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I have a large collection of pens, it’s true, and I use different pens for different purposes, but I also have a handful of pens that I reach for over and over again. To save you time (and money!) I will give you the low down on my favourite go-to pens in this Question and Answer period below where I will interview myself (because the only other people around here to interview me are under the age of 3) …
Q: Hi Amanda, have you always loved pens?
A: Why, yes, Amanda, I was consistently made fun of in university for my strict adherence to specific pen brands, widths and colours for note taking. I always had one pen in my hand and a collection in my lap because, heaven knows, a subtitle could only be underlined with a 1.2mm green ballpoint, not a red!
Q: Which pens are your favourite now?
A: I’m so glad that you asked! I can’t wait to show you my collection.
Most of the lettering work that I do fits in a single sheet of paper. Because it stays relatively small, I usually grab either my Tombow Fudenosuke with a soft nib or a hard nib.
 I love you a lot
Q: When would you use a soft nib versus a hard nib?
A: Oh Amanda! I was just about to get to that before you so rudely interrupted me! If I’m working on fine details or I want to get perfect, fine hairlines, then I use the hard nib pen. It is slightly less flexible than the soft nib and because of that the tip is more rigid. The soft nib is great for pieces where the letters are slightly larger or I want to have a more definite line.
Changing Diapers
Q: I know you love your Tombow pens. Do they pay you to say that?
A: Nope! I wish they did but that doesn’t influence my opinion at all! Just to prove that they don’t pay me (yet…?), I will tell you about another pen that is amazing and isn’t a Tombow. It’s the Pentel Sign Pen with a Brush Tip. That part is really important. There are Pentel Sign Pens that don’t have a brush tip so make sure that you get the brush tip ones. These pens are lovely and smooth and they last a really really long time! They have a slightly wider, more flexible nib than the Tombow Fudenosuke hard nib and they are a joy to write with. They also come in a full set of bright and vibrant colours which write beautifully. The colours on the outside of the pens leaves something to be desired, but the actual ink colour is much nicer than what you expect.
Pentel Sign Pen
Q: How do you write on canvas and wood and such?
A: For that, I usually use a Sharpie Brush Marker. These are great… at first. They lose their concentrated colour quickly and begin to dry out. For any project that you do, make sure that you have a few fresh markers on hand just in case the vibrancy of the black begins to wane.
Q: Do you also use your Sharpies on the posters that you do?
A: Nope! Sharpies have the tendency to bleed into the paper fibres. I use a Tombow Dual Brush Marker for my poster work. I work through my poster with the brush pen and then flip the pen over to use the nib tip to touch up any areas that aren’t totally perfect. This is ideal because I don’t even have to get up to try to find a different pen!
Dual Brush
Q: So you’re telling us that you’re lazy?
A: Once my kids are in bed, I try to move as little as possible.
Q: How do you store all of your pens?
A: I have small boxes that hold all of my pens. I have them separated by type so all of my Tombow Dual Brush Markers are together, all of my other coloured brush markers are grouped, my new, yet-to-be-used markers are in a third box and my black and grey markers of all shapes and sizes are in a fourth box. This storage solution also allows me to quickly grab a box and bring it anywhere in the house (like into the bathroom to do some lettering while my kids play in the tub). It also keeps the pens stored on their sides, something that is really important for ensuring the longevity of most pens (I know that the Tombow Dual Brush Markers are able to be stored on end but I’m still to nervous to put them that way)! Pens
Q: There are so many Tombow Dual Brush colours to pick from. Do you have any specific ones that you recommend?
A: I absolutely love my Bright set! The colours are so vibrant that they pop on the page. But I love the softer colours as well. There are just too many good ones! I honestly use all of the colours that I own.
Q: I’ve seen that you also use a waterbrush for your watercolour lettering. Is that a pen or what is that?
A: I like to think that if a paintbrush and a marker had a baby, it would be a waterbrush. There are a few different brands and sizes of waterbrushes. People like to ask me which specific one I’m using in my videos, but usually it is just whichever one my kids aren’t currently using to paint pictures at the dining room table (note to the moms out there: if you’ve ever found painting with your kids super frustrating, get them a set of waterbrushes and it will be much less painful. No more dry brushes getting shoved onto caked paint palettes, which is a total win in my books, because I’m so weird and that noise makes me gag).
If you keep your eyes peeled, I will be doing some future blog posts about using watercolour paint with lettering!
Q: Where can people buy these pens?
A: There are lots of different places! is a great resource for all things Tombow and they have free shipping on orders over $25. If you follow their Instagram, they have sale codes quite regularly (and with Black Friday coming up in a month, you should get that shopping list started!). has a wide selection of pens at competitive prices and, of course, there is always Amazon. As it is always nice to support smaller stores, is a great resource for brush pens (and they also carry the amazing Dr Ph Martins concentrated watercolour that I use, waterbrushes (they’re the cheapest here!!) and Finetec paint. A one-stop shop!!).
I hope that this has helped add to your pen arsenal! I find that my lettering style changes as I change pens. It is so much fun to experiment with a new pen and discover a new style to accompany it. If you’re a newbie or a seasoned vet, new pens are always welcome so grab a few!


Being able to teach you more about lettering marries my passion for teaching with my obsession for lettering. It's like the perfect storm. But a good storm of unicorns, rainbows and letters.


  1. Cindy on November 9, 2015 at 1:59 am

    Thanks for sharing. Love your writing!

  2. April Eslick on January 18, 2016 at 2:27 am

    Amanda, I'm new to the hand lettering world, and I'm wondering about the best process for taking your designs digital cleanly?? What are the best practices? Thanks so much for any advice!!

  3. Amanda Arneill on January 26, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Hi April,
    I like to use Adobe Illustrator for creating my digital designs. It is definitely the way to go!

  4. PAPER MATTERS! on February 25, 2016 at 6:01 am

    […] number is based on the pens that I recommend. For more about what pens to use, check out this post here. If we’re talking about Brush Tip Sharpies, I go through at least one pen with every project […]

  5. tschaible on April 10, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Amanda, what type of boxes do you use to store your pens in? I’ve been storing all of mine upright in mugs and such and after reading this blog, I’m doing it wrong! Ooopsie! Any suggestions for a good sturdy small box to store my collections? 🙂

    • Amanda on April 11, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      What a great question! I just use chocolate boxes or other product boxes that I find around. Because I like them to be white, IKEA also has a line of small boxes in their office supply line that I like to use. hope that helps!

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