How to choose a ball point pen for sketching ? With Brent George pen test selection.

ball-point-pen-testing-winner-selection-for-drawing-in-proudct-design-the-design-sketchbook

Hey guys,

Which pen are you drawing with ? (Tell me in the comments !)

If you are still wondering with which pen to start with, let me share with you the series of test from Brent George, one of my student at Sketch like the Pros did during the Module 1.

I hope our today article will help you better test and choose the pen that is right for you. 

First of all, we’ll put aside the pencil tool.
Why? Because we are looking for drawing with a ink pen so you won’t be tempted to erase. It’s a good way to keep improving your quality of lines by progressing through iteration (In other words: Making mistakes ? Analyse, Redo.)

Let me give you the list of the main criteria you should consider for design sketching (especially if your are a beignner). When you are in a shop testing some ball point pen, ask yourself :

  1. Can you draw with a very light pressure – like you would do with a pencil ?
    Light pen pressure are great to start any sketch with construction lines. Then when you got a good base, you can start giving more weight to your lines, so the previous one become almost “invisible”.
    drawing-with-a-ball-point-pen-pressure-light-to-thick-line-weight-the-design-sketchbook
  2. Does it blob and stain your paper often ?
    If the pen blob in the shop. Forget about this one. However if it blob during the sektching session, that’s normal. The nib of the pen get warmer from the friction of the ball on paper. So the ink get a bit thick and accumulate at the nib. So it blob. What I do, is having an extra piece of paper to clean the nib regularly. Or you can have an other pen to swtich with. (I recommend the first option, so you brain and imagination are not interrupted)
    ball-point-pen-blob-on-paper-drawing-the-design-sketchbook
  3. Is that really black or grey ?
    Some ball point pens are not that black. Remember to double check this detail. So your sketches will get better contrast.
    ball-point-pen-darg-grey-ink-not-black-the-design-sketchbook
  4. How is the flow of your lightest lines ?
    There is some pen that can’t handle light pressure of lines. They get interrupted. Test your pen applying a very low pen pressure, and make sur the flow of ink is constant.
    ball-point-pen-soft-line-straight-pen-pressure-the-design-sketchbook
  5. How is the feel of the nib on paper while you draw.
    Is it smooth ? Abrasive ? Dry ? Make sure that feel is sweet to you. I personnally like when there is a bit of abrasive feel on paper – till you can ear that “minitious cripsy sound”.
    ball-point-pen-ink-grainy-feel-on-paper-the-design-sketchbook
  6. Is your pen using Gel ink ? Try to avoid them.
    (Of course, feel free to test them though. There is always exception to the rule).

    They mostly have lesser pen pressure sensitivity. Like the above point I have just mentionned, if you try to draw lighter lines you may see some tiny interuption of lines. Note that some of them take longer to dry. If your palm get in contact with the wet ink, it may mess up your sketch ! Damn !!
    (Don’t get me wrong. Gel pen are great for sketching, but that is not what I recommend to start with.)
    gel-pen-disaster-blob-ing-on-paper-the-design-sketchbook


BRENT GEORGE PEN TEST

bic-antlantis-gel-vs-bic-atlantis-exact-2-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

BIC ATLANTIS GEL vs BIC ATLANTIS EXACT (Fine point)

bic-atlantis-vs-bic-oldschool-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

BIC ATLANTIS (Medium Point) vs BIC Standard (Old school)

pilot-hi-techpoint-v7-grip-vs-pentel-vicuna-07-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

PILOT HI-TECH POINT V7 GRIP vs PENTEL VICUNA 7mm 

uniball-signo-vs-uniball-jetstream-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

UNI-BALL SIGNO vs UNI-BALL JET STREAM

z-grip-flight-vs-maped-freewriter-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

Z-GRIP FLIGHT vs MAPED FREEWRITER

bic-atlantis-vs-bic-old-school-brent-george-brent-george-sketch-like-the-pros-student-ball-point-pen-testing

WINNERS: BIC ATLANTIS + BIC OLD SCHOOL !!


Let me share with you some extra TIPS.

  • Buy the ball point pen in bulk !
    Try to look for your favourite one on Amazon, and get them in pack of 6 or 12 for example. One of my student of Sketch like the Pros, Daphne Muëller did finish 3 full pens from the course only. It’s always good to have extra pen at home.
  • Dont’t spend too much time at looking for the perfect one.
    As soon as you get one you enjoy and feel good with, stick to it. Don’t spend your time keeping looking for better one especially when you start learning to sketch. Keep focus with what you have on hand which is already great. That is how you will keep refining your skills with that exact pen – instead of keeping switching and recalibrating yourself to new pens.
  • Bonus: Get a retractable pen.
    I am the kind who always lose his cap. And I am pretty sure I am not the only one. Are you ? Hehe. Some more a pen with no cap is a pen that roll on table and drop on the floor. A pen is fragile, so take care of it !

Hope this article has been helpful to you, feel free to share and see you for the next article !
Cheers,
Chou-Tac

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About The Author

Chou-Tac

If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.

2 Comments

  • Emmanuel

    Reply Reply November 1, 2016

    Nice read up Chou, I’ve never really done any serious pen test, I just started with a pen and stuck with it the name’s “Schneider Tops 505 M”…

    • Chou-Tac

      Reply Reply November 3, 2016

      Hello Emmanuel,

      If you are happy with it then great ! 🙂

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