Have you ever seen a drawing with a $125 ballpoint pen?

I often receive emails offering products to test – and usually they just go in the circular file, as they’re for things like brushes for hair, or for those awful websites that keep selling cheap ripoffs of good art supplies.

Bastion emailed, though, and anyone who has pens tends to be intriguing (at what point will I feel like I have enough pens? I don’t know!)….I looked at their site and nearly picked a fountain pen but then I saw the Bolt Action Pen. A ballpoint for $125? That has to be spectacular right?!? So I agreed to try it out.

Tutorial: Drawing with a $125 ballpoint!?

Let’s make a little wash and ink sketch using this pen and see how it works!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Ballpoint pen drawing tips

  1. Practice adjusting the pressure used to make lines – you’ll be surprised that you can get soft tones!
  2. Get a good range of values from black all the way to white.
  3. Use a paper with texture, like a drawing paper shown here. That allows for softer lines.
  4. If adding a watercolor (or watercolor stick) wash, test first! Not all ballpoint pen inks are equal and you don’t want to create a black mush after all that time drawing.

Loose wash and ink

The color here was added with watercolor sticks – 2 blues, a purple, a brown, not painting feather by feather but just letting it all blend and create that shimmery black bird effect. If you missed my previous video, these are sticks of Daniel Smith watercolor pigment, just in stick form! Check out that video here

Have you ever tried drawing with a ballpoint pen?

Give it a shot next time you’ve got something else to wait around at – like the kids ballgames, doctors office, etc. You won’t need an eraser or sharpener like with a pencil. Just pen and paper and you’re good to go!


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  1. Lennie Jo Barnes


  2. Margery C

    Wow, gorgeous drawing with the pen. You are an inspiration for me to get my ballpoint pens out and see what I can do. The colors you chose really do look like a crow in the sunlight.

  3. Gab

    This is so so amazing Sandy
    And what a great project to take to jury duty – I bet you inspired some people.
    It’s my dream to get called for jury duty – I would be there in a heartbeat!

    • Martha Gordin

      Your experiments are always fascinating and so enjoyable to watch. Great way to pass the time during jury duty!

      I have a lovely Waterman ball point pen that my late husband used at work for many years. The refill cartridges are pricey and don’t always flow evenly ending with an unsightly blob of ink and inky fingers. It is heavy and very comfortable to use. I love using it for my frequent journaling

      • Sandy Allnock

        The blobbing is something this pen totally doesn’t do. If only it didn’t have the occasional skipping I could get used to holding it differently I think!

  4. Elayne Catey

    Fabulous crow drawing! While I would never spend that much on a ballpoint pen, I’m curious to know how long the pen would last before it runs out of ink? I never use pens that have clips or anything, don’t like anything poking me. It’s also hard to find pens that don’t blob. This one didn’t blob but having the ink flow stop now and then must have been so frustrating. I love when artists like you try out products and are honest with your opinions, it helps us decide what we need/want and what we don’t. Thank you!

    • Sandy Allnock

      Maybe I need to do a “how many lollipop licks” test with this pen to see how long it lasts….LOL!

  5. Diane Gibbons

    That is absolutely beautiful! You’re right about the colours just making it shimmer like they do in real life

  6. Terry Blanchard

    A whole new thing! I never tried a serious drawing with a ball point pen! But you have carried off beautifully! Something new for me to try! Thank you Sandy!

  7. Linda Hopf

    I haven’t watch the video yet. However, in today’s economy it wouldn’t matter how “spectacular” it performs I couldn’t fathom paying that much for a pen. Still trying to save up for the minimal number of Copic markers for your Copic Class.

  8. Susan

    Stunning! You are such an inspiration!

  9. Jan Castle

    Stunning drawing and coloring….TFS Sandy! Sorry the pen was a disappointment, but happy you still had fun creating this masterpiece – LOL!!!!

  10. Lori-ann

    That drawing us beautiful. I would expect a better result for the cost of that pen. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Karen Zemko

    You amaze me that you can do so much with so little! Love the bird and the iridescent wash over it.

  12. Diane Hunter

    Great drawing. You added so much detail.

    • Sandy Allnock

      Thanks! Easy to do with a crisp ballpoint line 🙂


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