How to Draw With a Fountain Pen — Why and Which Pens
how to draw with a fountain pen

Just about any type of stationery, and even some non-stationery products, can be used to create beautiful sketches. It’s a lot of fun to explore various art mediums and perfect using different tools. 

Fountain pens are some of the most unconventional stationery items to use for sketching simply because these pens are designed explicitly for decorative writing. However, many people enjoy sketching with a fountain pen and also manage to create wonderful-looking works of art. 

In this guide, we will learn how to draw with a fountain pen and why so many enjoy this type of tool for drawing. 

Why Draw With a Fountain Pen?

There are quite a few reasons artists enjoy drawing with a fountain pen. Here is a quick look at some of the most common reasons some artists prefer a fountain pen above other drawing mediums.

  • The ink flows smoothly from the pen, which offers a comfortable drawing experience.
  • It’s easy to create expressive lines by adjusting the pressure on the nib so you can create thicker and thinner lines without switching between pens.
  • Fountain pens are refillable, which makes them more eco-friendly. 
  • Unlike many other pens, fountain pens can be held at a 45-degree angle, which is a very comfortable drawing angle.
  • There is a wide selection of ink colors to choose from.
  • Various ink types can help you create a wider range of artistic effects.
  • The artworks created by fountain pens are beautiful.
  • It’s an ideal medium for journaling since you can easily combine writing, taking notes, and sketching and maintain the same style.

It can be a lot of fun to draw using fountain pens, but even these pens offer a few drawbacks when sketching. Here are a couple of reasons some people dislike drawing with a fountain pen.

  • The pens need to be cleaned and maintained to keep them in good condition.
  • There will likely always be some ink on your hands after sketching.
  • It can be challenging to develop your skills and find the right equipment to work with.

Which Fountain Pen Types Are Ideal for Sketching?

Sketching  fountain pen

Before you can start sketching, you will first need a good pen. Your favorite writing pen won’t necessarily be a great sketching pen. When you write, your hand creates rhythmical up and down movements with occasional loops. But when you draw, your hand is constantly changing grip, and your movements vary as you fill in different parts of the sketch.

If you want a good pen for sketching, then you should keep the following characteristics in mind.

Nib Size 

One of the best things about fountain pens is that you can use the same pen with different nib sizes. It’s very easy to change between nibs when you want to transition from writing to sketching or want to create different types of linework in your sketches. 

It can be beneficial to try out different nib sizes while you learn to sketch using a fountain pen. Wider nib sizes can be great for filling in color or shading, while thinner nib sizes might be more suitable for line work.

Nib Flex

Nibs with a lot of flexibility are usually preferable for sketching because you can create wider or thinner lines by simply altering the pressure applied to the pen. Flex nib pens are versatile, so you can create a wider range of linework using the same pen, but these pens can take a while to master since you need precise control over the pressure you apply to the pen. 

Comfortable Grip

Pens with a long, narrow body are usually preferable for sketching because these types of fountain pens offer a more balanced feel. Many sketch artists also prefer a triangular pen shape since a round pen can be more difficult to grip. If you have large hands, you might also like a pen with a thicker barrel, while those with small hands might prefer something light and elegant. 

How to Draw With a Fountain Pen

Once you have a fountain pen that offers a comfortable grip and a nice flex nib, you can start sketching. It will take some time to get used to your pen, figure out what angle to hold it at, and how to manipulate the pressure you apply to it so you can create lines with a specific weight. 

No one can tell you exactly how to draw with any type of writing instrument because creating art is all about practice, trial, and error until you perfect your skills and find out what styles you enjoy. 

However, there are a couple of tips that can make it a little bit easier and quicker to become a good fountain pen sketch artist. Here is a quick look at some of the best tips to keep in mind when using a fountain pen for drawing.

Paper Is Important

The type of paper you use will impact your pen’s ability to smoothly glide over the paper and create precise lines. When you use a fountain pen on cheap paper, the ink will likely bleed right through the paper, and the lines will look feathered instead of straight. 

For better results, you should invest in quality sketch paper designed for fountain pen use. A thicker paper of about 125 grams with a slight texture to the surface is preferable to keep the ink from bleeding. Of course, there are many different paper types that you can use for sketching.

Rotate the Pen

By rotating your pen, you can create all sorts of different lines. Some artists even prefer to rotate the pen so the nib faces in the opposite direction. This helps them produce a finer line when adding detail to sketches.

Hold the Pen Right

parson holding a pen

Most people prefer to hold their pens close to the nib to get more control over the pen and create a looser sketching style when creating art.

Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure

Your pen should glide smoothly over the paper when writing or drawing. If you apply too much pressure, there is a chance of slipping, adding too much ink, which can cause bleeding, or ruining your paper. 

Regular Pen Cleaning Might Be Needed

Clean pens write a lot better. If your pen starts feeling scratchy or the ink isn’t flowing smoothly, then it might be time to clean the pen. 

The nib can also start to clog with paper fibers, making your linework look untidy. After drawing, your pen should be stored in an upright position. If you leave it lying on the desk, the ink will dry in the nib and can create a clog.

A Converter Can Be Helpful

A converter is a device that fits inside the fountain pen and acts as an ink cartridge. This converter will allow you to fill the pen from an ink bottle. Not all fountain pens are converter compatible, and not all converters will fit in all fountain pens, so be careful when shopping for this drawing accessory. 

Learn About Hatching and Cross-Hatching Techniques

Hatching and cross-hatching are techniques often used to create shadows in pen drawings. These lines are positioned closely together to create an illusion of a shadow but are not too tight to completely blackout a space.

Hatching lines are drawn in one direction, while cross-hatching lines are drawn in criss-cross directions. These pen drawing lines are ideal for adding more depth to your drawings, but it can be challenging to master these techniques.

Combine Ink and Watercolor

Fountain pen ink is available in a huge variety of colors, and it’s also possible to mix your own custom colors. You can use fountain pen ink to add some color to a picture, but it’s a lot simpler to add color to a drawing using a brush than it is with a pen because the colors will be much smoother with a brush while they can seem patchy when you add them with a pen. 

Many artists find it simpler to just add color with watercolor paint. The most important thing to keep in mind when combining these art mediums is to let the ink dry completely before adding color. If the ink is still wet, the moisture from watercolor paint can cause bleeding, completely ruining your sketch.

Choose Your Ink Wisely

There is a huge range of types, colors, and fountain pen ink brands available on the market. The most important thing to remember is not to use calligraphy ink with your normal fountain pen, as calligraphy ink is too thick and will clog your pen. 

If you plan on combining watercolor washes with fountain pen lining, consider choosing a waterproof or water-resistant ink for your linework since water-soluble inks might smudge when you add watercolor.

Final Thoughts

Fountain pens certainly are not just for writing. Learning how to draw with a fountain pen is fun, and seeing your ink drawings develop as you master your pen is extremely rewarding. This form of art is certainly worth a try. 

If you want to learn more about fountain pens and their many uses, take a look at some of the other guides we have on Fountain Pen Guide. You can find all the best tips and information about these wonderful pens with our handy site. 


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