Welcome to the world of ballpoint pen artistry,
where the humble pen becomes a powerful tool for creativity and expression!
As a designer, I’ve found a deep appreciation for drawing with a ballpoint pen, and I’m not alone.
Many artists turn to this versatile instrument for their daily sketches,
embracing the immediacy and spontaneity it offers.
Without an eraser, every stroke is a commitment, adding a thrilling sense of adventure to each piece of art.
Join me as I delve into the life of a “ballpoint pen artist,” and discover the joy and challenges of drawing with conviction and spontaneity!
- How does the ballpoint pen work?
- Designers are pen-testing Lover
- Different quality of ballpoint pens for drawing
- Draw with a ballpoint pen every day
How does the ballpoint pen work?
Let’s look more closely at the small Figure 2 of the picture.
- The ball
- The ball carrier
- The ink supply tube
The ball rolls when it makes contact with the paper, carrying with it a thin viscous layer of ink, which is then deposited on the paper throughout the entire length of a pen stroke.
The more a pen is pressed to the paper, the thicker the ink layer the ball will deliver.
Ballpoints are ultra-sensitive to pressure.
Like a pencil, they can cover a large gradient from gray to black.
When we write with a ballpoint we use a constant, even pressure.
However, in light of the myriad advantages associated with ballpoint pens,
thousands of artists have adopted them in order to take full advantage of their properties.
There are hundreds of ballpoint pen brands with different sizes, pen pressure, grip…
I share with you my top recommendation on how to choose the best ballpoint pen for you.
Designers are pen-testing Lover
Bics, felt-tipped pens, markers, double-tipped pens, pens with nibs large and small;
I think I’ve tried hundreds of different types, styles, and brands!
I love to test them in the art shops.
Do you share this hobby?
I even made a list of my favorite pens of the year.
My student George Brent did also his personal ballpoint pen test
before starting my online course Sketch Like The Pros.
I enjoy doodling on the paper samples and seeing how each pen feels and looks.
It’s a fun and relaxing way to shop.
Just like when I try on a new shirt at Zara
and imagine how I would style it, I do the same with pens.
I think about:
- How I would use them for sketching, shading, or outlining.
- What kind of drawing they would suit best, whether it’s product design, illustration, or animation?
- When and where I would use them, for professional work, leisure, or on the go when I travel.
Draw something specific, like an object, a character, or a scene.
This will help you see how the pen works for different purposes.
Pretend that you already own the pens and use them as you would normally.
Different quality of ballpoint pens for drawing
You can see above how important it is to choose the right ballpoint pen for your drawing style.
Some pens are thinner and sharper, while others give bolder lines.
Ballpoint pens are amazing tools for product design sketching.
They offer a variety of advantages over other types of pens, such as smoothness, durability, and versatility.
But not all ballpoint pens are created equal.
Some have different qualities that can affect your drawing results.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing a ballpoint pen for your sketching needs.
- Tip size:
The tip size of a ballpoint pen determines how thin or thick the line will be.
A finer tip gives more precision and detail, while a thicker tip creates more contrast and impact.
Depending on your sketching style, you may prefer one over the other, or use both for different line-weight.
- Ink flow:
The ink flow of a ballpoint pen affects how smoothly and consistently the line will be.
A higher ink flow means more ink will come out of the tip, resulting in a darker and richer line.
A lower ink flow means less ink will come out, resulting in a lighter and softer line.
You can also control the ink flow by adjusting the pressure you apply on the pen.
Since you draw without an eraser, I recommend starting any of your sketches with light pen pressure. It will give you more room for mistakes or adjustments.
- Ink color:
The ink color of a ballpoint pen can influence the mood and tone of your sketch.
Different colors can evoke different emotions and associations, such as blue for calmness and professionalism, red for passion and energy, or black for elegance and sophistication.
You can also mix and match different colors to create more variety and interest in your sketch. For example, you could use color to highlight specific functions of your products.
If I had to choose one to draw with all my life, I would choose blue. 🙂
This will help you improve your “line-drawing expertise” and expand your collection of pens.
You can also explore different drawing styles by switching between different pens.
How to hold your ballpoint pen when you draw
There are mainly 3 positions to hold your pen when you draw.
- A- Writing position and details
- B- For medium movements like lines and curves.
- C- Great for long gestures like circles.
Note how the inclination of the pen change, and tend to be more vertical for long movements.
Draw with a ballpoint pen every day
Even if they’re commonly available anywhere, I consider the ballpoint a jewel of technology.
Here are some reasons why you should draw with a ballpoint pen every day:
- A ballpoint pen is easy to use and carry around.
You don’t need any special equipment or preparation to start drawing.
You can just grab a pen and a piece of paper and sketch whatever comes to your mind.
You can also draw anywhere and anytime, whether it’s at home, at work, or on the go.
You never know when inspiration will strike, so having a pen handy is always a good idea.
(I always carry one in my bag or my pocket)
- A ballpoint pen is cheap and accessible.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to find a good pen for drawing.
You can use any pen that you have, or even get one for free from events, conventions, or hotels.
You can also find a variety of pens with different colors, sizes, and shapes to suit your preferences and needs. You can experiment with different pens and see how they affect your style and expression.
- A ballpoint pen is a challenge and a reward.
Drawing with a ballpoint pen can be difficult, but also rewarding.
You have to be careful and confident with your strokes, as you can’t erase or undo them.
You have to embrace your mistakes and learn from them.
You have to adapt and improvise with the limitations and possibilities of the pen.
You have to be creative and original with your ideas and compositions.
But when you succeed, you can create stunning artworks that showcase your personality and talent.
Draw on anything! Receipts, spare paper, notebook, coffee cups!
Drawing with your ballpoint pen on the go on any spare paper you find, like a receipt, a paper bag, or a Starbucks coffee cup, for example, has many benefits.
Here are some of them:
- It helps you practice your skills and improve your confidence.
Drawing on any paper means you don’t have to worry about wasting or ruining expensive or precious materials. You can just focus on your drawing and enjoy the process.
You can also challenge yourself to draw different things in different situations, such as in a crowded bus, in a quiet park, or in a dimly lit cafe.
- It boosts your creativity and imagination.
Drawing on any paper means you have to work with the limitations and possibilities of the paper.
You have to adapt to the size, shape, color, and texture of the paper.
- It preserves your memories and experiences.
Drawing on any paper means you can capture the moments and places that matter to you.
You can draw what you see, what you feel, or what you think.
You can draw your favorite foods, your friends, your pets, or your dreams.
You can draw your emotions, your thoughts, your opinions, or your fantasies.
You can create a visual diary of your life with your ballpoint pen and any paper you find.
Feel free to note the date on each of these little creations!
- You feed your memory of forms and ideas
Drawing with your ballpoint pen on the go is like capturing ideas.
You never know when you may need them!
As a Designer, drawing every day is an amazing way to enrich your culture.
The ballpoint’s biggest fault: It STAINS with inkblot.
One of the drawbacks of drawing with a ballpoint pen is that it can stain your paper and your hand with inkblots.
This happens because the ball of the pen heats up from the friction of the paper and the pen. This causes the ink to become thicker and more “gelly”.
The ink then accumulates at the edge of the ball and drips onto the paper.
These ink drops take a long time to dry and can smear easily.
You have to be careful not to touch them with your wrist or hand, or you will ruin your drawing.
This is why I like to draw with a small piece of draft paper to clean up the nib, or I carry 2 ballpoint pens that I interchange regularly as soon as one gets warm.
Additional Common Issues
- Ballpoints bleed and turn purple with the application of a Pantone marker.
You may swap your ballpoint pen for a Stabilo Stylist pen. These are more ‘marker ink proof’.
- Ballpoint pens don’t work on a vertical canvas.
You can’t draw on a wall surface for example.
Ballpoints require gravity to pull the ink toward the tip.
BALLPOINT PEN TIP
2- Slip blotting paper under your wrist to minimize smearing.
3- Alternate between ballpoints while you let the other pen cool down.
3 Ballpoint pens to avoid drawing with
These are portable but hard to handle.
They’re cute but cost a lot for a short lifespan.
- Pens with a large diameter, like those with four or ten colors in one.
You will use up the black ink before all the others.
Banish all the wide-diameter pens as they’re too large for small hands.
- I don’t use “Ergonomic pens” like Stabilo Moves.
I like being able to immediately grab a standard pen I can grip as I wish.
BONUS: The Ballpoint pen technology is a Jewel!
The ballpoint pen technology is a marvelous product design discovery!
The cosmetics industry imported the ballpoint system
by offering skincare products like eye lifters and roll-on deodorants,
which use a modified ballpoint system with a much larger ball.
If you too think this transfer of technology is incredible,
you have the makings of a product designer.
I need your feedback, please let me know in the comment area if the article has been helpful.
If you liked it, feel free to share it.
If you want to take your first steps in drawing, I invite you to download the Designer Starter Kit to start learning with the basics of perspective step-by-step.
The Designer Starter Kit exercises in 6 videos:
- How to draw straight lines
- How to draw a perfect square
- How to draw awesome circles
- How to sharpen your sense of proportion
- How to draw a cube with 1 point perspective
- How to draw a cube with 2 points perspective
Once again, these videos are linked to the Designer Starter Kit.
To enjoy the series of tutorials better,
I recommend you guys download the sketching book for beginners first.