I use a variety of pens for a variety of purposes, but I'm always looking for new ideas and techniques. Here's a quick summary of my favorites; what do you guys use?
Moving from left to right:
Ballpoint: ubiquitous, cheap, and pretty darn versatile. I LOVE sketching with a ballpoint. If I’m sketching with a pencil, I always think I should be erasing, or my marks are smudging, or I need to sharpen the damn thing… With a ballpoint, I just roll full speed ahead; it’s very liberating. But you can also sketch very light lines with it, and gradually darken them, so you can make slight corrections as you go along. With the typical cheap ballpoint, you can actually render a pretty broad scale of value differences, just by applying pressure and overlaying lines. A great tool.
Fine markers, technical pens: Micron, Copic, Prismacolor, and more. The come in a variety of sizes, and the good ones lay down a nice solid black line with little bleeding (depending on the paper of course). You can do great things with these, and they are definitely easier (and more portable) than traditional dip pens. I find that the lines are never quite as black as you can get with a dip pen and india ink. Also, the lines you get are of a more uniform thickness, which sometimes makes the pictures drawn with them look a little stiff and lifeless, although good artists can compensate for this. I generally use them to touch up my dip pen work or when I need a very precise fine line.
Dip pens: these come in a wide variety, distinguished mainly by the flexibility of the nib. A more flexible nib will give you a wider range of line thicknesses, but is harder to control, especially if you’re going for fine, uniform lines. Of course you have to dip them in ink, and clean them afterwards, and probably have a dish/cup of water handy while you’re drawing, and some scrap paper to wipe them on…so it’s more of a commitment than technical pens. The lines you end up with are more substantial; you can actually run your fingers across the paper and feel them.
- Hunt 101 Imperial: my current nib of choice, as it’s more flexible than the crow quill, but I’ve still been able to get nice fine lines when I need to. I love hatching with this, because the lines almost seem brush-like. But I am a little sloppy still, and usually need to do some touch-up with technical pens.
- Crow quill: Probably the easiest nib to use, as it is fairly stiff and gives you a lot of control, but you can choose to vary the thickness of your lines a bit.
- Some fancy Japanese thing (labeled asT-44): This was more expensive, and I like the look of it, but the ink didn’t seem to flow as evenly as with the Hunt 101. I think I need to work with it more, or try some different inks. It cost more, so it should be better, right?