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!


HoBallpoint pen systemw does the ballpoint pen work?

Let’s look more closely at the small Figure 2 of the picture.

  1. The ball
  2. The ball carrier
  3. 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.

Zoom ballpoint pen nib
Zoom ballpoint pen nib

Designers are pen-testing Lover

Ballpoint pen at the art corner of the shop
Ballpoint pen at the art corner of the shop

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.

Sketching Pen Collection
My Sketching Pen Collection

My student George Brent did also his personal ballpoint pen test
before starting my online course Sketch Like The Pros.

BIC ATLANTIS vs BIC STANDARD (Drawing test by George Brent)

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.


To test drawing materials, don’t just draw simple shapes or lines.
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

Draw a Sony Projector Design with a ballpoint pen
Draw a Sony Projector Design with a ballpoint pen
Draw with a ballpoint pen backpack ideas
Draw many Backpacks ideas with a ballpoint pen

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. 🙂

Drawing Tip

As a pen lover, you should treat yourself to a small budget for buying pens.
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

How to hold your pen when you draw
How to hold your pen when you draw – From the Designer Starter Kit

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

Drawing test at the art shop
Drawing test at the art shop

Even if they’re commonly available anywhere, I consider the ballpoint a jewel of technology.

Drawing with a ballpoint pen every day is a great way to practice your skills and express your creativity.
A ballpoint pen can produce amazing results with the right techniques and imagination.

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!

Receipt sketch in a cafe at starbuck - the design sketchbook
Receipt sketch in a cafe at Starbucks with my Ballpoint pen

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.
Drawing a bag in Japan
Drawing a cool Bag in a fashion store in Japan

Black ballpoint pen stain paper with inkblotsThe 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.


1- Regularly clean the pen tip on scratch paper
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

Bic Ballpoint pen 4 coloursMulticolour ballpoint penSchawn Stabilo Rollerball

  • Mini-pens.
    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.

Deo bille with the ballpoint pen technology
Ultra lift eye roller with with the ballpoint pen technology

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.

The Designer Starter Kit Book

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:

  1. How to draw straight lines
  2. How to draw a perfect square
  3. How to draw awesome circles
  4. How to sharpen your sense of proportion
  5. How to draw a cube with 1 point perspective
  6. 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.


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  • Hey, I draw a lot with ballpoint and my drawings and the ink keeps getting pale and yellow, wether  they are exposed to the sun or not. Is it possible to keep the ink in its original color? This would help me so much, thank you!!
    Have a great day

  • If you soak the stained portion in unprocessed milk the milk acid will dissolve the ballpoint pen ink. i had a few stained curtains from my kid and it worked.

    – MC

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  • Does anybody know how to get rid of accidental drops of ink on cartridge paper? I’m 13 hours through my ballpoint pen drawing for an exam and I have several dots which are really annoying me. I was advised not to use a pen eraser as it would damage the paper, so instead I used a compass to try scratch away lightly at the surface, but the dot turned into a circle, so I used a white gel pen over it and it turned blue. Does anyone have any advice?

  • About the bleeding issue i heard that bic orange fine doesn’t bleed with copics (well the guys behind the book design sketching say that) they also said that some ballpoint pens in combination with different brands of markers might not bleed or minimize the bleeding issue

  • In the UK and probably in the States you can buy a product called Stain Devils – they do several versions including one specifically designed to remove ink from fabric, they are a God send and have saved me many times from exploding Ballpoints. Hope this helps 🙂 PS. The staedler ballpoints are really sturdy and nice to use, the ink flows well but they’re quite hard to come by.

  • Simple but great technology. The most incredible things in ours life are usually dealt in simple ways, which makes ‘simple’ a very difficult task to achieve in everything we do. The ballpoint technology is one of those simple but great things, just like the paper clip for example. Have you tried the Zebra F-301? I´ve read reviews that it´s a great pen to draw with 🙂 Haven´t tried it though.

    Thanks for this great article.


    Roger Santos

    • I’ve used the Zebra F-301 pen and like them quite a bit, but find them a little more difficult to get the gradual shading you can get with a Bic pen. My most used pen is the Fisher Space Pen. I always have a Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pen in my pocket…always! The added benefit to the Fisher Space Pen is that the ink is pressurized to it will write on vertical surfaces or even upside down.

  • Weirdly milk cleans ball pen stains rather well (I used to carry one in my pocket when I work. And sometimes it explodes….)

  • Interesting. I just use one pen and do small lines very close together, have been testing using different pens for different tones. Too many pens just gets confusing

  • i use a uni ball point and often spoil the tip on purpose by shading with it on purpose, to get minimum ink flow so i go both ultra fine and regular at the same time. to go darker, i would just go over couple times.

    inspiring site btw

  • with any kind of stain , you need to get cold water on it , and then if its possible Dawn soap w/ oxy helps , baking soda makes a difference too.

  • Me too, I love the ballpoints pen ! They can draw with me! My favorite in the Bic medium black!
    We use the same type of “car” but we do not drive the same way! cool n’est pas? 🙂