Pens for watercolor: The Best Waterproof Pens and Inks for Watercolors


Great list of waterproof pens for use with watercolors. : Watercolor

I recently was in search of a pen to take with my sketchbook to use for fine lines but also have it be waterproof so that I could watercolor over it and not have a runny mess (which is what happened when I tried watercolors over my Pilot G2 .38mm. It wasn’t pretty).

My searching brought me to this great post on where the poster “urbanspinner” listed a bunch of pens and inks and whether they were waterproof or not.

I’m pasting it here (and added some links to jetpens for everything I could find) in case that forum ever goes down in the future:

I have had no luck with any of the Noodler’s waterproof blacks on watercolor paper, just as a word of caution. I bought a huge bottle of Heart of Darkness and it bled like crazy, no matter how long I let it dry. (I’m talking weeks here.) Same for Bulletproof Black. I think the heavy sizing on watercolor paper keeps the ink from interacting directly with the cellulose fibers. (This chemical reaction is what makes the Noodlers inks waterproof, and it’s fine on standard office papers. Just isn’t as successful on specialty papers.)

I have tested a whole bunch of different pens for use with watercolor washes, and here are some of my results:

Sakura Micron series — waterproof

Uniball Signo series — waterproof. (Uniball makes most of its pens with ultra-secure ink that prevents forgery, and they are all really wonderful for artwork.) These sometime need a couple minutes to fully dry, if you’ve applied to heavily sized paper.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C — bleeds when wet

Pentel Energel — bleeds when wet

Pilot Address Pens — waterproof, deepest black I’ve seen. (Available from Jet Pens. Amazing drawing pens.)

Zebra Sarasa series — waterproof

Prisma Premier technical pens — waterproof

Pentel Technica pens — waterproof. They go on very wet, and you need to let them dry a couple minutes on heavily sized papers.

Pentel Slicci pens — bleeds when wet

Pitt artist pens — waterproof

Copic Multiliners — waterproof. (The professional-level SP series have extremely rugged points, and can be refilled when ink runs out.)

Pilot G2 — bleeds when wet

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen — waterproof. Goes on wet, sometimes needs to dry a couple minutes

Tachikawa Comic Nib Fountain Pen — exceptionally waterproof. Very fine line. I have two of these pens and love them to death. They’re a bit rougher than gel pens when writing, but the nib is slightly flexible and the subtle line variation is very expressive. Refillable.

Rotring Tikky Graphic pigmented ink — waterproof. A technical pen design similar to the Sakura Micron, but it’s a bit wetter and more robust to write with. (At least for me.)

Platinum Carbon fountain pen ink — waterproof, fountain-pen compatible. I’ve always got 2 or 3 fountain pens on my desk inked up with this. A bottle costs a ton, but lasts forever. It also comes in cartridges that cost less up front.

Hope this helps.

Choosing Ink and Pens for Watercolor: Guide For Beginners

Have you been wondering about choosing the right ink for watercolor? Using ink and watercolor together can create amazing effects. The black outlines give a strong structure to the watercolor and you can use it to make beautiful illustrations and comics.

But what kind of ink pen do you need for watercolor? How do you avoid bleeding and smudging?

We’re going to go through exactly what makes for a great pen to use with watercolor, and then I’m going to review the top ten best ink pens to use with watercolor and the five best inks.

This is a guest post by Katie Mehra who has long experience in using pens and inks with watercolor.

Disclaimer: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through that link, I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

The Basics: What Makes a Pen Good for Watercolor?

What determines whether an ink pen and bottle of ink are good for watercolor? There are several factors that you should consider.


The most important factor for choosing ink for watercolor is that it’s waterproof. This is normally labeled on the pen or bottle. A good waterproof ink won’t smudge or bleed when you apply watercolor to it. With high-quality ink, you won’t experience any transfer of color or bleeding. It is important it is labeled waterproof or water-resistant, and not water-soluble.

Not Water-soluble

A lot of inks and pens may say that they are water-soluble. You want to avoid these pens and inks. Water-soluble means the ink is actually made with water, so it will run a lot when you start applying watercolor to it. Although some people like the messy cute art it can make, for most people, you want to avoid any pens that say they are water-soluble.

It’s a good rule of thumb to assume any pen or ink that doesn’t state whether or not it is waterproof or water-resistant is made with water-soluble ink and, therefore, will be really bad for watercolor! Also, it’s a good idea not to buy any pen that states it’s water-based either.


It can be unclear if the pen is actually waterproof. A sign it’s waterproof is that the pen or ink states it’s made with pigments or is pigmented ink, as these are larger physical particles that don’t actively dissolve in water. They still may be water-soluble, so it’s always a good idea to research online, but I have yet to find a pigmented ink that is not also waterproof.

The Time it Takes to Dry

The last primary thing to think about when choosing ink for watercolor is the rate at which the ink dries. It can be a bad idea to apply watercolor right after drawing with ink, as this can cause smearing on the page. Some experts suggest waiting 12 hours before beginning to apply your watercolor paint, but a little over an hour usually suffices. If you love sketching or just don’t want to wait for it to dry, we have a wonderful ink we will be reviewing below that’s extremely fast-drying and works great for watercolor, so stay tuned!

Choosing Pens For Watercolor: Our Favorites

You should have the basics down now, so what are the best waterproof pens for working with watercolor?

Gel Stick Pen from Uni-Ball

Uni-Ball Signo pen is our top pick for a quality gel pen that is waterproof. It works really well with watercolor and we have never had complaints. Also, it’s fade-proof which is a nice addition as well. It has straight and very thin lines that don’t create any blobs at the end of long lines. This is our most affordable and best gel pen option for beginners who struggle with choosing ink for watercolor.

*Best Gel Pen *Cheap

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Sakura’s Micron Series

Sakura’s Pigma Micron series is one of our favorites to use with watercolor. This is a fine liner which means it has a plastic tip that draws nice straight lines. This pen is one of the top recommended waterproof pens for a reason. It has a nice, sleek design and is a waterproof pen you really cannot go wrong with.

*Top fine liner Pen

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Kaweco Fountain Pen

Our other recommendations are all disposable pens, which means you’re going to have to buy a new pen each and every time you run out of your ink. This can get expensive if you plan to draw a lot. An alternative that’s beloved by experts is drawing with a fountain pen and putting your own black or colored ink into it. A fountain pen lasts for several years and the ink is the highest quality since you can buy directly from the best ink producers.

The famous Kaweco fountain pen is an affordable fountain pen that artists around the world love. It draws extremely smooth lines that look great alongside paint. Kaweco is based in Germany and has a reputation as one of the top craftsmen of fountain pens.  

*Top Beginner Fountain Pen

You can get this pen at Amazon | Goldspot.

Impact Uni-Ball Gel Pen

If you want to try a gel pen, another great option is the Uni-Ball Impact. This gel pen is slightly more expensive than the Signo, but it is the best option if you love thicker, more broad lines. The Impact produces gorgeous lines that create a strong outline.  This is great for comic art or cartoons. Although If you don’t like wider lines or like to do very detailed work, this is likely not the pen for you.

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Winsor and Newton 

This is another fine liner that we love. It’s a very high-quality fine liner that we’ve found works really good with watercolor.  Winsor and Newton have a great lineup of different pens with a variety of sizes and colors all in one set!

The company was founded in 1832, so they’re a classic company that has really perfected the fine liner pen. If you love options and want to pick your own tip size and color, this fine liner is our top recommendation.

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Parker Pens

Parker is a famous brand that makes pens and fountain pens that many watercolorists love. This pen is adored by the artists that use it. With an ergonomic design and various options for different price-ranges, the Parker pen is a historic, tried and true brand if you are looking for a quality fountain pen to load up with waterproof ink.

You can get this pen at Amazon | Goldspot.

Fudenosuke Brush

If you like experimenting, an option is going with a brush pen for your watercolor art. The perfect waterproof brush pen is the Tombow Fudenosuke pen. It works perfectly with watercolor and is an overall great brush pen for any drawing. The brush tip allows for variation in the widths of your lines which can create a neat effect when applied with watercolor.

This Tombow pen is a really great piece to add to your pen collection, but If you don’t want any line-variation in your piece, this may not be the option for you. 

*Top Brush

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Unipin Fine Line

This is another fine liner pen that comes in a set of five with various sizes. This allows you to experiment with the widths of your ink outlines and drawings. UniPin fine liner a great pen set for beginners and works great with watercolor paint. It’s marketed as waterproof and fade-proof, but unfortunately, we did experience some fading/smudging when we used an eraser for our pencil markings. This is a fantastic option if you don’t plan to use any pencil markings that you need to erase.

You can get this pen at Amazon.

Faber-Castell Assorted Pens

This is an amazing little pack of 8 waterproof pens from Faber-Castell. It comes with 4 fine liners and 4 brush ink pens that are all different sizes. This pack gives you a taste of everything when it comes to quality ink pens and they all work with watercolor.

Faber-Castell is a classic, luxury brand that was founded all the way back in 1761! You’re really getting a great brand if you go with the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens.

*Most Variety

You can get this at Amazon.

Lamy Safari

Our last option is the famous Lamy Safari fountain pen. You can not have a list of good pens without including this beautiful writing instrument.  It is a beginner fountain pen, and it draws just beautifully. We recommend this for people who are interested in trying out at least one fountain pen but are on a budget.

You can get this at Amazon | Goldspot.

Choosing Ink for Watercolor: Our Favorites

If you’re looking for the best materials for watercolor and ink, your best bet is to buy a waterproof ink bottle to use with a dip pen or fountain pen. These create beautiful ink outlines and effects that work perfectly with watercolor painting.

Carbon Ink from Platinum

One of my favorite inks for watercolor, the Platinum Carbon ink is a beautiful waterproof ink that looks great when applied with watercolor. It’s a permanent ink that has a natural black textured matte color to it. This gives it so much character. It comes in a cute glass bottle with a lot of care put into it. The ink is from Japan and is a little on the expensive side, but you won’t be disappointed if you go with it.

*Our Favorite Ink

You can get this ink at Amazon|Goldspot.

Archive Ink from De Atramentis

De Atramentis Archive Ink is an incredible ink that is 100% waterproof and fast-drying. The ink dries in only a couple of minutes and then is absolutely waterproof with no smearing or fading at all. You can erase as much as you want over it too.  The ink comes out as a beautiful and deep black color.

If you’re looking for the safest option for use with watercolor, the De Atramentis Archive Ink is an amazing fast-drying ink you can’t go wrong with.

*Top Fast Drying Ink *Most Waterproof

You can get this ink at Amazon | Goldspot.

Super Black India Ink from Speedball 

If you’re looking for a pure black, you want to pick up an India ink. Speedball has made a great product with their Super Black India Ink. Most inks actually have several shades of grays in them, while this is a truly black ink that creates nice outlines when you use it with watercolor. I’ve heard people mention an occasional smearing, but I haven’t personally seen this to be the case with Speedball India Ink.

If you use a fountain pen with India Ink, you’ll want to clean it out pretty often to avoid clogging because of how thick the ink is. But if you’re looking for a pure solid black ink, you can’t do much better than Speedball’s Super Black India Ink.

*Our Favorite Pure Black Ink

You can get this ink at Amazon.

Ink Bottle from Winsor and Newton

Winsor and Newton don’t only make nice fine liners! They also have a really great ink option that I have recently fallen in love with. It’s a cute matte black and it’s an India ink that has character and texture as well. I’ve found the Winsor and Newton ink to take a while to dry, so you’ll want to wait around two hours to be sure it’ll have zero smudging.

You can get this ink at Amazon.

Sailor Kiwa-Guro

The Sailor Kiwa-Guro is another nice waterproof ink. The Sailor company is a famous fountain pen company that has also made some extraordinary inks. This ink writes and draws just beautifully, but there have been a couple of reviews saying it loses its waterproofness after several months. This is very strange, but definitely possible. I haven’t experienced this, but it does knock it down a peg for me.

The ink itself is beautiful.  It’s a solid matte black and dries very quickly. It’s one of the highest quality inks on this list and would be higher up if not for the reports of it losing it’s waterproof.

You can get this ink at Amazon.

Final Thoughts About Choosing Ink for Watercolor

When choosing pens and ink for watercolor, remember that the most important thing is that they’re waterproof. This means that you can use the ink before or after you’ve painted with watercolor and the ink won’t smear. How amazing is that?

There are so many options to choose from, but the ones we reviewed have amazing characteristics for combining ink and watercolor, just carefully decide what you really need for your particular style and budget.

Download the free Beginner’s Art Journal Starter Kit

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A Review
– Andie Laf Designs

 *This post contains affiliate links to Amazon

Choosing an Ink to Use with Watercolour

Combining watercolour with ink in your paintings can yield some stunning results. However, there are a lot of pens out there, and it may not be obvious which is the best ink for watercolour illustrations. 

The aim of this blog post is to give you an idea of what to look for in a fineliner or ink so that you can apply this to your own creations. In this post, I discuss and review 15 pens and inks. While this list is by no means extensive (there are a LOT of pens and inks out there), this is a good starting point for artists looking to incorporate ink into their watercolour paintings.

I definitely plan to add to this as I get more materials too ✌️

With that said, let’s first tackle some questions that often come up for artists wanting to use ink with watercolour. 

What kind of pen/ink should I use with watercolour?

Pen and Ink Definitions

When looking for a pen or ink to use, there are several words you may come across. These words describe the physical qualities of the ink. I want to define these before we get started so that you understand the review chart I’ve made for the pens, and so that you know what to look for when you see pens that are not included in this review. 

✔️ Waterproof

The ink does not become muted, bleed, or lift off the page when you add water to it. This is, maybe somewhat obviously, what you are looking for when using with watercolours. You will see this word on pens and inks. 

✔️ Water-resistant 

The ink will resist water when it’s dry. Usually requires a longer drying period before water/paint can be applied on top without ink bleeding. This is a more common thing to see on inks, rather than pens. 

❌ Water-soluble: if your pen has this written on it, it means the ink is water-based and will run when you add watercolour to it. You can create some fun pen and ink illustrations with this technique, but it doesn’t really play well with watercolour if you want it to stay put and not bleed.   

✔️ Lightfast

This refers to the stability of the ink when exposed to light. When ink has high lightfastness, the pigment does not fade over time.

✔️ Fade-proof or Fade-resistant

Ink that resists fading over long periods of time and that will not discolour; lightfast. 

✔️ Acid-Free

Ink that is above 7 on the pH scale (ie more basic than acidic) and that will not damage paper over time. 

✔️ Archival

This refers to ink that is suitable and resistant to water, light, and time, and not damage the paper it has been used on. These inks are lightfast, UV-resistant, waterproof, acid-free, and can are meant to last a long time (ie permanent). If you see this term on a pen, it encompasses most of the definitions here excluding water-soluble. 

✔️ Permanent

Ink that is water-resistant and fade-resistant. 


Do you add ink before or after watercolour?

This is completely up to you! It’s a personal preference. Some artists (including myself) will choose to ink before adding watercolour, and some artists prefer to ink after they have applied their watercolour. 

Here are some reasons to ink before watercolour: 

  • The pen/fineliner you are using may glide more smoothly on unpainted paper, making it easier to outline 
  • It’s a common approach to illustrative styles 
  • It makes painting ‘inside the lines’ a whole lot easier 

And here are a few reasons to ink after watercolour: 

  • The lines are darker and clearer on top of watercolour than underneath 
  • You do not have access to a waterproof/water-resistant pen
  • You want the paint to define where the lines will go, not the other way around 

I highly encourage you to play around with both if you are a beginner because you will get a feel for which method suits your style and artwork best. 

If you only have access to a water-soluble pen and do not want the lines to bleed, you would need to apply the paint first and then add the ink on top (once the image is completely dry)

In my review below I will actually be including some columns to see what the pens look like with the paint on top and underneath, so we can see if there is a difference. 

What tool should I use for drawing with inks? 

There are several options you can go with if you want to use ink for your paintings instead of a pen. 

Since this post is a review of inks and pens rather than a dive into techniques for using them, this section will be brief but I may look at expanding this in the future. 

For now, here is a quick list of tools you can use with your India, drawing, or acrylic ink.  


Brushes are a great option and chances are if you have watercolour paints, you also have watercolour brushes. The type of brush you have will determine what type of lines you can create. 

For example, a round brush is great for varying line thickness, whereas a flat or rigger brush could be used to create more consistent lines:

Dip pens

These include nibbed pens (think old school quills with feathers), bamboo pens, and even glass dip pens. 

The type of pen you use with your ink will affect what type of lines you get. For example, nibbed pens usually give clean, sharp lines, with line thicknesses that vary depending on the pressure you put on it.

Glass dip pens, on the other hand, do not respond to pressure and create an even,  consistent line with a ‘nib’ that is easy to clean. I have heard a lot of good things from my fellow artists about this option. 

I found this useful video by Sketcherbook Skool on How to Use India Ink to be a nice starting place for what tools to use. 

Can I use fountain pens with India and acrylic ink? 

EDIT: When I initially published this post, my answer was a firm NO – however, using India ink in a fountain pen has been my go-to pen for years. The reason why it’s suggested to not use the two together is because fountain pens can get easily clogged from the pigment particles in India and acrylic ink, eventually ruining your pen.

While I’m sure there have been countless fountain pens thrown away for exactly that reason, I always make sure to clean my pen with warm, soapy water when my ink converter (the thing that sucks up the ink) runs empty. I will sometimes add a very small amount (a few drops) of distilled water to my ink if I feel it’s not flowing as nicely, but I actually do not really run into issues.

I use a Lamy Safari Pen and Speedball Super Black India Ink, and the two work like a dream together. Since India ink plays nicely with watercolour, I can use it either on top or underneath my paintings, and the lines are rich and dark, and do not fade. 

View this pen in action here on my Instagram page!  

Of course, please take what I say with a grain of salt. If you are unsure and don’t want to risk ruining your fountain pen, stay on the safe side and DON’T mix the two. 

Pen and Ink Review 

Now it’s time to actually review! 

You can view a larger image of this chart right here. 

A note on this chart:

For this experiment, I am testing all pens on 300 gsm Canson cold-pressed watercolour paper. These pens and inks may yield different results on different types of paper (mixed media, bristol, vellum, etc)

For the erase test, I have two squiggle lines – the top one is the control, and has not been erased, and the bottom one is what the ink looks like after being erased for a few seconds. 

I have done the same for the Waterproof column: only the bottom squiggle line has water on it so you can compare what the ink does with and without water applied to it. 

I scanned this image in and have kept the texture of the paper and brightness as similar as I could to the physical chart. Your computer monitor or screen may vary in colour/brightness but you should still be able to see the differences between each pen and ink. 

To get the most out of this review, I recommend having the chart in a different window so you can compare each pen as you read through the list. 

Let’s get started! 

tl;dr of pen/ink review: recommended pens include the Sakura Pigma Micron Pen and the Winsor and Newton Fineliner pen. For inks, I recommend the Speedball Super Black India ink and the Daler Rowney F.W. Black Ink – both will not disappoint.   

Fineliner Pens


Muji – Gel ink Ballpoint Pen 

I love using this pen for journaling, to-do lists, and everyday writing. Sadly, this pen is not lightfast, waterproof or archival, and therefore it doesn’t hold up to water at all. 

This pen also fades quite a bit from being erased, but it could be an okay option to use on top of watercolour. The gel ink on top of the paint is harder to draw smooth lines with, as you can see my squiggle lines are a little sharp rather than smooth. 

Verdict: This is a great everyday pen, but I would avoid using it with watercolour. 

2. Staedtler – Pigment Liner

This was one of the pens I used the most when I was first starting out. While it’s not the cheapest on the list, they are lightfast and archival.

Although it says it is a waterproof pen, I noticed that when I applied water on top it did bleed a little. This may have been because I didn’t wait long enough before applying it. That’s fine, just keep in mind if you work fast or are left-handed, you may end up smudging this ink quite often! 

The pigment in this pen isn’t super black, and it does fade with both erasing and watercolour being applied on top. When I tried a quick pen stroke, it was very streaky. However, this pen looks great on top of the watercolour. 

Verdict: after trying out this pen again, I would definitely opt for a different pen to use with watercolour. 

3. Sakura – Pigma Micron

I really have so many great things to say about this pen. 

It is completely waterproof, the pigment is nice and dark, and there are clear, crisp lines. 

The only reason why I have stopped using these pens and opted for ink in my work is that I love a dark, intense black pigment for my paintings, and these pens do fade slightly with erasing whereas the inks do not.

Verdict: I would absolutely recommend the Pigma Micron series to use with watercolour.  

4. Sakura – Gelly Roll

I was surprised to learn that this pen is supposedly archival and waterproof, considering it is a gel pen. Testing it with water though, it did bleed slightly and the colour is very muted underneath the paint. 

The gel ink doesn’t seem to want to run as smoothly as other pens, and it feels like the pen is clogged. It is also not as heavily pigmented/black as other pens I’ve used, and it smudges heavily compared to other pens. 

This pen stood up very well against erasing, and it wasn’t streaky when I tried quick, straight lines. The ink looks really good on top of watercolour paint. It’s also one of the most affordable pens on this list. 

The verdict: If you have the patience to let this ink dry completely before painting over top, it could be a decent pen. However, I think it would be a better pen for using on top of watercolour because the lines are very crisp and clear, and we know it won’t fade because it’s archival. 

5. Unipin – Fine Line

This is a really solid pen to use with watercolour, though there are some things to notice.

When erased, this ink fades quite a bit, which is a pity because it has a wonderfully dark pigment. It smudges a little, though much less than other pens on this list. It is waterproof, fade-proof and acid-free. 

It is completely waterproof, and the pigment actually looks the same both under the watercolour and overtop. 

The lines are strong and clean, and the pigment is great.   

The verdict: This pen would be excellent if you do not need to erase pencil lines underneath due to how much it erases.

6. Stabilo – Point 88

Very smooth ink, and it is one of the only fineliners to come in 30+ colours. It barely fades when it is erased. 

This pen is NOT archival or waterproof, and therefore not too great with watercolours. Just look at how much this ink disappeared under the water! It actually disappears. 

Verdict: This pen would be great as a drawing or doodling pen, but it is sadly not a great companion with watercolours. 

7. Faber-Castell – Pitt Artist pen 

Faber Castell is a solid choice for pens and coloured pencils.

The Artist’s pen comes in many different sizes and types, including fineliners, brush pens, and calligraphy pens which makes it great for drawing and illustrating. The ink is archival, lightfast, and waterproof, and uses India ink rather than pigmented ink. 

The ink really fades after being erased, which is unfortunate because it is very rich and even pigment. It smudges very easily but it holds up well to water and being painted over. 

This pen comes in many different colours (brush types) and is pretty affordable if you get a pack of pens. 

Verdict: I love how dark the colour is and how many pen types there are, and these pens would be great if you want to have varying line widths/styles in your work. 

8. Sharpie – Fine point

Okay, so these pens are well known to be permanent, but they are not archival as the ink is solvent-based. This type of ink deteriorates paper over time.

The colour is very dark, although it has a slight navy tinge to it compared to the other pens. On the watercolour paper, it does bleed slightly (without water being added) which makes the ink appear to be fuzzy rather than crisp and clear.

It barely smudges at all, which is nice, and it holds up well to water and being painted on. 

Verdict: If you want to learn how to use ink and watercolour together without investing money into other pens, this is a decent option. For quick craft projects with kids, they’d be perfect. One thing to keep in mind is that since the ink does bleed on the paper slightly (without watercolour on top), it would be better for paintings that do not require high detail. 

9. Pentel – RSVP Fine Ballpoint pen

Okay, so these pens are my favourite pens to use for just writing, but it is not ideal to use as a drawing pen (nor really is any ballpoint pen). The ink is neither lightfast nor archival, and although the ink didn’t smear with water, it is also not waterproof. 

The pen smudges slightly when erased, and the pigment is shiny and on the blue side. When applied on top of watercolour, the ink is streaky and faded. 

Verdict: Amazing for writing, and cheap. If you’re in a bind and only had this to sketch with it would be fine, but it’s definitely not for use in paintings. 

10. Winsor and Newton – Fineliner

This is a water-resistant pen, not waterproof, and so I waited a bit longer to paint over top of this than the other pens. 

The colour of this is a rich matte black, and I’m impressed that it still keeps a strong colour after erasing. It does take a little more time to dry, as it smudged very easily. It writes very smoothly, and the lines are uniform. 

Verdict: The colour of this is rich, and I would easily use this pen for fine detail in my projects. This would be a very suitable pen for painting on top of watercolour. 

11. Pilot – Drawing Pen

This pen feels great in my hands, and the ink is nice and smooth and easy to control. It does not specifically say that it is archival, though it does say light-resistant and water-resistant on the website.

The pigment held up well with plain water, but when I put watercolour on top of it it did make the paint seem more faded and discoloured. I would recommend letting this ink dry for a longer period of time before painting on top. 

Verdict: This would be an excellent pen to put on top of watercolour, or just for pen illustrations. Very smooth to write with, and not as expensive as the other pens. 


1. Winsor and Newton – Black Drawing India Ink 951

This is currently my go-to ink and what I use on all of my current paintings. I absolutely love how black this ink is, and it holds up well against erasing. It is also archival, and waterproof. 

Although the ink does take longer to dry (not surprising) and is prone to smudging, so allowing it to dry for a few minutes is well worth the wait. It looks great under and on top of watercolour paint.

I have noticed that if you use a semi-transparent or semi-opaque watercolour it does appear muted, but that happens with most (if not all) pens/inks. 

Verdict: This is a wonderful product for drawing and with use in watercolour.

2. Speedball – Super Black India Ink

This has a rich pigment to it, and it brushes on smoothly with a brush or dip pen. This ink is supposedly waterproof, however, it did bleed quite a bit when I tried putting water on top, after waiting about 3 minutes. 

To see if it was just the ink needing more time to dry, I waited a full 30 minutes before applying the watercolour on top, and that did the trick. After drying, this ink didn’t budge an inch when I erased it either. 

Verdict: If you have the patience (which I clearly don’t) and can avoid smudging this ink while it or your watercolour is drying, it will yield very rewarding results. 

3. Waterproof Higgins – Black India ink  

I am a tad disappointed with this ink, and it’s not because my dog is named Higgins and I wanted it to do well 😉

This ink is not as dark as the two inks above, and it fades a bit after erasing. This ink is fade-resistant, but I could not find anything mentioned at all about it being truly lightfast or archival. 

On their website it mentions that this particular ink requires a 12-15 minute drying time, however, I found it dried fine in about 5 minutes. If you do accidentally smudge, they will be ugly “blotchy” smudges. So be aware! 

This ink also seemed to make the watercolour react oddly when I painted over top; it kind of seems like the pigment in the watercolour was pulling away from the edges of the ink. 

Verdict: Although it is the cheapest of these options, I would “splurge” and spend the extra $1-3 to grab a better ink. 

4. Daler Rowney – Black Acrylic Ink 

This is an acrylic ink rather than an India ink, and as soon as I started writing with this I could feel the difference. Acrylic inks flow lighter than water, and the fluidity and smoothness of the ink were apparent. 

It is deeply pigmented, with a beautiful rich black. It did not lift off the page after I erased it, and the ink was dry enough to apply watercolour onto it after 6-8 minutes. 

Verdict: I am very happy with how fluid and pigmented this ink is and will be looking for ways to incorporate it into my work. 

Final Verdict

As mentioned earlier, this review of pens and inks is by no means extensive, but I do hope it gives you an idea and comparison of what common options are out there and what may suit your work best. 

If I were to recommend my top 2 choices for pens, it would be the Sakura Pigma Micron Pen and the Winsor and Newton Fineliner pen. They both have excellent pigmentation and are archival (and therefore lightfast, waterproof, UV-resistant, etc). They come in many sizes, and the pens feel solid and comfortable to hold for those long drawing sessions. 

The Pilot Drawing Pen was a close runner up and I will likely use this if I want subtle black lines underneath the watercolour, as well as for urban sketching. 

Although I didn’t review nearly as many inks, I was quite impressed with the Speedball Super Black India ink and the Daler Rowney F.W. Black Ink  Both have beautiful rich black pigmentation, hold up well to erasing, and look great below or above watercolour.  

And there you have it! Please let me know if you would like me to review other pens and inks in the comments below, or if you have any questions about what you currently have. I’m happy to help. 

Happy drawing! 



Andie Lafrentz has been working as an artist full-time since August 2019, after she quit her job at a tech company. Through watercolour and ink, she combines bright, lively colours and her love of travel to create pieces that express the way she sees the world.
Her style is inspired by the architecture and landscapes of her experiences living and travelling abroad in Europe. Self-taught, Andie hopes to inspire others to embrace their creative side, while also designing energetic watercolour pieces that tug at people’s nostalgia and sense of adventure.

You can find more information about Andie, including art time-lapses and behind the scenes, below. 


What’s The Best Waterproof Ink and Pen for Watercolor? — Putnam Fine Art Studio Studio

One of my favorites effects in the world is mixing watercolor paint with inked in lines.  The strong black lining creates a framework for the watercolor to express itself.  Although the uses for watecolor and ink are limitless.  They can be used to add shadowing, make beautiful illustrations, and be used in professional drawn and painted comics.

But what’s the absolute best tools to get the job done?  What are the best waterproof inks and pens to use for your watercolor creations?  We will cover that and a whole lot more in this informative post on everything you need to know for working with waterproof inks and pens.


What Questions to Ask Before You Buy

So, what determines whether an ink pen and ink bottle are good for use with watercolors?  There are several factors that you should consider.

Level of Waterproof

The most important factor is that the ink is waterproof.  It will have a label on the pen or ink bottle stating that it is “waterproof”.  A good waterproof ink will not smudge or bleed when you apply watercolor to it.  With a high-quality ink, you will not experience any transfer of color or bleeding.  It is important it is labeled waterproof or water-resistant, and not water-soluble.

 There are a few ways you can find out whether the pen or ink you are looking to buy Is waterproof.  The first is checking for the label, but they won’t all have this and some say different things.  If it has the labels waterproof or water-resistant, it is good!  But it is crucial that you do not get any product labeled water-soluble.  Water-soluble means the ink is actually made with water, so it will run a lot when you start applying watercolor to it.  A good rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t state whether it is or isn’t waterproof, it is likely water-soluble and therefore not a purchase you want to make.  You can also find out if it is waterproof sometimes in the description of online stores and reviews if you search the name of the pen or ink. 

Time to Dry

The last important consideration is how fast the ink dries.  You definitely don’t want to apply watercolor right after drawing with ink, as this can cause smearing on the page.  Some experts suggest waiting a whole 24 hours before beginning to apply your watercolor paint, but a little over an hour usually suffices.  If you love sketching or just don’t want to wait for it to dry, we have a wonderful ink we will be reviewing below that is extremely fast-drying and works great for watercolor, so stay tuned!

Made with Pigments

 If you have a pen you love but none of the above have let you know if it’s safe with watercolors, an expert tip is to see in the fine-print if it says it is made with pigments or is a “pigmented ink.”  These consist of larger physical particles that don’t dissolve in water.  They still can be water-soluble, so be careful!  But I have yet to find a pigmented ink that doesn’t work well with watercolors.


What Are The Best Waterproof Inks and Pens for Watercolor?

You should have the basics down now, so what are the best waterproof pens and inks for working with watercolor?

Signo Gelstick Pen from UniBall

Uni-Ball Signo pen is our first choice for a quality gel pen that is waterproof.  It works really well with watercolor and we have never had complaints.  It is also fade-proof which is a nice addition as well. It has straight and very thin lines that don’t create any blobs at the end of long lines.  This is our most affordable and best gel pen option for beginners to begin using with watercolor.

You can buy this pen at Amazon:

Best Pens for Watercolor – Line and Wash Made Easy

In this guide, we’re looking at the best pens for watercolor. This means waterproof ink pens that don’t get blurred or smudged when you start to paint.

If you have ever used a fineliner or other ink pen to outline a painting, only to have it ruined when you start adding paint, you’ll know how frustrating it is. Luckily, there are lots of pens out there that don’t smudge when you add a little water or paint.

Some people are looking for watercolor pens. Be warned that watercolor pens are something different. While we will cover these eventually on the Artypod blog, this post is about pens for outlining, rather than pens that create the look and feel of watercolor paints.

Read on to explore the best waterproof pens for watercolor techniques.

What Kind of Pen to Use for Watercolor?

You have a few options when outlining a watercolor painting. Many people opt for a waterproof fineliner such as the Faber-Castell FC167137 Wallet Pitt Pen Nibs. These give you 8 different nibs to choose between, allowing you to create many different line and wash styles of paintings.

Some traditional artists use ink for line and wash. Black Waterman ink is popular because it is very dense, and once it is dry it is waterproof. Blac India ink is popular as it has the same properties. The Ink can be used with a calligraphy pen or fountain pen to outline your painting. It is all about what you are most comfortable with.

Choosing a Pen For Watercolor – What Makes a Pen Suitable?

Let’s delve into some of the basics that make a pen suitable for using alongside your watercolor.

Waterproof, “Water Resistant”, or “Water Soluble”

Whether or not a pen is waterproof is the first thing you need to consider when you are looking to buy. Different pens react differently to water.

Waterproof fineliners are a great solution. They don’t smudge or bleed, even when you add your layers of watercolor. If you use a well-made pen or ink then it won’t transfer color either. It’s so frustrating if you finish a painting and notice a little bit of the outline has become smudged. There’s not much you can do about it, either.

Water-resistant pens are ok for some projects when you think you might get a little bit of moisture, but not much. That means they are not good enough for watercolor techniques like line and wash.

Water-soluble pens are the opposite. They react when water is applied. It can create some cool effects in certain scenarios, but it probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

Quick Dry

Some people recommend waiting about 12 hours after applying your ink, before you even think about adding watercolor. This is a long time to wait if inspiration has struck. Luckily, a lot of pens offer quick-dry ink. This means you don’t have to wait as long.

We’d definitely recommend giving your outline 30 minutes or more, even if the pens claim it will only take a few minutes. That’s still a lot better than waiting 12 hours.


Some pens that claim to be waterproof are not 100% waterproof. It’s a good sign if it has pigmented ink or says “made with pigments” on the packaging. Pigments are bigger particles and they are known to be resistant to water.

To put it simply, pigmented ink is usually waterproof, and therefore a great choice for use with watercolors.

Pens for Watercolor: Reviewed

Faber-Castell FC167137 Wallet Pitt Pen Nibs Art Set

Our number one recommended pen set for watercolors is made by Faber-Castell. This brand is hundreds of years old, and the FC167137 Wallet Pitt Pens are ideal for watercolor artists.

These pens contain pigmented India ink, which is pretty much perfect for the purpose. Once it dries, it will be very waterproof, perfect for your line and wash paintings or other waterproofs.

They’re archival, which means they will last for a long time. They’re also acid-free.

As well as being really well made and safe for use, there are a couple of things that set these pens apart. The eight different nibs mean you can create a load of different shading and outline effects. They also come in a cool little wallet, so you can put them in your portable setup.

rOtring Tikky Graphic Fineliner Pens – Best Tips

The rOtring brand has nearly 100 years of history. This simple pet of pens has brilliant, metal tips, and they’re built to last.

rOtring Tikky pens feel great, and the nibs glide along the paper. If you want precise drawings before you start adding your watercolors they can be a great option.

There is a 0.3mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm pen in the multipack. You can choose the line widths based on whether you want a bolder outline or a fine line. You can also create different shading and detailing effects with these nibs.

Free Ink technology means that the line quality is always consistent. It is also long-lasting and shouldn’t degrade over time. The ink is pigmented.

This pen is water-resistant and doesn’t promise to be waterproof in minutes. If you are doing your outlining first, it’s best to give it a couple of hours. You can always use a heat lamp or other ink drying methods if you are impatient.

Sakura 57454 Gelly Roll Classic Ass’t – Best White Pens for Watercolor

It can be hard to find white pens that are suitable for use with watercolors, but there are loads of reasons why they are useful.

Sakura is a fantastic Japanese pen brand, and the 57454 Gelly Roll Classic pens can add a new dimension to your painting.

If you are looking to draw white highlights or details on top of watercolor paintings, these pens are ideal. They also work for white outlines on darker paper.

The gelly roll pens come in many different packs with different point sizes. We’ve selected a pack of three, one with 0.5mm, one with 0.8mm, and one with a bold 1.0mm point size. This means that you will have an option for pretty much any purpose.

It’s amazing how useful white pens can be for watercolor paintings, and for a lot of other art and craft activities.

Noodler’s Black Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink – Best Ink for Line and Wash or Watercolors

A lot of people will still want to use ink, rather than a pen. That’s absolutely fine. A lot of ink is very similar.

However, if we were to recommend one, the Noodler’s black waterproof is ideal for this purpose. It dries pretty quickly and you can use it easily with a fountain pen.

It’s archival quality, and for some reason has a weird fish on the front of the bottle. What’s not to like!

PANDAFLY Precision Micro-Line Pens – Best Value

If you are looking for fineliners on a budget, these Micro-Line pens from PANDAFLY can give you a great option that doesn’t break the bank.

They come in a convenient pack of 10, and each pen is a different size, from 0.2mm to 1.0mm. There’s even a brush-style pen for thicker, bolder outlines.

According to the manufacturer, the pens are “archival quality, waterproof, and won’t smear, fade, bleed or skip”. We’d have to agree! These pens are a reliable way to outline before or after painting.

Types of Pens for Watercolor

There are different types of pens that you can opt for if you want to use them with watercolors. We’ve mentioned mainly fineliners, but some other options are just as suitable, and can give a different look to the end product.

What pens can you use with watercolor?

  • Fountain pens. They need a bit more maintenance, but fountain pens can last you many years. As long as you choose a waterproof cartridge of ink, you can use a fountain pen.
  • Fineliners. This is the main type of pen people opt for when they are using the line and wash technique.
  • Brush pens. A brush pen has a “brush-style” nib. That means thicker lines, which mimic the feel of going around the outlines with a brush, rather than a solid line.
  • Gel pens. Gel pens come in a variety of colors. They dry very quickly, and they are easy to combine with watercolors. Some will smudge, so be careful when you choose a gel pen for watercolor.

Should I Ink Before Or After Using Watercolor Paints?

This is entirely up to you. Some people use the ink first to create a solid outline. Some people even use pencil first, then go over it in ink, and then apply the watercolor. This can lead to far more detail. It gives you control over the painting.

Some people like to go to town with their watercolors before adding an outline with their pens. This is fine, too. You can also add shading and other details after the watercolors have dried.

You can do before, after, or a bit of both. It comes down to personal choice.

Can I Use a Sharpie With Watercolors?

A lot of people already have Sharpies. Can you use them alongside your watercolors? Usually, a Sharpie will be fine to watercolor over. Sharpie is solvent-based, and the water shouldn’t make them bleed. That said, Sharpies tend to be bolder pens, and they might not be the ideal choice for drawing your initial outline.

How to Test if Pens Are Waterproof

The video below shows some really cool tests on some of the top fineliners out there.

You should always test pens first to see how long they might need to dry. You should run tests after…

  • One minute. This is the time for a smudge test. Run your finger along it to see if has dried. If not, you can do the same after 4 or 5 minutes. This gives you an idea of how long it takes for the pen to dry initially. Some pens are far better than others.
  • 15 minutes. Test by painting a small patch of watercolor over some straight lines you have drawn. This will tell you if the pen has dried.
  • 30 minutes. Repeat the above test if it didn’t work at 15 minutes.

A lot of the best watercolor fineliners and gel pens will dry really quickly.


Have you got your own recommendations for pens for watercolor? The line and wash technique, and other pen and ink combinations with watercolors, can look amazing. Whether you opt for gel pens, brush pens, or fineliners, make sure you get something that is totally waterproof.


Best Watercolor Brush Pens for Painting Without the Mess –

Love the look of watercolor but not the mess? Achieve the same painterly effect without the hassle with watercolor brush pens. Versatile, portable, and beginner-friendly, watercolor brush pens are an easy alternative to a full watercolor set and are a beautiful medium in their own right. Watercolor brush pens allow a full range of styles. It’s up to you whether or not to dip the pen in water before use to achieve a watercolor-like wash, or leave the tip dry to simulate dry-brush technique. You can also change the line weight by adding or removing pressure when bearing down on the tip. Whether calligrapher, painter, illustrator, or doodler, the information below can help you choose the best brush pen set for your needs.

1. Arteza Brush Pens

This brush pen set offers 48 rich colors. The pens’ flexible nylon hairs achieve the painterly effect of a paintbrush but maintain the precision of a pen. Create spidery fine lines by using the tip’s tapered point, or bear down with more pressure for a weightier mark. The water-based ink is nontoxic and blendable. Dip the brush in water to simulate a watercolor effect or keep the nib dry to yield a more vibrant color wash.

Arteza Brush Pens


2. Benicci Watercolor Brush Pens

These watercolor brush pens come in 26 vibrant colors and have flexible nylon tips. These pens are more similar to markers than paintbrushes, but the refillable water brush included in each set allows you to blend colors to achieve a more painterly effect. If you’re looking for a comprehensive set, this is a good pick. Each set comes with a watercolor paper pad and a convenient carrying case, and comes in a paper gift box. The water-based ink is mess-free and nontoxic, and doesn’t stain clothes or skin.

Benicci Watercolor Brush Pens


3. Decospark Watercolor Brush Pens

Decospark’s brush pen set includes 20 vivid colors with flexible, durable real brush tips. The water-based, nontoxic ink is fast-drying and smooth-flowing. Though the ink doesn’t smudge or smear, blending is easy. In addition to 20 brush pens, each set comes with a plain water brush with refillable water storage barrel so you can achieve a watercolor effect with precision. An added bonus: These pens are leak-proof; the barrel is designed with extra sealant to ensure mess-free portability. Take care to recap after use, as these pens will dry out.

Decospark Watercolor Brush Pens


4. Ohuhu Watercolor Brush Pen Set

Ohuhu brush pens are the closest thing to watercolor paint brushes on this list. The set includes 36 very soft, flexible nylon brushes in an unbeatable range of color for the price. The brushes produce extremely satisfying results no matter the width of stroke or line. Packed with a 12-sheet watercolor sketchpad and a nylon-tipped water brush for creating even more effects, this is a good choice for those looking to get a watercolor effects without the mess. Educators, beginners, and professionals alike will be very happy with this set.

Ohuhu Watercolor Brush Pen Set


5. Crafty Croc Watercolor Paint Brush Pens

The best of the bunch? Look no further than Crafty Croc’s Watercolor Paint Brush Pens. The set includes 24 colors that span the spectrum. Achieve a sfumato effect by using either the small or the large refillable leak-proof water blending brush. The plastic traveling case makes toting these vibrant pens in backpack, briefcase, or portfolio a snap. The nylon brush tip mimics a real watercolor brush, and the water-based, nontoxic ink is easily washable from clothes and skin.

Crafty Croc Watercolor Paint Brush Pens


Quick Guide to Sketching with Pen, Ink and Watercolour

This is the companion blog post to the Youtube video that I’ve created on this topic.

This guide is written for beginners who want to start sketching with pen, ink and watercolour. It’s going to cover the tools you’ll need and a hands-on tutorial (for that you have to check out the Youtube video).

Sketching with pen, ink and watercolour is how I create most of my art. It’s fun hobby that can be therapeutic at times. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and you can get tremendous satisfaction when you look at what you’ve created.

I’ve been sketching regularly since joining the Urban Sketchers Singapore group since 2009. In this article, I’m going to share with you the basics to get you started.


Let’s start with pens.

There’s a huge variety of pens to choose from. For use with watercolour, you’ll need pens with waterproof inks.

Sometimes you can identify pens with waterproof inks just by reading the labels.

Sometimes, it’s not so clear, such as the example above. I associate water-based inks as water-soluble inks. However, when there’s mention of pigment or pigmented ink, then the ink is probably waterproof. Pigments are physical particles so they don’t dissolve in water.

You should assume that most pens use water-soluble inks unless they are clearly labeled otherwise. Sometimes, you just can’t tell by looking at the pen. You don’t want to have any surprises when applying water or paint over your lines. It can destroy your art.

Waterproof or water-soluble inks can be found in disposable pens, fountain pens, technical pens or whatever pens you can think of. If you don’t know whether or not a pen is waterproof, do some research online.

If you want a quick recommendation, I recommend the Uniball Signo series of pens. Most Uniball Signo pens feature waterproof ink. But just to be sure, always double check and research. Some of my favourite pens are the Uniball Signo Gelstick, Uniball Impact, Uniball Vision Needle, Uniball Eye, Uniball Air.

Using disposable pens can make you spend more money than expected because you always have to buy new ones to replaced used ones. The alternative is to get a fountain pens and load them with your own inks. Some of the more affordable fountain pens I recommend are the Pilot Metropolitan, Platinum Preppy or Lamy Safari (convertor not included). The waterproof fountain pen inks I recommend are Platinum Carbon Ink, Sailor KiwaGuro or the De Atramentis Archive Ink. Note that not all waterproof inks are safe for use in fountain pens. Waterproof inks are pigmented, so those tiny particles may clog fountain pens. If you don’t use fountain pens for long periods of time, clean them out.


Watercolour is available in tubes, pans and in sets. For beginners, I recommend getting sets because you don’t have to think too much about colour selection. Also, don’t get too many colours. A 12 half pan box set is more than sufficient for you to mix all the colours that you need. For a list of recommendation, you can check out my article “Best Watercolor Sets for Beginners”.

If you have limited budget, the choices you’ll have is probably to choose between a student grade set or a few tubes of artist grade paints. I would suggest getting artist grade quality even it means having less colours. It’s easier to work with artist quality paint. You just need a bit of artist grade paint to achieve intense vibrancy. For student grade paints, sometimes you have to use more to achieve the same level of vibrancy, and thereby you will use up the paint faster and have to spend money to buy more paint.

If you get individual tubes or pans (not worth the money), you would have to get watercolour palettes as well so that you can have a surface to mix paint on. If you get box sets, you can usually mix the paint using the palette box (mixing area is usually behind the lid).

The brand is not as important because well known paint manufacturers all produce student and artist grade paints.


Artists are living in a wonderful time now. There’s so many art supplies, and high quality ones at that, to choose from when you step into an art store.

Just like pens, and paints, there are many types of watercolour brushes.

A typical watercolour brush is one with a short wooden handle. There are collapsible pocket watercolour brushes as well. In terms of comfort, both are comfortable to use. The advantage of the wooden brush is there are more variety. With pocket brushes, they are round brushes, although Rosemary Brushes do have more variety of pocket brushes. I recommend using pocket brushes over wooden ones because they are more convenient should you want to use them outdoors. The ones I recommend, in order of my preference are Da Vinci Maestro, Rosemary Brushes and Escoda Brushes.

If you know you’re not going outdoors, check out the Silver Black Velvet watercolour brushes which are good value for money.

By the way, if you buy your brushes from Jackson’s Art (UK) and reach £20 in orders, you can get free global shipping.

For more brush recommendations, read my “Best Watercolour Brushes for Beginners” article.


Unless pens, ink, watercolour paint and brushes, paper is something that can get used up quite fast. And good watercolour paper do cost a bit so cost can add up really quickly.

Just like paint, there are the student grade watercolour paper as well as artist grade paper (usually 100% cotton). The main difference between this two quality grade is how easy it is to achieve certain watercolour techniques.

With non-cotton paper, it’s usually a bit difficult to achieve nice wet on wet techniques to produce soft colour blends. Paint does not diffuse or move as much.

For sketching with pen, ink and watercolour, you don’t really need 100% cotton paper if you’re looking for quick sketching and watercolour application. 100% cotton paper is good for those who want to achieve smooth colour blends or to apply multiple layers without the paper fiber coming off.

Paper can be sold in pads or in sketchbooks. Choose the one you like.

For pads, I recommend either Daler Rowney Aquafine or Fabriano Studio paper. You can get them in jumbo 50-sheet pads which is quite economical. If you’re into sketchbooks, maybe check out the Global Art Materials Watercolor Journal, Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book, Pentalic or even the Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook. Paper is a very personal choice so try many and find out the one you like.

Start sketching and painting

After you have all the tools and materials, it’s time to start sketching!

Start by drawing something simple, for example, the art supplies that you have. Don’t worry about your art not looking nice or making mistakes. Just enjoy the process of making art. I’m going to use basketball as an analogy. Basketball players don’t feel dejected when the ball doesn’t go into the hoop, they keep throwing and practicing. Same as musicians and basically any sort of activity that requires skill and technique. You practice, learn and improve. No one is going to be perfect on the first day. And don’t go comparing with other artists because you don’t know how much time and effort they have spent perfecting their craft.

The goal is to be familiar with your tools and the techniques. The more you draw, the better you will get. And also learn from other artists.

Happy sketching.

90,000 pen, marker, liner + watercolor effects

Pens, markers and liners are divided into wash-resistant and non-resistant.

Both are good, only for different purposes.

Remember a wise thought: there are no bad materials for drawing, there is little imagination how to use them 🙂

Therefore, if you bought some kind of pencil or brush, and they turned out not to be what you expected, then ask yourself a question, but this is not where I can use it? What visual effects can I create with this material or tool?


This is what I did with brush markers.

I wrote them out via the Internet, and already dreamed that I would draw with them beautiful living lines under watercolors for drawings in the style of watercolor graphics, but they “such infections” were not suitable for this business. The beautiful lines from the watercolors applied over them immediately spread in dark spots.

The same drawing, horror covered the seashells.


First, there was a bitter note of disappointment, and then I saw what opportunities are hidden in such markers.And I began to test all of my pens, markers, liners and paintbrushes for the ability to blur.

The most surprising thing is that non-persistent markers were blurred in completely different ways, in different shades of black and gray, and some spread into multi-colored spots with iridescent transitions.

If you have black and colored pens, markers, liners (fine markers), brushpins (brush markers) – try to blur their lines on test paper.



On watercolor paper, unstable markers spread more picturesquely and brighter, so it is better to test on different pieces of paper.

Sort into different groups of washable and persistent. You can mark them with colored tape.

Stages of work
in the technique of flowing graphics with a watercolor effect

Materials: we need one erasable marker or pen (gel or nib filled with ink), and one durable marker or pen, and of course thick paper, best of all watercolor paper 300g / m2.

However, if this is your first test drawing, then you can try it on cheaper paper, the main thing is that it is not thin, otherwise wetting with water may result in a hole.

1. First, draw the outline drawing of your future subject with a non-permanent erosion marker.

If you do not know how to draw with a freehand pen, then you can outline the contours with a pencil, and then circle with a marker.

By the way, if you do not know how to draw contour drawings by hand, then be sure to take our school’s training course from Svetlana Buzanova “Sketches.Hand positioning. Development of the eye “- there quickly and easily trains the skill to draw by hand without a pencil and eraser.



2. Draw with a persistent thin marker, liner or pen those lines that should not be washed out by water, which should remain clear when blurred.

The stems in the bottles are painted with a water-resistant liner, everything else is washed out.

3.After the marker is dry, remove the pencil drawing with a soft eraser or nag.

If the pencil remains, the drawing will be unkempt and, once washed out with water, many of the pencil lines may become fixed and difficult to remove once dry.


4. Take a brush with elastic bristles – synthetics or columns and blur lines from the side with which there is a shadow or dark tone on the subject.

I draw a brush next to the line so that it spreads in one direction I need.And the line remains and the tone in the form of a spot appears.

If the tone is not dark enough, and you want it darker, then after drying this line can be drawn again and blurred again – the tone of the blurred speck will become darker.



5. We go around (do not wet) when blurring the glare and other places that you want to leave white.



The flowers are also painted with a blurred liner, so I blur their lines towards the background so that they remain white, and the background around them is darker and emphasizes their whiteness.
Don’t forget to add drop shadows.



6. Drying the drawing



7. Draw little things , which should be very dark or black.



And the drawing is ready. Some elements can be colored.

In this way, you can make quick sketches, sketches, and large detailed paintings, and even pictures in the style of photorealism.

The subject can also be any, it can be still lifes, and sketches of people, and landscapes and portraits.

This geranium is drawn in the same way with a brush marker:

And if you want to draw your own pictures, and not copy someone else’s in master classes, then in our online school for adults “EVERYONE can draw!” there are courses for beginners with a system-step-by-step training in drawing their own pictures:

1. Basic course in pencil.Learning to see and draw like an artist

If you want to get a quick grasp of the basics. And master the pencil. After the course, you will be able to draw whatever you want from a photo and from life.

2. Sketches. Hand positioning. Development of the eye. Sketchbook.

Exercises can be done anywhere. You will learn to draw directly by hand with a pen or marker without pencil and eraser.

3. Ink and Ink

An excellent course for those who love stylish black and white drawings.

And also this course helps to start painting with liquid paints, removes the fear of brushes and watercolors.

4. Watercolor for beginners

A course for those who can draw with a pencil, and who dream of learning to write with watercolors. Plunge into the magic of color 🙂

5. Oil Painting for Beginners: Old Master Techniques

We study the techniques of the ancient masters: Flemish layering, Italian, as well as ala-prima and pointillism.Suitable for those who do not know how to paint with oil, as they say from scratch. All friends and acquaintances will admire your pictures.

See you at our courses 🙂

Mila Naumova


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how to draw with lines and strokes

In this lesson we will learn how to combine drawing with an ink pen and watercolors. To create the most harmonious drawing, it is necessary to correctly combine both drawing tools, using their best properties.With the help of an ink hand, we will draw the basis of the drawing, its plot, define the boundaries, contours and edges, add volume to the details, then add colors and brightness with the help of watercolor.

Required materials:

Both ink pens and watercolor are very easy to carry, you can take them anywhere, they are easy to pack and clean. Plus, they’re inexpensive, and you can get a good quality set of pens and watercolors at a reasonable price.

So, we need:

  • hot-pressed watercolor paper;
  • plain pencil;
  • Micron Technical Drawing Pen Set;
  • Cotman watercolors;
  • Grumbacher Goldenedge nylon brush set.

Let’s start drawing with a pencil sketch

Create a basic outline of the drawing using a simple pencil marking “H”. No shading or adding volume to the drawing, as the watercolor will wash away or paint over everything. All this will be done further with the help of ink and paints. Since the horizon line should be perfectly straight, we will use a ruler. We finish the sketch with a pencil, drawing in the main elements. It does not take much time.

Create with ink

Next, draw over the pencil lines with an ink pen.Let’s assume that the light source in our drawing is in the upper right corner. Draw the lines on the opposite side of the light source a little thicker, and make the lines that are closer to the source slightly discontinuous. This will create the illusion of light using only lines.

Also, with the help of lines, we can add volume to the elements of the picture, make it more textured. Let’s use hatching for volume and shading. Using vertical and horizontal lines when drawing the cliffs will also make the drawing look more textured and lively.Draw the bushes on the cliff with free, random strokes. This will make the work look more interesting.

Add watercolor

Preparing the drawing for working with watercolors – remove the rest of the pencil.

We will start drawing with watercolors from the sky and water. Add some water to the surface, and while it remains wet, apply a translucent mixture of Ultramarine and Prussian Blue. The paint will spread over the wetted areas.

Add a light layer of Burnt Sienna to the rocks. Continue with a darker blend of Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and a light shade of Prussian Blue.

Next we will gradually increase the intensity of the color. We mix Burnt Sienna with a little Cadmium Red and paint the roofs of the houses and the lonely building. Add volume to the details with a layer of Burnt Umber.We don’t leave the buildings just white, paint them lightly with a mixture of Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue.

We paint the bushes on the rocks with a combination of Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine. Then add Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue to the resulting green mixture and paint shadows on the bushes.

A shade on the rocks will be created by gradually adding a darker gray, obtained by mixing Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue.Add this gray to the darker areas of the lighthouse as well.

Gradually make the shadows even darker, thereby increasing the contrast of colors in the picture. We paint the darkest areas on the rocks and on the lighthouse with a thicker gray tint, and add a generous portion of Burnt Sienna to the rocks.

Now we need to draw the light in the lighthouse. We need Cadmium Yellow. With a thick brush, apply it to the place where the light is coming from, add a little water, and thereby create the illusion of a weakly burning light.

Draw the ripples on the water using a combination of Ultramarine and Prussian Blue. The ripple lines become smaller and gradually disappear as they approach the horizon line. To soften the contrast on the water, after the ripple lines have dried, wash the sea area a little with water.

And now our drawing is ready! Ink works well with watercolors for a sharper, more vibrant and textured drawing.

By Matt Fussel

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About sketching – reviews, articles, testimonials, tips »Drawing pens: which ones to choose for sketches with alcohol markers?

Capillary, gel, pigment and waterproof – the range of pens is quite large in stores and it is not always possible to choose the perfect tool the first time that will best combine with alcohol markers for sketching.At first glance, it may seem that any pen from an ordinary office supply store is suitable for sketching and line art, but in reality, not everyone will be able to satisfy the artist and not ruin the work.

Which pens to use with alcohol markers?

Today you can buy drawing pens with completely different ink compositions and pen thicknesses, but to work with alcohol art markers you will have to be a little more legible about the choice. Since alcohol markers for drawing have alcohol in their ink, ordinary inexpensive pens can create “dirt” at work or even ruin the drawing.Therefore, first of all, we recommend choosing waterproof capillary pens and sketch liners with markers. This way your work is least susceptible to unplanned ink stains and smudges.

The main problems when drawing with a pen and markers

1. Loss of line definition

Some illustrators and sketchers prefer to first create an outline with a liner and then start filling the paper with a colored marker for drawing. In this case, the ink of the pen dries on the paper and then is moistened again with alcohol marker ink.Loss of definition of the contour line can become a rather significant nuisance. After a short period of time after filling the work with color, the outline begins to blur in both directions, which makes the sketch less clear and accurate. And in the case of small details of the drawing, complete confusion in the contours may occur.

2. Changing the shade of the marker during operation

Inadequate quality pens and liners can even create real “dirt” on paper, which, by the way, is quite difficult to get rid of.This situation threatens to lose brightness to all work with markers. And it turns out this way: in the process of filling the finished contour with markers, the ink of the pens loses its stability and is transferred to the marker pen, thereby distorting the color.

3. Loss of ink color saturation

Another nuisance when working with improperly selected drawing pens in conjunction with alcohol markers can be a banal loss of saturation of the color of the pen on paper. The unstable pigment is “washed away” when it comes into contact with the marker ink.As a result, instead of a black outline, only a dirty gray remains at work.

4. Non-drying ink

This problem is perhaps one of the most painful for sketchers. One of the indicators that your pen is not suitable for sketching is the constant smudging of ink from the finished outline on the paper. Ink can stain the back of your hand when it touches the paper, and it can crawl all over your job, leaving smudges and streaks. In this case, it can be judged that the ink of the pen is too pigmented and oily consistency.And yes, such a pen will print everywhere 🙁

How to choose the right sketch pen?

In order to avoid all of the above troubles when sketching, there are several factors to consider when purchasing pens and liners. Firstly, we always recommend choosing only waterproof pens and pens from a well-known brand that also produces its own model of alcohol markers. Don’t expect Chinese liners of an unknown brand to become your constant sketching companion if you plan to combine line art with alcohol markers.

Branded pens and liners always have a higher price, but the advantages of such a material for drawing are much greater than those of more budgetary counterparts. As one of the tools for buying a branded drawing pens, you can take into account that well-known brands are testing their pens together with their markers. This means that, at least with markers of a similar brand, the pen will not leak, leave stains at work and get your hands dirty 🙂

Testing of different brands of pens:

Copic alcohol marker in shade Y08 was selected for the pen test.In the image on the left, a pen is applied over a completely dry marker color. On the right image – first a pen, and then a color marker.

Copic Multiliner SP (0.2 mm)

This Multiliner is specially designed to work with Copic Classic, Copic Sketch, Copic Wide and Copic Chao alcohol markers. It is waterproof and performs well in work. The time it takes for the ink to dry completely depends on the density and texture of your paper.The Copic Multiliner SP sketching liner can be refilled with a special cartridge. The liner can also be used with other brand alcohol markers.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen (XS)

The liner is excellent when applied over the marker color, but produces significant blur on contact with the marker ink. There is also some distortion in the bright yellow of the marker ink.

Marvy Le Pen

Marvy has performed well in both application methods.It’s also worth noting that the liner black ink remained very saturated anyway.

Marvy Le Pen Permanent

The Le Pen Permanent is a drawing pen with alcohol ink. Unfortunately, the ink of this liner is not very resistant to alcohol markers. The lines gradually lost their clarity, and the color – saturation.

Prismacolor Premier (0.1 mm)

Prismacolor Premier Sketch Liner 0.1 works well with a thin outline, but with a higher intensity of application, the ink begins to “smear” around the paper.

Pentel Artist Stylo

Pentel Artist Stylo exceeded all our expectations and proved to be excellent in the work with alcohol markers. No ink leaks in both test cases.

Sacura Pigma Micron (0.1 mm)

Not a bad result, but with more intensive application, the liner ink still gives off some of the pigment and stains the paper a little.

That is, there are a huge number of different pens and liners for drawing and they all “behave” differently with alcohol markers. Some of them work well with marker sketching, while others are more suitable for dry graphic work.

Sakura Gelly Roll – “Sakura white gel pens in watercolors and more, examples of works”


I paint unprofessionally, very rarely and not as well as I would like.Although I love this business, after the main work there is catastrophically little time and inspiration ( or this is a veiled manifestation of ordinary laziness ).

I decided to get white gel pens because I really liked them in the watercolors of other artists – in particular in botanical illustrations. White strokes add a special delicacy to the flowers. And a similar effect is unrealistic to achieve by other means. I have not mastered this technique very well yet, but I have prepared one example (will be further).

🎨 Where to buy

There are not so many manufacturers of white gel pens, but Sakura seemed to me the most affordable, because sold at Wildberries and Leonardo .

But in WB they were sold in sets of 3, and all 3 pens had the same stroke thickness, which is not very convenient for me. For example, 3 Sakura Gelly Roll 08 (WB) pens for 541 rubles.

But now a set of pens of different thicknesses has appeared on sale, also for 541 rubles:

Sakura Gelly Roll 05, 08, 10 (WB)

The offer is convenient, but buying pens by the piece in Leonardo will cost a little cheaper.

And by the way, an error crept into the description of the set on the WB website:

The set contains 3 white Sakura gel pens: Gelly Roll 05 (nib 0.3mm), Gelly Roll 08 (nib 0.4mm), Gelly Roll 10 (nib 0.5mm)

In fact, the thickness of the nib is the number in the name, i.e. the Gelly Roll 05 handle has a 0.5 mm nib. And 0.3 mm (in brackets) is the stroke thickness.

And the same pens are on Ali, but not much cheaper:

Sakura Gelly Ink Pen Set (Aliexpress) – 248.70 rubles + 111.99 rubles shipping.

In Leonardo, one pen costs 174 rubles: Sakura Gelly Roll 08 (Leonardo)

I took two: 05 and 10.

🎨 Properties

Number 10 is the thickest size that I have seen in sale. Gives a bold line of dense color.

Number 05 – not the thinnest (the thinnest, it seems, 03), but already almost translucent line. What is especially noticeable over the watercolor, then the bottom layer of color literally shines through.

I feel a lack of an intermediate size, for example, 08. Therefore, the set 05-08-10 from the link above, in my opinion, is straightforward.

The ink level is clearly visible. I do not draw often, so my consumption for more than a year was less than half of the rod.

The stroke is soft, does not scratch the paper.

Despite occasional use, my pens did not try to dry out.

Immediately after purchasing these pens, I ordered notebooks with black pages on Aliexpress.Which seem to be made for drawing with such pens. But alas, the package was lost.

As a result, I paint with them only on craft paper and over watercolors.

🎨 Summary

In my opinion, the pens are excellent, I don’t even want to look for an alternative to them.

I have nothing to complain about.

Suitable for various jobs: complementing watercolors, painting on tinted paper, postcards, text highlighting.

The ink dries in a few seconds after application, so it is difficult to accidentally smear it.

They cost, of course, not as budget as usual gel pens, but I think that for high-quality materials for creativity this is not critical.

Thank you for stopping by


6 pieces watercolor brush pens watercolor pen pointed nib and flat tip with barrel for storing ink ink painting brushes art supplies inexpensive ~ New \

6 Pcs Watercolor Brush Pens Watercolor Pen Pointed Tip & Flat Tip With Keg Ink Storage Ink Painting Brushes Art Supplies


These colored pen brushes can be mixed with water or watercolors inks to serve as a specialized brush for watercolor painting

You can also simply unscrew the barrel of the watercolor pens to add water or ink, easily control the flow of ink or water by simply squeezing the barrel of the

3-point brush tip set and 3-point flat brush tip set (small, medium, large) suitable for art students, hobbyists and professional artists

Smooth effect, makes it very easy to color and draw manga comic calligraphy, etc.d.

Ideal for classroom, home or professional art studio, and also suitable for coloring, sketching, painting and shading


Material: plastic shell


6 x watercolor brush pen

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