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Artist Process- Using Pens in Artwork

It can be very fun to add some flair to your artwork with colorful pens. Pens are a great way to add variation and color to sketchbooks, metallic shimmer to watercolor art and of course, add lettering and line work.

Using Pigma Microns in your sketchbook can make your favorite sketches stand out from the page. The bold line work draws the eye much faster than the pencil sketches around it.

Dark colored outlines can help separate your artwork from the background and add more definition to the drawing or illustration. Fine liners are perfect for this, however, be careful. Most fine liners smudge when in contact with wet alcohol ink or watercolors, with the exception of Pigma Micron Pens. Always test the pens with the medium you plan on using, that way you know what to expect while you work on your final piece.  

The Sakura Pigma Microns are waterproof, and can be used with water-based mediums such as watercolor. Give your lines ample time to dry (between 5 and 10 minutes). These pens come in a variety of thicknesses, and the brush pen set comes with many colors. Both sets are ideal to use with watercolor.

Here I used the Pigma Micron Brush Pen, as well as some of the fine liners, for lettering and line work.

White gel pens are especially useful for highlights, or transparency effects. Gelly Rolls can be used for lettering, metallic details and highlights. These pens have unique ink that is smooth, but might take a moment to dry. They can also be used to draw and write on black paper. They are pleasant to use for arts, crafts, writing and even scrapbooking. The white Gelly Roll Pens are opaque over most mediums and are ideal for highlights.

The ‘Moonlight & White’ set have ten beautiful bright colors, as well as two white pens. The ‘Metallic’ set has bold glitter pens that add a nice flourish to any art piece you are working on. The ‘Stardust’ set has finer glitter, adding a shimmer to the ink. The ‘Glaze’ Set has a smooth, glossy ink, and are less fluorescent than the ‘Moonlight & White’ set.

Here is a recent watercolor illustration in which I used both the Pigma Microns and Gelly Roll Pens. The Gelly Rolls were used for the character’s eyes.

With all these Gelly Roll set options, it can be a challenge to know which to buy. This will depend on which style and approach you take to your art. ‘Moonlight and White’ are a wonderful set for hand lettering, writing and drawing on black paper, as well as adding bright highlights to artworks. The ‘Metallic’ and ‘Stardust’ sets are for adding glittering and shimmering touches to artworks or hand lettering. The ‘Metallic’ pens look good on black paper, but the ‘Stardust’ pens don’t stand out a lot on the black surface, but can be layered over other mediums for the shimmering details. 

Using pens alongside other mediums is a fun way to experiment with things such as line work, metallic detailing, highlights and drawing on black paper. Using brush pens for calligraphy and lettering is another way to add a new dimension to artwork.