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At The PaintBox we offer an extensive range of drawing pens for artists, designers and illustrators. Pens vary massively and so we hope that being able to browse our range of pens for drawing, sketching or writing will help you choose the best one for you.

At The PaintBox we sell a selection of both water-soluble and waterproof pens. It is a question of personal choice as to which is best suited for your needs. Some artists like water-soluble pens as they lend interesting effects such as bleeding and smudging when used with watercolour. Other artists prefer waterproof pens for traditional pen and wash drawings, with the pen lending solid lines and structure within a composition, and the wash supplying bursts of colour over the top. Paint Markers such as those offered by Liquitex are a smart way of applying solid lines of acrylic colour. The Liquitex markers follow the same colour chart as the spray paints available in each of the manufacturer’s product lines. This makes it very easy to use the sprays and the pens at the same time, adopting a similar approach to a pen and wash artist; the pens can supply lines, form or structure to a design, and the sprays can supply bursts of colour. As with any acrylic paint, there is a little drying time, which can be really useful if you want to blend your colours with your fingers before they dry; it can also be very irritating if you smudge your marks by accident, so be careful!

Traditional fine art drawings tend to use limited colour, so that form and mark making alone can be appreciated. Technical draughtsmen such as architects and engineers (of the past!) would not normally need coloured pens to communicate their ideas, which is why most technical pens are only available with black ink. Today it is more common for artists to demand colour in their lines, as well as a variety of different marks. When using coloured pens in your drawings, you need to think about whether you want to make bold, opaque, solid marks (use a paint marker such as Liquitex or Montana) or transparent marks that can be layered over one another to make new colour mixes (try Faber Castell Brush Pens).

IF your work is going to be reproduced, for example an illustration for a greeting card or a comic strip, you may want to have the most vibrant colours available but not be overly concerned about lightfastness, in which case you will be more interested in dye based pens, such as Kuretake Cocoiro Pens or Pigma Micron fineliner pens. If you are a fine artist that requires your finished drawings to be exhibited on a wall then you will be more concerned with lightfastness than colour intensity that is more susceptible to fading.

The pens that we sell are in the main, sold individually. Sets do not have interchangeable colours and are a good gift for a budding artist or illustrator. If you are more experienced in drawing practices then you may consider it more important to select your own colours.

Fine liners help create precise and detailed drawings, while brush pens blend painting with drawing and are perfect for illustration. The shaped nibs of calligraphy pens allow you to form beautiful flowing lettering.

There is very little difference between sketching pens and technical pens: Both tend to have a steel reinforced fibre tip that is very short and stubby, and both tend to have water-resistant ink in them (there are some exceptions to this rule so it is always worth checking). The only real difference is that Sketching Pens tend to offer broader nibs that can achieve broader marks.

Three companies dominate Japanese fountain pen making, all established in the 1910’s and 1920’s, and all motivated by their common desire to develop a superior Japanese counterpart to their Western competitors such as Waterman and Parker. Ironically, the latter companies have lost their once top dog positions in the ‘fountain pen world’, while Sailor, Pilot and Platinum today represent the Holy Trinity of excellence in writing utensils. The main and defining reason for this accolade is the fact that all three companies supervise their production from beginning to end within their very own factories. No subcontracting ensures total quality control, and private ownership protects their original vision and enthusiasm for pen making.

We sell a selection of bamboo pens. These primitive pens are made of dried bamboo sticks that are hollow so that the pen can be dipped into Chinese ink and then dragged across the surface on which you are working. The lines created with these bamboo pens are expressive and vibrant. The bamboo pens are best used for relatively short lines where blotchiness and variation in the width of the line created does no matter too much. Bamboo pens are wonderful in describing natural forms such as trees, branches or grass. We sell bamboo pens both with a flat nib and a pointed nib. The flat nib can be used to make a wider range of marks, but the pointed nib will produce finer marks. Bamboo pens do not hold a lot of ink and so need frequent dipping – they are not designed to create long unbroken lines. Once the ink starts to run out they are capable of making dry, textured marks which can also be very interesting. They were once also used for Chinese calligraphy. A real gem of a mark-maker. To complement the staccato marks of the bamboo pen we also sell the Kuretake Bimoji Fude pens – These have a brush like felt nib that allow for flowing, soft, undulating lines that taper to a fine point. Also very well suited to Chinese Calligraphy, but with a more flowing decorative quality.

These pens have a fibre tip and a clear plastic barrel. There are a selection of tips, including a detailer tip, flat broad tip, large tip, medium tip and the pocket brush. These pens are designed to only contain water (fill with other media at your peril, as the pen may clog up). They are particularly useful when working with watercolour pencils, as you can brush water over a coloured pencil drawing, and the colours will suddenly appear more vibrant and blended with one another. The choice in different sized nibs means that you will not lose any of the detail you may have put in your drawing. They can also be useful when making a drawing that incorporates ink or watercolour.

Calligraphy is the traditional art of beautiful writing. At The PaintBox you will find pens from The Western, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern traditions as well as their classic and progressive variations.

Brush Pens with which to create swirls, curls and decorative text. Dip Pens where calligraphy nibs are inserted into wooden or cork pen holders, and traditionally dipped into inkwells containing indian ink. As well as traditional english calligraphy supplies we also sell materials with which you can try your hand at Chinese Calligraphy and Japanese Calligraphy. Calligraphy tools, especially the mapping pen nibs, are also useful drawing tools.

These pens are designed with comfort in mind. Despite many of the nibs being super fine, the pen barrel is nice a big for comfort in the hand whilst drawing. The ink is water-based pigment ink and is lightfast, smudge-proof and can be used with watercolours or alcohol-based markers. They are available in 0.1mm or 0.5mm steel reinforced nibs as well as 2 sizes of brush nib, in black or sepia colours. Great for comic illustration but also for all kinds of expressive drawing.

The Shin Han Touch Twin Marker Pens are available as a set of 24 and a set of 60. Shin Han markers are double ended with a bullet nib on one end and a chisel edge nib on the other. The range of marks that can be achieved with just these two nibs is astonishing. The ink is lightfast and waterproof and works well with other media. Shin Han markers are used by many of our customers to render illustrations and in mixed media projects. They are really good value for money!

A relatively new addition to the paint marker market, the Liquitex paint marker range has the same colours as the Liquitex spray paint range, so they are really ease to use alongside one another in a work. While they are drying (for a few minutes after they have been applied to a surface) the colours can be blended with one another with your finger or a rag. The pens are available with either a 2mm or 15mm nib, which are interchangeable. Sadly as yet the pens are not refillable. There are 50 colours in the range with a mixture of transparent and opaque colours. Remember that these pens are filled with acrylic paint and so the nibs are susceptible to drying out over time. All colours are lightfast and permanent. Suitable for large-scale artwork, outdoor murals, mixing with acrylics, fine-detail, sketching and all kinds of mixed media. They dry to a satin finish.

As you can see, we sell many kinds of pen for many different art applications – from italic calligraphy writing to graffiti and comic arts, and with each kind of art technique a set of characteristics are demanded from the artists that use them. The pens on offer at The PaintBox are a sample of the best pens available in the world today for fine artists, designers, illustrators and textile artists. When you come to consider which pen is best for you, you will need to ask yourself questions such as: