I Love a Good Pen – Here Are My Favorites

This list will evolve. New pens keep coming out and I keep discovering old ones. First off, I should say I love technical line drawings. I look for pens that can handle tight consistent even flow line work. Some handle smooth and painted surfaces better than others so I’ll create a category for those.

The blue circles indicate where I tested a water wash over the ink to test it’s “proof”:


Best All-Around Writing and Drawing Pen

(1) Pilot Precise v5 & v7

Rolling ball
(v5 is extra-fine / v7 is fine) Both are great
It’s called “precise” because this pen has a rolling tungsten carbide ball for dependability. Its large liquid ink reservoir holds twice as much ink as regular disposables, and there is a convenient window to view how much is left. Comes in various colors. Unfortunately, it’s not waterproof so will bleed if watercoloring over it.

Best Waterproof Pens

Uni-Ball Signo UM-153
Pigma Micron
Copic Multiliner SP
Sharpie Industrial Extra Fine

Best Permanent Marker

Sharpie, no question. But which sharpie? Have you tried a Sharpie Professional. They are a very large pen but hold up to the elements well in my initial tests. I tried writing on glass and putting it through the dishwasher. It survived. Scary, actually. I use it for outdoor and tricky surfaces that are slick, damp, or tricky.

Best White Ink Pen

Uni-Ball Signo UM-153
Love this pen! It’s very opaque and go over painted surfaces like watercolor or mixed media. Helps to lay down a layer of matte medium if the surface gets too glossy/smooth.

(2) Pentel EnerGel
Similar to above but not quite as consistent and durable. Seems to jam up a little easier.

best technical pen
Rotring rapidograph

anyone tried this one?
Pentel Arts Hybrid Technica 0.3 mm Pen

2 replies
  1. Jeka says:

    Pilot V5 & V7 ink IS WATERPROOF once dry. I allow 24 hours for dry time before using watercolor on top of it. Pilot V5 has been my go to pen for watercolor for almost 20 years. Thank God someone dropped a V5 pen in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and I picked it up. Thank you you anonymous donor!!! You changed my life.


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