It was only until recently when I delved a bit deeper into the pen world for my sketchnoting. I realised it was a diverse universe with passionate people interested in cheap off the shelf pens.
Once you start investigating something seemingly banal, picking up a Bic disposable will never feel quite right ever again.
I choose pens based on five factors:
- How smooth the ink flows
- Vibrancy of the colour
- How comfortable it is
- How much page bleed through it causes
- How aesthetically pleasing it is (I am a designer after all)
Whether I was aware of it or not, I’ve been testing pens for as long as I remember. I always had a favourite pen for short time and then found something new I’d use exclusively. I’m no expert, but I do know what I like, as I’ve put the doodling hours in.
I’ve tried every variety of pen from expensive fountain pens to Sharpies. Fountain pens often seem like the logical choice for sketchnoting, they have a cache attached to them. Maybe it’s my lack of skill, but I never got used to the feel of them and found them awkward to use. Aesthetically, they do look the part, so I really should have a few lying about!
I don’t like popular copics at all. They don’t feel right to me, maybe they don’t suit my style of sketching, which is more layout doodle and grid based. I also find I destroy the nibs too easily, as I tend to put a lot of pressure while sketchnoting. I’m can be an angry sketcher.
What I choose are plain off the shelf Gel pens. They are plentiful, affordable and pleasant to work with. Together with good Moleskine paper, I’ve never considered anything else.
Here are my two favourite pens for sketchnoting.
Uni-ball Eye Fine
My absolute favourite. Some say it can be a bit leaky, but I haven’t found that. It’s my favourite because of its smoothness. Smooth as silk and excellent dark ink tone even with the reds. Very comfortable, and the bezel is recessed about right for gripping.
Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip
Lovely pen to sketch with. It has the least bleed through on the page of any of the pens I’ve tried. Very comfortable to hold and very attractive looking. I’ve been using these for awhile now and I have used the alternative version, the Signo 207, cheaper looking but similar flow. The black tone is very good, slightly less vibrant than the EnerGel but a superb everyday sketch pen.
Pen addiction is an ongoing process and I’m sure to discover another pen to use soon.