Pen Vs Marker: Which One Is Better for Drawing?

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 a 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 an excellent pen for drawing (just to get a thick line), isn’t any happy story either.

As an artist, your job is to know when to use which drawing tool. Clearly, you cannot trust the pen for every piece of art. The same goes for the marker pens. 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. 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 necessities, your dilemma to choose between pen and marker will end right away.

Pen Vs Marker

Which One is Best for Drawing: Pen or Marker? (The Argument)

I’m talking about a very initial stage of deciding your drawing tool. Generally, pens work fantastic when you attempt to create sharp, flawless, more intricate writing and eye-catching details outline of an artwork.

They have easy grips, which makes them 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 them for a more extended period. Even if it dries out, there are ways to revive pens.

However, drawing has two parts in general. After getting the outline, you’ll crave to see those artworks in color. That way, your designs will become lively. Coloring the inside of any painting with a pen can be as lengthy as “The War of Troy.” Generally, markers are best for coloring.

They are available in a variety of colors too. These felt tip pens are capable of delivering thin, thick, and medium lines. The wide barrel can hold sufficient ink to color as much as you need without needing a refill. These are also best for highlighting text.

I’m a huge fan of vibrant marker colors. They are fun, they look cool, and they are always available. Indeed, I can’t deny my attachment to drawing pens. There are times when I feel comfortable 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.

Different Kinds of Drawing: With Pen and Maker

You’ve heard it right. Knowing the kind of your art projects 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 art tools. Don’t you want to know about them? I know you do.

1. Doodling

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 your artwork is going to have. Through doodling, you let your inner imagination come out without much intentional effort. 

But if you ask me which writing tool to use for this purpose, then I would definitely say that pencil or pens are excellent choices for doodling.

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

2. Sketching

Sketching is one of my most favorite categories 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, it’s way more complicated.

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.

But if you go for marker pens, it won’t be a sin, however. Sketching with professional art markers can be fun as it has felt tips and gives you a vivid result. However, unlike pens, doing sharp edges is a hard job with felt-tipped pens. So, you may need to do some practice before getting any high-range marker pens on your hands.

3. Manga Art

You must have seen too many cartoon characters that are way too attractive. 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, you cannot think of other tools instead of markers. In fact, Copic Markers were originally designed for Manga Artists. You indeed don’t have the time and patience to sit all day and fill the inside with pens.

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?

Obviously, you will need a pencil and pen for outlining the art. But it won’t be a wise decision to color it using those felt tip pens.

4. Calligraphy

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 perfectly, I’ve figured out what I lacked. The ideal tool is what I lacked.

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

What I did wrong in childhood is that I tried calligraphy with pencils and regular pens. Markers beat pens while doing calligraphy.

Not all the markers are good, however. If you find felt tip brush markers, search no more. That’s your friend for calligraphy. However, some artists also love fountain pens for doing calligraphy.

5. 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. So, I thought I’ll keep the memories forever, but one wrong step ruined that all.

As I was in a rush, I let them use a normal pen to write on my T-shirt and some used whiteboard markers.

The reason for 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.

6. Pointillism

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

However, if you want to look at your dots pretty big in size, you can use dot markers. And if you want it for your kids, then you’ll find much variety in this category.

7. Caricature

Caricature drawing is mostly like Manga, but they have differences. In caricature, the real-life characters are the subject of the drawing. Pens will surely be your first choice for caricature.

But you cannot also deny the need to use colorful markers to fill inside. One thing is that, whether you use felt tip pens or gel pens, pick up good papers.

8. Architecture and Fashion

I know that all the working sectors require drawing from time to time. Still, the architecture and fashion industry gets 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. Especially for architectures, they need to do lots of fine details on their work. For these purposes, you can use mechanical pencils or fine-tip pens for smaller, more intricate writing.

There’s no restriction about using felt tip pens, however. They actually work best for coloring the fashion sketches.

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 Manga art. Will you start with a brush pen and end up coloring with a chisel tip? Please 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 based on 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?

1. Brush Pen

The tip of this pen is made of brushes (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, and you can do that if you hold it right. You definitely need to know how to control your grip and movement of the 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. These are actually best for using on Hobonichi Planner.

It won’t be wrong to tell you that brush pens are on my favorite list. That’s because they are helpful 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 beautiful how effortlessly they switch from a thin line to a thick one.

2. 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 architects and engineers most of the time. It has a firm plastic tip that delivers an 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 a thin line to a thick one might take a little while with this one, but they will be flawless. While brush pens can leave messier results, technical ones remain unbeatable.

3. 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 pretty more effortless and more relaxing. And that is why these are the same pens you want while sketching.

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

4. 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 suitable for sketching. Unlike me, some people still dare use them.

And these are actually popular as fountain pens. Nowadays, so many brands produce high-quality fountain pens, so it doesn’t remain as messier as before. But you may need to choose the right paper while using these pens as it has a metal nib.

Categories of Marker

Interestingly, two factors 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?

1. Alcohol-based Markers

The straight thing is, markers with alcohol-based 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 rigid surfaces to draw on, these water-resistant markers will be a great option.

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

The fabric markers are also made of permanent ink. That’s why they can survive through several washes. Gentle wash is much appreciated, however.

Despite being made of alcohol, they don’t have any strong odor. They truly are non-toxic. You can save a reasonable amount of time 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.

2. 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 they are called washable markers. Their name suggests their function. They are easier to remove from non-porous surfaces and clothes. And if you are looking for a marking pen, you can always go for water-based ones.

Water-based markers sometimes open more doors of creativity. For doing a bullet journal, hand lettering, and watercolor painting, these are the best options. Don’t forget that you have to be cautious about giving the ink enough time to dry out and settle properly.

3. Oil-based Markers

If you think that oil-based markers are made of oil solvent and color pigment, you’re right. Because of being made of oil, most of the time, 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 Manga, or coloring the inside of any unique piece of art.

According to Tip Type

Markers Tip

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

1. Fine Tip Markers

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

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

2. Chisel Tip Marker

These tips deliver wider lines. That’s why they are the best options for highlighting text. As the lines are wider, the ink supply is admirable. If you hold the marker technically, you can create sharp edges too. Filling inside the objects is easier with these as they save time.

3. Brush Tip Marker

You indeed will find similarities between a brush tip marker and a brush tip pen. They function pretty similarly. But brush marker is actually the felt tip pen, in other words. So, you can control the strokes by putting necessary pressure on the tip. Try calligraphy, sketching, and Manga drawing with these markers, and you’ll have no room for complaints.

4. Bullet Tip Marker

These markers leave round strokes. They are pretty similar to fine point markers, except 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 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 on any tool. Pen, pencils, markers all should be in front of me whether I use them or not. And I suggest you do the same.

Now that you know what you need in which kind of drawing, you 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.

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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