Fine liner vs dip pen; inking your drawings

Do you want nice beautiful dark lines in your drawing? Then maybe you would like to use a dip pen or a fine liner!

More and more people like to ink their drawings before working with them further. Inking means going over a pencil sketch with ink. This can make it easier to colour in with markers or watercolours afterwards. It can also be great for having a comic book effect or work on contrast and values in your work.

Which of the two will you be using for your next project?

This has been used for years but it is great now for combining with for example Copic markers.

You can ink a drawing with many different techniques and tools.

For pure line drawing that I am going to colour in afterwards (or have coloured in and am inking over the colour) I like two kinds of tools; Fine liners and dip pens.

Both have their own advantages. For anyone who is curious about inking and what tools to use.

ink and tools

Fine liners

Fine liners are basically very thin felt tip markers. They come in many variations both water based and alcohol based. The best fine liners  are smudge proof,  waterproof and don’t dry out to quick.

Another thing to look for is a good tip on the pen that are sturdy and which won’t; bend, break, fray or split.

Some people swear by one brand of fine-liners but there are many great brands out there.

Some of the best-known ones are the Copic multi-liners. Since I never used them I have no idea if these are superior but I heard they were quite good.

Personally, I like to use the uni pin ones a lot. They don’t dry out too quickly and the 0,05 is amazing for details.

They’re also a lot less expensive than the Copic multi-liners.

Dip pens

Dips pens are a little bit more classic. The great thing about dip pens is that they are cheap and you can buy a different kind of tips. A good tip won’t rust, bent beyond repair or split if treated right.

One of the cons is that you will have to buy the ink separately but this is often not very expensive and will last you a long time.

Plus, you can use the same ink for ink washes to create value in your piece easily

Another great thing about dip pens is that there are a lot of different nibs available.  This gives you the option to have one holder and different nibs giving your tool a lot of different options.

You have broader nibs, nibs that hold more colour and more fine nibs.

different kind of nibs

You also have the special types like ones made out of feathers or bamboo. These all come with their own effect and skill set to acquire.


The biggest difference between the two is probably the effect the will give you. Fine liners are generally a lot easier for neat straight lines.

bunny in fineliner

Like this bunny made with fine liners. My lines are quite neat and not very sketchy (you could still get those though). 

You can get these with dip pens but it will cost you some more effort. They are however great when your want to add some line weight to your lines because it happens almost automatically.

So while it is harder to work neater it is easier to get a lively drawing and a more dynamic feel to it.

Drawing made with dip-pens, however, need to dry before you can colour them. The ink flow is a lot heavier and uncontrolled. Fineliners only give a little ink of at a time and the ink almost instantly dries in the paper.


Another thing to consider is that dip-pens cost more effort to learn anyway. Getting even lines might take some time. I had the luck that I was forced to work with them in high school. (And I thoroughly cursed them already back then.)

Starting with the dipping. Your dip pen has a little hole in the tip. When you dip your pen you want that to stay clear otherwise you will have ink blots. Loading your pens to full will result in inkblots, working too fast will result in ink blotting, breathing might end in ink blots.

The best thing to do is practise a lot and you will get a feel for how much ink you need and how far to dip.

Some other side notes;

  • When using a dip pen, you can scratch the paper if you aren’t careful.

  • Don’t wash your pens with water unless you dry them thoroughly or they will never be used again.

  • Fineliners can dry out when you leave the cap off so don’t do that.

So overall you might even say that fine-liners and dip pens are different mediums altogether. Trying both out is a great way to get to know which you really like better. Personally, I just like both for different kind of effects.


The secret weapon

 There is one more thing I need to share. Maybe some of you already know about this one but what if you want the quick drying effect of the fine-liners, the line-weight of the pen and ink and the effect of using a brush?

Then you want a brush pen.

Brush pens come in all kind of sizes and kind. A very known one is the pentel brush pen. It has great ink and the brush is quite flexible. Since I don’t live in America/the UK, however, I pay a lot for such a brush pen.

That is why I prefer using the Fabercastell Pitt artist pen in Big. This one is basically more a felt tip, but the amount of control you have is amazing.

The things you want to look for when buying a brush pen are the kind of tip you want; hairy, more bendable or more like a felt tip.

The second thing to watch for is the kind of ink it contains. Most artist pens will have waterproof non-smudge ink. But doing a little research never hurts anyone.

So overall this are all your options and I hope you find something you like.

Let me know what your favourite is out of all of these or if you don’t use any of them?

The arrogance of art – feeling better about art promoting

Something I struggle a lot with is the sense of arrogance every time I post my art.
To me, posting my art screams: look at this, I’m so great. While really I just want to share something that made me happy, maybe even proud. And I never think as other artist being arrogant when they share their work. I love seeing other people’s artwork and I think it’s beautiful to see part of other people’s imagination and dreams.

So every time I upload I try to think like that. Maybe someone sees it and if it makes him or her happy, that would be great. At the same time, I want to make money by making art, which means asking money for my work, which means saying my art is good enough to pay for. I find this hard to do. Furthermore, to do so, I have to promote my work and tell people why they should buy it.

To create a balance between these two sides of me I have created some strategies.

1. Promoting not only your own art but all art.

I love making comments on other peoples work and I love seeing other artists their paintings and drawings. So to give back to the community I try to comment a lot and encourage others. I mainly do this on Pinterest on my artboard and my drawing tutorials/resources board. Furthermore, I comment a lot on devaintArt where you can also always note me if you like to talk!

2. Try to keep learning.

I think that to create the best work I need to keep learning and by doing so every new work I create might be slightly better than the last. I like to do this because I know that this way I’m promoting my best works and I always know I have worked hard on it.
Read more;

3. What I don’t like about my work might look great to someone else.

When you look at your own work things can seem a lot different than when someone else looks at your work. Where you might only see the flaws in your work, the next person can see just a great work?
What I like is not always the same as what someone else likes. When people like my work that is their choice and I can only be grateful for the amazing support. I should not always be so hard on myself.
Also, you know your own work like the back of your hand. So of course, you also see all the little mistakes. These might not even be visible to others. Realising that has really helped me get better at promoting my own work. Because, why not share a little bit of my happiness with the world.

Leaves by Sofie Arts

I have certainly not fully mastered the last one, but I’m trying to let go of my fear to promote. If I can make someone happy with my drawing or art then I’m happy.
Thank you for reading and please let me know your thoughts about promoting in the comments below!

sketchbook inspiration; calarts animation sketchbooks

I personally really love looking at other peoples their sketchbooks as mentioned before. Recently I found some other amazing sketchbooks online. For the character animation program at CalArts (California), people are required to submit sketchbooks as their application. The level of these drawings and sketches are amazing. And if you search these on youtube the results are endless and many of the not-accepted ones are just as good!

To give you an idea of what they contain here are the requirements;

In these sketchbooks, the following is required or asked;

Application Portfolio Requirements:

Part I: Observational Drawings (minimum 15 drawings)

Part II: Sketchbook / Visual Diary (filled or completed sketchbook):


  • Sketches from your everyday life.
  • Drawings that illustrate film ideas and story concepts.
  • Thumbnails of scenes that you plan to animate one day.
  • Random jottings that interest you.
  • Character designs.
  • Studies of images from films or other sources you like.

Part III: Other Work


Many of the people who send their sketchbook in, film them in case they are lost or to share with their followers. So check out some of my favourites;

Accepted CalArts Sketchbook 2015

CalArts Sketchbook 2015 (Rejected)

My 2014 CalArts Sketchbook – Rejected

Do check them out and let me know if you find any favourites!

What makes these sketchbooks so good? 

  • They showcase a high variety of work.
  • They show people practising loads of different subjects
  • The pages are well thought out
  • The whole sketchbook is filled

Obviously, these people are amazing artists. Their sketchbooks are full of work that I love and admire. They also showcase a lot of different ways to create and to add interest to a drawing.

If you want to know why you should be looking at peoples sketchbooks you can read my post on the 7 sketchbooks for inspiration. 

Why You shouldn’t look at these

Okay, I know I just told you to check those out but there are some side notes to be made.

Don’t compare your work to others

It doesn’t make any difference as long as you are trying to improve. Others might be at an entirely different point in their lives. And if you feel like your work is not as good at these people, just keep in mind that they might feel the same. Also, that there are people who look up to you and admire your work. In the end, it is about the joy of creating and growing and you shouldn’t be discouraged by other but encouraged by the great inspiration that they offer.

Don’t think of these as sketchbooks

And certainly, don’t think yours should look anything like that. These people are trying to get into a school. The program rejects loads of people. In the end, the sketchbooks look like sketchbooks but they require a lot of time and work. For these go; It might be quality over quantity.

In  conclusion; regular every day sketchbooks are meant to help you improve and practise. Not to be judged. So use these sketchbooks as inspiration but not aspiration.

Again; I would love to hear your thoughts and don’t forget to share your own sketchbooks or favourites in the comments!