lamy 2000 fountain pen doodle with diamine oxblood ink

New Series – Doodling With Fountain Pens

John BosleyHow To 10 Comments

One of the ways I enjoy using my fountain pens is doodling with them. I have never considered myself to be good at drawing images, but I really find drawing shapes and patterns to be relaxing and fairly easy. I sometimes get asked to do videos or tutorials on how to do some of my doodles, so I figured it was about time to start a series doing just that.

The Current Doodle Series Posts

Where The Doodles Come From

The first thing I want to mention about the doodles that I do is that some of them are patterns that I’ve come up with, but many have been inspired or developed based on doodles that I’ve seen other people do. I’m sure that even some of the doodles that I think are originals have been subconsciously inspired by others. Regardless of where they come from, for each doodle that I share I’ll do my best to credit the original source whenever possible.

fountain pen doodles jinhao

Some Doodling Tips

Whether you’re a doodling veteran or just getting started, I think there are a few things that you should keep in mind when doodling with fountain pens. Here are some tips that will hopefully make things a little easier and more enjoyable for you.

Protecting Your Paper

Most of the time, you’ll want to protect the paper that you’re using when doodling with fountain pens. This applies to both the page you’re doodling on and whatever is underneath. I like to keep some sort of paper underneath my hand while doodling to keep my skin from touching the paper. This helps prevent skin oils from getting on the paper, which can cause feathering or skipping.

fountain pen doodles paper protection

I like to use a clean piece of paper under my hand to protect the doodle sheet

I also like to keep a piece of scrap paper underneath the sheet that I’m doodling on. Many patterns have lines that intersect at the same point and this often causes the ink to bleed through the paper. If you’re doodling in a notebook, this can get ink on the page beneath the one you’re doodling on. Having a sheet of paper between the two protects the next page in your notebook.

fountain pen doodles bleed

When ink bleeds through a sheet, it can get onto the next page

Ink and Nib Selection

When choosing a pattern to doodle, I think that your ink and nib selection make a big difference in how it’s going to look and how easy the process is going to be. Some patterns look great with a shading ink, while others may look better with a sheeny ink. You may even want to use an ink with some shimmer in it. Just be careful about smearing if you choose to use a saturated ink or slow-drying ink. Many times I have smeared part of my doodle thanks to wet or sheeny ink.

fountain pen doodles shading ink

Some patterns work great with a shading ink

fountain pen doodles sheen ink

Sheening ink makes this pattern a little more interesting

fountain pen doodles smudge

Smudges can happen if ink is still wet.

Nib selection is also important to consider before you start doodling. To start, I usually avoid using specialty nibs such as stubs or flex nibs. The variable line size doesn’t work well for most doodles. Using a broad nib will make some patterns easier and faster, but other patterns will be a lot more difficult with a broad nib. Similarly, using a fine nib on some patterns will feel natural, while on other patterns you’ll curse yourself because it will take so long to fill up a small space.

fountain pen doodles fine nib

This doodle would be very difficult to do without a fine nib

Paper Selection

You’re probably not surprised to hear that I think paper selection is also an important part of the doodling process. I like to use papers that really show off the properties of my ink. Some of my favorites are Tomoe River and Midori MD. The problem with papers like this is that they tend to have longer dry times, so the chance of ink smearing is higher. For this reason I am very aware of wet ink and careful to not touch my doodle if possible.

I also enjoy doodling in notebooks so that all of my doodles are in one place. I have used loose sheets of paper before, but don’t know what to do with them once I’m finished. In my experience, I prefer notebooks that open and lay flat and that are not very thick. Having the notebook lay flat is really important so that you’re not constantly fighting the curve near the center of the page. Having a thin notebook helps so that your hand lays as flat as possible and isn’t always falling off of the edge of the notebook. My current notebooks are made by Taroko Designs.

fountain pen doodles thin notebook

I prefer thin notebooks when doodling

One last thing to consider when choosing a paper or notebook for your doodles is the size. I have found it’s always a good idea to err on the smaller side. The page will fill up faster and you’re less likely to get bored with the current doodle. I have started many doodles and been overwhelmed at how slowly my progress is going compared to how much empty space I still have on the page. I’d suggest starting with an A6 or B6 paper size. I am currently using an A5-sized notebook and often wish the page was smaller so I could wrap up my doodle faster.

fountain pen doodles notebook sizes

A5 vs A6 notebook

fountain pen doodles

Having smaller pages means less doodling

What To Expect

Each post in this series will show step-by-step instructions for how I create each featured doodle. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the correct or only way to do them, it’s just how I do them. I’ll also have suggestions for which pens and inks I think work or look best.

I’ll end this post with some words of encouragement. Each pattern takes some practice before it starts looking really good. Even on patterns that I used to draw a lot, when I go back and try to relearn them it takes a while before they look as good as they used to. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t immediately “get” a pattern. Stick with it, try a few different approaches, and eventually you should get something that you like. The whole point of doodling is to have fun and use your pens, so be forgiving with your skills and just enjoy the process of putting ink on paper.

Comments 10

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  1. Love this! I’ve been looking for more ideas like this lately bc I don’t always want to write, but I always want to use my pens and inks.

    I’ve got a few Diamine inks in water brush pens I ‘paint’ with in my journals, kinda like watercoloring (which I’m admittedly terrible at but don’t care 😄)

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      That’s one of the main reasons I started doodling, Stephanie. I wanted to use my pens, but didn’t always want to write.

      Inks in water brush pens sounds like fun!

      1. It is fun! Especially shades I’m not as fond of and/or don’t use often, samples, etc. Good way to use up stuff or I may never, with some.

        I doodled using my fav TWSBI stub & Emerald of Chivoir; it’s addictively fun. Simple circles become bubble clusters, and does remind one of Zentangles as others said. Meditative, like mindful drawing of sorts, only better bc, fountain pens! I think I liked the stub better than the fine, then again, stub nibs make anything I put down look better so I’m completely biased, lol, especially TWSBI with the rounder edges.

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  2. Thanks so much for the instructions on this. I have filled up many, many pages w/ these pipe doodles now! They are so addictive!!!

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