I met Maybelline at a Sheaffer event where I was talking about using fountain pens for drawing. So I thought maybe I’ll write about the same topic.
I use a variety of pens for drawing, mostly technical pens and fountain pens, and to a lesser extent, ballpoint pens.
Technical pens are my favourites because I like the uniform strokes they produce. And for that reason, I also prefer fountain pens that produce uniform strokes. The sketch above was drawn with the Faber Castell Ambition (review). However, there are also fountain pens that are capable of producing more than uniform strokes.
The advantage fountain pens have over other pens is the ability to choose your own inks and nibs. And with different inks and nibs, you can get different effects.
Here are the points to take note of when choosing the fountain pen, nib or ink for drawing.
The standard fine, medium and broad nibs are going to produce uniform strokes. They are great for technical works where details are required.
In addition to the standard nibs, there are also the specialty nibs such as the fude, music, calligraphy, flex, falcon, zoom, Spencerian and many more, some of which you can see on nibs.com.
Those that I personally use are the fude, music, calligraphy, flex and Spencerian.
The fude nib pens I have are mostly on the Hero fountain pens made in China. These nibs are recognisable for their bent nibs. Pictured above is the fude nib of the Duke 209 fountain pen. These nibs can produce strokes of varying thickness depending on the pen’s position. To get thick strokes, you just use the flat bent part of the nib, and to get thin strokes, the tip of the nib.
The degree at which the nib is bent also affects the strokes. If it is bent too much, you’ll have to make a more conscious effort to change your hand position to create the thicker strokes.
Flex nib pens are also capable of producing varying thickness for strokes. Examples of common flex fountain pens would be the Noodler’s Ahab or the Namiki Falcon (above). Some pens flex more than others. Thickness of the strokes depends on the pressure applied to the nib. Using more pressure will cause the nib to flex, open up the slit to produce a thicker stroke. Using a flex nib fountain pen is like drawing with a small brush.
Personally, I prefer the fude nib for varying strokes. Reason being with the fude nib, you can move the nib in the upwards motion whereas the flex nibs, usually sharper, will dig into the paper.
I don’t use calligraphy pens for drawing but they certainly can be used, such as in this video by Leigh Reyes.
Spencerian nibs are specialty nibs designed for script writing. Spencerian Script is a script style used in the United States from approximately 1850 to 1925. I have a Namiki Falcon with a Spencerian modified nib that I use for drawing. It’s softer than typical flex pens and it’s great at creating really thin to medium broad strokes.
Using fountain pens means you have the flexibility to choose the ink you want. Different inks have different properties and it’s important to use the right ink for the job.
The choice of ink depends on what you’re using it for. If you want to have a pen and ink watercolour sketch, then you’ll require the ink to be waterproof so that you can apply watercolour over it. If it’s just for line art, then it’s not that necessary for the ink to be waterproof.
Inks that are waterproof are usually pigmented, which means they contain tiny particles suspended in the solution. These pigmented ink are prone to clogging your pen if you don’t use them frequently or don’t flush out the ink on a regular basis.
You may have heard of inks that use nano particles. Well, they are still pigmented so there’s still the risk of clogging fountain pens. Personally for me, I try not to use pigmented ink with fountain pens.
The waterproof black ink that I use for watercolour sketches is the Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink (review). The Noodler’s Bulletproof Black is interesting because it’s water-based, in fact, made of 97% water.
However, the Noodler’s is not dark enough. Pigmented inks are usually have darker blacks.
Even though I don’t recommend using pigmented ink in fountain pens, if I really want dark lines, I will use pigmented inks but only in my affordable Lamy Safari. If the Lamy Safari clogs up beyond the point of rescue, at least my heart would not feel the pain.
Other inks that are quite fun to use are coloured inks. Recently, I bought a few bottles of Pilot Iroshizuku to try out. Drawing with coloured inks is quite a departure from what I usually use which is only black inks for lines. It’s almost like drawing with coloured pencils. You have to plan out the parts you want in a certain colour, and try to draw all the parts with that colour first, because it can be quite tedious swapping pens with different colours often.
So what’s my favourite pen for drawing?
Well, I don’t have any favourite pens. It really depends on the subject I’m drawing. On some days, I would prefer the Lamy over a Sailor, other days a Hero over a Pilot.
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Chemist by day, slacker by night, fanatic of stationery all the time.
I write with my left hand, but can also do the same with my right hand – it just won’t look very pretty.