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The Best Fineliner Pens

The Best Fineliner Pens

The Best Fineliner Pens

Fineliners marry the visual impact and performance of ink with the convenience and predictability of a needle-point pen. Unlike metal-tipped technical pens or traditional brushes and dip pens, fineliners take no special care to use. This makes them accessible for beginners and everyday writers while allowing experienced artists to work distraction-free. This guide focuses on artist-quality pens but includes some more fun, affordable selections too. Read on to see how to choose a fineliner as well as our recommendations for various art and writing applications.

Sakura Pigma Micron Pens
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens come in several tip sizes.
The Sakura Pigma Micron is an enduring favorite among artists and writers. Its plastic tip allows for accurate, reliable lines but also has a small amount of give. This softness allows for slight line variation that imbues drawings with subtle character, though we caution against pressing too hard–some ultra-fine tip sizes will be bent out of shape by heavy pressure. The Micron’s ink flows easily and is quite dark. Its archival-quality pigment ink is also Copic-proof, so it’s the perfect choice for multi-media artwork and writing that needs to last. Microns come in 17 colors and sizes ranging from 003 to 08. They’re even available bundled in a 73 pen gift set.

Read our Sakura Pigma Guide to learn more about the Micron and other pens that use Sakura Pigma ink.

Comparison of different line widths in water and oil-based inks
The same tip size in a water-based pen and oil-based pen.
Most fineliners are made with water-based ink, but some are oil based. Water-based pens are best for most uses since they produce more controlled lines and are less likely to bleed through paper. However, oil-based pens do have one important advantage over water-based - they can write on glossy surfaces. If you plan to write or draw on photographs or other shiny media, oil-based pens are a better bet. You can read more about ink properties in our guides to Picking a Pen with the Right Ink and Permanent Inks.

If you want to make sure your work lasts for years to come, choose fineliners that are waterproof to protect against spills, light- or fade-resistant to guard against exposure to sunlight, and acid-free or pH-neutral to prevent them from reacting with paper. Pair them with archival-quality paper for best results.

Tip Material
Close-up on pen tip
Fineliners have plastic needle-point tips.
Fineliners have plastic needle-point tips that can be used flush against a straightedge. Look for tips that are firm with a very small amount of give. This balance of flexibility and hardness lets them form consistent lines while being used at natural writing angles. Plastic tips can be damaged by too much writing pressure, so it’s best to use a light hand to prevent them from fraying and distorting.
Tip Sizes
Three brands of pen in the 01 tip size
Look for fineliners that come in several sizes.
Most fineliners come in several tip sizes that may range from a super-fine 0.03 mm to a bold 1 mm. This gives artists the flexibility to render meticulous detail and graphic punch depending on their needs. Other fineliners have less precise sizing, such as XS, S, F, and M, or come only in one or two sizes. These are suitable for art that doesn’t require as many different line widths as well as writing and journaling. Some lines also include larger bullet-tipped markers or brush pens filled with the same ink as the fineliners.

Several fineliners use an unintuitive naming scheme inherited from technical pens. The numbers on these pens, such as 0.03 or 0.8, express their relative tip size. They do not correspond to a millimeter measurement. A pen with the number 0.03 has a tip size similar to 0.15 mm, while a pen numbered as 0.8 is similar to a 0.5 mm tip size. You can check the millimeter tip size of each of these pens on their respective product pages on our website.

Resistance to Other Media
Demonstration of resistance to Copic ink and water
Many fineliners resist Copic Markers and water.
Many people use other media, such as watercolors and alcohol-based markers, to color in fineliner art. If you plan to do this, choose fineliners that can stand up to your media of choice without bleeding, lightening, or feathering. It’s best to wait 24 hours to allow your pens to dry before coloring over them. All of the pens in this guide are Copic proof. Most are also waterproof and resist lightening, or lifting, when erased over. This is helpful for removing pencil marks from preliminary sketches.
Comparison of showthrow and bleedthrough
Some fineliners will soak through paper.
Some fineliners will bleed through paper, especially if you go over the same area multiple times. In our experience, all will show through the paper to some degree. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but you will want to pick pens that don’t bleed or show significantly if you plan to use both sides of the paper. The degree to which a pen will bleed or show through is heavily influenced by the paper itself. Generally speaking, thinner paper is more likely to show through and absorbent paper is more likely to bleed through.
A rainbow of pen tips
Colored fineliners give you more options.
Most fineliners come in black. This versatile color is sufficient for art and writing, but pens that come in a variety of colors provide more options for different effects. You can use colored pens to minimize outlines, make a complete, multi-colored drawing, color-code a journal, and more.
Fineliner Recommendations
The Best Fineliners for Sketching

Sketching with ink prevents artists from erasing stray lines or changing their minds about a composition as they work. This encourages them to accept mistakes and keep drawing, resulting in naturally flowing lines and lively drawings unhindered by perfectionism. Thin or light-colored pens are best for initial sketches while darker or thicker pens are good for finishing touches.

Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Outline Pens were designed for drawing the Japanese cartoons known as manga, but their fine tips and smooth-flowing ink also work well for sketching. They come in standard black, sepia, and violet as well as unique light blue and gray shades that are perfect for preliminary sketches and shading. These artist-quality pigment fineliners are water and Copic proof. They come in sizes ranging from 003 to 08.
Staedtler Pigment Liners resist drying out for up to 18 hours so that you don’t have to constantly cap and uncap pens while drawing. In addition, their archival-quality pigment ink will keep your sketches in good condition so that you can look back at your work years from now. They are waterproof and Copic proof. Staedtler Pigment Liners come in thirteen colors and five sizes, from 0.05 mm to 0.7 mm.
The Best Fineliners for Illustration

Fineliners for illustration should be richly colored or deep black for drawing vibrant linework. Look for water- and Copic-safe options to make sure you can color your artwork with any media.

Copic Multiliners perfectly complement the super-popular alcohol-based Copic Markers. Their pigmented ink is waterproof, Copic proof, archival, and photocopy safe, so it easily stands up to the demands of illustration work. They come in tip sizes ranging from a delicate 0.03 mm that can ink the tiniest of details to a bold 1.0 mm that delivers super-impactful outlines. Standard Multiliners are disposable and come in 10 colors. Sturdy aluminum Copic Multiliner SP Pens only come in black, but their ink cartridges and tips can be replaced. This makes them more environmentally friendly and cost effective over time.
Also Consider: Uni Pin Pens
The budget-friendly Uni Pin Pen has a particularly firm and precise tip that lets artists easily keep their lines to consistent widths. Its pigment ink is waterproof, Copic proof, fade resistant, and acid free. It comes in five sizes and is also available in an oil-based version that writes well on glossy surfaces.
The Best Fineliners for Comic Art

Professional-quality fineliners are perfect for all aspects of comic art: their rich black ink provides crisp and clear lines, the variety of sizes allows for both delicate details and powerful outlines, and the consistent widths are ideal for panel borders and lettering. Original comic pages can become valuable collectibles when made with archival ink.

Made especially for drawing Manga, Deleter Neopiko Line 3 Pens feature grippy needle tips in sizes ranging from 0.03 mm to 1.0 mm. The fine tip sizes are ideal for stippling, textures, and other miniscule elements. The line also includes a brush pen and a fat 2.0 bullet tip that is perfect for drawing borders. Its archival pigment ink is both waterproof and Copic proof.
The Rotring Tikky Graphic Drawing Pen has a firm tip that feels extra wet and smooth without any loss of control. Rotring’s free-ink technology delivers a juicy flow that remains reliable and precise as it is used up. A window in the barrel lets you see when the ink is running low so you’ll never be stranded without a working pen. Its ink is waterproof, Copic proof, and fade resistant. It comes in seven tip sizes.
The Best Fineliners for Writing

Although they were originally intended for art, fineliners also work well for writing. People who struggle with smudging or need to write in tight quarters especially appreciate their tiny tip options and fast-drying ink.

Most fineliner tips are relatively delicate and can be damaged with heavy use. Stabilo Sensor Fineliner Marker Pens avoid this with a cushioned tip that retreats into the pen body in response to pressure. This makes them an excellent choice for writing, especially for people who are used to ballpoint pens or tend to press hard. They dry within three seconds on Rhodia paper. Stabilo Sensor Pens come in eight colors and one tip size. They are somewhat water resistant, so although they may smear, you won’t lose your writing if you spill water on it.
The Marvy Le Pen Technical Drawing Pens is entirely waterproof, so it’s the better choice if you don’t want to take chances with errant drinks. It comes in a wider range of tip sizes that lets you choose between bold letters and miniscule margin notes. Although it has no specific writer-friendly features, we found that its wider barrel was more comfortable to hold for long periods than those of most fineliners.
The Best Fineliners for Journaling

Fineliners are a popular choice for journaling. Their needle points pair well with rulers for drawing layouts and their reliable tip sizes lend themselves to tidy entries. Pens that come in many different hues allow you to color-code entries and embellish them with cheerful doodles. For maximum color-coding compatibility, we tested these selections with Stablio Boss highlighters.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens are an established journaling favorite. These 0.3 mm pens come in an astonishing array of colors for constructing vibrant layouts, filling in trackers, or simply enjoying different hues. Their distinctive triangular bodies are comfortable to hold despite their narrow diameter. They dry within one second and are slightly water resistant. Staedtler Triplus Fineliners smear slightly when highlighted but remain readable. They exhibited mild bleeding on Rhodia paper with heavy use and barely showed through with ordinary writing.
Stylish Teranishi Rushon Petite Pens boast ivory bodies with color-matched end caps and adorable details. They measure 5.7 inches long when capped and a mere 6.6 mm around, so they fit easily into pen cases for journaling on the go. The Teranishi Rushon come in 36 vibrant hues in a 0.3 mm tip size. They are mildly water resistant, fast drying, and barely bled through Rhodia when we went over the paper several times. The black pen is waterproof and will not smear when highlighted but other colors will.
The Best Fineliners for Planning

A fineliner tip can easily fit into minute planner squares. Whether you’re jotting down to-dos, emphasizing events, or adding decorative details, these colorful choices are sure to help.

The double-ended design of Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Dot Markers creates a versatile planning tool. With the fineliner tip, you can write to your heart’s content, and it comes with a bonus on the other end of the pen: a round-tipped marker that can be used to highlight, draw, and dot. We love to stamp it down to fill out a habit tracker. With heavy pressure, the marker lines can bleed through a page, but dots and regular writing presented no trouble. They hold up well to highlighters and Copics for the multimedia-minded.
Also Consider: Uni EMOTT Sign Pens
Uni EMOTT Sign Pens come in a cornucopia of colors. Whether you prefer muted or cheerful options, you can pick a pen set that suits your style or assemble your own palette. The sturdy tips of these pens, protected with a hard plastic shield, provide slight line variation with pressure, unlike other options that can be easily bent out of shape. We found them fun and zippy to doodle and write with. The plastic shield over all but the very end of the tip means this pen won’t leave ink on your ruler if you lay out pages in a DIY planner. Their square profile won’t roll away, but if you’re used to unscrewing or twisting off pen caps, you may be briefly stymied: these caps don’t turn and should be pulled off directly.

Uni EMOTT sign pens don’t react with Copics, but will smear faintly under water and highlighters.

Our last option for planners is the Pilot FriXion Fineliner Pen, which “erases” with the heat of friction, making it easy to rearrange your schedule. However, FriXion ink is less vivid than that of our other selections, and they’re the opposite of archival quality.

The Best Fineliners for Note-Taking

A good fineliner for note-taking should be portable, easy to write with, hard to break, and well suited to color-coding. As a plus, these picks are also affordable if you misplace them trundling between the classroom and the desk. Like our journaling picks, we tested these selections under a Stabilo Boss highlighter.

The slim form of the Marvy Le Pen Marker Pen tucks into even the most crowded pencil case. The smooth, legible lines it writes dry quickly with low showthrough. Its cap posts securely, and its metal clip won’t break if you slip it over the ring binding of a notebook and let it thump around your backpack for a while. We will note that the narrow body of this pen might cause hand fatigue in long writing sessions, so it’s ideal for shorter classes, or as an auxiliary color-coding tool to a chunkier workhorse pen. The Le Pen’s ink held up flawlessly to regular highlighting, though if you try to highlight with heavy pressure or right away after writing it will slightly smear.
The hexagonal body of the Stabilo Point 88 Marker Pen won’t roll off a desk. In fact, it reminds us of a classic wooden pencil, sure to suit the aesthetic of any student. It writes with a fine line, in dryer, faintly lighter ink than other options in this guide. While it smudges under highlighter, its stunning rainbow of colors will work well on their own for organizing your notes.
The Best Fineliners for Labeling

These pens can write on ordinary paper as well as cloth and glossy surfaces like photographs and posters. Read our guides to Picking a Pen with the Right Ink, Permanent Inks, and The Best Pens for Food Labels for an expanded range of options.

The Zebra Onamae Mackee Double-Sided Name Marker is meant for labeling personal belongings like clothes and pen cases, but its multi-surface capabilities make it great for writing on almost anything. It has both a fineliner and bullet tip and can write on paper, photographs, glossy magazines, and many other surfaces. As a bonus, the fineliner tip also works remarkably well as a comic art pen.
If you want more tip options, try the oil-based Pilot Drawing Pen. Its 005 tip size opens up even tiny items for signatures. It dispenses rich ink that writes on almost anything, including glass, metal, plastic, and cloth. The Pilot Drawing Pen is also available in a standard water-based version that resists drying out.

For a budget option available in a dazzling range of colors, pick up some Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Markers, though we caution that their ink may not be the most opaque on smooth surfaces.


We tested all of our fineliners for drying time, bleedthrough, water resistance, Copic resistance, and lifting resistance. For the water and Copic resistance tests, we allowed the ink to dry for 24 hours before drawing over it with a water brush and Copic Marker. We tested lifting resistance by erasing a dry swatch with a Sakura Foam Eraser. We performed all of the tests on both Rhodia and Deleter Comic Paper.


Do you want to review all of our recommended fineliners at once? Use our comparison tool to see their specifications side by side.


Our writers draw on their personal expertise, consult our in-house subject matter experts, and do extensive research to make our guides as accurate and comprehensive as possible. We then test every finding that makes it through the research stage. Only the techniques and tools whose performance we personally confirm make it into our guides as recommendations.


Fineliners’ precision, portability, and ease of use have made them indispensable tools for art and writing. What are your favorite fineliners? Let us know in the comments below!

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Are you still not sure what to try? Check out our Drawing Pen Samplers for some of our most popular fine-tipped drawing pens for sketches, comics, illustrations, notes, and much more. They all have subtle differences and a different feel on paper, so try them all and see which best fits your writing or drawing style!

Add Items to Cart

NameTip SizesColorsPriceAdd to Cart
Copic Multiliner & Multiliner SP Pens0.03 mm, 0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm10$$-$$$Add Items to Cart
Deleter Neopiko Line 3 Pens0.03 mm, 0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.8 mm, 1.0 mm, 2.0 mm1$$Add Items to Cart
Faber-Castell PITT Artist PensXS, S, F, M1$$Add Items to Cart
Kuretake ZIG Clean Color Dot Markers0.5 mm, 1.0 mm 24$Add Items to Cart
Kuretake ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Outline Pens0.18 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.45 mm, 0.65 mm5$Add Items to Cart
Marvy Le Pen Marker PensFine30$Add Items to Cart
Marvy Le Pen Permanent Marker PensExtra Fine4$Add Items to Cart
Marvy Le Pen Technical Drawing Pens0.03 mm, 0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.8 mm1$Add Items to Cart
Marvy Le Plume II MarkersFine108$$Add Items to Cart
Paper Mate Flair Ultra Fine Felt Tip Pens0.4 mm8$Add to Cart
Pilot Drawing Pens - Oil-Based Ink005, 01, 02, 03, 05, 081$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot Drawing Pens - Water-Based Ink005, 01, 02, 03, 05, 081$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot Oil-Based Twin MarkersExtra Fine12$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot Razor Point Marker Pens0.3 mm3$Add to Cart
Rotring Tikky Graphic Drawing Pens0.1 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm1$$Add Items to Cart
Sakura Microperm Pens0.25 mm, 0.35 mm, 0.45 mm1$$Add Items to Cart
Sakura Pigma Micron Pens 0.15 mm, 0.2 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.35 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.45 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.6 mm, 0.7 mm 17$$Add Items to Cart
Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent MarkersUltra Fine24$Add Items to Cart
Sharpie Pen MarkersFine6$$Add to Cart
Sharpie Stainless Steel PensFine1$$$Add to Cart
Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner Marker Pens0.4 mm47$Add Items to Cart
Stabilo Sensor Fineliner Marker PensFine8$$Add Items to Cart
Staedtler Pigment Liner Pens0.05 mm, 0.1 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 1.0 mm, 1.2 mm7$$$Add Items to Cart
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens0.3 mm48$Add Items to Cart
Teranishi Rushon Petite Pens0.3 mm36$Add Items to Cart
Uni EMOTT Sign Pens0.4 mm40$Add Items to Cart
Uni Pin Pens - Oil-based01, 02, 031$Add Items to Cart
Uni Pin Pens - Pigment005, 01, 02, 031$Add Items to Cart
Zebra Double-Sided Name MarkersExtra Fine1$$Add to Cart
Zebra Mackee Care Double-Sided Marker Pens - StandardExtra Fine3$Add Items to Cart
Zebra Mackee Care Double-Sided Markers - RefillableExtra Fine12$Add Items to Cart
Zebra Zensations Sarasa Fineliner Pens0.8 mm24$Add Items to Cart