The Best Pens for Architectural Sketching and Markup – An Architect’s Perspective

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Stay up to date on the latest in BIM, Revit, and Architecture.

The Best Pens for Architectural Sketching and Markup – An Architect’s Perspective

Troy Thurlwell


From the Editors: We recently asked a group of architects, designers, and other AEC professionals to share their personal insights into the designer’s weapon of choice: their favorite pens. Here are the thoughts of one contributor.


Ah, the pen. The architect’s friend, instrument, tool, weapon.

That may seem dramatic. But think about it. 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent more hours – and definitely more late nights – with your pen than your own children.

If you’re like me, you may not mind. (Kidding, honey...)

Some want utility out of a pen. Others want elegance. I want both. 

So when it comes to pens, I'm not talking about just any random thing that has ink in it. I'm talking precision. Finesse. Class.

Alright, enough talk. I've got two pens of choice in my line of work - one for markup, and one for sketching. Enjoy.


My Favorite Pen For Marking Up Architectural Documents

Two words: Red lining.Papermate Flair Pen - Best Pen For Architectural Markup

It’s a process so common in the office of an architecture firm that I often forget when I leave work that not everyone has that term in their vocabulary. 

The classic red Papermate Flair has been my go-to for years to point out errors, oversights, and questions on construction documents. 

Though the design has changed over the years (the texture of the plastic, felt tip exposure, etc.), the pen has continued to have the same versatility, simplicity, and effectiveness. 

(On a personal note, however, I do miss the ribbed plastic Flair of my youth. I don’t mind the newer smoother matte plastic material, but I felt the ribbing gave it a little better grip.)

The weight of the Papermate Flair is significantly lighter than other pens, so it doesn’t bother your hands after hours of use. 

The design of the flared edge allows for comfortable control, and the felt tip itself allows for versatility in line weight as well as consistency over the life of the pen. 

As if that weren’t enough to love the trusty Flair, I also have found that they continue to perform after leaving the cap off for hours or overnight. Most other felt-tips I have used are guaranteed to dry up when left out.

The Papermate Flair is as dependable a pen as you can find, to the point where I kind of feel like taking a pause of mourning when it’s time to throw one away – which doesn’t happen too often.

But that’s for markup. Sketching, as any architect knows, is an entirely different story. 


My Favorite Pen for Architectural Drawing and Sketching

Pigma Microns are my preferred sketching pen. Sakura Pigma Micron Pen For Architectural Sketching

Similar to pencil work, where I would typically start with a harder graphite (4-2h) and work to a softer (4-6B), I prefer to start with a thin-tipped pen, and then use thicker tips as the drawing progresses. 

Though many pens offer more versatility in line weights with a single pen, the Micron series has a smooth consistent line weight that I just love. 

It just glides across the paper, offering great control of the starting and stopping of the line. It fits my drawing style and lasts me a long time.

Although, it is unfortunately not as forgiving as the Flair when you leave the cap off all night.

So don’t do that.


Troy Thurlwell


More Favorite Pen Posts:

Part I: What is the Best Pen for Architects and Designers?

Part III: A Designer’s Favorite Pen – Part III



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