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If you illustrate, keep a journal, or doodle serially, you’ll probably benefit from a set of drawing pens. A reliable pen should have a sturdy nib and deliver a seamless flow of ink without causing a mess; you don’t want to be interrupted in the middle of a drawing by skipped lines or a destructive pool of color. Disposable drawing pens come in a variety of nib sizes, from an ultrafine .03mm to a bold 1.5mm—usually indicated by a number on the top of the cap or the side of the pen—and shapes, including needle-point (on fine and ultrafine pens), bullet, chisel, and brush. Needle-point tips tend to be a bit fragile, but treat them with respect and they will love you back. To save some money while building up your arsenal of pens, we recommend purchasing a good set. Depending on the kind of ink they carry, you may be able to blend colors to create even more tones, use them with watercolors, or create washes with them. Browse our favorite sets of colored drawing pens below.
Prismacolor Premier Illustration Marker Set, Extra Fine Line
Loaded with a dye-based alcohol ink, Prismacolor markers are a versatile, reliable, and affordable set for various applications. You can use them alone to achieve vivid lines that dry almost instantly, don’t feather, and are smear-resistant when dry. Or combine them with watercolors or colored pencil works without worrying about compromising color. Each marker is nicely weighted and has a sturdy extra-fine tip that releases a consistent flow of permanent ink. This eight-pen set comes with a diverse array of colors, including sepia, purple, and brown.
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Uchida of America Le Pen Set
Looking for cheery, bright colors? We are fans of this pastel-themed set from Le Pen, which comes with 10 colors including lavender, periwinkle, teal, and amethyst. These affordable pens feature a lightweight barrel design that’s comfortable to grip and a sharp, 0.3-millimeter tip. The water-based ink lays down very smoothly without requiring much pressure and doesn’t bleed on most papers. The only downside of these pens is that the ink is not archival.
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Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen LetteringSet
Faber-Castell’s Pitt artist pens are unique. They’re filled with pigmented India ink, which appears bold straight from the cartridge but can be diluted to create watercolor-like washes. The pens come in 58 colors and assorted nib sizes, including superfine, fine, medium, bullet and brush nibs, that offer great control over line work and glide smoothly over paper. The ink is fast-drying and waterproof, and because it won’t run, it can be layered with alcohol inks, acrylics, and watercolor paints. These pens also last a very long time if stored with care. This set comes with two precision point pens (0.3 millimeter) and four brush pens that hold a fine tip.
Sharpie Pen Assorted Colors
This 12-count set of Sharpies is an affordable pick if you’re in the market for permanent ink, with each pen costing just over a dollar. Included are a good assortment of colors, including two each of basic blue and black. They flow freely with little pressure, show little bleed on thinner papers, and are quick-drying, The nibs stay moist for quite a while, but they are slightly larger than those of most precision pens, producing lines that measure 0.8 millimeters—just under the standard size of an ink pen.
Sakura Pigma Micron Color Set
If you want lots of colors and nib sizes, consider this enormous set from Sakura. It comes with 73 pens in a dozen or so colors, including royal blue, burgundy, rose, and sepia. These come in a range of fine points as small as 0.15 millimeter, with some sophisticated brush pens and chunkier chisel-point pens in the mix as well. Loaded with a unique pigment-based ink formulated by Sakura, these pens are renowned for their archival quality, being chemically stable, pH neutral, fade resistant, and waterproof.