The Best Art Pens That Pros Use in 2023

Updated on
March 3, 2023

Whether you are just starting out on your artistic journey or have been at it for some time, finding the perfect pen for your doodles, sketches, and masterpieces is essential.

As an artist, you know that having a variety of pens with varying nibs is a crucial part of creating a piece with depth and dimension. It’s also essential to have quality pens that won’t constantly start and stop when they want and to have a steady flow of ink to keep up with your creative thoughts.

Let’s dive into the best pens for artists, whether you are creating cartoons, anime, doodles, or just experimenting with ideas.

  1. Sakura micron pens - editors choice
  2. Copic multiliner pens - great for alcohol-based markers
  3. Kuretake brush pens - perfect for calligraphy
  4. Staedtler pigment liner pens - budget friendly
  5. Faber and Castell pitt Artist pens

How to choose the right pen for art

Choosing the right pen for your artwork is crucial as it can affect how your piece will come out. First, consider the type of art you'll be creating. If you're doing detailed line work, a fine-tipped pen, such as a technical pen or fine liner, would be best. 

A marker or brush pen might be a better choice for bold lines or shading, especially for those that like to doodle or create cartoon characters. The ink type also plays a critical role; waterproof ink is ideal for watercolor or ink washes, while alcohol-based ink works well with markers.

It's also worth considering the quality and durability of the pen, especially if you're planning to sell your artwork. If you are unsure of which type of pen, the best way to find the ideal pen is by experimenting with different art pens to help you discover which brand and style works best for you.

Different types of pens for art

Most people don’t realize that there is more to a pen than they think when it comes to art. Depending on your style or what kind of look you are going for, you will need to choose a certain type of pen.

Let’s dive into the various types of pens in the art world.

Fineliner pens: These pens allow you to be extremely precise and detailed with your line work. Fineliner pens are commonly used for illustration, comic art, manga, cartoons, and doodling. They can be purchased individually or within a set varying nib (tip) thickness.

Brush pens: Mainly used in calligraphy due to the control you have over a regular pen tip to be able to flick and control how thick each stroke will be. These pens have a much steeper learning curve than your traditional pen to be able to control it confidently.

Felt-tip pens: These pens contain water-based ink that dries extremely fast and comes in vibrant colors. Most artists will use these pens to add small amounts of color to their doodles or illustrations. Typically not meant for covering large areas of color.
Dip pens: If you are going for a more “old school” feel, these pens are often seen in movies that take place back in the day. Keep in mind they are much harder to control over a normal pen. Getting the hang of it will take time, practice, and patience.

The best pens to buy for artists

1. Sakura Pigma Micron Pens (Editors Choice)

Sakura Micron Pens

Sakura invented Pigma ink over 30 years ago, and it remains the most dependable permanent ink available today. Pigma Micron is considered an essential tool for creating any archival-quality piece of artwork by artists all around the globe.

This pigment-based ink is permanent, fade-resistant, chemically stable, and does not bleed or smudge even when exposed to liquids after it has dried. This is why many professional artists turn to these pens, ensuring their work will last for generations.

The range of point sizes offered by Pigma Micron is perfect for precision line drawing by manga artists, professional illustrators, and watercolorists. Scrapbookers and crafters appreciate its archival quality for preserving memories in journals and notebooks.

No matter what kind of artwork you create, Sakura has stood the test of time and is ranked number one for a reason.

2. Copic Multiliner Pen

Copic multi-liner pen

These pens are amazing if you are a big fan of alcohol-based markers and are looking for a great option to outline your work. Once the ink has dried, it becomes water and alcohol resistant. You don’t have to worry about the lines smudging or running.

You will need to keep in mind that the tips on these pens tend to be a bit more delicate than others. Putting too much pressure as you draw or sketch could bend or break the tip.

Copic’s multi-liner pens also come in various thicknesses to help you create the most detailed piece or fill in large areas when need be.

3. Kuretake Brush Pens

Kuretake brush pen

These brush pens are the best on the market for calligraphy, lettering, and sketching. Their first pen was introduced in 1973, making them as reliable as Sakura pens.

It’s important to note that Kureteake brush pens DO NOT come with waterproof ink. If you use these with watercolors or alcohol-based markers, the ink will bleed out.

One of the best parts about this pen is the fact it’s made out of metal. Giving you a sturdy feel while you are writing or drawing with it.

Keep in mind that Kuretake recommends only refilling the pen with their ink. Using a different ink from another manufacturer could damage the pen’s brush and cause it not to write as smoothly.

4. Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens (budget friendly)

staedtler pigment liner pens

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the above but still offer great quality, you can’t go wrong with any of Staedtler’s fine-liner pens.

Staedtler fineliners have the most variety when it comes to thickness and colors. These are a great option if you are just starting out or looking to save a couple of bucks. 
These fineliner pens are waterproof but only on paper. If you plan to use them on a canvas or other material, they may not do well when mixed with paint or watercolors.

5. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens

Faber-castell pitt artist pens

These pens are practically a household name, especially if you have ever taken an art class. This brand has been a go-to for artists all over the globe for doodling, illustration, and sketching.

If you are all about the details in your artwork, these pens are definitely for you. They are perfect for all kinds of hatching, allowing you to get the right depth and perfect shadows.

These pens use highly-pigmented ink, making your pieces stand out. Make no mistake; the ink will dry extremely fast. You won’t need to worry about your hand smudging the ink as you continue your piece.

Pro tips when selecting a pen for art

When I started on my art journey, I tried every pen under the sun until I found some that I liked. I created this post to help give you a better idea of the top pens real artists use in their everyday lives.

I want to touch on a few tips to remember when looking for pens and what to avoid. Hoping this can make your selection a bit easier and allow you to make that “perfect” piece of artwork.

Buy your art pens in a set

Whether you are just starting out or have been using pens to create art for years, invest in buying sets of pens instead of buying one at a time.

Trust me, the worst thing you want to experience is not having the right pen to fill areas or a tip that’s not thin enough for detailed work. Save yourself the headache, and buy the sets at your local art store or on Amazon.

Pay attention to the ink inside the pen

There are two main types of ink inside pens, alcohol-based and water-based. Understanding between the two is crucial, especially if you want to use markers or paint with them. The last thing you want is to take an alcohol-based marker like Copic and watch your linework smudge or blend into the color.

All the pens I mentioned above are top-quality, and I regularly use them, along with other professional artists. The inks will have a nice flow, allowing perfect linework and hatching.

Look for archival pens

If you are creating art on paper and are looking to sell it to collectors, making sure your ink is archival is crucial. Archival ink is a special type of ink that will not fade, allowing your artwork to live on for generations.

Final Thoughts

Drawing and sketching is a great way to express yourself creatively and can even be therapeutic if you have had a rough day.

My main goal of this post was to narrow down all of your options out there and show you the best pens for art used by artists actively honing their craft. I have each one of these pens in my collection and wouldn’t draw without them.

If you are feeling up for it, I recommend buying two sets above and testing them out from there. See how your hand feels when drawing and what kind of control you have over each one.