3 Tips to Choose Pens for Doodling

By — Hazel Kamath

I love doodling my observations and thoughts about life, people, politics, and everything around me. Doodling helps me relax, unwind, and be myself. Drawing little patterns and designs while having a hot cup of coffee enables me to pen down my feelings and opinions without being judged for what I am!

I am sure you feel the same when pursuing any form of art. But thoughts and ideas aren’t the only pre-requisites for creating an art piece. The right tools play a crucial role too!

The one thing I hate to use when doodling are those jammed ballpoint pens lying around my desk. No matter how hard I try, they refuse to complement my artistic frame of mind!

The internet is full of information and recommendations on the most suitable doodling pens, most of which are either not valid or sponsored by a specific brand. That’s one reason I love to write for TAEP! The blog is purely for artists and the tips and recommendations shared are practical and unbiased and advocate brands only based on the artists’ personal experience.

I draw every day and during the past five years I have accumulated a boatload of pens, wasted money, bought the wrong set of pens, and regretted buying them too! So, what you will read in this article are the lessons I have learned during my doodling journey (which continues till date!).

Regardless of whether you aspire to be, a regular doodler or a bullet journaler, here are three things you must consider before purchasing a doodling pen.


Pro Tip 1: The Ink

The pen for doodling is distinguished based on the colorant or the ink. It can be a dye, ink, and alcohol, water, or oil based pen.

Alcohol-based pens dry quickly. For instance, Sharpies are all-purpose, permanent, water-resistant markers and are alcohol-based. Water-based pens, such as Sakura Permapaque markers can be used in art journals and for calligraphy work. Most brush pens are water-based and the ink is water-resistant when dry.

The paint markers, such as Sakura Pentouch paint markers are oil-based and can be used on porous and non-porous surfaces, namely plastic, wood, glass, ceramic, paper, and metal.

I prefer using Sakura Pigma Micron, Staedler Pigment Liner, or Tombow Dual Brush Pen for doodling as the ink in these pens does not smear, is permanent, fade-resistant, and works best on almost all kinds of paper. When working on a darker surface, I use Sakura Gelly Roll pens that offer fluorescent and smear-resistant ink with cool glowy effects.

Doodling is a stress-relieving experience. The last thing you want is to use a pen that bleeds on the paper or doesn’t write freely, hampering your creative thoughts. When visiting an art store, ask the store-keeper for a few tester pens, enabling you to choose the pens you are comfortable using.


Pro Tip 2: The Pen Feed or The Point:

Choose a pen that writes freely without you having to apply too much pressure. On the other hand, be wary of pens where the ink gushes out if you apply too much pressure. For instance, I once bought a Sakura Pen-touch and put too much pressure while writing, causing the ink to gush out and ruin my artwork.

My favourite set of pens

Sakura Pigma Micron Pens  a ‘must have’ for every artist, work best for doodling and bullet journaling. Depending on the thickness you require, you can choose from a wide variety of tip sizes this brand offers. The brush pen is great for calligraphy, adding depth to your doodles, and filling the empty spaces.

Sakura Pigma Micron PN(Plastic Nib) pens have durable nibs, hence are best for everyday doodling or when you are travelling. Its clear plastic nib (polyacetal plastic) versus the needle-point nib in Sakura Pigma Micron pens makes it smooth-flowing and hard-wearing.

I would also recommend Staedtler 0.5mm Pigment Fineliner for its uniform and smooth lines. It is similar to Sakura Pigma Micron in many aspects, namely the barrel size, the pen weight, the grip, and the ink. However, I find Staedler’s tip slightly softer in comparison to the Microns. So, keep that in mind when you use either of them.

Doodling away on the main door of my house using the Letraset Promarker

If you like doodling on walls or doors, try the Sharpie permanent marker  or the Letraset ProMarker, which is available in various colours. The Sharpie Ultra Fine Point and Fine Point can help you create various patterns, adding dimension to the surface you are working on. The Letraset Pro Marker offers twin tip (broad and chisel) and uses high-quality permanent dye.


For doodling on ceramic mugs, I bank on the fine tip Sakura Pentouch Ceramglass markers.


Pro Tip 3: Artist and Storekeeper Reviews

I am sure most of you are already doing this. Nevertheless, I would like to share that I give a lot of importance to what other artists have to say about using a certain pen or an art tool. At TAEP meets and other art forums, I talk to other artists to understand why they use a particular pen or brand for sketching, doodling, or technical illustrations. This helps me get an outsider’s perspective.

Moreover, a few art storekeepers take a genuine interest in sharing their knowledge about pens, paints, and other art materials. Talking to the store-owner about the various brands and art tools can help you choose the most suitable pen for your art.

The right doodling pen serves as a great companion throughout your doodling journey. Not every pen may fit your style of doodling, yet you must keep researching and experimenting with different tools till you find your ideal doodle-buddy. In this post, I have tried to share my experience with the various pens available for doodling and how they work best for me.

Feel free to share your doodling experiences and the tools you used. After all, we all learn from each other and get better by the day!


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