Get Creative with Pens

by Cass Art

You can make great art with pens. With the right pen you can produce stunning sketches, canvas pieces and beautiful brush script. There is such a wide range of art pens available. So whatever your painting (yes, painting) or drawing style, there is a pen to suit your work. From alcohol markers and paint pens to finalisers and brush tips - it’s simply a matter of choosing the right tool for you.


Copic alcohol markers are incredibly popular with professional illustrators and graphic artists.

You have a variety of creative options with Copic nib shapes. The Copic Original and Ciao markers feature two nibs – a chisel tip and a fine tip. This enables you to make broad strokes and colour coverage with the former and finer detail and brush effects with the latter. 

These pens work really well on smooth paper like the Cass Art Marker Pad. Copic ink applies smoothly on paper and is easy to blend and layer. You can blend Copic markers in a variety of ways. While your ink is wet you can blend dark shades over a lighter colour, moving quickly as you work across the paper to create a painterly effect. Alternatively, you can layer lighter hues over a dark colour for more texture and interest. You can also achieve seamless blending between Copic markers with a Copic colourless blender marker.

Copic markers don’t come cheap, but they are good value. They have a guaranteed three-year shelf life, so your investment will not waste away in storage. Each marker is hand-tested for quality. You can refill the marker and replace worn nibs, so your marker will last a lifetime. What’s more, Copic markers will not dry out when not in use.

Marker drawing of a parrot using COPIC markers


POSCA paint markers are quite simply paint in a pen. This means you can use the pens as you would any water-based paint. So you can blend with water, mix while wet and overlay with detail once the layers dry.

POSCA pens can be used on virtually any surface, including glass, wood, plastic, canvas board and paper. This gives one pen a wealth of creative possibilities. You also get a choice of line effects with a varied selection of nibs from brush tip, ultra-fine precise and bullet nibs to expressive round nib pens, broad markers and strong robust chisel tip pens.

Water-based and non-toxic, these paint pens dry opaque with a matte finish and solid colour. Unlike alcohol-based markers, POSCAs won’t bleed through paper, making them perfect for journaling, colouring-in and card-making as well as large-scale work. These multi-use broad paint markers are available in a number of vibrant, opaque colours which cover each other well. Excellent for illustration, posters, sign writing or any of your other artistic needs.

Posca paint marker drawing of a kingfisher


The Cass Art Markers are alcohol based and highly blendable whilst also being quick drying and fade resistant. They offer great control and versatility, with each marker including two durable nibs of differing sizes – A bullet and chisel tip. Allowing you to create defined lines and layers of depth and tone and also create broad bold strokes. The ergonomic barrel has been designed for comfortable extended use, supporting a range of grip and styles.

Tips & Techniques

  • In terms of surfaces for the best outcome, use uncoated, smooth paper as marker tips fair better on surfaces without tooth. See our Cass Art Marker paper here.
  • It is best to place the paper that you’re working on on top of something porous – The ink in alcohol markers can come through to the other side of your paper. But this is normal as the ink needs to soak through the paper’s fibres in order to create vivid colours. If there’s no porous material underneath, the colours won’t absorb very well and begin to bleed. Placing paper underneath will pull the bleed downwards rather than outwards and it will also help protect your work surface.
  • If you’re not using smooth coated paper than in terms of weight aim for ideally above 243gsm (90lbs). 
  • Most people work from light to dark when creating realistic images and blend any harsh lines with the lightest colour. You can work from dark to light if you want a different, abstract effect.


The uni-ball PIN is an excellent value drawing pen which features uni-ball’s signature fade proof and water resistant Super Ink. These pens come in a range of sizes; the finest nibs, 0.03, 0.05 and 0.1 can produce the most intricate of detail. This intricacy can be further enhanced when contrasted with deep, heavy lines using the 0.5, 0.8 and Brush tip. 

The range of nib sizes on offer make the PIN ideal for when you want to explore traditional tonal drawing techniques such as stippling, cross-hatching and free-shading, making use of the variation in nib sizes to produce different results. The pen’s sensitivity means artists can work with both light and firm pressure to create different effects, using the smaller and larger nibs as you would a hard to soft pencil.

The pigment ink pens are fade free and waterproof, so can easily be used with watercolour work as the ink will not smudge when wet. Simply apply your watercolour, wait for a few seconds so any excess water is absorbed into the paper, then work over with your PIN.

Watercolour and pen sketch using Uni-ball PIN pens


Fancy working with something softer? Ecoline Watercolour Brush Pens are watercolour pens that are perfect for soft, painterly drawing and illustration.

The pens are filled with transparent dye ink and gum arabic that can be combined with watercolours. So you can dilute the ink to create colourful washes while you work, or wash over and blend when the ink is dry.

Ideal for use with card, paper, watercolour paper and board, the pen’s brush tip is flexible but robust allowing you full creative control. The 5mm nib allows for a range of mark-making, from precise lines to dramatic strokes, by applying different pressures. It’s particularly effective for creating on-trend brush lettering.

Ecoline brush pen drawing


Watch this trio-toned portrait come to life. Learn all about different types of brush markers from Tom Bow to Winsor & Newton, see the marks you can achieve and how they behave like paint when mixed with water.

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