Tag Archives: f-301

Canvas framed ballpoint illustration of a building

4 Tips for Creating a Scaled Ballpoint Illustration

By: Catherine Spilman of @catgreenart

When I first started sketching tiny houses, I used the STEEL F-301 Ballpoint Retractable Pen because Jordan Spilman, my late husband, had an extra one and let me use it. He had always extolled the virtues of the pen and I had rolled my eyes assuming he was exaggerating, however five years later, it is my tried and true, my go-to, my all-time favorite pen.

Today, I’ll be walking you through how I create an illustration in ballpoint with the STEEL F-301 and providing my own tips along the way. All you’ll need is the STEEL F-301, a reference photo, and a sketchbook or piece of sketch paper.

Journal and light ballpoint sketch

Tip 1: Begin a Light Outline

The best thing about the STEEL F-301 is its versatility. When I start a drawing, I do a very light outline to try to get a handle on the proportions and the pen allows me to make lines that are almost like pencil, but more concentrated and delicate. When I paint, I block in the entire image in highlight and lowlights, and then work from there to develop detail. When I draw, I use the opposite approach and work usually from left to right filling in form.

Ballpoint illustration of a buildling

Tip 2: Fill in Detail from Left to Right and Don’t Forget to Blot

I work from left to right because until the ink is completely dry, it is possible to smudge or smear it with your hand. For this reason, I also rest my hand on a separate piece of paper (this also prevents the moisture in my hand from wrinkling the page.) On this separate piece of paper, I blot the pen from time to time. This keeps the ink running smoothly and avoids blots on the image.

When the house is basically blocked in and it’s time to finish up details like windows and shadows, the STEEL F-301 is amazing for achieving deep black marks. It is capable of so many different line weights which are particularly helpful for indicating shadow, texture, or foliage.

Partial illustration of a building halfway drawn

Tip 3: Use a Photo that is Already Scaled to the Size You Want for the Drawing

I don’t use rulers or any form of straight edge because in my opinion they make the drawing stiff. What I do use to maintain some sense of scale is my phone. The image on my phone is usually a similar size to the image I’m drawing, so I can look from phone to paper to double check my proportions.

Finished ballpoint illustration of a building

Tip 4: Use a Reliable Pen

The drawings can take a few hours and during that time it’s important to have a drawing instrument that’s comfortable to hold. The STEEL F-301 is smooth and comfortable to use for extended periods. I’ve used it in very warm climates and in the snow and the ink distributes remarkably smoothly in both extremes. The steel barrel is resilient and made to last and luckily ink refills are easy to access and to install.

I’ve tried other pens throughout the years but for these reasons and more, this is the pen for me. As Ferris Bueller said, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

I hope these tips help you with your ballpoint illustrations. For more sketching inspiration, check out Urban Sketching: Simplifying Perspective and Designing A Fluid Composition by Guno Park.

Ballpoint Pen variety

The Ballpoint Pen Guide

Originally published May 27, 2020. Updated March 12, 2021.

With all the writing instruments available these days, why choose a ballpoint? Ballpoint pens guarantee a steady and reliable flow of ink that dries faster than other ink formulas, like gel ink. Ballpoint pens use oil-based ink that is dispensed over a metal ball at the point as the pen is moved across a surface. This allows the amount of ink distributed to be dependent on the amount of pressure put on the tip. Ballpoint pens provide more control and last longer than other types of pens.

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Guest Blog: A Simple Bullet Journal Day (with bonus announcement and new product preview)!

We’re thrilled to share this guest blog from influencer Alec Fischer (@fischrjournals).  Alec helps you get organized through Bullet Journals every day. Read to the end and find a special announcement from Zebra Pen and make sure to follow Alec on social!

Are any of you feeling stressed? Do you need an outlet to help you visualize your day, or to put your “to-do” list in order? If your answer is yes to any of these, I’d recommend looking into starting your very own bullet journal. For anyone who hasn’t heard of bullet journaling, it’s a practice where you use bullet points & short sentences to plan out your schedule. See examples here.

When I’m feeling stressed out, I create a layout plan to help me visualize my day. It can include everything from meetings, work, time with friends, to classes (if you’re in school). The layouts can be as simple as you’d like, to more complex designs. Today, I want to show you a simple baseline that can help you create your very own!

Here are the supplies I used to create the designs I’ll be showing you how to make. Feel free to get your own via Zebra Pen USA!

Supplies Used:

Zebrite Eco Highlighters:

Image 1

F-301 0.7mm Zebra Pen:

Image 2

Black Zebra Fountain Pen: (COMING SOON!)

Image 3

Generic Ruler

Generic Notepad/Notebook

How To:

Once you have your supplies, you’re going to want to turn to a fresh notebook page. Using your ruler & pens, draw a large rectangular box that covers enough lines to mark the amount of hours you usually stay up. I wake up early & get to bed late, so my design has quite a few lines.

Then mark the lines with the time of day. It should look something like this:

Image 4

I use the F-301 0.7 to draw the boxes, then the Fountain Pen to fill everything in and write my text.

Now you can decide what direction you’d like to take. I prefer two version: highlighter & minimalist modern.

Highlighter:

For the highlighter version of the daily plan, you’re going to want to use your Zebrite Eco Highlighters to fill in the time each activity takes.  Fill in the space however you’d like – I draw a vertical line down the time slot to fill it in.

Next, take your ruler and draw a horizontal line next to the vertical line. I let the highlight dry, then write in my daily task. It should look something like this:

Image 5

You can maneuver the design however you’d like, or in whatever way fits your aesthetic! Share you designs using the hashtag #ZebriteEcoHighlighters when you’re finished!

Minimalist Modern:

For the minimalist modern version of the daily plan (my personal favorite), you’ll want to start with the same base structure. Instead of using highlighters to fill in the time slots, you’ll want to use the ruler to trace boxes around the selected time. Class from 11am to noon? Fill it in! I like using modern patterns & fun minimalist elements to mix things up a bit.

Next, use your ruler to draw a horizontal line outward from the filled in box. At the end of the line, write out your “to-do” item, or activity. Under that activity you can also add more specific bullet points, depending on the level of detail you’d prefer.

When finished, it should look something like this:

Image 6

When you’re done, you have a little piece of art that can help you stay organized and ready for the rest of the day! It’s a constantly growing adventure, so don’t worry if your designs don’t look the same as the images above. Each person adds their own style and flair to their designs – it’s what makes it so fun!

Good luck and happy planning to you!

-Alec

14067724_10153972417687545_333123548541120632_nAlec Fischer is an award-winning director, content creator, & social influencer. When he’s not working on new documentary projects, you can find him working on his bullet journal, blogging about mental health & wellness, or reading awesome books while drinking tea. You can follow him on Instagram under the handle: @FischrJournals

BONUS: We are thrilled to share a complete barrel redesign on the Zebrite Dual-Tipped Highlighter.  You’re seeing it here FIRST!  Tell us what you think:zebrite close