Pentel Pen and Pencil

Is it the most beautiful? No.
Is it classy? No.

This pen is all about function (and memories of that 64 pack of crayons with the sharpener on the back). Need to sign a check? No problem. Color a restaurant placemat? Easy. Highlight a passage in a book? Choose fluorescent yellow, pink or orange.

I use many nice pens, but the one I carry with me every day in my sketchbook, is the Pentel Super Multi-8 PH803. Why? Because, “form follows function.”

Not much larger than a standard Pen, Pentel managed to pack in 8, yes you read that right, 8 pens or colored pencils into a normal sized barrel. You may use any combination of pens or pencils in the 8 slots.

Pentel only offers red, blue, and black ballpoint pen refills, though, so if chartreuse is your thing, you’re out of luck (unless you don’t mind customizing a refill – see below).

The colored pencils are high quality, neither dull nor scratchy. Instead of sketching with Pentel’s included black colored pencil, I substitute my favorite Koh-i-noor 4300/24 2mm lead. It’s not really necessary, but I’m likely more finicky than most.

Pentel PH803

The pen does have a couple of minor drawbacks:

  1. There is no .5 mm mechanical pencil option, only 2mm graphite, same diameter as the colored pencils. But, oddly enough, even as an architect, I never use mechanical pencils. I can’t remember the last time I used an eraser, either (it doesn’t have one, btw).
  2. The pen refills are basic ballpoints specific to Pentel. No other refills fit. I cannot express how much I loath ballpoint pens (I prefer gel ink that doesn’t skip or need scribbling to get it started). Yet, with a little effort you can customize a standard D1 Pen refill by simply trimming it with a wire cutter (you could try using your teeth, but unless you’re the tall dude from that James Bond film, I’d consult your dentist first).


The kid’s version below (Pentel Multi 8) is a third the cost, more colorful, but otherwise exactly the same functionality. You have to purchase the ballpoint refills separately because this one only comes with colored pencils. It makes a great stocking stuffer.

Pentel PH158

It’s Like Being a Kid Again. The Best Multi-Colored Pencil (and Pen)… Ever

3 thoughts on “It’s Like Being a Kid Again. The Best Multi-Colored Pencil (and Pen)… Ever

  • February 8, 2023 at 7:54 am

    I also have the PH802 “for checking use” that includes no ball points, but does include two colors intended to be invisible to copy machines and [very old fashioned] diazo blueprint copiers. That would be the kind of copier that uses ammonia and blueprint paper and uv light. The “invisible” colors are a light blue and a burnt reddish color.

    I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding pen and pencil refills that exactly match the originals. I bought all kinds of colors, except the ones that actually came with it.

    • February 8, 2023 at 8:20 am

      I hear you. I am very particular about the refills I use for sketching. The standard colors available for the Multi 8 are fine for diagramming and concept sketching, but for artistic work I use Koh-i-noor 4300/24 black pencil (dark color without smearing). I also cut off a typical D1 gel pen refill Hi-Tec-C by Pilot or Zebra because I can’t use ballpoints.

      • February 21, 2023 at 7:01 am

        Nice idea, thanks!


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