Best Pens for Alcohol Markers

A pen that won’t run is essential if you are looking to combine your alcohol markers with crisp lines. Often overlooked by beginners, a suitable pen to be used with alcohol markers needs to be in your art kit. The best pens for alcohol markers aren’t just the ones that don’t bleed, but that also give you the confidence to create your own style.

A selection of pens suitable for use with alcohol markers.
A selection of my favourite pens to use with alcohol-based markers.

Basics of Pens for Alcohol Markers

There’s only one main consideration when choosing the best pen for alcohol markers. You need to be sure that the ink won’t run when it hits the coloring ink. You will have a decision to make about width, even color sometimes. But your main concern will be picking a pen which won’t run.

Fineliners for Alcohol Markers

Your best (but not only) bet in finding a pen which won’t run when used with alcohol ink is to find yourself a fineliner. Fineliner pens have fine fibre or plastic tips. They are pretty cheap, and mostly disposable (although refillable versions are available). Copic make their own fineliners, which as you would imagine are a safe bet for use with Copic Markers. A fineliner doesn’t guarantee no running though, that depends on the ink in the pen. ]

Fineliner’s aren’t the only option though, as you’ll see from my preference of fountain pen below.

Best pens for Alcohol markers.

Below are my top three pens for use with Copic Markers (or any alcohol based markers). Presented here in the order of how much I use them, with more details on each option further below.

  1. Parker Jotter Fountain Pen
  2. Copic Fineliners
  3. Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliners

I encourage you to experiment with a variety of pens to find what fits your style best.

1. Parker Jotter Fountain Pen

I’d been using Fountain Pens for years before I discovered the joys of working with a fountain pen. About a year ago I took Mattias Adolfsson’s Domestica course on the Art of Sketching. Mattias introduced me to the fact that most fountain pens use ink which won’t run. The course was great, I highly recommend.

I like these Parker Jotters because they are fairly cheap (compared to more traditional fountain pens), and also refillable. And you all know how I feel about keeping costs down with refillable pens. The ink that comes as standard is waterproof and doesn’t run when used with alcohol markers.

They come in different widths too. I use a fine and slightly less fine on my line work.

2. Copic Fineliners

As mentioned above, Copic make their own range of waterproof fineliners. These do not run with alcohol markers. As you would expect from the Copic brand, these are high quality pens. They come in a variety of widths and should meet all your linework needs.

Like the other Copic pens, these fineliners are refillable. While the nibs can stand up to a lot of work, they are replaceable too. They come in a variety of widths for your line work needs. The Copic Fineliners can be purchased individually or in multipacks. While black is the most common option, they are also available in different colors.

The fine tip can take a fair bit of punishment. Working on to paper is a very smooth experience, with reliable flow of the ink.

3. Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliners

These are the most recent pens I have tried out. The Micron’s have a more premium feel than even the Copic Fineliners. Like the the Copic version, these come in a variety of pack sizes, from individual up to selections which give every width you could need.

In the Micron Fineliner range there’s even a brush nibbed option, so whatever your style you will find something to suit. Sakura claim that their unique PIGMA Ink is the world first, combining both water-based and pigment inks – which allows vibrancy and a lack of bleed. The downside is that these pens aren’t refillable.

With the sizing of the Micros, you need to be aware that the sizes take a little understanding. A Micron 05 does not equate to a 0.5mm nib, but a 0.45mm nib. So it is a size 5. The pens are clearly labelled, but it’s a little quirk of the naming system to be aware of.

The pens have a history of being used in the technical drawing trade, which might explain the use of a number system unfamiliar to illustrators and hobbyists. The full breakdown of sizes is 003 = 0.15mm, 005 = 0.20mm, 01 = 0.25mm, 02 = 0.30mm, 03 = 0.35mm, 05 = 0.45mm, 08 = 0.50mm, 10 = 0.60mm, and 12 = 0.70mm.

Are Micron Pens Alcohol Based?

The Sakura Micron pens (and indeed all the pens above) do not use alcohol-based ink. By avoiding an alcohol suspension, the particles the pens lay down on the page will not then be lifted, smudged or generally moved about when used in conjunction with an alcohol-based marker pen.

The Sakura Pigma ink has a long and interesting history, focused on making those pigment particles as small as possible allowing for finer nibs and finer work.

Eraser Pens for Alcohol Markers

There are no eraser pens for alcohol markers, which is a question we see a lot of. Because of the way the pigment bonds to the paper, there’s no obvious white out/tipex answer you will find in a typical pen form.

The only option you’ve got for correcting mistakes with alcohol markers is to go in with a colorless blender. This doesn’t erase color so much as it redistributes the pigment already in play, and if you are quick and neat enough you can undo what went wrong.