At one time I always carried some kind of of fibre tip pen with me, such as a Pilot Drawing Pen, but these days it’s just my three Lamy fountain pens – an AL-Star, a Safari and a Vista – with fine, extra fine and broad nibs. Fibre tips offer a degree of precision and convenience, until they start to dry up, but I find that a fountain pen feels more natural.
For natural history drawing, I usually go for my Lamy Vista with an extra fine nib which I keep filled with Noodler’s brown ink. Noodler’s becomes waterproof on contact with the cellulose in paper so I can add a watercolour wash. This gives a similar effect to a dip pen and Indian ink plus watercolour but a fountain pen is easier to work with as there’s no bottle of ink to either hold on to or to risk knocking over.
The Vista is a transparent version of the Safari so it’s even easier to check that the filler in the pen has enough ink in it when I set off to draw. At the moment this pen is filled with a mixture of Noodler’s black and El Lawrence brown (a kind of khaki, desert brown, named in honour of Lawrence of Arabia), because I had two half empty bottles and it’s easier to fill the pen from a full bottle. The black/brown mix reminds me of Pelikan Special Brown indian ink which I used for many years.
For bolder drawing I’ve got a bright yellow Safari (difficult to lose) with a broad nib. This is the freest flowing of the three pens and the larger, rounded tip, as seen in my photograph taken with a microscope, enables it to glide across the paper.