My favourite pens and pencils that I can recommend:
This list is constantly updated as I discover new tools and change my habits. Also some of the products that were listed here are sadly no longer available - I try to update this list for this too!
COPIC Multiliner SP from 0.35 to 0.7
I used these fineliners to do the lines on many pictures - especially these with thick lines or done on textured paper (pen and ink can’t be used then). I like the sturdy metal case, waterproof ink and replaceable tips. These multiliners draw a nice smooth, black line but can also give interesting textured line on rough, watercolour paper. They can be a bit expensive - but are more hard wearing.
SAKURA MICRON PIGMA 0.35, 0.4, 0.5
A very good quality line of fineliners popular in Japan - also used by Hayao Miyazaki in his concept illustrations for many of he Studio Ghibli movies. I use these pens a lot in my work because of their waterproof ink and good value for the price. They also can be used on watercolor paintings without much clogging. Also very light compared to COPICS so you can just put few of them into your bag for some outdoor drawing.
Faber-Castell Ecco Pigment black 0.3, 0.5
A recent addition to my tools and an instant favorite - unfortunately impossible to buy in Japan. This fineliner has a little bit longer tip allowing for more varied, interesting lines. The ink is nicely black and waterproof; the pen makes solid lines even on slightly textured watercolor paper. The biggest advantage of this pen though is how ergonomic the grip area is (especially compared to the sharp plastic edges of the Sakura Microns). A pleasure to draw with!
ROTRING ISOGRAPH 0.40mm
I usually use my fineliners for line-work but if I want thinner more stable lines I use a rapidograph. I used to use a Faber-Castell rapidograph but as they are not available in Japan, I'm currently using a Rotring Isograph 0.4mm and as for now the ink flow is very stable and I didn't have any problems with clogging. I'm using the original Rotring black ink. One tip: The line thickness and flow can vary depending on how well the paper handles the ink.
Copic Gasenfude brush pen
I like to use the Japanese brush pens, unfortunately most of them have non-waterproof inks or marker-like nibs. This one combines good brush nib with waterproof, black ink. The nib provides good flexibility and control balance with really fine line finish if needed. Also small in size (Japanese brushpens are usually very long) and light. TIP: COPIC also makes a good felt tipped brush-like pens in the multiliner series.
Writing and drawing
LAMY AL-star grey EF nib
I got this fountain pen from Kana as she knows that I prefer to use fountain nib pens for writing, note-taking, and also an occasional sketch. I love the smooth action of a good fountain pen, the blackness, and uniformness of the line and also the fact that you can use waterproof ink to make it work with watercolors. I like using this pen a lot but I wish LAMY made a slightly finer nib. I use the sailor black ink that works best on the flimsy Moleskine paper but sadly is not waterproof - I'm still to find something better.
LAMY Safari M and F nibs
I also use the cheaper LAMY Safari fountain pens for drawing lines in illustrations and sketching. Especially the M broader nib works well on watercolor papers that are not too rough.
Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni from grade F to 10B
I tried a lot of Japanese brand pencils and like all of them but for me the Hi-unis are the best (closely followed by TOMBOW). Now my main pencils. I love the silky feel and dark line they give. Also the quality of the wood and finishing is superb! Because of that characteristics these pencils are widely used in Japanese animation for drawing the animation frames. Japanese pencils generally feel a lot softer than European pencils of same hardness.
STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph Black grades 6B, 8B
For blacker and softer lines the Mars Lumographs Black are the best! 8B grade gives really black, mat lines that don't smudge when painted over. This pencil is also great for adding lines on top of watercolour paintings. The minus side is that the lines are hard to erase - almost like color pencil lines - so this is clearly a tool for special tasks!
Conté à paris PIERRE NOIRE B and 2B
Great charcoal in pencil form for sketching and drawing. When sharpened with a sharp knife it can get nice and pointy. Perfect to use on smooth notebook paper.
Caran d'Ache TECHNALO 3B
STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph Aquarell 8B
Watercolour pencils that I actually like to draw and paint with. Produce nice, black lines but are also very soluble. I especially like to play with the 3B TECHNALO and 8B Lumograph grade ones for sketching outside using a water-brush.
PRISMACOLOR COL-ERASE Red
I use these erasable color pencils for sketching when I plan to ink the picture without erasing the pencil lines. I can later erase the sketch in Photoshop because it's red, different colour than the lines.
PENTEL GRAPH 1000 FOR PRO 0.4, 0.5, 0.7 and 0.9mm
A very sturdy and well designed series of mechanical pencils (I have the 0.4 one for few years already). The “working end” is made of metal but the “holding part” is made of high quality plastic so the whole thing is well balanced and not too heavy. The grip part has a perfect combination of rubber anti-slip parts with ergonomic thickness. The pencil has also a label to remind you what leads are inside. Comes in 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.7 and 0.9 varieties and I own and can recommend all of them! I use these pencils with 2B leads for everyday sketching on the go.
Koh-I-Noor MEPHISTO PROFI 0.7mm
This one was a surprise for me. I bought it in Prague in the Koh-I-Noor store to check it out but it immediately found a permanent place in my pen case. Really comfortable grip, light, well-balanced body. But I like the most the extendable eraser at the end that is always there to be used (no cap). Useful in outdoor sketching situations or for erasing small details. Other brands also make pencils with exactly the same eraser module: Rotring Rapid (not pro) and Faber-Castell TK FINE VARIO L are good as well.
SAKURA CRAYPAS RBE400 electric eraser
Some of the bigger illustrations I create have lines done by pencils of various grades: from HB up to 10B. On watercolour paper it can be hard to precisely erase small details or cleanly erase soft pencil lines. For such "special tasks" I use an electric eraser a tool widely used by animators. The RBE400 is battery powered but has a strong motor. It erases perfectly - I only wish the battery compartment door was made more sturdier. This eraser is a little bit more expensive than those of other brands but I think it's worth the price - I really got used to it and end up using it all the time!.
Caran d'Ache NEOCOLOR II 15 set + custom colors
Simple but great water-soluble pastels. Give nice texture when used on watercolour or acrylic paintings. These pastels where used by Studio Ghibli backgrounds staff for adding texture in such movies as "Ponyo" so I decided to buy a small set and few other interesting colors. Definitely worth a try and more experimenting with!