Best fountain pens for drawing: The 3 types for beginners

You can certainly draw with any pen but fountain pens do offer some advantages over other types of pens. Main advantage is you get to use your own inks and therefore have access to almost unlimited colours, and you can use waterproof inks to create mixed media art. Fountain pen nibs also come with different designs that can produce a variety of lines.

I would broadly categorise fountain pens into three categories:

  • Those that produce uniform consistent line widths
  • Flex nib pens that can produce lines with varying widths depending on the pressure applied
  • Fude nib pens that can produce lines with varying widths depending on how the pen is held

There are actually many other types of fountain pen nibs, eg. stub, music, architecture, calligraphy, and specialty nibs, but I'm not mentioning them because those pens are more difficult to use for drawing.

1. Pen nibs that produce uniform consistent lines

Unless otherwise mentioned, most fountain pen nibs should produce uniform lines with consistent widths. The drawing performance is consistent, predictable. Common nib sizes are EF, F, M and B.

Sketches drawn with consistent line widths may look boring. Keyword being "may" since how good a drawing is will depend on a lot of factors.

The look and feel of a drawing will also depend on the thickness of the lines. Thicker lines will draw more attention, and thinner lines make it easier to draw details.

This sketch was drawn with an EF nib.

The thinner lines allowed me to draw details which would have been impossible or too difficult to draw with thicker lines.

For beginners the pens that I recommend are

Regardless of which fountain pen you get, make sure there's an ink convertor included, or buy one. The ink convertor allows you to refill your pen and use your own inks.

2. Flex nib pens

Flex nib pens allow you to draw thin and thick lines depending on how much pressure you apply. These are more versatile pens compared to pen nibs that only produce uniform lines.

This sketch was drawn with a flex nib that can go from EF to B.

This sketch was drawn with a mix of thin and thick lines. Foreground elements were drawn with thicker lines, and background elements were drawn with thinner lines

Using a flex nib pen to draw a sketch like this is actually more challenging compared to using a pen nib that can produce uniform lines. Reason being to draw the many elements in the foreground, you would have to press the nib to get the thicker lines, and then drawn the background elements with normal pressure.

The sketch would have been easier to drawn with a normal pen nib. The thinner lines can be drawn with the pen nib upside down/reversed.

Choosing the right pen to create the effect you want is important. Otherwise, you'll just make the drawing process more difficult

Flex nibs are available with EF, F, M and B nibs.

Some of the flex nib pens I recommend are

3. Fude nib pens

Fude nibs are bent nibs created for writing Asian calligraphy.

The thickness of the lines will change depending on how the pen is held or the tilt of the pen.

When writing, the hand position is always changing, so the line width is always changing.

Here's a sketch drawn with the Duke 551 fude nib.

The variety of thin and thick lines help create visual interest.

Some companies that make fude nib fountain pens are:

  • Duke
  • Hero
  • Jinhao
  • Sailor

Fude nib fountain pens can be quite affordable. You can find ones from Duke, Hero and Jinhao easily on eBay.

There's no best fountain pen since the choice of fountain pens is very subjective.

My general advice to getting a fountain pen is to get one that's affordable to get the feel of drawing with one. You can "upgrade" to get other types of pens and nibs in the future.

Check out all the fountain pens that I've reviewed at



a short note on the TWSBI pen

a short note on the TWSBI pen you linked:
the TWSBI diamond has had a more value-oriented small cousin for a while now, the TWSBI eco (~30 USD compared to the 50something USD for the diamond). like the diamond, it’s a piston filler, but the overall design is a bit simpler to manufacture (the diamond’s faceted barrel is smooth in the eco, it relies on the cap design instead to prevent rolling off the desk) and you don’t get the swappable nib/feed units you have in the diamond.

being able to swap between different size nibs could be a valuable factor for drawing use, as you don’t have to buy multiple pens and keep them all inked up.

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

I realise this is an old post but on the off-chance you see this, do you happen to know if Duke fude nibs come in different sizes? I got a 209 last year and absolutely love it! Then I bought a different Duke (Ruby) which is nice, but the lines it can produce are so much thicker than my 209... Just wondering if this was a manufacturing fault? I thought I'd ask if you knew as I can only get 209's as an import from China now and would rather cut out those air miles if I can get a different model but with the same thinner fude nib from my country (UK)



Ah, ok thanks for the reply.

Ah, ok thanks for the reply. I guess I must have got a slightly thinner one than most?! The reason I am looking to get more than one pen with a fude nib is so I can put different coloured ink in each for sketching. Hopefully the Duke 209 will become available on Amazon again in the future.

Actually jon, there are i

Actually jon, there are i believe 2 fude nib pens from sailor that have different angles so they make different size strokes, i have the slightly more expensive pink pearl one and oh my god, i love this nib so much i literally cried when the cat kicked it off my table and messed the tine alignment up and have spent way too long playing with a loupe trying to get the nib feeling back to how it was out of the box.

Okay went and looked on amazon so the cheaper style body pens are green which is the 55 degree nib and the navy one is 40 degree.

I have 2 fude bent nib pens, one by art tools that came with a double ended travel watercolor brush and the sailor one i believe the pink body one i have is 55 degrees? And there is a size difference in the strokes. I would assume that just based on small differences that are always present when you compare brands for any kind of product, there will be size varation for each brand of nib. The problem is a lot lf the cheaper branded pens use the same kind brand nib so pay attention to who makes the nib not the pen itself and when in doubt ask the seller for a writing sample from the pen.

Add new comment