Best Pen for Drawing Portraits

Chapter 2: Monami Fx Style + Monami bp 153

You may have read my previous post regarding Monami Cartoon 153 pens where I’ve told the story of how I was on a quest to find the perfect pen for drawing and I stumbled upon the company Monami Korea.

For the longest time I was trying out different pens: marker pens, fineliners, ballpoint pens, pens, pens, pens in order to find the one which suited my style best. And I didn’t even think I had a distinctive style – I just wanted something that would have the characteristics of a pencil so I could draw the tiny details and not make them as bold as the rest. And the hair, oh the hair, one of my biggest problems. I just couldn’t draw hair with a fineliner, because it would come out too bold, too sharp and too messy, no matter how small the nib size was.

And then I tried using various ballpoint pens. I was satisfied with the general look and feel – being able to actually draw without it looking like a printed coloring book, as I did with fineliners. But still, those ballpoint pens weren’t the best option because they really bled a lot, and every once in a while I would move my hand and smudge the drawing and then I would spend the rest of the time trying to fix it (in which I would rarely succeed).

The Scavenger
drawing with fineliners in 2017
aquaman unfinished
drawing with a random ballpoint pen in January 2019

So I was searching for a tool which would have the following qualities:

  • easy to control the thickness and thinness of the line
  • won’t smudge
  • handy for sketching
drawing with Monami ballpoint 153 & Monami Fx Style

Since pictures (and drawings) speak more than words, you can see that Monami bp 153 has the characteristics I mentioned. But what was surprise to me was actually the other pen Monami was generous enough to send me to sample – Monami Fx Style. It draws really thin lines so it’s suitable for more detailed and tiny work. I was incredibly satisfied with the style of drawing I got when combining these two Monami pens in my recent works.

Sketching with pencils isn’t for me because it always smudges, and I really like strong and visible lines in my illustrations. But I don’t want them to be to bold, because it doesn’t look that well with the other materials I use such as watercolors. Creating with Monami bp 153 has the feel of the pencil, but the lines are more prominent and won’t be covered when painting. Exactly what I was looking for!

Have you tried these pens and what do you think?


Trying out a new style with Arteza watercolors

Side by side: On the left are my usual materials and on the right the watercolors, paper and brushes from Arteza. I used Monami ballpoint 153 and Fx Style pens for both drawings.

You weren’t expecting another post so soon, were you? Well, I promised myself I would write one post per week for the rest of the year. It so happens that last week I believed my pc broke down. I couldn’t turn it on so I didn’t post the review that was promised, Monami Carton 153 Ballpoint pens set review. But what actually happened was that my 128GB USB drive was connected and that was the only reason my pc wouldn’t cooperate. And I didn’t even try to remove it! Anyways, long story short, I don’t want to disappoint myself, do I, so now you get two posts this week.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me clumsily unboxing the glorious supplies I got from the wonderful folks at Arteza. They were so generous that they sent me Arteza watercolor Set of 36 Colors in Half Pans, Arteza Expert watercolor paper and both a set of 6 water brush pens and a set of 15 miniature brushes. (You can still check out those videos on my Instagram – I made a highlight called “Arteza”).

First thing I painted when I finally got my excited hands on Arteza watercolors, was a portrait from the same photoshoot I painted days before with my usual materials. The reason for that was so I could spot the differences easier.

The portrait I did using Arteza supplies: watercolor set, watercolor paper & water brushes + miniature brushes.

This was done using my usual materials: Nevskaya Palitra watercolors, Canson Mix Media paper & random brushes I’ve been using forever.

But somehow that wasn’t enough and then I decided to paint the same portrait with Arteza materials and with the ones I usually use. (That was only an excuse, hehe.)

Here’s the result:
First a disclaimer:

I am not used to watercolor paper. Since I use both watercolors and colored pencils, I have discovered that mix media paper works best for my kind of technique. That might be wrong use, but I like the effect it has, even though the paper does get bent (and then I have to put it under some heavy books to flatten it, haha). That’s why those two portraits look like two different people created them.

Another thing is, I’ve never used water brushes before and the experience was definitely different than using my old brushes. I have to practice using them – they are really convenient. And I absolutely loved the miniature brushes! There are so many different sizes suitable for very fine detailing. Still have to try them all!

Something I used for both of those were my new Monami Fx Style pen and 153 ballpoint pen which I outline all of my drawings with.

The palette:
I had to swatch these three times (Third time’s the charm, right?) First time some swatches turned out very light and some very dark because I didn’t use the same amount of pigment. Second time around I messed up the order and forgot one color so I had to do everything again. Oops.

Here’s a few words about the color choice. I enjoyed swatching so much! There are so many shades of yellow! Even though I don’t use yellow that much, they are really bright and vibrant and make me want to paint with them. I also liked that this palette has a number of purples, because the one I use has only one violet. On the other hand, for me personally it was difficult to see differences between some shades of blue, they all looked kind of similar. The indigo I use is more dark blue, and this one was dark violet, so I couldn’t get the effect I wanted with it (I use indigo a lot instead of black). And those are actually the only remarks I have. The colors are very vibrant and highly pigmented. They mix well and you even get a water brush in the set!

Final thoughts:

The Arteza watercolor paper is really high quality, but it just doesn’t fit with my current style. For that reason I thought it wasn’t fair to compare the watercolor set when I’m using a different kind of paper. Finally I decided to paint on my usual mix media paper. I had to do Arteza justice, so I painted the things I’m best at – some Star Wars and a dog! That was also an excuse to use those wonderful yellows…

C3PO or an excuse to use those wonderful yellows.
Yes, I LOVE drawing pets and you can commission a drawing of your pet here.

When it comes solely to the watercolor set I can sincerely say that the quality is amazing for the price. I’m looking forward to creating more artworks with these and trying out some new techniques with that watercolor paper! Keep an eye out for a review of all the brushes soon…

Looking forward to creating more artworks like this with Arteza!

Monami Carton 153 Ballpoint pens set review

A long time ago in a galaxy called the Internet I was stalking other artists to find the perfect pen when I saw the Monami 153 Cartoon ballpoint pens. I remember it was the green one I saw first and I liked the design so much that the quality didn’t even matter to me. But unfortunately those pens were nowhere to be found in the country where I live. After months of searching and watching timelapse videos with these pens on Instagram, I decided to reach out to the company that produces them, Monami Korea.  They were so amazing and considerate that they sent me a whole parcel with samples to try out. So now I get to make a review!

Well that was a beautiful story. And with a happy ending too, because I am even more satisfied with the pens than I imagined I would be.

Please don’t think I’m going to sugarcoat this review because I got a bunch of things for free. It is my pleasure to write this first review of many to come and I will be 100% honest. Otherwise what’s the point?

So here’s a video of me sketching with Monami 153 Cartoon ballpoint pens. Because pictures and especially videos speak for themselves better than I do (especially since English is not my mother tongue).

This set includes 12 0.5mm oil-based ballpoint pens in 12 different colors. They are packed in a beautiful transparent bag with slider which you can carry anywhere. The best thing is that each pen has different tiny supercute illustrations. They are coordinated with cute color names (I wrote them on the photo on the right). I don’t know about you, but the design of the products I use is really important to me. I loved how it was done with care – it’s simply a joy to look at these pens. Another thing I liked is that they are also practical – easy to hold and control and carry with you.

What I like the most is you can use these pens in variety of ways (one example are the drawings I did which you can see below). You can write wit them or sketch with them. Personally, I think it’s really fun to use them instead of the usual black pen to make a layout of my drawing.

You can watch the video of me writing this on my Instagram story. You can always find it in the highlight: Monami.
Let’s look at some pros and cons written in my handwriting which I hope you’ll be able to read, hehe.
A closer look at some pros:

0.5mm makes it really easy to sketch tiny details and when you apply pressure you can get bolder lines, so it’s really easy to use it almost as you would use a pencil.

I always draw first a sketch with a pencil so it’s important to me that I can draw over the pencil. Some pens can’t do that, but this one I have tried out and it works perfectly.

The only cons I could think of:

On the other hand, yes, it does bleed a little, but I always keep a tissue nearby to clean it. It’s not as bad as some other pencils I’ve used, so I don’t think this is going to be a huge problem. I’m looking for some tips on how to use pens that bleed, so feel free to comment if you have an answer!

The other thing I forgot to write is that the last two colors which should be neon aren’t that visible on the white paper.

Please let me know if you’ve tried these out, if you have some tips and if you have any questions at all!