top of page

What are the Best Sketching Pens and Markers?

With the relatively recent advancement in computer-aided design technologies, including 3D rendering and virtual reality, designers are moving further and further away from traditional, rather “archaic” methods of visual production. Not only is this advent of digital design trend enabling designers to generate work rapidly and efficiently, but it may also be generating a wave of creators that are less connected to their work. Desktop screens are in, drafting boards are out.

Sketching is an important part of the design process that cannot be overlooked, lost, or forgotten. Early in the design process, sketching can be a valuable crutch to assist in conveying ideas, demonstrating functionality, illustrating visual user flow, and showing alternative design outcomes. Sketching can also be used as a tool to discover potential issues and uncover possible solutions, before becoming too invested in a project. There is simply no digital substitute for drawing by hand with pen and paper.

It is important to have the proper drawing utensils to convey a particular visual outcome. There are different sketching techniques and styles that are associated with select design stages. Likewise, there are designated drawing utensils that should be used in accordance with each individual design stage. Further explained are three examples of different drawing methods, along with the proper drawing utensils recommend for each method.

Pens for Partis

Before diving into any design project, it is essential to start with a “parti” – sorry, no balloons or cake here! A parti diagram is best defined as a “napkin sketch”. Parti diagrams are quick, to-the-point, and are overall an extremely useful tool to aid in visual problem-solving. This style of sketch does not particularly represent what the project will look like in plan, elevation, or three-dimension, but rather acts as a visual road map of the initial thought process. Each line on the paper is strategically placed as an intuitive response to the problem posed by a new project. During the schematic design phase, partis help to illustrate concepts such as form, program, circulation of people, wind, or even sunlight.

When creating a parti, the proper drawing utensils should be readily available. Think cheap and cheerful! Ball-point pens are especially popular for creating parti drawings because they are easily accessible (not to mention – are the world's most used writing utensil). Ball-point pens are not usually waterproof, which means the ink is likely to smear. However, parti drawings do not need to last a lifetime and can bear a little smudge here and there. Let’s just say, smears add character. Ball-point pens maintain a consistent line weight, which is best for illustrating key ideas and not so great for showing details. Lastly, ball-point pens can be used on a variety of paper types, including napkins!


Fine-Line with Fine-Tip

After reproducing partis until it has achieved its preferred look, an artist may advance to the next level of drawing complexity. Detail drawings, also known as architectural drawings, are commonly used in architecture, interior design, construction, mapping, and engineering to illustrate technical aspects of a project. Detail drawings convey final building selections, such as material finishes, façade textures, interior trim, framework, or even complicated areas of assembly. These drawings, along with other kinds of construction and structural drawings, form a unified set used to guide building contractors throughout the whole construction phase.

Modern computer-aided design (CAD) technologies have impacted nearly every industry in the world, including the practice of architectural hand-drawing. For centuries before, professionals considered hand-drawing as an art form. By continuously layering line stroke on top of line stoke, an emotional and physical connection is fabricated between the artist and the art that is impossible to replicate by any digital technology.

Due to the keen number of intricacies required to produce detailed drawings by hand, special pens are necessary to control line weights and stroke thicknesses. Fine-tip pens are the most common drawing utensils recommend

ed to create detailed drawings. Also known as “fabric” pens, or polyacetal plastic tip pens (soft plastic tips), they typically come in a selection of varying sizes from .005 mm (superfine tip) to .08mm. Thicker tipped pens are best when used to outline key elements of the drawing, such as the overall building form. Smaller tip sizes are used for creating stippled textures or hatched infills. Most fine-tip pen brands are waterproof and will not smear, generally classifying these quality pens in a higher price bracket.


Cap It Off With Color

The final and most complex stage of the drawing process is analog rendering, a drawing style utilized to make the project look as realistic as possible. “Analog” pertains to a mechanism or device in which information is represented by physical quantities, whereas “rendering” is defined as the process of generating a photorealistic image. In a nutshell, analog rendering is a fancy way to say “hand-drawing”. Analog rendered scenes contain layers of detail to add depth to an image, paying close attention to object geometries, viewpoints, textures, colors, lighting, and shading. Today, rendering is commonly achieved through computer-aided design (CAD) software like Lumion, Sketchup, or Enscape. However, analog rendering remains the most fluent and unhindered way to transmit what is in the designer’s imagination to the physical world. There is an inherent freedom in drawing by hand that can’t be replicated with a mouse and keyboard, not even with a digital pen and drawing pad.

Analog renderings can be achieved through the use of a variety of drawing utensils. Ultimately, it is up to the artist to determine which media type is preferred to convey his/her work. For example, colored pencils or markers are excellent for adding a splash of color to the masterpiece, along with colored pastels, and water-based or oil-based paints. Prismacolor Premier Markers are a popular colored marker brand for experienced artists. Prismacolor Markers feature an advanced dye-based alcohol ink formulation that adds a rich color saturation and coverage to the work. These markers have two distinct nibs capable of achieving multiple line widths on either side. Both ends draw from a single ink reservoir for a perfect color match end to end, making them ideal for both technical and artistic applications. Intended for professional artists and advanced students, Prismacolor Art Markers will not fade or feather.



bottom of page