There is no doubt that fountain pens has been the hottest topic inside the Sketchbook Design forum. So I thought it was time to ask the all important question here on the blog and to give you an update on what pens I’m using regularly at the moment.
If you are new to fountain pens and/or my blog I created an in-depth series of articles about Fountain Pens for Sketching a number of years ago. Start here to work through them. All of the info in that series is still valid and I’m constantly referring people to it. I also have a separate article about permanent inks.
In terms of the pens I’m using these days…
Favourite sketching pens
- Lamy Joy with a gold nib which is approx medium in size (note: it is not a stub/calligraphy nib which the pen comes with). I love this pen as the body is lightweight, well balanced and just feels so good in my hand. I’m currently using the newer Red and White model. As I use my pen with very light pressure I like a medium nib so I can achieve different thicknesses of line simply by varying how much the nib is touching the page. The gold nib is softer (and a little more flexible) than the normal steel nib. More about the gold nib in this article – it works for me, but I don’t think that it is worth the cost for most people.
- Green Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pen with 55 degree ‘bent’ fude nib. This is my favourite drawing pen due to the variety of lines I can make by simply changing the angle of the pen. More about it here.
Both of these pens are filled with De Atramentis Document Black. I don’t seem to be drawing in coloured ink at the moment, but the first additional pen to my collection would be another Fude pen filled with De Atramentis Document Urban Grey ink.
I love the TWSBI Eco pen for writing but don’t find it as comfortable in my hand for drawing. Being a pistol filler it holds a lot of ink which is very handy.
- White Eco – my writing pen filled with De Atramentis Document Black so that it could use it for drawing in an emergency.
- Turquoise Eco – filled with J Herbin Diabolo Menthe ink (water soluble) and is used for writing guidelines.
- Blue Eco – contains Lamy Turquoise ink and is used for blue writing.
- Yellow Eco – contains a personal ink mix (De Atramentis) which is somewhere between a Raw Sienna and a Burnt Sienna in colour and I use this for drawing or writing. (Haven’t been using this much recently but it’s still in my everyday kit)
Note: All of these pens contain a Fine nib.
The last pen is a EF Sailor Desk Pen which I use in my Bullet Journal. At the moment I’m using up some water-soluble black ink from my collection – the exact brand is not important.
So that’s my current collection. Apart from using more TWSBI Eco pens for my coloured inks (don’t you just love pairing ink with pens?) my actual selection hasn’t changed a lot since I last photographed my kit two years ago.
Now it’s your turn!
I would love to hear in the comment section below, what pen/s (and nib) you are using and what is your favourite ink.
Hi Liz! I am seeing a lot of you lately, between the sketchbook Design class (which I absolutely love btw) and your blog posts (and here again, I love that you are posting more often).
So my favorite fountain pens are (and to say it’s a rabbit hole is a huge understatement) :
1. Pilot capless. My dad gifted me my first one 20 years ago. I love them. You can choose between different nibs and they are Japanese ones so thinner than the European ones.
2. Faber Castell Grip for an less expensive choice. Very very very good. I would compare them to the Lamy, AND they do not clog easily AND they take international cartridges.
3. Pelikan M série. Excellent pens, expensive again but mine are vintage and were gifted to me by my dad. They have gold nibs so they are semi flexible.
4. Fude Sailor 55
5. Kaweco. I don’t use them much because mine are the tiny ones and they don’t hold much ink but they are not bad at all for the price.
… and that’s only my fave 5 list …!!!
Oh and I forgot to say, you can sketch with all of them. The capless is a fantastic sketching fountain pen!
Thanks for sharing Astrid. I like the Faber Castell Grip and the Kaweco pens too. Pilot Capless are generally too heavy for me, but agree that they are a very special pen!
I quit Instagram as well, way more relaxing. Great that you still write these blogs.
I am using the Platinum 3776 Century with platinum black carbon ink for sketching at home.
for writing I use the Montblanc or TWSBI diamond 580 AL with Akkerman ink (they have beautiful colours) Deep Duinwater blue.
on the road I use the Twsbi mini, kaweco sport AL, platinum preppy, all with Noodlers ink.
I keep buying fountain pens. I just can’t stop. I also bought a few fude fountain pens, but I just can’t seem to be getting to like them. I try them off and on, but in the end they always end up in my box with unused pens.
Before I bought a used Pilot Custom 74 with a fine nib, I always carried two TWSBI Eco’s with me with two different inks. But the Custom 74 has such a lovely nib, with bounce and line variation and a great ink capacity, that I have not used any other fountain pen for drawing since. I bought it for a reasonable price from someone who had treated this pen beautifully, so this was a win-win-win-situation for me. The ink I use is Platinum Carbon Black.
A pen addiction? Only since I was 10… 🙂
One reason I started sketching again as an adult was to use my fountain pens. Lamy has always been my favorite in the past (affordable and never had a problem with them), but a few years ago I came across the Edison Premiere Fountain Pen. Now they are my absolute favorite for writing and drawing. I find that the feel and flow of this pen is just perfect; plus they are beautiful.
The TWSBI Eco pens replaces my Lamy nowadays, because filling them is just so easy 🙂
Since the Sketchbook Design course started, I have also been trying the Green Sailor Fude de Mannen pen. Its a fun pen although it was frustrating in the beginning. I find that it helps me in drawing more loosely; my goal is to get away from stressing too much about having the perfect lines every time:)
My favourite fountain pens are the Chinese JINHAO 51A with extra fine nib (0.38mm). I love my SAILOR too… but not the green one because I find it uncomfortable to handle with the 55° nib. I mostly use Rohrer Klingner Sketch Ink Lotte and I am fine with it.
Thanks to your guidance, Liz, I have a Lamy Joy — and I could not be happier with it!
I love fine lines and so my very favorite pen is Pilot Falcon EF nib with De Atramentis Brown document ink. Even this is EF nib it is as soft as it could be. I also use Platinum Carbon desk pen (EF) with the same serie’s dark grey ink. My Sailor fude nib pen have now dark blue ink in it. These all I use for drawing. For my diary I use Lamy with watersolube ink. I have also TWSBI Eco but even it is with EF nib I find the line too large in my sketchbooks. Perhaps if I would have larger sketchbook (A4) it would be ok. When the spring comes I will change in one of my pens a ‘self made’ mixed green – made of my blue and yellow inks (de Atramentis document ink)
Lamy Safari and prliksn M200
TWSBI Eco has jumped to the top of my list for all of my writing. For me it surpasses my Lamy Joy on all types of paper. I
I like the Platinum Carbon desk pen for some papers.
I am a big fan of the simple Crow quill pin for fine work. It is perfect for adding fine details to include hair, feathers and fur but also perfect fine line asset to all of my work.
I also love my old Rotring cartridge pen and used it with brown ink which I cannot find anywhere. This has caused me to set it aside.
I used it for nature drawings on location. I could use a wet brush to fade out color and enjoyed it a great deal as the inks were not permanent.
I mentioned it because the pen has good flow and handles much like the Lamy.
After reading so many of the previous comments I’ve come up with a list of others I might want to try one day. This is a wonderful forum.
Loving the Design class!!!! I’m new to fountain pens and decided on the Pilot Explorer….I’m struggling with it…I’m so use to my trusty Micron Pens….. 🙂
An underrated pen, esp for beginners strapped for cash: Pilot Kakuno.
Incredibly inexpensive, very dependable, and even fun. The nib has a smiley face, to cheer along children learning to write. I’m fond of the demonstrator version which has a winking face sticking out its tongue!
I use several every day, over more expensive pens, for drawing and writing.
Kakuno fine with de Atramentis document urban gray for this beginner, also a TWSBI Eco with Colorverse Schrödinger (gift). Both work flawlessly.
TWSBI Econ has jumped to the top of my list for permanent ink because my Lamy couldn’t handle it, kept clogging! I also have permanent black in my Fude. Recently I went through a box of old fountain pens and spent time writing with each on a variety of paper with and without texture. Of these old, some very old, pens my absolute favorite for writing is my Lady Shaffer, probably dating back to 1960! Also my son’s Parker from about 1990 is great for writing. It’s not just sentimental but rather quality….
Hi Judi – thanks for sharing. Yes, Ecos are becoming very popular with sketchers. Nice to have some old fountain pens.
For taking out with me I have a LAMY and an unbranded one that are fine. I also have a Noodler or two. I also have one of those brush pens but haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.
In my purse I carry a set of Levenger (fountain, rollerball and ballpoint). I have a rainbow selection of Levengers in a case in the living room.
I have a Bossert and Erhard that never leave the house. Three in fact. Two fountain and one rollerball. I also have a Visconti I’ve never put ink in yet.
Thanks for sharing Miaiuppa – don’t know much about Levenger or Bossert and Erhard so great to hear that you love them!
Hi Liz. I agree about pairing pens with ink. Recently I felt I needed some colour in my sketch books. I have 2 Lamy Safaries ( F and M nibs) which are great for sketching …and then I discovered TWSBI Ecos! Mostly I use them for writing. Love that they are so smooth and easy to fill, holding plenty of ink. Putting the cap on the end unbalances the pen for me. Anyway, I recently bought a transparent blue Eco for my Atlantic Blue ink and a pink Eco for the new Fuchsia ink Love them both! The inks are fountain pen ink from de A. I have always stuck with document ink, so fingers crossed! A couple of days ago I made a sketchbook spread of my fountain pens with a pangram and key to the different pens/inks. What fun!
Hi Nicki – are yes the Ecos are great!!
For now I use Platinum Pen nib fine for writtig and sometimes nib M for oitline … with crthridge of INK Platinum black and blue too occasionnally … I get it because ink is permanent and can buy carthridge …
I get and like too Lamy Joy and Lamy Safari but cartridge ink is watersoluble I think then for now I don’t use I don’t like used converter, I’m lazy about that …
I like too your Fude 55 degree but I have to try it more to know is great potential … later …
Hi Lise!!! Platnium pen is hard to beat for ease of use and reliability!
I’m about to buy a Fude Sailor de Mannen pen but am unsure about whether I need to buy a converter too? I use Platinum Carbon and Noodlers Inks and I don’t want water soluble ink so the cartridges don’t usually work for me. Do I need to buy a converter too? Thanks in advance.
Hi Liz – if you are happy to refill the cartridges with bottled ink using a syringe? Otherwise you will need a convertor. The ink that the pen comes with is not permanent. There is a Sailor Ink that is permanent and comes in cartridge form but I haven’t tested it yet – I’m told that it takes longer to dry.
Favor the Pilot Falcon with a SF nib; enough flex and easy to hold. I have several fude & think the small Duke easiest to maneuver. DeAtramentis is my first choice followed by Noodler’s Lexington Grey. Just introduced Faber Castell Stone Grey but haven’t used it enough to recommend.
Oh Zoe – I haven’t heard about the FC Stone Grey. Looks interesting!
* Hero 9018 with fude nib – My favourite drawing pen . It’s heavy in the body but it never lets me down and has a fantastic range of lines available. I often use it with the nib upside down for fine lines. Lays down a lot of ink quickly if you want it to. And so very affordable
* Sailor Fude de Mannen 55deg is next favourite – similar lines to the Hero but much lighter in body. I use several at a time but I find they skip a bit.
* Duke 209 – hardly anyone has mentioned it, but this is a fantastic drawing pen with a fude nib, slim stainless steel body, reliable, good variance of lines, very affordable on ebay
* And way down my list these days is my Lamy Joy, still like it but not as much as my Hero
* Platinum Carbon pen with fine nib – great for just fine line sketching, very reliable, doesn’t clog after long periods, consistently good
Hi Diane – hope you are going well. Thanks for sharing! Hero and Duke are good pens!
I recently got a duke 209, but it does not have a fude nib. I thought it came with a fude nib.
Any help would be appreciated
Hi Janine – I don’t know much about Dukes- sorry! Hope someone else sees this and can help you
Liz, you might want to check out Birmingham Ink https://www.birminghampens.com/
They just came out with some new shades & properties. I like their Slag Grey (Gray) but it is not water resistent.
Hi Liz, I must begin with stating that I Love Fountain Pens and have for most of my life. My oldest pen is from the 1970s, a Pelican 120, that I use regularly. My favorite lower cost pen is a Pilot Metropolitan. Three of my go to pens are a Pilot Stargazer, a Pelican M200 and a Platinum 3776. These do have the softer, gold nibs.
My Pilot Metro is my favorite. Mine has the stub and it works well.
I am less fond of the Lamy Safari, probably because of the way I hold my pen….between index and tall finger.
What are the advantages of the Fude nib? Does it still work if held with closed fist between tall and index fingers?
I have way too many fountain pens, but if I were sent to a deserted island, and could bring only one fountain pen (and ink of course, lol!), it would be the Pilot Falcon Soft Fine nib. It can do thin lines, thick lines and a fair amount in between. Almost like a fude nib, but easier to control and, imho, more consistent/reliable. Another brand no one can go wrong with is TWSBI pens. Any of their pens are fantastic, for sketching or writing. Very reasonably priced, and out-perform pens that cost several times more. I steer away from fancy bodies, but do prefer gold nibs as they are slightly more flexible. The Pilot Falcon comes standard with a 14k gold nib. They make it in a plastic/resin body and a metal body. The Metal body is of course heavier (and more expensive), so I find the plastic body version easier to sketch with.
I’m beginning sketching and drawing and I love that so much. I follow your advice and bought a Duke 209 fountain pen. I bought Pelikan 4001 brown ink. I like drawing and writing with that.
I’d like to know how to check the size of the nib. I’d like to have a fountain pen with a smaller nib than the Duke. On Amazon, the size is rarely mentioned. They talk about fine or medium nib.
And which ink is good and waterproof. I saw some black ink waterproof, but for colors I didn’t find brown ink waterproof. And there is a difference between waterproof and water resistant. Am I right?
I like your blog very much. When you talk about a topic, there is so much information.
Thank you for the answer.
I reply to myself. I found info about ink….
Unfortunately fountain pen nibs are like women’s clothing and watercolour brushes: the sizes can mean very different things depending on the brand and model. Except for italic or stub nibs (with a squared off tip) it’s extremely rare for pen nibs to be sized in absolute terms such as 1mm, 0.5mm or similar. The Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad system is pretty much standard.
As a general rule, Japanese brands are finer than German, American or other brands. For example, an EF from Pelikan or Lamy (both German) won’t be as fine as an EF from Platinum, Pilot or Sailor (all Japanese). So if you’re looking for a _very_ fine nib then definitely check out the Japanese brands. For example, Platinum, Pilot and Sailor all make an inexpensive “desk pen” with an EF nib and a feed that’s designed to work well with waterproof inks such as Platinum Carbon. (See the bottom pen in Liz’s photo.)
What is your mix to obtain the raw sienna/burnt sienna color? I have been trying several DeAtramentis document ink mixes to get that color – yellows, browns, reds. I find it less harsh for drawing many older stone buildings.
I have more fountain pens than I care to think about 🙂 My favourite brand for calligraphy was always the now-defunct OSMIROID: cheap plastic barrels but with superb nibs . And they made italic nibs in quite narrow widths (0.5mm and so on) that were practical for everyday writing. Nowadays one of the only brands that makes a narrow italic usable for daily handwriting is SUPER5. Unfortunately the barrels/caps don’t seal that well and they’re forever drying out.
Another pen I fell in love with but which is no longer made was the ROTRING 600 fountain pen: I adored their heft and the machined brass aesthetic. You still can buy the plastic Rotring ART PEN, though, which has same the tapered quill shape as the Lamy Joy and the fine-nibbed Platinum/Pilot DESK PENS. These quill shapes are all nicely balanced for sketching but, being longer and pointy, I find they’re not always practical to carry around.
When I was living in the US I became a LEVENGER addict and I still treasure my pair of Levenger pens modelled on the design of Isaac Newton’s walking stick. Definitely for writing, though. I don’t mind LAMY pens – they’re cheap and sturdy and their colour range is a delight – but I’ve only ever used them for handwriting – I find the triangular shape of the section off-putting when drawing. But in the casual writing category, I actually prefer KAWECO Sport pens
I love, love, love TWSBI pens for sketching and was an early adopter. The piston fill has so many benefits, including huge capacity and no need to worry about proprietary cartridges or converters. My first TWSBI was an Eco but my favourite go-to pen is the Diamond Mini. It’s a great pen for a small-to-medium hand – shorter and streamlined – and it’s been designed to be perfectly balanced when the cap is posted. (In this respect it’s like the Kaweco Sport range.) Better still, the Diamond Mini has a screw thread on the end which means you screw the cap on to post it, so there’s no risk of it being lost in the field! ?
If I have one complaint about the TWSBI it’s that the nibs are not quite as flexible as I’d prefer. If they didn’t cost the best part of $200 each, I would happily go sketching with one of my PELIKAN M200/M205 pens. These, too, are piston fill pens, with beautifully flexible and responsible nibs. But I’d be too terrified of losing them, so they stay home.
Have tried FUDE nibs but the action required to adjust the angle of the nib through a vertical plane just doesn’t seem to suit the way I use my hand. However… I find I can get equally, perhaps more, interesting variations of line thickness using a PILOT PARALLEL pen (1.5mm nib, which suits me much better because the action involved is a twisting one involving fingers. And it’s great being able to get a very fine line by tipping the nib onto one point instead of turning a regular nib upside down. Negatives: small capacity and it’s awkward to refill the cartridges.
Hot tip for Australian fountain pen collectors… If you happen to have acquired a lot of pens – ahem – and want a nice way of storing the ones that aren’t in rotation, I highly recommend the wooden pen boxes sold by Sydney company Timberbits. I found a handsome two-layer box with window top that holds 20 pens for $99. Which is an absolute bargain given that the stationery and pen shops will charge you hundreds for wooden boxes with much smaller capacity.
Hi Liz, Hi All,
First of all Liz this is a great web page with tremendous drawings, sketches stc. Big Kudos for you. I have found your web page in my search for a pen replacement. For many years I have been using dip pen nib:
Leonardt Round Hand Nib 6 – 0,55 mm. However it causes a lot of trouble, destroyed furniture, clothes etc. So I dropped off sketching for a couple of years (you may see some of my works are there: https://www.djm-art.com/Art-Galleries/Pen-Ink/). I have also rotring artpen F size but although I like the pen I don’t like the nib it is too hard, no lines variation I don’t like it :). I have read all comments, all your posts regarding pens and … I don’t know where to follow :). I can’t afford buying so many pens for testing – I am looking for one giving myself nice lines variation for a quick sketching (I like quick drawing flow) I am considering buying Noodler’s Konrad and Lamy Joy 1.1 and replace it
with M nib size. I am left handed BTW :). I’d be gratefull for any more help or hints….
I have spent another hours of reading reviews and googling and almost made my mind 🙂 – I’ll go for Noodler’s Konrad Clear (the cheapest one, however it has to be imported from the USA and there is only one shop here in Poland :)) and Lamy Joy 1.1 with Z50 LH nib.
I have just received Noodler’s Konrad Clear and … I felt in love with that one. I filled it in with Rohrer&Klingner Lotte ink. It is sooo nice, flex nib is almost like my dip pen nib although much safer and clearer, and quickly by hand… Thank you Liz for your blog :).
Hi Ian, now that some time has passed, how do you feel about the Noodler’s? I am a beginner and interested in an affordable flex nib fountain pen if I can find one. But I wonder if it’s easier to learn with a stiff nib instead. I wonder if there is an affordable option that can switch from a stiff nib to a flexible one.
Hi Nicole. I am completely lost in love with my Noodler’s. It’s the best I have used so far. I have started my pen & ink journey using oblique pens (please have look at my web page for some samples https://www.djm-art.com/Art-Galleries/Pen-Ink/i-7P5Vm8h) however it is very uncomfortable and dirty on site. I liked flexible nib though. I don’t like stiff nib, it doesn’t give you a freedom and variable lines. I gave up for years my ink drawings (I have bought Staedler artpen with a stiff nib) until I have found Liz web page and… Noodler’s.
So I truly recommend you to go for the one. I have bought the cheapest Konrad Clear – transparent. And there are two small downsides: an odd smell (resin) which fades out after a couple of months and an ink drying out, Even if you don’t use it just goes off.
I have been drawing more recently, there are some some samples https://www.djm-art.com/Art-Galleries/Watercolour/ with permanent ink.
I just bought a Lamy Joy it was quite cheap and I couldn’t resist. I changed the nib and used a nib from another Lamy I already had. I was quite surprised because this really changed how I felt about sketching with fountain pen. Like it is a drawing tool now and wasn’t before. Is this just hope and Shopping excitement or is it really the length of the pen that changes how it feels to draw with it??? Anyway I enjoy it!
My most used fountain pen is my Lamy Vista with Lexington Grey (I like to see the ink!)
I love the Sailor Fude 55 and the Twsbi Mini
I got a Lamy joy on your recommendation but I haven’t replaced the nib. The calligraphy nib is ok but the marks are similar to the fude without being as natural and fluid feeling.
Lately I have been using fountain brush pens with pigment ink. I have a Kuratake 40 with a waterproof Rohrer and Kilngner waterproof green that is working great. As well as the Pentel Pigment Brush Pen in Grey. Now that Parka has figured how to open these and refill them.
Thanks for sharing your recommendations for pens and supplies. I appreciate the palette info too. I purchased a Sailor Fude de Mannen several months ago after seeing it on your blog. I do like it a lot for sketching and still trying to get the hang of combining its water-soluble ink with my water color washes. I purchased the converter but haven’t used up its original ink yet.
In 2019 I went on a “Plastic Diet” I call it and try to avoid purchasing throw-away plastic items, so no more disposable pens for me. I’ve been using technical refillable pens made by Mars Staedtler and Kohinoor for a few decades now. Unless you are really acquainted with them, they can be somewhat daunting. and can possibly be messy for working with on a plane, so I use water color pencils or water-soluble graphite for those times. Thanks for sharing your lovely work!
I know I’m a bit late to this thread and a bit late to my discovery but does anyone know where I might find the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen EF – the old version? I’ve searched in all my usual places in the US; Goulet, Jet Pens, Amazon.
Apparently it has been discontinued and replaced with a different nib, not as fine. Haven’t been able to find any stragglers out there for sale. My fav for making fine, lines with character, (wiggly)! Ha!
Thank you in advance!
Hi Maria – I had no idea it has been discontinued. Thanks for the heads up – but sorry I cant help. That’s a pity for you and lots of others too!
Hi! Glad to read this useful article. I dig out an old Lamy safari with a F nib and just flushed cleaned the pen and filled up with some DA document black ink. I drew on Arches CP 300 gsm paper and it seemed like the ink lines became much much thinner despite adding more pressure, compared to notebook cellulose paper. Not sure if it’s an issue with my FP. I shall try experimenting with more Nibs and other CP paper. May I ask if you consistently use a Medium nib across watercolor paper? Thanks
I learned cursive writing with a straight nib dip-pen and a bottle of ink when I was about 10 and my now I have accumulated hundreds of nibs and holders of various shapes and styles. I have also accumulated a range of Lamy, Rotring, Parker, and other fountain pens using a variety of different inks including De Atramentis Document Black. But, sketching in the field always seems to involve either a Lamy Safari or Joy with an F nib.
Each is great to use, probably because the unsatisfactory one have been discarded along the way.
Having said that I have a question about how you clean you pens if you have left the document ink in them too long. Sometimes even scrupulous cleaning doesn’t get the ink flowing fully resulting in incomplete lines and a return to the cleaning operation.
Hi Chas Chas – I do find that the sailor fudes don’t last that long (a year or two before they get clogged and no amount of soaking in pen flush seems to help. So as they are a cheap pen I have just bought a new one. I have had a problem with a more expensive pen and sent it to a local pen shop and they put it in their ultrasound cleaner.
I used to use an ultrasonic cleaner when I drew with technical pens and hadn’t considered using it with fountain pens. So, now the questions are can I find the cleaner in the basement and does it work…
Thanks for the reminder, I will give it a try.
Hi chas – let me know how it goes. I’ve half thought about getting one 🙂
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