What’s a Rotring Pen?….

Thanks to everyone who’s reading my blog and checking out my website AJMayArt.co uk, it’s inspiring, and helps me with ideas. A friend mentioned that she has no idea what Rotring Pens are, a very good point. So, I thought what a great idea for my first “proper” blog, so here goes….

Rotring are a brand producing drawing products. (www.rotring.com) The company are renowned particularly for their pens and pencils, generally used for graphic and architectural drawing.  I use the isograph pens. These come apart, have a separate re fillable cartridge (which means I can use any colour ink I like) and most importantly have the smallest nibs I have managed to find for any pen anywhere in the world.

blog what's a rotring pen

The nibs come in several sizes, but the smallest is 0.10 mm in diameter, about the size of a human hair. They are extremely fragile, and if not looked after (which is something I am rubbish at) bend, get blocked with dry ink and refuse to work at all. At around £25 a pen, this can be quite an expensive process.

I started using Rotring Pens when I began fine line drawings. I worked for a countryside volunteer group, which had a quarterly magazine. Produced on a shoe string any illustrations had to be black and white for decent print quality. My first drawing for the magazine was a Speckled Wood butterfly, due to the lack of tech back then (yep I am that old) it was easier to draw to scale so I had to produce a small picture, with as much detail as possible. That’s were my frustration began, I found the nib size of standard drawing pens weren’t small enough to capture the detail I was after. With a bit of research, I discovered Rotring Pens and never looked back.


Although I love the purity of drawing in black and white, over the years I have also come to use colour. My Attingham Oak picture was done entirely with a Rotring Pen and Acrylic Inks, (destroyed 3 pens entirely with this picture as the pens are not designed to use Acrylic Ink, once it dries that’s it, so lots of ruined nibs!) I use Acrylic Ink because it gives me greater colour choice, and being non-water soluble if I want to wash over the drawing I can without it smudging. It does risk wrecking the pens but I think it’s worth it!

Amanda May_Attingham Oak_Merged_sRGB

Attingham Oak was a total experiment. These days I tend to use pen work alongside ink washes and painting with brushes for my colour pieces as I think it gives the picture more depth and vibrancy.

But that’s just my opinion, I’d love to know what you think!

Hope this helps Jen x



2 thoughts on “What’s a Rotring Pen?….

  1. Thank you for explaining.

    Your dedication to detail is amazing, glad you found pens that work for you.
    I agree with you in that your colour work is more vibrant now, but I do love the oak trunk. There is detail of course, yet the colour gives it an added intricacy and intimacy. Leon would have loved it when he was in hospital for months, as there is so much to look at and admire, especially in a sterile hospital room.

    Hopefully he won’t be, but possibly a better present than flowers, particularly for men?


    1. Hi Jenny, I’m glad you liked it. I find the whole process of drawing just with the pen therapeutic to be honest. I get so lost in it that I often look at what I’ve done later on and don’t really know how i did it. The whole thing sort of evolves of it’s own accord, out of tiny marks, somehow one solid form emerges. It’s almost like a meditation when I am really in the zone, although sometimes I find it really difficult to get over my own concerns over the outcome and just ‘let it flow!’


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