My Art Tools

The tools I use to create my art

I'm often asked which pens, pencils, rulers, etc. I use to create my art, especially when someone sees something on one of my Instagram posts.

So, here are my main go-to tools.

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Interested in more of my tools? Visit my Amazon Store

Rotring Rapidograph .10mm Technical Pen

Rapidographs are precision technical pens, normally used for drafting; I've co-opted them for my detailed drawing.

I use this pen size for drawing outlines and filling spaces.

I prefer Rotring's Rapidograph pens over Rotring's Isograph pens or Koh-i-Noor's Rapidograph pens. Rotring's Rapidograph pens utilize an ink cartridge instead of a refillable well. In my experience, the cartridge construction requires less maintenance than the other available versions of this pen.

Interestingly, while the .10mm tip of this pen is technically smaller than the .13mm version (below), the line it produces is thicker than the .13mm version.

Note: I have recently found out the Rotring has DISCONTINUED Rapidograph pens. OH NO! So I've switched to Rotring's Isograph pens which are essentially the same, but with a refillable ink well.

→ Buy a Rotring .10mm Rapidograph Pen on Amazon

→ Buy a Rotring .10mm Rapidograph Replacement Nib (only) on Amazon

→ Buy a Rotring .10mm Isograph Pen on Amazon

Rotring Rapidograph .13mm Technical Pen

I use this pen size for drawing in detail(s). If you've asked me "WHAT PEN IS THAT?!"… this is probably the one you were asking about. :-)

This is the same pen as above, just in a .13mm size. Note that despite a size indication of .03mm larger than the .10mm pen, it produces a line that's thinner. If you've found a pen that consitently, repeatedly, and reliably draws a line thinner than this one, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ABOUT IT!

Rapiographs are unlike the roller/gel/marker pens you're used to using. They use a very fine chrome-plated needle housed in a cylinder. This means they are "scratchy" to use, and the ink doesn't flow anything at all like disposable pens. But because they have a steel tip they produce a much thinner line than roller pens, and don't wear down over time like markers.

Rapidograph pens need you to build a relationship with them. They require an investment in money and in time; in learning how to use them, how to care for them, and how to maintain them, including while you're drawing. You have to use quality drawing paper meant for inking and drawing. If you prefer maintenance-free disposable pens, this pen might not be right for you.

With that said, I haven't found anything else that draws a line as thin and as consistently as this pen; for me, the investment pays dividends every single time I use it.

Note: I have recently found out the Rotring has DISCONTINUED Rapidograph pens. OH NO! So I've switched to Rotring's Isograph pens which are essentially the same, but with a refillable ink well. If Isographs aren't available, you can try a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph.

→ Buy a Rotring .13mm Rapidograph Pen on Amazon — SOLD OUT

→ Buy a Rotring .13mm Rapidograph Replacement Nib (only) on Amazon — SOLD OUT

→ Buy a Rotring .13mm Isograph Pen on Amazon — SOLD OUT

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph .13mm Pen on Amazon

Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Technical Pen

I've tried the Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Technical Pen in place of my go-to Rotring. While I do like the arguably and possibly completely-in-my-mind smoother writing and ever-so-slightly thinner line than the Rotring, the nibs on these pens seem to be way more fragile than my Rotrings. I've broken three nibs in three weeks; I might've broken one in a year with my Rotrings. I'm not sure if it's me, my drawing style, a bad production run, or what… but rapidograph nibs are too expensive to keep replacing, and my attempts to get a response from Staedtler have been unsucessful.

You might have a different experience. Good luck.

→ Buy a Staedtler Mars Matic .13mm Pen on Amazon

Rotring Black Drawing Ink

It might not surpise you to find that I use Rotring's black 'drawing ink' in my Rotring pens. It's dark, dries quickly, and works in my pens, so I'm happy.

I use the 'rapidograph ink' cartridges in my rapidographs, and the 'drawing ink' in my isographs and other pens.

→ Buy Rotring Black Rapiodgraph ink cartridges on Amazon

→ Buy Rotring 23ml Black Drawing ink on Amazon

→ Buy Rotring 250ml Black Drawing ink on Amazon

Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel Pen - 0.38 mm - Black

This is, by far, my every day go-to pen. I use it for everything: doodling, final art, sketching… whatever. It's an all-around solid performer. I'm constantly trying new pens, and I continually come back to this one.

I love the shape, the grip, the feel, and the weight; the entire package just works perfectly for me.

I've been using the new "needle" version of this pen with the new super-slim profile tip. Uniball claims that other than the shape of the tip the two models exactly the same pen, but I don't know… the needle version just seems smoother to me; It's the only version I buy now.

→ Buy a Uni-ball UM-151 Needle Point on Jet Pens

→ Buy one Uni-ball UM-151 on Jet Pens

→ Buy a Uni-ball UM-151 10-pack on Amazon

Pentel Slicci Gel Pen - 0.25 mm - Black

When I want a smaller pen tip than my UM-151, I reach for this pen: The Pentel Slicci.

Its tip is – so far – the smoothest writing .25 mm pen I've found. I've even tried the .28 mm version of the Uni-ball Signo UM-151 gel pen, but it's just not as smooth as the Slicci.

And when I use my custom drawing stencils, I almost always reach for my Slicci.

→ Buy a single Pentel Slicci pen on Jet Pens

→ Buy a Pentel Slicci 2-pack on Amazon

→ Buy a Pentel Slicci 12-pack on Amazon

TWSBI Diamond 580AL Silver Fountain Pen - Medium Nib

I used to have a love/hate relationship with fountain pens, but THIS PEN changed everything for me.

When I hand-write letters, "Thank you" cards for my original art, or anything that I want to bring a part of me to, I use this exact pen, currently with the medium tip.

It writes beautifully and with expression. It works the first time and every time I uncap it, setting it apart from almost all other fountain pens I've used. I'm not a fountain pen connoisseur and I don't have wide-ranging experience, but I'm so happy with this pen, I don't have a need to look for anything else.

Note: Make sure to select your preferred nib size! I currently use medium. And you need to buy ink; I use TWSBI Sapphire Blue and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki.

→ Buy a Diamond 580AL Silver Fountain Pen on

→ Buy TWSBI Sapphire Blue ink, 70ML on

→ Buy Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki (Deep Azure Blue) ink on Jet Pens

Pentel Orenz Nero 0.2mm Pencil

I used to use a Pentel P203 as my main drawing pencil (see below) but I've recently switched to the Pentel Orenz Nero. The 0.2mm lead is incredibly thin making its pencil lines easier to erase than the P203's 0.3mm lines.

Yes, the Orenz is a bit expensive for a pencil. Does the performance of the the Orenz Nero justify its price when compared to the P203? You'll have to decide for yourself.

→ Buy one Pentel Orenz Nero Mechanical Pencil on Amazon

→ Buy one Pentel Orenz Nero Mechanical Pencil on Jet Pens

Pentel P203 0.3mm Pencil

I have been using this model (in various sizes) of Pentel pencil since forever. Why? I love its super-light weight, yet sturdy feel. I dig its machine-like reliability. It's serviceable, and – with the exception of the .3mm pencil – it's ubiquitous; you can find it in almost any store that carries pencils.

The P203 is a solid pencil and I highly recommend it.

→ Buy one Pentel P203 on Jet Pens

→ Buy a Pentel P203 3-pack on Amazon

→ Buy a Pental multi-size set on Amazon

Copic N1/N3/N5 Markers

The second most frequent question I get is: "How do you make those shadows?!"

Judiciously placed lines with a Copic N1, N3, or N5 marker; that's it.

→ Buy the Copic N1 marker on Amazon

→ Buy the Copic N3 marker on Amazon

→ Buy the Copic N5 marker on Amazon

Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers

I use a lot of different marker brands and types. Along with my Copics, I keep coming back to Tombow Dual Brush markers. One of my favorite features is the "brush" tip which can be used for very precise work or for covering large areas quickly.

Tombow markers are watercolor (not alcohol like Copics); they're bright, bold, varied, and the colors look great on many different kinds of paper.

→ Buy Tombow Dual Brush Pens on Amazon.

Sakura Foam Eraser

I make A LOT of pencil lines. And this is the eraser I've found works best for me. The Sakura Foam Eraser gets more lines up, with less hassle, and with less damage to the paper than others I've tried.

If you find an eraser that works better for you, please let me know!

→ Buy a Sakura Foam Eraser Five-Pack on Amazon

Strathmore Bristol Paper

This is my current fave pad for my finished pieces. It's 100lb, bright white paper; it has a very smooth surface and enables a high degree of fidelity which I require for my pen work. I haven't really used it with markers yet, but I will, soon.

→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 9x12" pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 11x14" pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 14x17" pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Strathmore Bristol 19x24" pad on Amazon

Koh-I-Noor Pen Paper Pad

This is my current fave doodling pad. It's 80lb, bright white paper; not too thick and not too thin, and it lays flat, which is super-important to me.

The paper works well with my Uniball Signo, it works with my Copic markers, and it comes with a protective ink block panel that prevents bleed-through.

It's available in four different sizes so you can find the one that works best for your drawing style.

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 5.5 x 8.5" pen paper pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 7 x 10" 'pen paper pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 9 x 12" 'pen paper pad on Amazon

→ Buy a Koh-I-Noor 11 x 14" pen paper pad on Amazon

MJS.ART Drawing Stencil Kit #1

After years of using but being frustrated with commerically-available stencils, I designed my own.

"DSK1" comes with squares, circles, and triangles ranging in sizes from 1/8" to 1".

I personally 3D print these stencils on my 3D printer; they're the exact same stencils I use in my social media videos.

→ Buy 'Drawing Stencil Kit #1' on my store

Incra Centering Ruler

I love this tool and I'm a big fan of this company's products. I use Incra rulers for drawing, but also extensively in my woodworking shop. They're simple, well designed, and well built.

This ruler gives you the superpower of finding the center of things; I use it to find the center of my paper, so I know where to position my art.

It includes small marking holes every 1/32" that fit my P203 pencil (above) perfectly, and includes a built-in protractor.

→ Buy the Incra Centering Ruler on Amazon

INCRA Precision X-Y Ruler

When I need a dot grid to help guide a drawing, this is now the tool I reach for.

In combination with the Incra Centering Ruler, I use this to "quickly" (it's quicker than other methods, but still takes time) create an accurate dot grid.

→ Buy the INCRA Precision X-Y Ruler on Amazon

FrogTape Delicate Surface

This is the yellow tape you see on my art while I'm working on it. It protects the non-drawing areas of the art from dirt, stray marks, and other accidents.

So far, as long as I go slowly, go carefully, and take my time, it's come off of the paper without causing any damage.

That said, as I venture into using watercolors, I'm noticing some bleed through, so I'm on the lookout for a replacement. Any and all suggestions are welcomed!

→ Buy FrogTape Delicate Surface on Amazon

Beacon 3-in-1 Craft Glue

This is the glue I use to assemble my custom art boxes. I've tried a bunch of other glues, glue dots, and CAs, and (so far) I always come back to this glue. It dries quickly, strongly, and does not swell the paper. It does have a tendency to "string" a bit, but supposedly a bit of petrolium jelly on the applicator helps to control it.

I use this glue so much that I designed a 3d printable glue stand to keep the bottle inverted while I'm working.

→ Buy Beacon 3-in-1 Glue on Amazon

Wheat Penny

Sometimes there's a wheat penny in my photos; it's to show the scale of my artwork relative to the penny.

This penny isn't available; you'll have to find your own penny. :-)

E Pluribus Unum!

If you're interested in more items I recommend, please visit my Amazon Store:

NOTE: I make a small amount of money when you click on an Amazon link and buy the product.

JetPens and TWSBI links are not affliate links.