Pen Vs Marker: Which One Is Better for Drawing?

Pen Vs Marker

If you constantly need to draw or if you’re a professional, I’m sure that one of your long-standing dilemmas is whether to use pen or marker. When the best set of markers in your collection fails to bring out the perfect edge, you’ll not be happy.

Honestly, striking on one thin line over and over again even with a perfectly fine pen for drawing (just to get a thick line) isn’t any happy story either.

As an artist (regardless of the sector you’re working in), your job is to know when to use which drawing tool. Clearly, you cannot trust only pen for every piece of art. Same goes for the marker. You might be biased towards either of these tools but you can never risk your artwork just for the sake of your biasness.

Choosing markers for coloring and getting pens for drawing seems to be a perfectly nice plan (which it is by the way). However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To be a perfectionist, you get to dig a little deeper. Once you become familiar with the situations and necessity, your dilemma to choose between pen and marker will end right away.

Which One is Best for Drawing?

I’m talking about a very initial stage of deciding your drawing tool. Generally, pens work amazing when you attempt to create sharp, flawless and eye-catching outlines of an artwork. They have easy grips which makes it a perfect drawing tool for people of any age. You can make the best use of pen ink as they are less likely to dry out.

Luckily, a pen holds a lot of ink and supplies comparatively less. Thus, you get sharper lines and can use it for longer period.

Drawing has two parts in general. After getting the outline, you’ll crave to see those artworks in color. That way, your outlines will become lively. Coloring the inside of any artwork with pen can be as lengthy as the war of Troy. Markers are best for coloring generally.

They are available in a variety of colors too. They are capable of delivering thin, thick and medium lines. The wide barrel of them can hold sufficient ink for you to color as much as you need without needing a refill.

I’m a huge fan of vibrant marker colors. They are fun, they look cool and they are always available. Surely, I can’t deny my attachment with drawing pens. There are times when I feel comfortable in holding just one pen and completing the entire artwork with that one. If you’re wondering how a pen can perform alone, continue reading the article and thank me later for all the tips I’m going to share.

Kids of ‘Drawing’ With Pen and Maker

You’ve heard it right. Knowing the kind of your drawing is the first step towards perfection. If you’ve never thought it through, start thinking. There are several types of drawing and all of them require different tools. Don’t you want to know about them? I know, you do.


Your pastime scribbles are known as ‘Doodling’. You’re allowed to be a bit surprised here. Well, doodling is basically sketching in the form of scribbles. The hands stay as relaxed as possible. You are the only one deciding which shape you artwork is going to have. Through doodling you basically let your inner imagination come out without much intentional effort. Pen or pencils are great choices for doodling.

I wouldn’t forbid you to use marker because you can use them too. If you’re so much comfortable with marker in your grip, go ahead. But if I’m asked to vote in ‘Pen Vs Marker’ pool, I would rather go for pens.


Sketching is one my most favorite category of drawing. It’s really impressive how smoothly you can draw such gorgeous pieces of art. Although doodling can be the initial stage of sketching but sketching is way more difficult. A sketch is a colorless or colorful piece of art that ends up having a truly vivid result.

Now, what do you think will be a better tool to sketch? If I’m asked to choose between pen and marker, I will definitely go for pens. But, if I’m given no boundaries, it’ll be pencils. Although we are reading the comparison between pen and marker, I believe you deserve to know which tool is the best match to which category of drawing.

Sketching with a marker will be absolutely troublesome. I’m saying so because I have reasons to explain. Sketching will not enjoyable if you cannot hold the pen or marker properly. Sometimes you’ll have to position your hand near the tip and sometimes near the end.

It will depend on the type of line you’ll intend. With marker, it can be difficult for some people. Again, marker ink can bleed on paper (not in all cases) which can ruin the sketch. Doing sharp edges is a hard job with markers (unlike pens).

Manga Drawing

You must have seen too many cartoon characters that are way too attractive (sometimes more than humans). And you’ve wondered all along how you can create one by yourself.

The anime, comic or graphic novel characters come alive through ‘Manga Drawing’. Now, while doing manga, your first choice can be pencil but using pen will be equally great. If you search, you’ll find pens that are manufactured specifically for manga art.

Manga gets started with doodling, then sketching and then slowly the real shape comes out. The question is, don’t you have to use anything other than pens in manga drawing? What about the inside colors? You most definitely need marker for that. You surely don’t have the time and patience to sit all day and fill the inside with pens.


Trust me or not, half of my childhood passed trying to figure out a way to draw the perfect calligraphy. Now that I can do it perfect, I’ve figured out what I lacked. The perfect tool is what I lacked.

Calligraphy is the art of writing letters in a very different, unique and attractive way. Some calligraphy are so satisfying that I don’t even want to read the words (rather I stare at the art).

What I did wrong in childhood is that I tried calligraphy with pens and pencils. Markers beat pens while doing calligraphy. Not all the markers are good though. If you find brush markers, search no more. That’s your friend for calligraphy.

You’ll find brush pens too these days. They work pretty much similarly. Pick either.

Fabric Painting

On my last day at college, my friends and I wore white T-shirts. Each one of them wrote beautiful notes on mine. I thought I’ll keep the memories forever but one wrong step ruined that all. As I was in rush, I let them use a normal pen to write on my T-shirt.

The reason of telling you this story is pens are no match for fabric painting. For designing or drawing on fabric you have to use a permanent fabric marker. The benefit of using them is that, even after many washes, they’ll not fade out.


It’s truly amazing how little dots can create a whole painting. They look so realistic with distinctive colors side by side. Since you have to create dots, pens will be your best choice. Using a ball point pen will ease your art.


Caricature drawing is mostly like magna but they have differences. In caricature, the real life characters are the subject of drawing. Pens will surely be your first choice for caricature. Use marker to fill inside.

Architecture and Fashion

I know that all the working sectors require drawing from time to time but architecture and fashion industry get no break from drawing. I get calls from my friends asking me for suggestions on tools to use for drawing.

These drawings are mostly doodling and sketching. For these purposes, pen or pencils can work fine. There’s no restriction about using markers though.

Difference Between Pen and Marker

I’ve informed you about some prominent categories of drawing where you’ll be needing both pens and markers from time to time. Let’s say, you’re doing a manga art. Will you start with a brush pen and end up coloring with a chisel tip? Don’t get all confused now because I’m ready to share the solution with you.

I will present the categories of pens and markers in front of you. They are categorized on the basis of their tip types. Let’s dig in.

Categories of Pens (Based on Tip/Nib)

The tips of pens determine which category of drawing requires which one of them. Half of your works will be done once you master in kind of tip you need. So, what are those categories of pens?

Brush Pen

The tip of this pen is made of brush (I meant, actually). The fascinating fact about brush pen is that you can make thin, medium and thick lines with it within one stoke. That’s right, you can do that if you hold it right. You definitely need to know how to control your grip and movement of hand.

I want to teach you a trick on using brush pens. Try making thin lines with upstrokes and thick lines with down-strokes. That way, you’ll put almost no pressure on the pen yet get perfection.

I won’t be wrong telling you that brush pens are in my favorite list. That’s because they are useful in so many drawings. I can use them where I need sharp edges. And when it’s about filling the inside, they never fail me. They work like magic if you do calligraphy, caricature and manga drawing. It’s wonderful how effortlessly they switch from thin line to thick ones.

Technical Pen

These pens do work technically in reality. The thing is, they are very good at creating precise and sharp lines. The lines look so flawless that these pens are used by architectures and engineers most of the times. It has a very strong plastic tip that delivers even amount of ink with each stroke.

They are used in manga drawing as well. Giving shape to anime characters will become fun with these. Going from thin line to thick one might take a little while with this one but they will be flawless. While brush pen can leave messier results, technical ones remain unbeatable

Ball Point Pen

The tip of these pens has a ball attached. As you make strokes, the ball moves around and delivers ink. Using them is quite easier and relaxing. And that is why, these are the exact pens you want while sketching.

You can also make the best use of these in ‘Pointillism Drawing’. Sketching the designs of clothes with a ball point pen can be your favorite part of job. Also, doodling with these is super fun.

Nib Pen

You must be wondering why I’m mentioning this pen whereas it’s almost outdated. Although drawing with these pens might create a messy environment but they are good for sketching. Unlike me, some people still dare use them.

Categories of Markers

Interestingly, there are two factors that should be considered while categorizing markers. Let’s know more.

According to Ink Type

Unlike pens, different markers have different types of inks. I’m saying ‘unlike pens’ because most of the pen inks are permanent. And, you’re here to know what’s so unique about marker ink. So, what are the types of inks markers generally have?

Alcohol-based Markers

The straight thing is, markers with alcohol-based ink, or in other words-permanent ink, are known as permanent markers. Undoubtedly, these are one of the most trusted and used markers out there. You’ll be given no chance to question their quality and durability.

If you’re wondering where you can use these markers so far, I have the answer. If you’re thinking out of the box, these are your companion. What I meant is, if you choose tough surfaces to draw on, this permanent marker will be great option.

Plastic, glass, wooden surfaces are nothing to be feared about with these ones in stock. You can draw outlines or fill in the arts with these. They are available in every types of tip.

The fabric markers are basically made of permanent ink. That’s why they can survive though a number of washes. Gentle wash is much appreciated though.

Despite being made of alcohol, they don’t have any strong odor. They truly are non-toxic. You can save a good amount of time by using them as most of them are very fast- drying. If you’re confident enough about your drawing skill, you definitely should go for these permanent markers.

Water-based Markers

The ink of this marker is basically made of water and color pigment. Although they are not as permanent as alcohol-based ones, they are even more fun in some cases. Often times they are called as washable markers. Their name suggests their function. They are easier to remove from surfaces and clothes.

Water-based markers sometimes open more doors of creativity. For magna drawing, caricature, sketch and doodling, they seem to be really useful. Don’t forget that you have to be cautious about giving the ink enough time to dry out and settle properly.

Oil-based Markers

If you’re thinking that oil-based markers are made of oil solvent and color pigment, you’re right. Because of being made of oil, most of the times, they are washable. And the other times, they are as permanent as alcohol-based ones. One thing to remember- give the painting at least a day to dry up. You can select a variety of surfaces for these markers.

You can use them while doodling, drawing magna or try to color the inside of any special piece of art.

According to Tip Type

Once again I’m going to discuss about the tips but this time it’s going to be of markers.

Markers Tip

Fine Tip Marker

None would be able to claim that markers cannot create sharp lines with a fine tipped marker in hand. Unlike your regular boring and stubborn marker, these ones can actually create sharp, thin and smudge-free lines. The color collection of fine tip markers is outstanding.

Doodling, magna drawing and architectural drawings can be performed with these markers. I sometimes feel more comfortable with them than fighting with a ball point pen.

Chisel Tip Marker

These tips deliver wider lines. As the lines are wider, ink supply is admirable. If you hold the marker technically, you can actually create sharp edges too. Filling inside the objects is easier with these as they save time.

Brush Tip Marker

You surely will find similarity between a brush tip marker and a brush tip pen. They function quite similar. Try doing calligraphy, sketching and magna drawing with these markers and you’ll have no room for complaints.

Bullet Tip Marker

These markers leave round strokes. They are quite similar to fine point markers except the fact that they (bullet tipped ones) cannot be as sharp as them (fine tipped ones). While doing pointillism, you might consider using them.

As you search, you’ll find markers that have both fine tips and chisel tips. They’re called dual tip markers. In fact, they are more used than the single tipped ones.

Oh! Wait, Before You Going

Actually there’re a few more free words (good ones) for you.

As a professional, when I sit for drawing, I make sure that I’m not missing out any tool. Pen, pencils, markers all should be in front of me whether I use them or not. Now that I know exactly what I need in which kind of drawing, I don’t have to memorize all the information I just have provided you.

There are times when I want to explore more functions of pens and markers by switching their duties. Honestly, every time they do their jobs successfully. If you’ve done this too, why don’t you share your drawing experience with us in the comment section? Who knows, maybe your tip will be added to my next article.

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Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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