Technical drawing pens are designed to be the perfect drafting tool. Engineers and architects need perfectly straight, dark lines that are exactly the same width every time to draw schematics and other technical drawings by hand. Technical drawing pens deliver with needle-point tips that can be used precisely along a ruler’s edge and richly pigmented inks that stand out from the page. Although they were originally intended for technical use, these pens’ precision, quality, and reliability have made them a favorite among artists as well.
As a disposable pen, the Ohto Graphic Liner requires no maintenance and is easy to grab and go. It has dark, waterproof pigment ink that is also Copic proof and archival quality. This makes it a good choice for multi-media art and work that is intended to last a long time. It comes in several tip sizes.
- What is a Technical Drawing Pen?
- Technical Drawing Pen Considerations
- Technical Drawing Pen Recommendations
- Uses for Technical Drawing Pens
- How to Take Care of Technical Drawing Pens
- Technical Drawing Pen Test Results
- Compare These Pens
- How We Approach Research & Testing
- Other Resources
Traditional technical drawing pens use a narrow metal tube, usually containing a very thin wire, to deliver ink to their tip. The circular tube design allows pens to create extremely precise lines in any stroke direction. This ink delivery mechanism requires the pen to be held perpendicular to the writing surface to function properly.
Some newer styles have plastic tips that are reinforced with metal guides. Plastic-tipped pens are slightly less precise but easier to use at an angle. These pens can also be considered fineliners, but we include them here because their waterproof ink and firm needle-point tips allow them to be used in the same way as traditional technical pens.
Some technical drawing pens use a naming scheme that does not correspond to a millimeter measurement. The numbers on these pens, such as 003 or 05, express their relative tip size. A pen with the number 003 has a tip size similar to 0.15 mm, while the tip size of a 05 pen is comparable to 0.45 mm. You can check the millimeter tip size of each of these pens on their respective product pages on our website.
In addition, some manufacturers measure the tip width while others measure the line produced. Most metal tips are measured by the line produced and give a finer line than plastic tips of the same measurement.
If you’re concerned about messes or travel frequently, cartridges are a better bet. They are easy to install and contain the ink safely. However, they lock you into the ink provided by the manufacturer and are more expensive in the long run.
These reliable, inexpensive pens let beginners try technical drawing pens without the commitment of large price tags or maintenance.
These reusable pens are more durable than their disposable counterparts and have a higher upfront cost. Since you don’t have to replace the entire pen every time you run out of ink or bend a tip, they are less expensive and more environmentally friendly in the long run.
Since they use an internal inkwell to hold bottled ink, you can dilute their ink to achieve a gradient or use other inks if they suit your purposes better. The ink included with the pen is dark, free-flowing, and highly lifting resistant. These pens should be cleaned regularly to avoid clogs.
If you have a set of these technical drawing pens, you’ll never need another. With proper care, these high-quality metal-tipped pens will perform impeccably for many years. Their highly pigmented inks, range of tip sizes, reliable quality, and manufacturer warranties make them ideal for professional use.
Products Used: Koh-I-Noor Rapidosketch 0.35
Products Used: Rotring Isograph 0.5, Sakura Pigma Micron 005, Sakura Pigma Micron 01 (Purple)
Products Used: Ohto Graphic Liner 02, Rotring Isograph 0.5
Comic artists also use technical pens for lettering due to their even line weight and reliable flow. While all technical drawing pens are well suited for comics and manga, the Sakura Pigma Micron and Copic Multiliner pens are the most common choice among comic artists because of their fine line weight and more forgiving plastic tips.
Products Used: Copic Multiliner SP 0.3
Technical drawing pens require special care to ensure optimal performance. These simple guidelines will keep your pens functioning well.
If your pen came with cleaning instructions, follow them when maintaining your pen. The process is similar to cleaning a fountain pen, but you need to be extra careful not to damage the delicate nib. If your pen did not come with cleaning instructions, this process should do the trick:
Disassemble all the parts except the nib. We do not recommend disassembling the nib as this may void the pen’s warranty and risks bending the internal wire.
Rinse the nib and any other soiled parts with water until no more ink comes out. If you are doing this at a sink, make sure to plug the drain to avoid losing small pieces.
Soak the pen parts in a cup of water. Keep changing the water as it becomes saturated with ink until it stays clear for an hour. You can purchase special cleaning bulbs for some pens that force water through the tip to clean it more thoroughly, similar to flushing a fountain pen with a converter.
Allow all of the parts to dry completely before filling them with ink and reassembling the pen. You can speed this up by tapping the parts gently to remove excess moisture and drying them with q-tips. Do not tap the pen tip against anything or you will damage it.
We tested all of our technical drawing pens for resistance against water, Copic markers, and erasing. We allowed all samples to dry for 24 hours before testing.
All of these pens are lightfast except for the Tombow Mono Drawing Pens.
Do you want to review all of our recommended technical drawing pens at once? Use our comparison tool to see their specifications side by side.
Our writers draw on their personal expertise, consult our in-house subject matter experts, and do extensive research to make our guides as accurate and comprehensive as possible. We then test every finding that makes it through the research stage. Only the techniques and tools whose performance we personally confirm make it into our guides as recommendations.
Technical drawing pens are beloved by artists, engineers, and draftspeople alike for their extreme precision and wide variety of tip sizes. How do you use your technical drawing pens? Tell us in the comments below.