What I Use For Sketching

Why I use what I use: Over time I have found a few tools that I like best, which are included below. Some I like because they of the line, texture, or feel. Others I use because they are reusable – which means less waste and cost savings over time. If you find something you like, or use a different tool that you think I should know about, please send me a note.

Where to buy?: The tools listed below are, for the most part, lower cost and accessible. Amazon has pretty much everything, but you can also find these tools at JetPens, Blick, or even some at your local art store or office store (paper especially).


Pentel Brush Pen: My favorite option for loose lines and blocking in black for small sketches

Lamy Safari (or Vista) Fountain Pen: These are cheaper pens of good quality. I use a converter so that I can use my own ink and save money on catridges.

Noodler’s Ink (Bulletproof Black): This is my go-to ink. I like that I can add washes over it later and not have to worry about it bleeding.


Dixon China Marker (Black): No need to sharpen this crayon for a decent point, and you are able to get a wide range of values. A Crayola crayon could also work, but the versions I have tried to not get near as close to black as these china markers.


Copic Sketch Markers: These markers have a nice brush tip along with the standard tip. You can also buy Copic in to refill the markers – which is necessary to offset the high cost. Replacement tips are also available from Copic. I have T0, T2, T4, T6, T8, T10, and 100 (Black), but if you want a smaller set you could get away with T2, T4, T6, T8 and use the Pentel Brush Pen for blacks.


Index Cards: I like blank index cards, primarily sizes 4″x6″ an 5″x8″. Most brands are fine as long as they don’t get too thin – especially if you plan on using marker. Right now I am using Oxford index cards.

RHODIA Dot Pad Notebook (5.8″x 8.3″): This pad is portable and paper is smooth. You can get it without dots, but I like to have them if I am sectioning off a page or need to have them for measurements. They are light enough that I don’t find them distracting when I scan a sketch.

Photo Paper: I occasionally experiment with my Copic Markers and China Marker on this paper. I have used both Gloss and Luster Finishes. It offers a different look and feel from the other options and the price is reasonable if you buy packs of 4″x6″ or 5″x7″.

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