fade or lighten over time. These can be the best choice for artists who want their work to last as long as possible, especially if you’re selling your drawings.

Fade-resistant

The worst thing that can happen to any piece of work, whether it’s a work of art or just a simple sketch of a groundbreaking idea is to have it fade over time. A faded image could affect its readability and can cause unneeded headaches or stress if your big idea can’t be discerned anymore.

Smudge-proof

While for some creatives, smudging a sketch can give it detail and a better overall look, for many who are looking to record information from phone numbers to contract details, pens with inks that smudge can make a big impact on your life.

What if you started a contract with a new client but can’t call them because the ink in the pen you used smudged before you let it dry?

Water-proof

As a species, we humans are a clumsy bunch. Even if you think that you aren’t, you’ve had a moment where you’ve accidentally knocked over your drink or dropped something in a puddle.

Owning a waterproof pen will keep the ink from running if you happen to spill your drink during a meeting or if your cat just “happens” to jump up on the table and knock a glass over.

Bleed-proof

Inks that bleed through the paper that you are using can come off as unprofessional and if it bleeds through badly enough, can make your work look sloppy.

Buying a pen that doesn’t use inks that will bleed through will help keep your work neat and contained to the paper you’ve put it on.

Pigment Ink

If you’re looking for a drawing pen, it will typically either come with pigment ink or dye ink. Pigment ink will last longer as well as retain colors better than dye ink will.

If you’re interested in adult coloring, Read about the best markers for adult coloring to know more.

 

The Best Pens & Pencils for Designers

To some, a pen and notebook go together like peanut butter and jelly or ketchup and french fries. Essentially made for one another. The best pens feel like an extension of your hand and the perfect writing surface for all of your ideas.

We wanted to shine a light on those that, even in their simplicity, a pen can make a world of difference for someone who works in a creative field.

So if you’re ready, let’s read ahead a bit.

1. Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 Pen (Editor’s Choice)

Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 Pen
Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 Pen. Image Credit: Sakura/Amazon

The best overall pen for designers & creatives (especially for sketching, line art & lettering)

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To some, Graphic 1 from Sakura is the best sketching pen available on the market today.

Combining water-based and pigment-based inks, the Pigma effortlessly delivers bold, consistent lines as well as an excellent transferral of colors.

A pen tip that glides smoothly and a consistent stream of ink allows any artist to create both expressive lines and marks with ease.

The affordable price makes it an easy choice to add to any kit without busting a budget.

This pen is not available in some regions, so you could substitute it for the Copic 1.0mm Fine Liner.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Sakura of America 1.0mm Bullet Point Fade-Resistant Graphic Pens (SAKXSDK149), Black
218 Reviews
Sakura of America 1.0mm Bullet Point Fade-Resistant Graphic Pens (SAKXSDK149), Black
  • Features a bullet point for making fine lines, shading, textures and coloring in images on fine paper
  • Ideal for graphic art, cartooning, sketching, illustrations, scrapbooks and fabric projects
  • Will not smear or feather when dry and does not bleed through most papers
  • Manufacturer: Sakura of America
  • English (Publication Language)

 

2. Rotring  Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set

rOtring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set
rOtring  Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set, Image Credit: rOtring/Amazon.

The best high-precision pen set for technical drawings & flawless lines. 

The Rotring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen is a high-precision technical pen designed to provide you with flawless lines.

With its ergonomic barrel, the Isograph pen achieves an ideal weight balance, allowing you to work for long hours without discomfort or fatigue.

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The wear-resistant, hard chrome-plated thin tip is perfect for exquisite detail work in drawing, drafting, and technical writing.

No matter what you’re working on, the superior design and high-quality construction of the Isograph pen enable you to be technically perfect every time.

This set comes in 3 weights (.1, .3, .5), but does not include the ink, so don’t forget to bundle the item with ink when purchasing.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

ROtring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set, 3-Pen College Set (0.2–0.5-mm)
910 Reviews
ROtring Isograph Technical Drawing Pen Set, 3-Pen College Set (0.2–0.5-mm)
  • Isograph Set 4 with pen stations. 4 Isograph pens, 4 pen stations, 1 bottle of ink 23ml, 1 compass attachment, 1 stencilling joint
  • Isograph Master Set. 3 Isograph pens, 1 Tikky mechanical pencil 0.5, 12 HB leads, 1 B20 eraser, 1 Centro compass, 1 bottle of ink 23ml, 1 compass attachment
  • Isograph College Set. 3 Isograph pens, 1 Tikky mechanical pencil 0.5, 12 HB leads, 1 B20 eraser, 1 bottle of ink 23ml, 1 compass attachment
  • Isograph Junior Set. 3 Isograph pens, 1 Tikky mechanical pencil 0.5, 4 ink cartridges. Refillable ink reservoirs ideal for frequent use
  • Refillable ink reservoirs ideal for frequent use

 

3. STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER

STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER
STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER. Image credit: Amazon

The most comfortable & durable pen for everyday use

The STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER is a multitalented pen that’s best for writing, drawing, and sketching!

The tip is perfect for clean writing in small spaces. If you’re one to underline a lot of text in books and journal notes, you’re going to like this.

With this pick, you can write and immediately highlight over the text and there’s no trace of smearing and no ink transfer to the highlighter at all—this is our favorite part!

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER 0.3mm BLACK INK [Pack of 2]
130 Reviews
STAEDTLER PIGMENT LINER 0.3mm BLACK INK [Pack of 2]
  • Fineliner for writing, sketching & technical drawing - Lightfast indelible pigment waterproof black colour ink
  • Long metal tip, ideal for rulers & templates - PP barrel guarantees long service life
  • 0.3mm Tip
  • BLACK Ink
  • Pack of 2 Pens

 

4. Blackwing 602 Pencil

Blackwing 602
Blackwing 602 pencil. Image Credit: Blackwing/Amazon.

Blackwing’s quality makes this the best pencil for sketching and drawing

When you mention a pencil to an average person, they might think you’re about to take a final exam, but for those who may be an illustrator or graphic artist, the right pencil can not only feel perfect in your hand but create perfect lines from light to dark.

The Blackwing 602 is one of these pencils. With its strong core, a designer can get many different tones out of the pencil, from dark, crisp lines with normal pressure to seriously darker lines with more pressure applied to the pencil tip.

If you’ve never used a Blackwing pencil before, it could become the last one you ever own. That’s how loyal some proponents of this pencil brand are.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Sale
Blackwing Palomino 602-12 Count Pencils with Heritage, Gray, Unisex
  • Premium Materials: Made with Genuine Incense-Cedar Wood and Premium Japanese Graphite for a Smooth Writing Experience
  • Iconic Design: Features a Unique Rectangular Eraser and Hexagonal Body Shape for Comfortable Grip
  • Quality Construction: Firm and Smooth Graphite Core Provides a Clear, Steady Line Without Excess Sharpening
  • Heritage Brand: Part of the Cult Following of Blackwing Pencils Used by Famous Artists and Writers
  • Give Back: A Portion of Sales Supports the Blackwing Foundation, Promoting Arts and Music Education

 

5. Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set

Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set. Pens & pencils for designers
Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set. Image credits: Amazon

Best for Expert layering, Blending, and Shading

Castle Art Products 120 Colored Pencil Set is the best option if you require a wide variety of colors at your disposal.

The 120-color package of colored pencils from Castle Arts Supplies has great blending and shading capabilities and a quality soft touch.

It includes a wide range of colors that can advance your design. These pencils have a sturdy, central core that prevents wear and facilitates quick sharpening.

These pencils are made of excellent wood that is sturdy and dependable.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists,...
19,200 Reviews
Castle Art Supplies 120 Colored Pencils Set | Quality Soft Core Colored Leads for Adult Artists,...
  • MADE TO MAKE IT EASY Ultimate range of 120 pencils arranged in color families; named, numbered and color-coded for unerring selection: flip up your choice of pencil from the 3 layers of the handsome...
  • SOFT YET DURABLE Latest advanced formulation by in-house artists and technicians results in cores with soft, buttery laydown that also defy crumbling under pressure and hold their point.
  • A JOY TO USE Intensely pigmented, rich, creamy colors for smooth coverage and effortless layering, blending and burnishing to add texture and achieve the perfect shade – on paper, eggshell, canvas,...
  • BUILD YOUR SKILLS Unique fold-out tutorial enables you refine your colored pencil skills by re-creating the stunning Camelot illustration on the sleeve cover.
  • TESTED, TRUSTED AND GUARANTEED Tested by our studio experts to beat competitors. Trusted by ultimate judges – our 2.5 million customers worldwide; backed by unique money-back-PLUS guarantee.

 

6. Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen

Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen
Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen. Image Credit: Pental/Amazon.

The best pen for cartoons, calligraphy, and oriental artwork

While the XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen from Pentel is designed specifically for use with cartoons, calligraphy, and oriental artwork, the light pen can be a great option for fine detail as well as graceful lines with its soft, flexible nib.

While more of a niche pen due to its brushed nature, graphic designers or even illustrators may find good uses for the pen to add a finishing touch to some of their work or to even add more black to areas where the color depth isn’t what they were trying to achieve.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen and Two Refills, Black Ink
1,231 Reviews
Pentel XGFKP/FP10-A Brush Pen and Two Refills, Black Ink
  • Oriental artwork, cartoons and calligraphy
  • Hard wearing synthetic bristles
  • Tip retains its shape
  • Fade-resistant, waterproof black ink

 

7. Platinum Carbon Pen DP-500S Extra Fine

Platinum Fountain Pen Desk Ballpoint Pen
Platinum Fountain Pen Desk Ballpoint Pen. image credit: Amazon

The best fountain style pen for sketching- great for varying line thickness

If you are an illustrator who is looking for a pen designed specifically for sketching but also comes with a classic style found in antique fountain pens then look no further than the Platinum Carbon Pen DP-500S Extra Fine pen with an ultra-fine nib that isn’t rounded off, allowing you to create both thick and thin lines with ease.

While many illustrators may like to use a dip pen, the Platinum is a great option on the go creating great expressive lines. However, it works best with smoother paper and isn’t a pen that you should use with rougher paper.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

 

8. MoMa MUJI gel ink pen

moma muji
MoMa MUJI gel ink pen. Image Credit: Muji/Amazon.

The best gel pen for a fine line and smooth flow

Gel pens can be a dime a dozen at many office supply stores. This means that when you find a good one, even if it comes all the way from Japan, you grab it right away.

The MoMa MUJI gel ink pen has a 0.38mm tip that creates a thin line with a consistent flow and even better, doesn’t run when it gets wet.

Many artists choose these for their line work because when it comes time to color with watercolor, the blacks that the pen can lay down won’t reactivate with the water and run. While they can be a little pricey, take our advice, these are worth it.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

MUJI Gel Ink Ball Point Pen, Black, 0.7mm, Pack of 3 (Japan Import)
  • MUJI gel ink ballpoint pen, 0.7 mm, black, 3 pieces.

 

9. Pencils Pre-sharpened No. 2

Pencils Pre-sharpened No. 2. Pens and Pencils for designers
Pencils Pre-sharpened No. 2. Image credits: Amazon

Best for office use

Pencils pre-sharpened no.2 provides high-quality pre-sharpened pencils. It now has a stronger, upgraded eraser. It’s safe to use pencils.

At a price, the product is incredible. It is sleek and expertly constructed from wood. The size of the pencil is 12 x 12 x 39370.1 inches. The pencil is 1.75 pounds in weight.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Sale
SEAGULL Pencils Pre-sharpened No. 2 144/box 12 Boxes of 12 New Improved Eraser
  • NEW IMPROVED ERASER STRONGER THAN BEFORE
  • GREAT QUALITY PRE SHARPENED PENCILS
  • Pre-sharpened pencils for your convenience.
  • Non-toxic pencils.
  • Perfectfor school or office use

 

10. BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils

BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils. Pens & pencils for designers
BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils. Image credits: Amazon

Best for standardized tests

When using BIC Xtra Smooth Mechanical Pencils, writing is smooth and requires no sharpening. Don’t try to blacken it or completely erase it when utilizing it. You get the best performance from it.

The medium point of 0.7mm is adaptable enough for a range of uses. It is the ideal choice for workplaces and schools since the clear barrel creates an advanced appearance. 2.5 pencils in a wood casing make up one BIC Pencil.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

Sale
BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencil (MPP40MJ), Medium Point (0.7mm), Perfect for the Classroom and...
  • One 40-count pack of BIC Xtra-Smooth Number 2 Mechanical Pencils With Erasers
  • Versatile 0.7mm medium point is ideal for a variety of everyday writing activities
  • Always ready and never need sharpening; to advance the lead, simply click the built-in eraser
  • High-quality lead doesn’t smudge and erases cleanly, so your work looks neat and professional
  • If looking for a smaller point, use BIC mechanical pencils 0.5mm from our Xtra Percision Line

 

11. Sakura Pigma Micron Fine liner Pens

Sakura Pigma Micron Fine liner Pens
Sakura Pigma Micron Fine liner Pens. Image Credits: Amazon

Best for calligraphy artists

This Sakura Pigma Micron Fine liner pen is a great choice if you’re a calligraphy or line artist. There are different point diameters available, including 005cm, 01cm, 02cm, 03cm, 05cm, and 08cm.

With its Pigma ink’s permanence, it is the finest pen for preserving artwork or illustrations created by artists.

It provides a clear, skip-free, and fluid experience that keeps your artwork constant from beginning to end. It is frequently used by artists including heirloom quilters, builders, cartoonists, manga artists, anime artists, illustrators, and many more.

On most sheets, it smears fewer feathers and is acid-free, chemically stable, waterproof, and fade-resistant.

 

Latest Price on Amazon:

SAKURA Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens - Archival Black Ink Pens - Pens for Writing, Drawing, or...
  • Precise archival pens create fade resistant, waterproof, bleed free marks for drawing, artwork, journaling, and more
  • Includes 6 black ink Pigma Micron pens in point sizes 005 (0.20mm), 01 (0.25mm), 02 (0.30mm), 03 (0.35mm), 05 (0.45mm), and 08 (0.50mm)
  • Pigma Micron ink is pH neutral, quick drying, and approved by ACMI toxicologists; pens have AP certification seal
  • Single pigment ink prevents color variations; pens feature durable plastic body and smooth grip for comfort
  • Japanese quality Sakura Pigma Micron pens deliver consistent results for manga artists, graphic designers, and crafters

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are gel pens good for art?

Yes, gel pens are great for artwork as they are waterproof. They may be a good choice for artists to create their colorful sketches.

What should I use to outline my drawing?

You can use pencils with a sharp edge if you are a beginner and you can use a fine-liner pen if you have experience.

Is 2B or HB better for drawing?

Choosing an HB pencil is a better option as HB pencils have a medium degree of hardness, so they are a great choice for drawing.

 

Choosing the Best Pen for Your Needs

Finding the best pen can take time and effort. Going through different pens that feel like an extension of your hand is difficult, which is why you may see people with cups full of pens.

We hope that our list of the Best Pens for Designers, Artists & Illustrators helped to give you some ideas so you can avoid that fate but if you have a favorite pen that isn’t on our list, let us know in the comments below!


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2 thoughts on “11 Best Pens & Pencils for Designers”

  1. Pilot precise V5, rolling ball, extra fine. The flow is perfect when you need to write ideas down quickly. It’s a small nuance but regular ball point pens actually slow you down with their minor resistance, which makes it harder to record a stream of ideas before they evaporate.

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