MJS.ART

My Tools

The tools I use to create my art

I'm often asked which pens, pencils, rulers, etc. I use to create my art, especially when someone sees something on one of my Instagram posts.

So, here are my main go-to tools.

You can click on the links to buy these tools, or visit my art supplies store on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shop/matthewjschultz
NOTE: I make a small amount of money when you click on an Amazon link and buy the product.


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.

→ Buy a Rotring .10mm Rapidograph Pen on Amazon



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.

→ Buy a Rotring .13mm Rapidograph Pen on Amazon



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.

→ Buy a Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Pen on Amazon



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.

→ Buy Rotring Black Rapiodgraph ink on Amazon
→ Buy Rotring 23ml Black Drawing ink on Amazon
→ Buy Rotring 250ml Black Drawing ink on Amazon



Copic N1/N3/N5 Markers

The second most frequent question I get is: "How do you make those shadows?!"

Judiciously placed lines with a Copic N1, N3, or N5 marker; that's it.

→ Buy the Copic N1 marker on Amazon
→ Buy the Copic N3 marker on Amazon
→ Buy the Copic N5 marker on Amazon



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.

→ Buy one Uni-ball UM-151 on Jet Pens
→ Buy a Uni-ball UM-151 10-pack on Amazon
→ Buy a Uni-ball UM-151 Needle Point on Jet Pens



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.

→ Buy one Pentel P203 on Jet Pens
→ Buy a Pentel P203 3-pack on Amazon
→ Buy a Pental multi-size set on Amazon



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!

→ Buy a Sakura Foam Eraser Five-Pack on Amazon



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.

→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 9x12" pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 11x14" pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 14x17" pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 19x24" pad on Amazon



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 well 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.

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 5.5 x 8.5" pen paper pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 7 x 10" 'pen paper pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 9 x 12" 'pen paper pad on Amazon
→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 11 x 14" pen paper pad on Amazon



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.

→ Buy the Alvin Circle Template on Amazon



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.

→ Buy the Incra Centering Ruler on Amazon



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.

→ Buy the INCRA Precision X-Y Ruler on Amazon



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!

→ Buy FrogTape Delicate Surface on Amazon



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.

→ Buy Beacon 3-in-1 Glue on Amazon



Wheat Penny

Sometimes there's a wheat penny in my photos; it's to show the scale of my artwork relative to the penny.

This penny isn't available; you'll have to find your own penny. :-)

E. Pluribus Unum!




If you're interested in more items I recommend, please visit my Amazon Store: https://www.amazon.com/shop/matthewjschultz

NOTE: I make a small amount of money when you click on an Amazon link and buy the product.

JetPens links are not affliate links.