Experiment with Ball Point Pens.

I have been admiring artists who create beautiful detailed work using nothing other than cheap ball point pens from office supply stores.  It got me thinking… ball point pens come in a nice, if somewhat limited range of very bright colours and the packs of eight or ten colours that I’ve seen at Office Works seem to be relatively inexpensive.  I wondered if I could use them for colouring.  I had already a small number of bright colours in a drawer… some PaperMate Inkjoys that come in pretty colours.  I popped into Officeworks and picked up a 10 pack of Staedtler ball point pens and an 8 set of Kokuyo ball point pens to try.  I did a quick swatch out of all the colours and found, sadly, that despite the pens coming from different manufacturers, the ink colours were all very similar.  On the bright side it means you just need to buy one large pack with as many colours as you can find and you’ll pretty much have every colour available.  The Staedtlers had the most variety but the Papermates had a much darker purple and a more intense pink.

I didn’t feel quite bold enough to use them in my colouring books yet so I decided to colour a test drawing.  Since I am working in a new art journal, one dedicated to mostly inky art work, I thought I’d try them out in that.  I did a quick sketch of this cute teacup dragon licking a drop of tea off it’s foreleg.  I outlined it with a light blue ball point pen and erased the pencil lines.

I found the ball point pens needed a little time to master.  Trying to make a gradient of colour took a little practice.  You need to brush the tip of the pen on very lightly on the paper to get a light shade and lightly scribble or cross hatch to intensify the colour.  The other issue was a ballpoints annoying habit of depositing a yucky glob of ink every so often onto the work.  Apparently it happens because the ink sometimes builds up in a blob around the ball.  The answer was to have a little scrap piece of paper next to my hand and wipe off the glob before it ended up on the work.  I managed to get into an automatic rhythm of this and my work stayed mostly glob free.  I found that crosshatching was the best way to mix colours… as in the teacup where I didn’t want it either blue or brown but some neutral colour in between.  I finished the work with white gel pen dots for sparkly dragon wings.

The end result was a cute, very bright little dragon.  I think I might redraw him for a potential colouring page.  (I haven’t seen a teacup dragon in a colouring book yet… I’m looking for original ideas. 🙂  )  I found I really enjoyed colouring using this method and I will be using ball points again in future… in my own work and in colouring books.

26 Comments

  1. Kyralae

    Love the dragon! I have a few colored pens I play with now and again when I get in a zentangle mood to doodle around. I found on Amazon.com several 60 color sets for less than $20 US.

    That blob on the tip is annoying so I found wrapping a tissue or piece of paper towel around my finger on my left hand gave me a quick blotter and didn’t interrupt my flow when I was working on a project.

    Reply
    1. Candace Byron

      That dragon is adorable. I’d be interested in coloring him. I love your work Peta. Your YouTube channel is my favorite one to watch.

      Reply
    2. Chaypeta (Post author)

      That’s an excellent idea. i might do that, thanks. Is the 60 colour sets gels or ball points?.. because I’m interested in more ball point colours.

      Reply
      1. Margaret Brock

        I have a set of 24 Frixion pens that I found on eBay. The packaging is in Japanese, so I can’t read it, but the colors are very pretty. I didn’t know how to use them, but I’ll be following along as you explore.

        Reply
        1. Chaypeta (Post author)

          Good on you. We have Frixion pens here but only eight colours and only bought separately at Office supply stores. (Did you know that if you erase them and then put the piece of paper in the freezer then the ink will return. 🙂 )

          Reply
  2. Rebecca

    So beautiful! So creative! Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Angela Gutknecht

    HI Peta is it possible to support your art with a one time monetary gift such as a VISA gift card etc? Do you have a P.O. Box address for mailings?

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Wright

      I would also like to do this as I can’t commit to a regular monthly amount as my income fluctuates.

      Reply
    2. Chaypeta (Post author)

      Hi Angela and Elizabeth. Thank you very much! I appreciate the support anyone feels they can give me. You can make a one off donation through my YouTube channel. There is a donate button on the right hand side that you can make a one off donation to. My mailing address is:

      Peta Hewitt
      P.O. Box 6068
      Herne Hill 3218
      Victoria.
      AUSTRALIA

      Reply
    3. Terry

      Dragon?? Look at the WINGS–Those are wings of a Swallow Butterfly. Looks like a Modded-Out Butterfly from Fallout 4 (cross between a butterfly and a wyvern (to me).

      Reply
      1. Chaypeta (Post author)

        haha… it does doesn’t it. My hubby and sons play fall out… I’ll have to get them to show me the wyvern.

        Reply
      2. Lo

        My thoughts exactly Terry that the wings were meant to be butterflies!
        I thought it was a brilliant idea.

        Reply
  4. Nicole Sijnja

    Please draw your teacup dragon for the colouring book! He is adorable! I love tea and dragons!!!!

    Reply
  5. Fiona

    Wow, who would have thought. Just goes to show you, don’t have to have big money to create beautiful art. TFS.

    Reply
  6. Phyllis Stuart

    So cute!

    Reply
  7. Lo

    Is there nothing you can’t dio Peta? This is just fantastic and to think it’s just pens. I’d give anything to be able to draw. I can draw on tshirts and glassware and even made money but paper? I’m useless.
    I guess there are many of us with little funds but like the lovely ladies above I think you’re worth supporting as much or little as any of us can.
    I very much appreciate what you’ve done to help me learn to colour.

    Reply
  8. Carrie

    Well that’s just friggin’ adorable! I love that dragon. So cute. I have a ton of coloured pens, but I was afraid to use them in my colouring books for fear of either bleeding through, but mostly fear of having the book closed and then upon opening it again have the coloured page transfer to the picture on the opposite page. I’ve seen ink do that in other drawings I’ve done… but then again, I may not have let it dry enough before hand.

    PS: You have a true knack for choosing very pleasing colours. Not just in the picture above, but your choice of colour schemes for colouring book pages and other things too.

    Reply
  9. Chris o'neill

    Nothing better than using my pens to sketch people during boring meetings at work. It’s so much easier to draw them when they are asleep and I don’t have to sketch eyes! Now I’m going to add some colored pens to them. Thanks Peta!

    Reply
  10. Chris

    Oh Peta, that dragon is wonderful! It is absolutely adorable and would make a wonderful addition to a coloring book 😉 I would LOVE to color a book by you someday!

    Thanks for posting this! I would have been afraid to try it on my own. I’ve got a few of the ink joy pens around, I’ll have to play sometime.

    Reply
  11. Carolina

    Very nice, I love it. It reminds me of the time the institute in which only two pens were you doing great things for your notebooks. as I miss how easy it was to draw then. Greetings from Spain. sorry if the translation is not very good.

    Reply
  12. Paula

    Beautiful job! I’m in love with your little dragon. Sooo cute! I would be the first in line if you put out a coloring book. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Kathy

    Okay girl it’s time for your coloring book!!! And the ball point pens–A GREAT IDEA 🙂

    Reply
  14. BigT

    Unbelievably cute. I love the butterfly wings. Is the end of the tail an oak leaf?

    Reply
  15. Alissa

    Peta this reminds me of drawing in my class notes during grade school when all I had was a blue bic pen and maybe a red one if I was lucky.
    Love the dragon in a tea cup as I’m a tea drinker myself.

    I use gel pens by Uni-ball, Pentel and Pilot for writing. I order from Jet pens online as I like the .2-.3mm range for writing that impossible to fine in stores in the US; such lovely fine lines. You could use the larger .5-.7 I guess for coloring.

    so they come in tonnes of colors as well as glitter and metallic as well. Here’s a listing for 36 colors in pilot gels. They also do a listing/pic of all the colors in each pen line so there are tonnes of ranges in each color. http://www.jetpens.com/Pilot-Juice-Gel-Pen-0.5-mm-36-Color-Bundle/pd/12153

    oh almost forgot, sometimes you can use a water brush with some gel pens, to make it smooshy.

    Reply
    1. Chaypeta (Post author)

      Thank you, Alissa. 🙂 I love writing with fine lines as well. (It’s very practical at work as out handover sheets only leave an itty bit space for note taking.) I didn’t realise the Pilot’s came in so many colours… I’ve only seen packs of 10 here.

      Reply
  16. Maureen Hayes

    Loved the drawing Peta! I have been using plain old BIC pens to color with and enjoying them a lot. Still love my pencils and markers, but it is fun to have a play with different things. I agree with all the others, you are incredibly talented, you need to do a coloring book, and we need to support you financially for all you teach us!

    Reply

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