Multi-coloured pens that don't smudge or skip
November 25, 2018 9:38 AM   Subscribe

I use pens to make drawings of stuff I'm thinking of building. I like to use multiple colours, and I'm often immediately drawing one part over top of another. The cheap ballpoints I've used are good because they don't smudge, but they often skip, drawing only part of the line. The cheap gel pens I've used are good because they make bold lines and don't skip, but my immediate overwriting results in smudges on the page and dirty hands. Are there pen models which can give me the best of all these worlds - multiple colours, no skipping, no smudging - that are widely available for a moderate price?
posted by clawsoon to Shopping (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think Sharpie pens (very different from their markers...these don’t bleed through paper) would work well. They dry very quickly. You can definitely get them cheaper than the ones I’ve linked here.
posted by katie at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend Foray pens. I love their "needletip", .7mm pen. It's ballpoint, so it doesn't smudge like gel. And the lines never skip. I only use blue, but I would imagine their colored inks are also awesome.
posted by hydra77 at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2018

Pilot Precise V5. I started buying them because my old-school engineer uncle loves them, and then I mentioned them to a graphic designer friend who raved about them too. I love these things and go through them like candy. I drag my hand across the paper when I write so I need VERY rapid ink drying, and these are the best widely-available option I know of. Plus, fun colors!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

Sakura Gelly Roll pens are fantastic and I've seen them being used by illustrators, so they should do the trick.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like fineliner pens for all-purpose writing and drawing; I don’t think they’re smudgeproof but they’re definitely more smudge-resistant than gel pens. Sakura Pigma Micron is my go-to, but Staedtler Triplus are available in a whole bunch of colors.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2018

Seconding the Pilot Precise V5.

The Pilot G2 are also nice.
posted by fourpotatoes at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I just read this article rating the top 100 pens. Hope you find your dream pen!
posted by XtineHutch at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can't find the Pilot Precise V5 locally, but I can find the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5. Some random people say that these are the same pens. True/false?
posted by clawsoon at 12:02 PM on November 25, 2018

They look similar in all the important ways, and they come in the exact same colors, so I'd guess that the Hi-TecPoint V5s are worth trying.

Because yeah: Pilot Precise V5s-- in every single color-- are absolute life-necessities for me at this point. I recommend them unreservedly.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:51 PM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another good source of information that I'm finding for smudging: Pen reviews by left handers. In addition to some of the pens mentioned, the Zebra Sarasa Dry is coming up repeatedly.

Another thing that they're pointing out is that the thinner the tip, the less ink that comes out, and the quicker it dries. So the Precise V5 (0.5mm) smudges less than the Precise V7 (0.7mm). This is obvious in hindsight, but it's something I hadn't thought of.
posted by clawsoon at 2:59 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a (Canadian) Pilot Hi-techpoint V5 Grip sitting in front of me, and yes they're great pens (don't take it with you when you fly!) but they smudge a *tiny* bit. Depends on the paper.

Have you considered changing the medium? Is the paper that you're drawing on glossy at all? You might consider getting more absorbent paper with less clay/ ceramics in its composition.
posted by porpoise at 3:15 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

As a one time architecture student my first thought was Rapidograph although that specific branding might not be the best choice of technical pen for you. If you've never used a technical pen with a metal tip you might want to start with a plastic tip until you get used to the required grip. They'll still smudge if you run over the lines while the ink is still wet, but once the ink dries it won't smudge.
posted by fedward at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2018

They'll still smudge if you run over the lines while the ink is still wet

That's exactly what I don't want. :-)
posted by clawsoon at 3:14 PM on November 26, 2018

Pen update: The Pilot Hi-tecpoint V5 is much, much better than the pens I had been using. In this picture, I wrote the name of each pen and then immediately rubbed my thumb over the line. The ballpoint skips and smudges. The gel pen smudges horribly. The V5 doesn't skip or smudge.

Mission accomplished! Thanks!


- The Pilot Hi-tecpoint V5 appears to be the Canadian version of the Pilot Precise V5, as discussed above.

- I was able to get the V5 to smudge by writing on glossy cardboard before rubbing it. That's not what I draw on with these pens, though, so I don't care about that.

- I didn't find the pens in a local store, but I was able to get them delivered to the nearest Staples store at no extra cost.
posted by clawsoon at 4:48 AM on December 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

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