Brush Pen Comparison for Drawing Purposes


These are the brush pens that I'll be comparing today. Some are my frequently used ones, and some are new purchases. I'll add more to the list on this page in the future.

This brush pen comparison review is for artists. Detailed reviews for each pen are on separate posts.

The point-form summary is at the bottom for those who want a quick summary.


Here are the brush pens from top to bottom:

  1. Copic Multiliner Brush-Medium
  2. Copic Sketch Marker
  3. Kuretake Zig Brushables
  4. Sailor Profit Brush Pen
  5. Pilot Pocket Brush Pen
  6. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
  7. Pentel Colour Brush Pen
  8. Kuretake 40 Sable Brush Pen
  9. Kuretake 50 Sable Brush Pen (Modified)
  10. Pentel Fude Dual Brush Pen


They look impressive together, but some are much better performers than others.

Here are scans of two pages of tests on the strokes that the brush pens can produce. Close ups are further down.
Brush Pens Compared - 01

Brush Pens Compared - 02
Let's take a closer look at them one by one below. The brush tips are tested for their ability to hold a sharp edge, produce varying thickness and ink flow. All strokes are drawn with the tip except the last which is a side sweeping wash for filling areas.

In general, the bristle tips perform much better than felt tips. They mimic traditional brushes well. So you'll want to get those that use bristles to get a good brush in the pen.

Brush Pens Compared - 03
Kuretake No. 40 Brush Pen - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

The Kuretake No. 40 Brush Pen is the best performer among all the brush pens. However, you need to use its Kuretake ink cartridge for optimal ink flow, and unfortunately the ink is not waterproof.

Kuretake uses varying numbers to represent each brush pen model. No. 40 uses sable hair for its brush bristles. The bristle are soft, flexible and able to hold a sharp point. It's easy to control the tip and it's excellent for drawing. After each stroke, the brush will go back in shape.

It's refillable via ink cartridges. One downside from the ink cartridges is, the ink is not intensely black, but it surely is dark enough.

Kuretake brush pens uses Platinum ink convertors.

Brush Pens Compared - 04
Kuretake No. 50 Brush Pen - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR

These are strokes from a modified Kuretake No. 50 Brush Pen. By modified, I mean I took out the ferrule at the front to expose the bristles. If you look at the photos above, the one with the longest bristles is the Kuretake No. 50.

Do not modify the Kuretake Sable Brush Pen. It's too risky because it's an expensive brush pen. I only did the modification because mine has clogged up beyond rescue and now I'm using it as a dip brush. It's kinda nice, because you get to cap it like a normal pen.

Kuretake No. 50 uses sable hair for the brush tip as well. In its unmodified form, the performance is excellent just like the No. 40 above.

My modified version is still fitted with a Kuretake ink cartridge, but the ink flow is bad so the ink doesn't really soak the long exposed bristle fast enough. The result is dry brush effect. And it's very difficult to use it as a dry brush because the bristles are too long, remember the brush is soft and often it can't go back to its sharp point after each use.

You can get replacement brush bristles sold separately to replace your worn out sable hair. It's more economical than getting a new sable brush pen. So when you're paying for the expensive No. 40 and No. 50 Kuretakes, you're actually paying more for the body than the sable.

Kuretake also has a simpler plastic resin body brush pen with synthetic bristles. That one also has replacement brush tips that are sold separately.

Brush Pens Compared - 05
Sailor Profit Brush Pen - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

Sailor Profit Brush Pen has a shorter synthetic bristle brush tip. Ink cartridges are provided. Ink flows well and is waterproof. The brush tip though small is responsive but I felt it's slightly harder to control because of the shorter bristles.

You can see that for the last side sweeping wash, the Kuretake brush pens can fill a slightly larger area.

Sailor Profit uses the standard Sailor ink convertors. If you want to use disposable ink cartridges, you should get the Kiwa-Guro pigmented Black and not those fountain pen ink cartridges.

Brush Pens Compared - 06
Kuretake Zig Brushables - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP

This is the disposable Kuretake Zig Brushables dual brush pen. One side produces intensely black ink and the other side produces a warm grey. You can tell by the colours of the cap.

It uses pigment ink and hence is waterproof and archival.

The felt tip can't vary its stroke thickness much. I noticed that for felt tip brush pens as compared to bristles, when you apply pressure, the thick part will always appear on the lower portion of the stroke.

Brush Pens Compared - 07
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP

This brush pen has hundreds of favorable reviews on Amazon, but I've actually bought a few that came with not-so-good ink flow. Finally, I got one (shown above) with good ink flow. On the bright side, the ink is waterproof.

This is the brush pen Kim Jung Gi uses and I've always watch his videos with fascination wondering how on earth does he make the ink flow out.

Brush Pens Compared - 08
Pentel Colour Brush - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

This is the Pentel Colour Brush Pen. It comes in various colour. The brush pens are refillable with big ink cartridges that also form the body that you hold on.

It uses synthetic bristles but the performance is quite good. It's able to produce thin as well as varying thickness easily. It's bristles are rather long and can be used to fill areas quickly.

The ink is intensely black but not waterproof.

You may have seen Kuretake Brush Pens that look exactly like the Pentel Colour Brush Pens. Well, they are the same, just with different packaging.

Brush Pens Compared - 10
Brush Pens Compared - 09
Pilot Pocket Brush Pen - Availability: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES

I've reviewed the disposable Pilot Pocket Brush Pens before. In short, they are much better for writing Chinese characters than for drawing.

The felt tips feel too spongy, especially the soft one, and does not mimic the way that traditional brushes well. When you apply pressure, the thick part will appear below. Using the brush pen for quick strokes, you'll get a trailing stroke that points upwards because of how the sponge tip leaves the paper.

Ink is not waterproof.

Brush Pens Compared - 11
Pentel Fude Dual Brush Pen

This is the disposable Pentel Fude Dual Brush Pen. It's quite a long brush pen.

On one side it uses synthetic bristles and the other side has a fine felt tip. Ink flow is not as good as the Pentel Colour Brush Pen and the ink is not waterproof as well.

It's convenient to have two sides but for optimal performance it's better to get the brush pen and felt tip marker separately.

Brush Pens Compared - 12
Copic Sketch Marker

Copic Sketch markers are more suitable for filling in colours than for drawing fine details. They are alcohol based markers with waterproof ink. They are refillable with their Copic ink bottles and even the felt tips are replaceable also.

Just like typical markers, strokes have a tendency to feather on paper so the choice of paper is very important.

Brush Pens Compared - 13
Copic Multiliners Brush Medium

Copic Multiliners come in various tip sizes and there are two brush sizes also, small and medium. Both are felt tip and works more like markers than brushes. The felt tip is not very durable and it's not easy to control the thickness with pressure.

Ink is waterproof.

Brush Pens Compared - 14
Of course, it would not be complete without a comparison with an actual brush. I used two brushes here, a size 4 goat hair and size 2 sable watercolour brushes. The goat hair brush has a longer and is harder to handle. If you want to use a large size dip brush, it's better to get one with firmer hair so you can control the brush tip's shape more easily. The sable brush handles well. Downside to both is you have to reload the brush as the ink runs out.


Here's the waterproof test.

Summary

Definitely get brush pens with only bristles because they mimic traditional brushes well. Felt tip brushes certainly have their use but they are generally as good for detail work like fine varying strokes.

The links provided are direct links to the brush pens on Amazon.

Kuretake No. 40 & 50 - Recommended (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP)
+ Sable hair is soft, flexible and sharp
+ Mimics traditional brush well
+ Brush tip is replaceable
+ Refillable via ink cartridge or Platinum ink convertor
- Ink from ink cartridge not waterproof

Sailor Profit Brush Pen - Recommended (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP)
+ Synthetic brush bristles are firm but responsive
+ Mimics traditional brush well
+ Refillable via ink cartridge or Sailor ink convertor
+ Ink from ink cartridge is waterproof
- Synthetic bristles can get worn faster
- Short bristles

Kuretake Zig Brushables (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP)
+ Convenient dual head for two colours, intensely black and warm grey
+ Waterproof ink
- Felt tip makes it feel more like using a marker than brush
- Not refillable

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP)
+ Synthetic brush bristles are firm but responsive
+ Mimics traditional brush well
+ Waterproof ink
- Ink flow is not optimal
- Can only refill using their ink cartridges

Pentel Colour Brush Pen - Recommended (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES)
+ Synthetic brush is firm but responsive
+ Long bristles can cover large areas
+ Mimics traditional brush well
+ Comes in various colours
- Can only refill using their ink cartridges

Pentel Fude Dual Brush Pen
+ Convenient dual brush head, one with bristles the other fine felt tip
+ Long bristles can cover large areas
+ Mimics traditional brush well
- Ink flow is not as optimal
- Not waterproof
- Not refillable

Pilot Pocket Brush Pen (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES)
- Felt tip makes it feel more like using a marker than brush
- The soft tip feels too spongy
- Not waterproof

Copic Sketch Marker
+ Dual tip good for filling large areas
+ Waterproof
+ Refillable
+ Felt tip is replaceable
- Felt tip makes it feel more like using a marker than brush
- Felt tip not good for creating detail strokes
- Ink bleeds to next page

Copic Multiliner Brush-Medium
+ Waterproof
- Felt tip makes it feel more like using a marker than brush
- Felt tip can get worn fast

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3 Comments

Great review! I bought a

Great review! I bought a Kuretake Sumi Brush Pen that I really like for the ease of control and expressiveness. I can use Platinum carbon Ink in it and get waterproof very black ink that way. Thanks for all the reviews!

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen -

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen -
Strange... I got line like this only when the cartridge is empty. Is the cartridge fully inserted? On mine the visible part when connected is some 49 millimeters.

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