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The Top 10 Best Pens for Designers

The Top 10 Best Pens for Designers

Designers rely on pens and pencils to bring their creative visions to life. Suitable writing instruments can make all the difference in a designer's workflow and final product. But with so many pen options on the market, how do you know which ones are the best for designers?

This comprehensive guide will explore the key factors designers must consider when choosing pens. We recommend the top pens for designers in 2024 based on criteria like comfort, ink flow, line variation, and more. Whether you're an architect, graphic designer, industrial designer, or creative pro, this guide will help you find your new favourite pens to take your designs to the next level.

What to Look for in a Pen for Designers

Best Smart Pen For Freelance Designers 2023

When selecting the best pens for design work, there are a few key factors savvy designers keep in mind:

Comfort

Since you'll likely hold and use your pen for long periods, comfort is paramount. Look for pens with rubberised or textured grips that feel good in your hand and prevent fatigue. The weight and balance of a pen also contribute to comfort – you want a light enough pen.

Ink Flow

The consistency of a pen's ink flow determines the uniformity of line weights and the overall look of your design work. Avoid pens that feel scratchy or skip. Smooth, even ink flow is the goal.

Line Variation

Many designers appreciate pens that offer line variation, allowing you to achieve thin, precise lines and bold strokes within one pen. This adds visual interest and dimension to your work.

Durability

Design is an iterative process, so your pen needs to withstand frequent erasing and reworking without wearing down. High-quality materials and a robust and sturdy design are ideal.

Ink Colour

Black is the standard, but some designers like the flexibility of different ink colours for annotations or adding visual interest. Just be mindful of ink that may smudge or fade over time.

Now that we've covered the essential criteria let's dive into the best pen options for designers in 2024.

Top Picks: The Best Pens for Designers

1. Uni-ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen

The Uni-ball Vision Elite rollerball is a top choice for designers seeking smooth, consistent ink flow. The micro pigment ink provides skip-free lines and excellent anti-fraud properties. The comfortable rubber grip minimises fatigue during long drawing sessions. A retractable tip and elegant profile make this an awesome all-around pen for design work.

Sale
Uniball Vision Elite Rollerball Pens, Black Pens Pack of 12, Bold Pens with 0.8mm Ink, Ink Black Pen, Pens Fine Point Smooth Writing Pens, Bulk Pens, and Office Supplies
  • Airplane Safe ink won’t explode or leak due to a change in cabin pressure during flights
  • Vivid steady ink flow and a stylish, business focused design
  • Exclusive uni flow ink system provides consistent smoothness and color intensity
  • Features uni Super Ink which protects against water, fading and fraud
  • Includes: 12 black rollerball pens, 0.8 millimeter bold point, refillable
  • Line Width: 0.7mm
  • Ink Colour: Black
  • Features: Rubber grip, retractable tip, anti-fraud ink
  • Price: Around $2 per pen

2. Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball Extra Fine

A favourite of graphic designers, the Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball writes with exceptional precision. The 0.5mm tip allows for detailed design work and thin lines. The smooth Japanese ink flows evenly without skipping or clumping. The rubber grip offers superior control and comfort.

Pilot, Precise V5, Capped Liquid Ink Rolling Ball Pens, Extra Fine Point 0.5 mm, Black, Pack of 14
  • Smooth Writing Liquid Ink: Glides effortlessly across the paper, offering consistent strokes and skip-free writing for neat and professional-looking documents
  • Patented Precise Point Technology: Pilot's Precise pens feature a precision tip that delivers clean and accurate lines every time, making your writing or creativity come to life with remarkable detail
  • Versatile: Perfect for taking notes & jotting down grocery lists; Writes smooth for a polished, error-free writing, drawing, designing, sketching or doodling experience
  • Visible Ink Supply: Transparent barrels allow you to monitor the ink level, ensuring you never run out unexpectedly
  • Power to the Pen: Express yourself effortlessly with Pilot's line of innovative writing tools, including gel ink, erasable, rolling ball, ballpoint and fountain pens & dry erase markers & more
  • Line Width: 0.5mm
  • Ink Colour: Black, Blue, Red, Green, Purple
  • Features: Metal tip, rubber grip, needle point precision
  • Price: Around $5 for 2-pack

3. Pentel Arts Graph Gear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

The Graph Gear, 1000 from Pentel, is a high-quality mechanical pencil with design-friendly features. The metal grip provides stability and control while the twist-erase mechanism neatly erases without smudging. The 0.3mm lead removes clean, consistent lines and offers good shading variation.

Sale
Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Mechanical Drafting Pencil 0.7mm Blue (PG1017)
  • Mechanical Pencil, graph gear 1000
  • For Draft
  • 0.7mm
  • Package Weight: 0.045 kilograms
  • Line Width: 0.3mm lead
  • Features: Metal grip, twist erase, cushion tip
  • Price: Around $15

4. Staedtler Pigment Liner Marker Pen Set

This set from Staedtler contains pigment liner pens in multiple sizes, making it easy to get both thin outlines and bold lines in one package. The tips are durable enough to withstand rubbing and erasing. The ink dries quickly and won't bleed through paper—a great option for sketching crisp design concepts.

STAEDTLER Pigment Liner Fineliner Pens with Assorted Line Width – Black (Set of 8)
  • Pack of assorted Staedtler pigment liners – 0.05, 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 1.2, Chisel Tip
  • Fineliner for writing, sketching and drawing with long metal tip, designed for use with rulers and templates
  • Pigment ink, indelible, lightfast and waterproof
  • Erasable when used on drawing film, no bleeding when highlighted
  • Drysafe ink means the pen can be left uncapped for days without drying up
  • Line Widths: 0.05mm, 0.1mm, 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm
  • Ink Colour: Black
  • Features: Pigment ink, durable nylon tips
  • Price: Around $17 for a set of 5
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5. Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers

Sharpies are workhorse pens you'll find in most designers' toolkits. The exemplary point models allow for general writing, outlining, and detailing. The permanent ink adheres well to most surfaces and won't smudge when erased over. Sharpie now offers metallic marker versions for added versatility.

Sale
Sharpie Permanent Markers, Fine Point, Black, 5 Count
  • Proudly permanent ink marks on paper, plastic, metal, and most other surfaces
  • Intensely brilliant colors create eye-popping, vibrant impressions
  • Remarkably resilient ink dries quickly and resists fading and water; AP certified
  • Endlessly versatile fine tip makes impressively bold, detailed marks
  • Includes 5 Black Sharpie permanent markers
  • Line Width: 1-2 mm fine point
  • Ink Colour: Black, Metallic colours
  • Features: Permanent ink, versatile use
  • Price: Around $3 per pen

6. Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens

Another favourite for precision design work, Sakura Pigma Microns, produces archival ink lines as fine as 0.20mm. The acid-free ink won't damage paper and stays vivid over time. Available in a wide range of nib sizes and colours. The pens have a comfortable hexagonal barrel for a controlled grip.

SAKURA Pigma Micron Fineliner Pens – Archival Black Ink Pens – Pens for Writing, Drawing, or Journaling – Assorted Point Sizes – 6 Pack
  • 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
  • Line Width: 0.20mm, 0.25mm, 0.35mm, 0.45mm, 0.50mm options
  • Ink Colour: Black, Sepia, Assorted Colours
  • Features: Archival ink, acid-free, fine precision tips
  • Price: Around $11 for 6-pack

7. Pilot Acroball PureWhite Gel Ink Pen

For designers who prefer the smooth glide of gel ink, this hybrid from Pilot combines the anti-clogging qualities of liquid ink with the easy flow of gel. The ink goes down intensely dark and dries quickly into a crisp, fade-resistant line. The rubber grip offers excellent control for detail work.

PILOT Acroball PureWhite Advanced Ink Refillable & Retractable Ball Point Pens with Silver Accents, Fine Point, Black Ink, 14-Pack (14694)
  • ENGINEERED FOR EXTREMES: The Acroball PureWhite ballpoint pen features our smear-resistant Advanced Ink, proven to perform even in extreme heat or cold. Available in fine point with black ink.
  • SMOOTH & SMEAR RESISTANT: Available in striking white barrels with 7 fashionable barrel color accents, the retractable, smooth-writing, smear resistant Acroball has a textured grip for comfort.
  • THE BALLPOINT PEN OF THE FUTURE: If you love Acroball, you'll want to try the full line of Acroball Colors, Acroball PureWhite, Acroball Pro, & more available in a variety of point sizes & ink colors.
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: We've been making pens for over 100 years. Whether you're taking notes, stocking up on school or office supplies, or writing in a bullet journal, Pilot has the perfect pen for you!
  • POWER TO THE PEN: Pilot makes exceptional writing instruments to suit all your needs. We have fountain, ballpoint, retractable, erasable & gel ink pens, whiteboard markers & more for every writing style.
  • Line Width: 1.0mm
  • Ink Colour: Pure black, blue-black, red, blue
  • Features: Gel-hybrid ink, anti-clog, rubber grip
  • Price: Around $2 per pen

8. Pentel Arts Sign Pen

This classic Pentel sign pen lays bold, vivid lines perfect for headlines, logos, titles, and other design text elements. The fibre-tipped nib comes in various sizes, from extra-fine to large chisel tips. Water-based pigment ink provides striking colour saturation and density on light or dark surfaces.

Pentel Arts Sign Pen, Black Ink, 2 Pack (S520BP2A) , Assorted
  • The original fiber-tipped pen
  • Perfect for general writing, drawing, doodling and adding character to any signature
  • Bright & intense water-based ink is perfect for anytime you put ink to paper
  • Snap-fit cap prevents the extra-durable tip from drying out when not in use
  • Line Widths: 0.6mm, 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm
  • Ink Colour: Black, Assorted brights
  • Features: Pigment fibre-tip, size versatility
  • Price: Around $3 per pen

9. Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen

For freestyle lettering and calligraphy, the Tombow Fudenosuke provides flexible brush-like strokes. The durable nylon tip has two sides – delicate and bold. Water-based ink creates tonality from thin to thick lines. Many designers use these for hand-lettering logos, titles, and invitations.

Sale
Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pen, 2-Pack. Soft and Hard Tip Fudenosuke Brush Pens for Calligraphy and Art Drawings
  • Contains both the soft and hard tip Fudenosuke Brush Pens
  • Features a flexible brush tip for different lettering and drawing techniques
  • Create extra fine, fine or medium strokes by a change in brush pressure
  • Great for calligraphy and art drawings
  • Soft tip and hard tip water based, pigmented black ink
  • Line Width: Thin to thick strokes
  • Ink Colour: Black
  • Features: Flexible brush tip, two line widths
  • Price: Around $3 per pen

10. Uni “Jetstream” Ballpoint Pen

Boasting extreme smoothness, the Jetstream from Uni glides effortlessly across paper. The quick-drying ink won't smudge and offers top-tier archival properties for long-lasting legibility. The sleek metal design with a rubber grip provides a luxurious feel—one of the finest ballpoints for design work.

Uniball Jetstream RT 3 Pack, 0.7mm Fine Black, Wirecutter Best Pen, Ballpoint Pens, Ballpoint Ink Pens | Office Supplies, Pens, Ballpoint Pen, Colored Pens, Fine Point, Smooth Writing Pens
  • Ballpoint Pen: Our black ballpoint pens combine the smooth, vivid writing of a gel pen with the quick-drying, smudge-resistant properties of a ball point ink pen
  • uni Super Ink: Water- and fade-resistant ink helps you compose long-lasting, high-quality documents you can archive; Our ink pens offer protection against water, fading, and fraud
  • Quick-Drying Technology: Our quick-drying black pen ink resists smudging and smearing, making this pen ideal for left-handed writers
  • Quality Construction: Our writing pens feature a comfortable embossed grip and sleek stainless steel accents; A convenient clip ensures that your favorite ink pen is always at hand
  • Premium Performance: Our innovative black pens are great for all of your personal and professional writing needs
  • Line Width: 0.7mm
  • Ink Colour: Black, blue, red
  • Features: Super smooth ink flow, quick dry time, sleek design
  • Price: Around $15 for 3-pack

Essential Factors When Selecting a Pen for Design

Beyond the bestsellers highlighted above, here are a few more technical factors designers should keep in mind when picking their pens:

  • Tip Shape and Material – Tip shapes like round ballpoint, conical rollerball, and chiselled edges create unique line variations. Felt nibs provide softness, while ceramic, metal, and plastic last longer.
  • Grip Type – Choose between rubberised, textured, contoured, or simple glossy/matte grips. Grip diameter also varies between brands.
  • Retractability – Retractable options keep tips protected and pockets clean. Great for on-the-go designers.
  • Refillable vs Disposable – Refillable pens are economical and eco-friendly, but disposables offer convenience.
  • Ink Type – Pigment and dye inks have different chemical properties affecting fade resistance, permanence, and viscosity.
  • Pen Style – Consider the look and feel you want to convey, from classic to modern. Weight, balance, and material feel all contribute.

Best Pens for Specific Design Applications

Best Pens For Drawing In 2023

Beyond the overall best pens that any designer should have on hand, here are our top recommendations tailored to specific design fields and applications:

Best Pens for Graphic Designers

  • Sharpie Fine Point Markers – For sketching concepts, outlining, labelling
  • Pilot Precise V5 – Ultra-fine tip for detailed illustrations
  • Pigma Micron Fineliners – Crisp ink lines without bleeding
  • Pentel Arts Sign Pen – Bold ink flows for headlines, logos

Best Pens for Architects & Engineers

  • Uni Pin Fine Line – Archival ink for technical drawings
  • Pentel Graphgear 1000 – Precise 0.3mm pencil for drafting
  • Pilot Acroball – Smooth ink flow even at odd angles
  • Staedtler Pigment Liner – Reliable and durable with no skipping

Best Pens for Fashion Designers

  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens – Flexible nibs great for sketching figures
  • Prismacolor Fine Line Markers – Vibrant shades for accenting sketches
  • Sakura Pigma Microns – Consistent fine lines for detailing
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens – Soften and blend marker strokes

Best Pens for Industrial Designers

  • Uni-ball Vision Elite – Smooth, anti-fraud ink good on prototypes
  • Pentel Arts Rolling Writer – Liquid ink flows easily at angles
  • Staedtler Lumocolor Correctable – Easily fix mistakes on the fly
  • Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner – Steady lines without pressure-sensitivity

Best Pens for Sketching & Wireframing

  • Sharpie Fine Point – Bold permanent outlines
  • Pilot Precise V5 – Details that won't smear
  • Pentel EnerGel X – Super smooth gel ink
  • Zebra Disposable Brush Pens – Loose gestural strokes
  • Pilot Varsity Pens – Ink variety for information hierarchy

Pen Recommendations By Drawing Type

Top Five Mechanical Pencils

Here are our top pen suggestions based on the type of lines and strokes you need:

For Precise Lines:

  • Uni Pin Fine Line (archival ink)
  • Pigma Micron Fineliner
  • Pilot Precise V5
  • Pentel Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil

For Sketching:

  • Sakura Pigma Graphic
  • Pentel Arts Color Brush
  • Sharpie Fine Point (black)
  • Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner

For Rendering:

  • Staedtler Pigment Liner (range of tips)
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens (range of nibs)
  • Prismacolor Premier Illustration Markers
  • Pentel Arts Sign Pen (range of sizes)

For Lettering:

  • Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight
  • Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
  • Pentel Arts Sign Pen (bold sizes)
  • Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers

For Notes & Annotations:

  • Uni-ball Jetstream (ultra-smooth)
  • Pilot Acroball PureWhite
  • Pentel Energel X
  • Zebra Mildliner Highlighter

Pen Holders, Cases & Accessories

Beyond the pens themselves, designers can benefit from accessories that keep pens organised and easily accessible:

  • Pen Cases and Pouches – Protect pens and pencils while organising by type. They can be portable or desktop models.
  • Pen Holders – Desk organisers with cups/slots to access frequently used pens. Keeps the workspace tidy.
  • Pen Displays – Clear standing displays to showcase collections and keep pens in view. Rotates for easy browsing.
  • Refills – Refills allow the reuse of favourite pens and are more economical/eco-friendly than disposables.
  • Nib Cleaners – Remove dried ink clogging the tips of markers and fountain pens. Extend pen life.
  • Pen Balancing Toys – Fun desk accessories that double as stress relievers and focus tools while sketching.

Designer Pens: Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in exploring the best pens for your design needs? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What types of pens do designers use most?

Designers commonly use fine-tip markers, technical pens, precision pencils, brush pens, and highlighters for sketching, drawing, rendering, lettering, and concept work.

Should I use a pen or pencil for design sketches?

This comes down to personal preference, but many designers start with pencil for rough drafts, then move to pen for cleaner final sketches to refine details and create digitising concepts.

What features make a pen well-suited for design work?

Key features include fine nib/tip sizes, smooth ink flow, line variation, archival/fade-resistant ink, comfort features like rubber grips, and precision mechanisms like twist erase.

Should I get refillable or disposable pens?

Refillable options are more economical for pens you use heavily, like fine-liners for sketching. Disposables can be convenient for pens used less frequently—ultimately, a personal preference.

How can I improve my pen technique for design?

Using high-quality pens designed for drawing is a first step. Additionally, practice drills like hatching, stippling, and cross-hatching to get comfortable with pen strokes for shading, texture, and detail. Relax your grip and let the pen glide.

Conclusion

We've covered a wide range of excellent pens suited for design professionals of all types, along with crucial selection criteria like comfort, ink properties, tip shape, and accessories. Quality pens allow designers to capture and communicate visual ideas smoothly from concept to completion. With so many outstanding pens available, you're sure to find those that best fit your style and design needs.

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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