Rotring Rapidograph .10mm Technical Pen
Rapidographs are precision technical pens, normally used for drafting; I've co-opted them for my detailed drawing.
I use this pen size for drawing outlines and filling spaces.
I prefer Rotring's Rapidograph pens over Rotring's Isograph pens or Koh-i-Noor's Rapidograph pens. Rotring's Rapidograph pens utilize an ink cartridge instead of a refillable well. In my experience, the cartridge construction requires less maintenance than the other available versions of this pen.
Interestingly, while the .10mm tip of this pen is technically smaller than the .13mm version (below), the line it produces is thicker than the .13mm version.
Note: I have recently begun using Rotring's Isograph pens again and so far, so good; I've included both links:
Rotring Rapidograph .13mm Technical Pen
I use this pen size for drawing in detail(s). If you've asked me "WHAT PEN IS THAT?!"… this is probably the one you were asking about. :-)
This is the same pen as above, just in a .13mm size. Note that despite a size indication of .03mm larger than the .10mm pen, it produces a line that's thinner. If you've found a pen that consitently, repeatedly, and reliably draws a line thinner than this one, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ABOUT IT!
Rapiographs are unlike the roller/gel/marker pens you're used to using. They use a very fine chrome-plated needle housed in a cylinder. This means they are "scratchy" to use, and the ink doesn't flow anything at all like disposable pens. But because they have a steel tip they produce a much thinner line than roller pens, and don't wear down over time like markers.
Rapidograph pens need you to build a relationship with them. They require an investment in money and in time; in learning how to use them, how to care for them, and how to maintain them, including while you're drawing. You have to use quality drawing paper meant for inking and drawing. If you prefer maintenance-free disposable pens, this pen might not be right for you.
With that said, I haven't found anything else that draws a line as thin and as consistently as this pen; for me, the investment pays dividends every single time I use it.
Note: I have recently begun using Rotring's Isograph pens again and so far, so good. The difference is that Rapidographs use ink cartridges and Isographs use an ink well. I've included both links.
Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Technical Pen
I've tried the Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Technical Pen in place of my go-to Rotring. While I do like the arguably and possibly completely-in-my-mind smoother writing and ever-so-slightly thinner line than the Rotring, the nibs on these pens seem to be way more fragile than my Rotrings. I've broken three nibs in three weeks; I might've broken one in a year with my Rotrings. I'm not sure if it's me, my drawing style, a bad production run, or what… but rapidograph nibs are too expensive to keep replacing, and my attempts to get a response from Staedtler have been unsucessful.
You might have a different experience. Good luck.
Rotring Black Drawing Ink
It might not surpise you to find that I use Rotring's black 'drawing ink' in my Rotring pens. It's dark, dries quickly, and works in my pens, so I'm happy.
I use the 'rapidograph ink' cartridges in my rapidographs, and the 'drawing ink' in my isographs and other pens.
Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen - 0.38 mm - Black
This is, by far, my every day go-to pen. I use it for everything: doodling, final art, sketching… whatever. It's an all-around solid performer. I'm constantly trying new pens, and I continually come back to this one.
I love the shape, the grip, the feel, and the weight; the entire package just works perfectly for me.
I've been using the new "needle" version of this pen with the new super-slim profile tip. Uniball claims that other than the shape of the tip the two models exactly the same pen, but I don't know… the needle version just seems smoother to me; It's the only version I buy now.
TWSBI Diamond 580AL Silver Fountain Pen - Medium Nib
I used to have a love/hate relationship with fountain pens, but THIS PEN changed everything for me.
When I hand-write letters, "Thank you" cards for my original art, or anything that I want to bring a part of me to, I use this exact pen, currently with the medium tip.
It writes beautifully and with expressions. It works the first time and every time I uncap it, setting it apart from almost all other fountain pens I've used. I'm not a fountain pen connoisseur and I don't have wide-ranging experience, but I'm so happy with this pen, I don't have a need to look for anything else.
Note: Make sure to select your preferred nib size! I currently use medium. And you need to buy ink; I use TWSBI Sapphire Blue and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki.
Pentel P203 0.3mm Pencil
I have been using this model (in various sizes) of Pentel pencil since forever. Why? I love its super-light weight, yet sturdy feel. I dig its machine-like reliability. It's serviceable, and – with the exception of the .3mm pencil – it's ubiquitous; you can find it in almost any store that carries pencils.
Lastly, they're not too expensive for a great mechanical pencil. I'd actually pay a decent amount for a better pencil… but I haven't found one.
Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers
I use a lot of different marker brands and types. Along with my Copics, I keep coming back to Tombow Dual Brush markers. One of my favorite features is the "brush" tip which can be used for very precise work or for covering large areas quickly.
Tombow markers are watercolor (not alcohol like Copics); they're bright, bold, varied, and the colors look great on many different kinds of paper.
Sakura Foam Eraser
I make A LOT of pencil lines. And this is the eraser I've found works best for me. The Sakura Foam Eraser gets more lines up, with less hassle, and with less damage to the paper than others I've tried.
If you find an eraser that works better for you, please let me know!
Strathmore Bristol Paper
This is my current fave pad for my finished pieces. It's 100lb, bright white paper; it has a very smooth surface and enables a high degree of fidelity which I require for my pen work. I haven't really used it with markers yet, but I will, soon.
Koh-I-Noor Pen Paper Pad
This is my current fave doodling pad. It's 80lb, bright white paper; not too thick and not too thin, and it lays flat, which is super-important to me.
The paper works well with my Uniball Signo, it works with my Copic markers, and it comes with a protective ink block panel that prevents bleed-through.
It's available in four different sizes so you can find the one that works best for your drawing style.
Alvin "Senior Circles No. TD435" Template
I usually draw my circles freehand, but when I need to draw a perfect circle, I reach for my Alvin circle templates. I have a bunch of them, but this is the one I use most often.
The little dots you see on mine is hole-punched removable tape stuck to the underside of the template, raising it off of the paper. Without it, the tip of the rapidograph pen can make contact with the edge of the circle guide. When that happens, capillary action draws the ink out of the pen making a mess of the circle and artwork. By raising the template off of the paper, I avoid this issue.
Incra Centering Ruler
I love this tool and I'm a big fan of this company's products. I use Incra rulers for drawing, but also extensively in my woodworking shop. They're simple, well designed, and well built.
This ruler gives you the superpower of finding the center of things; I use it to find the center of my paper, so I know where to position my art.
It includes small marking holes every 1/32" that fit my P203 pencil (above) perfectly, and includes a built-in protractor.
INCRA Precision X-Y Ruler
When I need a dot grid to help guide a drawing, this is now the tool I reach for.
In combination with the Incra Centering Ruler, I use this to "quickly" (it's quicker than other methods, but still takes time) create an accurate dot grid.
FrogTape Delicate Surface
This is the yellow tape you see on my art while I'm working on it. It protects the non-drawing areas of the art from dirt, stray marks, and other accidents.
So far, as long as I go slowly, go carefully, and take my time, it's come off of the paper without causing any damage.
That said, as I venture into using watercolors, I'm noticing some bleed through, so I'm on the lookout for a replacement. Any and all suggestions are welcomed!
Beacon 3-in-1 Craft Glue
This is the glue I use to assemble my custom art boxes. I've tried a bunch of other glues, glue dots, and CAs, and (so far) I always come back to this glue. It dries quickly, strongly, and does not swell the paper. It does have a tendency to "string" a bit, but supposedly a bit of petrolium jelly on the applicator helps to control it.
If you're interested in more items I recommend, please visit my Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/matthewjschultz
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JetPens and TWSBI links are not affliate links.