Getting in some ballpoint pen practice today on this portrait of Kseniya. I still have no real idea what I’m doing when I draw with ballpoint pens. It’s a very different feeling to drawing with Copic markers or painting with watercolours, I’m way outside my comfort zone and I’ve got no real method or way of approaching a drawing. I’m very much feeling my way in the dark. But I like to do this at least once every week or so, I think I learn so much more when I work outside that comfort zone. And ballpoints are so unforgiving- this is a very uncomfortable discomfort zone so it teaches me a lot.

I drew Kseniya’s portrait in a Moleskine sketchbook with Bic Cristal and Bic 4-colour ballpoint pens.


More practice with ballpoint pens for this portrait of Sktchy muse Rim. The most difficult part of ballpoint pen drawing for me right now is figuring out when to stop. I have a tendency to keep going and overwork my portraits but I think they look better underworked. I don’t know if I left this at the right point but I think I was in danger of messing it up if I kept going so I stopped.

I drew Rim in an A5 Moleskine sketchbook with 3 Bic multicolour ballpoint pens.


This is Sktchy muse Rain Rose drawn with ballpoint pen in my tiny Moleskine sketchbook. Feel like I’m definitely developing a personal style now, which means I’m much less hesitant to start drawing with my pens, and my ballpoint portraits are looking bolder as a result.


Still struggling to really feel comfortable with ballpoint pens. There were times when I was drawing this whe I was getting a light touch and then I just lost it completely again. I’m hoping that eventually, with more and more practice, I’ll get there and it will begin to come naturally.

I drew Nande in a Moleskine sketchbook with Bic Cristal ballpoint pens.


Sometimes drawings just don’t turn out as well as you hope. This portrait of Maria actually looked fine at the halfway stage. I should have stopped there. I started drawing it on a train a week ago. And then it has been completed in bits and pieces over a very frustrating day when I started out with no broadband and had to wait for it be restored, I’ve been working on and off in online meetings and drawing in between. The end result is an overworked portrait where I really haven’t taken the time to stop and think properly about what I’ve been doing. I thought it was OK when I finished it (and it does look better in the sketchbook than in the photo) but now I can see the many things that are wrong with it. Maybe I’ll come back to it and work on it some more another day – or will that just be overworking it more?

I drew Maria’s portrait in my tiny Moleskine sketchbook with Bic and Paperchase multicolour ballpoint pens.


This was a good inspiration photo to use for ballpoint pen practice. I got to use a good range of colours and to work on lights and darks, and there wasn’t too much to worry about in terms of actually drawing Ahmed’s face because the circle provided a frame and I just had to situate a few features. What I love about this ballpoint pen practice is that I do feel like I’m making progress with each drawing. It’s tiny steps forward, but it’s all in the right direction. I love that experience of learning something new!

I drew Ahmed’s portrait in my tiny pocket Moleskine with a range of Bic multicolour ballpoint pens.

Laura’s husband

I’ve been taking a class on drawing with ballpoint pen in the Sktchy Art School taught by Robin Hilthouse. It’s a great course and the key technique is smooth transitions between colours. I’ve enjoyed it enormously and learned a great deal. However, I know don’t have the patience to work in exactly the same way that Robin does, so by the time I was halfway through this, my final practice portrait for the course, I was starting to adapt and move more towards the kind of hatching I do with coloured pencil. I simply don’t have the patience to create the kind of gentle invisible hatching that Robin creates, and I’m not a realistic artist anyway, so I think I’ll be taking what I’ve learned and using it for a more textured hatching, more like that which I use with coloured pencil, which conveys a sense of the person without creating a realistic portrait. I’ll be practicing more in the coming weeks and I’ll have to see where it takes me.

This was drawn in a Moleskine sketchbook with a variety of Bic and Staedtler ballpoint pens. It took about 5 hours to complete.