You can make beautiful sketches with little skill using these Japanese pens

17th Feb 2023

Do you feel like it’s too late to learn to draw?

First of all, it’s never too late. If you start drawing every day you’ll pick up some technique in no time.

But here’s a question to ask yourself: how good do you really want to get at drawing?

Would you settle for nothing short of artistic genius? Or would it satisfy you to be able to sketch a few simple ideas, perhaps to beautify your note-taking or journaling?

If it’s the latter, maybe you can reach your goal faster than you think.

It can be disheartening to try drawing as an adult and see that your sketches are messy; the proportions are wrong; what appears on the page just does not at all resemble the image in your mind. It’s tempting to give up at the first hurdle. But there are a couple of ways you can make this difficult phase a bit less painful, One of which is to choose the right pen.

For beginners, drawing pens with a tip width of 0.5 to 0.8 mm can feel like a revelation. These are the pens that advanced pen artists sometimes use to create thicker outlines or fill in fine shapes, while most of their work is done using much finer 0.15 to 0.3 mm tips.

These thick drawing pens make it feel natural to complete simple shapes. Unlike fountain pens, felt tips or thick markers, they won’t flood the page with ink. They won’t slip or scratch like a biro, or demand a steady hand like a thin-tipped drawing pen. Instead, they gently encourage patience and practice. They reward your earliest efforts and surprise you with your own skill.

The iconic example of this style of pen is the Pigma Micron 08, which is available in a variety of colours.

These pens are cheerleaders for people learning to draw.

On the other hand, professional drawing pens tend to have delicate tips and take some getting used to. It’s easy to bend or wear them down quickly unless you can practice a light touch. For absolute beginners who feel like they have a heavy or clumsy hand, the perfect alternative is a needle-point rollerball. These provide a very similar experience to a drawing pen, but are much more hard-wearing at the cost of a little precision.

This pen design was first innovated by another Japanese brand, Pilot. The Pilot V7 Hi-Tecpoint is quite possibly the favourite pen of bullet journalers and any creative that mixes writing and drawing, since this is an instrument that excels at both.

There are artists of all levels who love both of these Japanese brands, including some that favour thicker tips.

Check out the gallery below for even more inspiration from our very own Kyle Nelson: