Thought Weapons of an Experience Designer / Illustrator

Every now ‘n then I’m asked what’s in my pencil case. Well, how about a list of the most common items along with a brief description of their use?

Sailor Fude Nagomi Brush Pen - Medium (via JetPens)
Bold, Flexible Inking tool
Don’t let the “Medium” label fool ya. This pen can lay down some thick, weighted strokes comparable to a Sharpie Fine yet taper off like a true brush pen. I tend to favor this for outlining storyboard frames, UI borders, or roughs of a high-level concepts.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen (via JetPens
Concepting & Inking tool

This is my favorite brush pen by far. It’s small, has a highly flexible tip, and fast-drying ink. This pen works exceptionally well with a Copic.

Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - Fine / Medium (via JetPens)
Wireframing, Sketching, and Annotation tool

My second favorite pen -but don’t tell him that. The duel tip makes it ideal for both note taking and concept sketches. The only drawback is that each tip has its own ink reservoir. So if you favor one tip over another, thereby exhausting that tip’s ink supply, you’re stuck with a 1/2 dead pen. If it weren’t for the quality and versatility of this pen I might not recommend it. Oh, and it’s worth noting it’s also available in neutral gray.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen - Regular (via JetPens
Wireframing & Inking tool

This one can render line weights from semi-medium to fine effortlessly. The tip is just flexible enough to create whimsical strokes yet also make annotating kinda tricky. I favor this one when scribbling UI’s or for emulating a calligraphy pen.

Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen - Extra Fine (via JetPens)
Detailed Inking tool

This one can render line weights from Sharpie Fine Point to hairline. The ink dries crazy-quicks, the ink is bold, and I feel it should require a license. Oh, it’s available in various colors too! Holla.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen (Charcoal Black) -Medium Nib (via JetPens
Note Taking and Fancy Pants Annotation tool

This pen was my first step into the fountain pen realm. This particular Lamy has a very smooth flow, rugged casing, and is refillable with the purchase of a Z24 converter. I highly recommend the supa fancy Lamy Ink too. Talk about satisfying packaging.

Pentel Sharp Kerry .5mm Mechanical Pencil (via JetPens)
The Everything tool

It’s small, has a metal body design, and a snap cap. This puppy has been my choice mechanical pencil for decades. Nuff said.

Pentel Retractable Eraser (via Amazon
Time Travel tool

A very boring yet very effective eraser. Thankfully the refills are available, like, everywhere! I should upgrade to something cooler though, suriusly.

Copic Sketch Neutral Gray Markers (via Amazon
Wireframing, Shading, and Concepting

I could go on for an entire post about how amazing these markers are. Although to avoid adding more boredom to the universe I’ll keep this short. These are Copic Sketch markers. They are pro-level gear, available in sets or individually, and priced accordingly. They are also refillable and the nibs are replaceable. I have yet to find a finer marker.

Pilot G2 Gel Pen (via JetPens
Standard gear

This is a nice yet also boring gel pen. Like my eraser it gets the job done. It’s also shareable. Which is a nice way of saying “I don’t care if someone walks off with it.”

International Arrivals Six Click Gel Pen (via Amazon
Annotation tool

First off, the company “International Arrivals” which offers this pen via Amazon is asking $10 for it. Yeah. No. It’s actually possible to find this exact pen for 1/2 that price in select bookstores, container stores, or stationary outlets. So why recommend it? Well, you wouldn’t know it by its Amazon ratings but it’s a wonderful multi-color, gel pen. Keyword being “gel” which is both vibrant and resilient when joined by shading inks (e.g. Copics).

Annotations tool

These pens are generic and, like many highlighters found in office supply stores, work fine. I say ‘keep it affordable’ when it comes to these. However, if you crave something nice there’s obviously Amazon or this “Uni Propus Window Soft Color Double-Sided Highlighter” set from JetPen. Wanna get detailed about it? Check out this “Guide to Choosing a Highlighter Pen.”

Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Pen - Silver Ink (via JetPens)
Because it cool tool

An excellent pen for adding strong, silver highlights to either white or colored paper. And while this pen is really fun it’s admittedly a total extra. To learn more about white gel pens check out Jet Pen’s “Guide to Choosing White Gel Pens and Markers.”

Now after all that, it seems fitting to share a few examples of what each pen can do. To do that I decided to sketch a nonsensical wireframe over and over again with the various pens from above. Since there’s no legitimacy to the content my hope is it’s easy to focus on details like line weight and other subtleties. And despite the fact these were created by my hand I hope you can imagine how any of these pens might work for you. S’enjoy!

UI Sketch #1
Wireframe = Sailor Fude Nagomi Brush Pen — Medium (via JetPens)
= Pilot Futayaku — Double Sided / Fine tip side (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #2
Wireframe & Annotations = Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - both tips (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #3
Wireframe = Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen — Regular (via JetPens)
Annotations = Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen — Extra Fine (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #4
Wireframe & Annotations = Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen - Extra Fine (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #5
Wireframes = Zebra Disposable Brush Pen :) (via JetPens)
Annotations = Lamy Safari Fountain Pen (Charcoal Black) - Medium Nib (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #6
Wireframe & Annotations = Pilot G2 Gel Pen (via JetPens)
Shading = Copic Sketch N2 & N6 markers (via Amazon)

UI Sketch #7
Wireframe & Annotations = Pentel Sharp Kerry .5mm Mechanical 
Pencil (via JetPens)

UI Sketch #8
Wireframe = Zebra Disposable Brush Pen (via JetPens)
Annotations = Various highlighters & Intl. Arrivals 6 Click Gel Pen
(via Amazon)
Shading = Copic Sketch N2 markers (via Amazon)