Cataloguing and swatching your pens

Hey Messians! EmK here for my first post, and I could not be more excited to be sharing these videos with you! You may have realized that this season is special! The Creative Team and Get Messy family have come together to make sure that you have all of the tools and knowledge that you in need in order to make informed decisions about you’re beloved art supplies. I know that this season is packed full of information, and I hope that this set of videos doesn’t just educate, but gets you thinking and creating! Keeping with that approach, I am here to tell you everything about the artist’s most versatile tool: the pen.

Pens come in all shapes and sizes, every color of the rainbow, and can be incredibly different from one another. But looking beyond how beautiful the color may be, or how ergonomically the grip is, let’s get a little more technical. As soon as it’s the paper, it’s easy to tell how smoothly a pen writes, but when it comes to the longevity of the ink, how do you know it will last? Maybe you’ve wanted to try a fountain pen, but never quite understood how different it was from a ballpoint. Everyone has a preference when it comes to their favorite pen—and they’re everywhere—so why not understand what makes you favorite so special to you? Plus, you’ll know what to look for in future supplies!

In part one, we’ll be looking at pen tip types, also called nibs, and at the different types of ink that these wonderful tools can contain. For example, ballpoint and rollerball pens only differ by their ink types, and that can make a world of difference! With this kind of knowledge, you’ll be able to pick up any pen and understand what kind of marks it can make—and what all the little buzzwords on it might mean! There’s a million and more pens out there, and with pen being mightier than the sword, this knowledge really is power! This video will make you a pen expert! In part two, I’ll show you how to swatch out your favorite pens. We’ll use different techniques to not only keep them cataloged, but also to learn exactly what types of marks your pens can make. I’ll be cataloging my pens with a simple chart, which I’ve provided for you as well! Part two also features a quick tutorial on using multiple pens together in order to create more interesting marks. I’ll show you how to use them to create varied line sizes and shapes to keep your line art from looking flat and two dimensional. The next time you pick up a pen, you’ll have the right knowledge to use it to its full potential! In order to use the chart that is seen in part two, click the following link and choose to print it straight from the that opened web page—or save it to your device for later use!


Download Swatch Worksheet

Print this out and test all your pens!


EmK Wright is a self taught artist with a passion for creating. She finds her true love in between the pages of her art journals, where she has been expressing herself for about 13 years. 


  1. Katie Smith

    I can’t wait to watch these videos, Emk!

    • EmK Wright

      Thanks! Hope you enjoy!!

    • EmK Wright

      Haha you are so very welcome! All of the researching definitely made me feel as though I were back in college. But 100% worth it!

  2. Elizabeth D.

    What a wealth of knowledge, EmK! Loved seeing you pull it all together for the octopus drawing in the end <3

    • EmK Wright

      Thank you! I’l let you in on a secret: you cant mess up an octopus! Their squiggly little limbs can do any motion that your pen desires! So fun and easy to draw.

  3. Sasha Zinevych

    Whoa, EmK! That’s a real pen 101 post! Love how quick and easy you explained the difference between those pens! And that swatch chart? Genius! <3

    • EmK Wright

      Yay! I’m so very glad that you got something out of it. I can’t wait to see pen charts popping up!! 🙂

  4. Misty Granade

    Cool!! Loved your descriptions!

  5. Lea

    Great videos! SO much info. Thanks

  6. Rebecca

    Some great information. Thank you. I also adore your octopus!