A Peek Inside my Sketchnote Supply Cupboard

If you were to peek into my art cupboard amongst the piles of paper, old sketchbooks and waylaid craft supplies, this is what you would find . . .


I have yet to find a pen for sketchnoting that I love but it’s not from a lack of trying.  A chisel-tip improves the legibility of my printing considerably (oh, what I would give to be able to print like an architect . . . ) but fine point, chisel-tipped markers are awfully hard to find and I grind through the chisel rather quickly. 

I have a cheap and cheerful fountain pen (the Pilot Varsity) that I use regularly but it isn’t as convenient as a marker and is prone to smudging. 

I have a number of chisel-tipped Zig calligraphy pens in a variety of widths.  While I like them and appreciate the chisel, they are water-based so if I add colour, they can bleed.  EK Tools makes a set of ‘Journaling Pens’ in five different widths that are also nice but are sans-chisel and surprising hard to find (I found my last set on a clearance shelf at Target).

All of this is by way of saying, I currently use a Zig Calligraphy Pen (1.0) or the Pilot Varsity for text and a fine-point Sharpie Pen for titles, illustrations and anything where I’ll add colour and don’t want the markers to bleed.

Coloured Markers

I love the double-ended Copic markers.  They come in the most beautiful array of colours but they can bleed through thin paper so I use them with thicker card-stock or sketching paper.  They have the added bonus of being re-fillable which makes me feel slightly better when I hand over enough money for a pair of shoes and am given three, carefully wrapped markers in return.

Correcting Fluid

I’m too much of a fuss-pot to not use correcting fluid if I notice a gaff or a typo.  The trick is finding something that is exactly the same colour as your paper.  I’ve tried them all and don’t like any.  If you know of one that is perfect (opaque, quick-drying, able to be drawn over without flaking off etc.) please let me know. 

I usually opt for a Pentel Correcting Pen with a fine tip but I often dislike the results and curse myself for not having the confidence to leave the mistakes in or the skill to not make them in the first place. 


Right now, I’m using Canson’s 98lb mix-media sketchpads.  I love the slight texture to the paper and the fact that even Copic markers rarely bleed through.  It also has a perforation that makes it easy to pull the paper out of the pad.  The only downside it that Canson doesn’t offer a letter-sized option so I have to create an 8 ½ X 11” sheet from a 9 X 12” sketchpad if I’m intending to scan something.


When I’m done my note, I will scan it using our (very old, but still reasonably reliable) Epson Workforce 600 to make a jpeg or PDF. I use Pixelmator to correct things from the scan or to add computer text in cases where I am combining illustrations with text (say, for workshop handouts etc.)

What are your favourite tools?

Julie StittComment