Tools of the Trade: 8 Creators and the Pens, Pencils and Markers They Love

Being creative doesn’t take any specific tool, but after years of work and exploration we all develop our favorites. Maybe the ink from that pen flows just right or makes the perfect tiny dots. Maybe that marker has the color with the most punch. You know what’s best and so do these artists using pens, pencils or markers. We rounded up 8 from past features to learn which tool they like to keep close, and what kind of work they’ve used them for.

The Detailed Ink Pen Doodles of Kerby Rosanes

Most of us have found ourselves doodling at some time or another, but very few of us could fill a pocket sketchbook the way Philippines-based illustrator Kerby Rosanes has. His incredibly detailed illustrations give us a peek into his brilliant imagination. Each doodle looks amazing from afar, but the closer you get, the more the playful details are revealed. Using just a black ink pen on white paper, he creates intricate imaginary worlds. The 23 year old artist left his job as a graphic designer to freelance his creative talents.

LIX: Draw in the Air with the World’s Smallest 3D Printing Pen

LIX is a 3D printing pen launched yesterday on Kickstarter and already funded by nearly 300%. Apparently this is going to be big. LIX is unique in the new market of 3D printing pens (including the 3Doodler) for two reasons: because it is very small and the fact that it can run off of a USB 3.0 port. If it works as advertised, those two factors will combine to make this one of the most useful and portable examples on the market – not to mention something comfortable enough in the hand to do some serious 3D sketching.

Intricately Detailed Pen & Ink Drawings of Animals by Tim Jeffs

1 Tim Jeffs Animal Drawings

With nothing more than a sketchbook and a whole bunch of uniball-power tank pens, Tim Jeffs spends 12 to 16 hours creating amazingly detailed animal portraits. The pen and ink illustrations are incredibly hyper-realistic and it’s hard to believe that the rich, black backgrounds are also created by saturated ink. Aside from being a husband to his devoted wife Jane, father to Jenna and Harrison, Creative Director in NYC, and an exceptional illustrator, Tim Jeffs was a founding member of White Zombie. His roommate at Parsons School of Design, where he graduated with a degree in illustration in the 1987, was none other than Rob Zombie and Jeffs was one of the band’s first guitarists!

Each Line One Breath: Freehand Illustrations of Amplified Imperfections

1 Lines John Franzen

There are many different forms of meditation- for some it’s sitting cross-legged focusing on their breath, for others it’s going through various yoga sequences, but for artist John Franzen, his freehand illustrations are the perfect mind-clearing activity. For his series called Each Line One Breath he creates “morphogenetic freehand drawings.” Starting at the left of the page, he begins drawing a line with a black pen as straight as he can, but since he is only human the line is never ruler-straight. He then attempts to copy the line, with another one parallel to it, leaving just the tiniest bit of space, continuing this process all the way to the right edge of the paper. The imperfections get intensified with each line, creating waves that look almost three dimensional.

Richly Layered Ballpoint Pen & Marker Portraits

1 toyin odutola

Although these striking portraits by Toyin Odutola appear to be digital, they are actually illustrations using markers and many layers of ballpoint pen. Through her work, the Nigerian-American artist shows the many layers and constant evolving of an individual, often using herself or her brothers as the subjects. To achieve the darkness in the hair, she uses up to five layers of pen, but the main focus of her work is meant to be the skin. Just as the ink of a ballpoint pen is not really black, her images redefine blackness. She has published an abridged version of her masters thesis from California College of the Arts in a book called Alphabet: A Selected Index of Anecdotes & Drawings where she explains how her life experiences have shaped her art.

Feathers and Fur: Beautiful Drawings in BallPoint Pen

Mel Fischer 2

Ah the lowly ballpoint pen: it’s the kind of writing instrument you don’t often associate with fine art, but one that is almost always at hand. East German born artist Mel Fischer knows how to harness every bit of charm out of the ubiquitous pens, creating realistic illustrations full of fur and feathers. Her works feature both animals and humans, the latter being adorned with stylish, feathery headwear.

Illustrating Youth with a Ballpoint Pen

If you took your old school notebook drawings, full of youthful exuberance and intense attention to detail – then added a dose of seasoned artistic maturity – you would have artwork that looks a lot like Carine Brancowitz’s. Using only a ballpoint pen to create her beautiful drawings, Brancowitz creates illustrations with a primary color pallet from the early 80s filled with subjects that look a lot like they are pining away for that era: despondent youths eating ramen, smoking cigarettes, chilling at the coffee shop.

Let The Machine Do The Drawing

Core77 brings us the DrawingMachine by Eske Rex. Not only are the drawings hypnotic but the sound and movements of the Drawing Machine can put you in a trance. The drawings stand 8′ 11″ x 8′ 11″ (272 cm x 272 cm) and the machine uses ballpoint pens to do it’s work.