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Review: Kuretake Brush Pen

The Kuretake Brush pen comes in a simple paper box. Included in the box is the brush pen, cap, and 3 ink cartridges. All instructions on the back of the box are in Japanese. The brush pen capped looks and feels like a fountain pen. The body and clip is metal. The converter on the side has to be purchased separately. (Platinum converter)

Some time ago, I was looking through reviews, trying to find out which was considered the best brush pen out there. The top two recommended brush pens were the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and this one, the Kuretake Brush Pen. I now own both and I will do a small comparison for those who are deciding which of these two top rated brush pens to get. The pentel brush pen is made of plastic while the Kuretake brush pen is metal, making the Kuretake slightly heavier.

This is the length (cm) of the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and the Kuretake Brush pen. I've marked the Kuretake Brush Pen with a "K" and the Pentel Brush Pen with a "P".

The Kuretake brush pen is longer when capped.

These brush pens are more or less similar, I would say that their crucial difference is in the length of the brush tip. Both are made of synthetic hair (super-fine nylon bristles). But K has a shorter brush tip. And that makes the difference in their performance. Let me demonstrate. Here are a few drawings with K on the left and P on the right. After trying both, one after the other, I realised that K had slightly better control when it came to super-fine lines. But it was slightly more difficult to control as the lines became broader. I believe the shorter tip causes it to have more spring/snap and so it has more control when it came to super fine lines.

P was the opposite. I could control it easily when it came to broader lines. But it was slightly more difficult to control as the lines became super-fine. eg. It took more effort to hold that super-fine stroke. I believe this is due to the longer brush tip which makes the brush tip softer. But being softer, it allows broader strokes more readily, but takes more skill to hold it at just the right height to maintain those super-fine lines.

When I say "slightly", I do mean very slightly. With practice, both can achieve super-fine lines and broad lines well and both have good spring/snapback. The both hold their sharp tips very well. They are both excellent brush pens and I would recommend either one to anyone. But if you do smaller drawing that require more super-fine lines, I would recommend K as it has better control for super-fine lines. If you like more dramatic contrasts in line variation or work with bigger drawings, you might like P better. Or you could get both! By the way, P does have a slightly broader maximum line width. (broader by about 1mm).

The Kuretake brush pen does NOT come with waterproof ink. And the ink is not extremely black (I darkened my drawings so don't judge the ink colours in the drawings.) As you can see from my demonstration, when clear water is applied over the ink line, ink bleeds out. But at least most of the line remains. This varies depending on the paper you use. I guess this was originally meant to be a brush pen for just writing japanese kanji. And so applying washes wasn't a factor to be considered. So if you don't intend to add washes over your lines, then this will not be a problem for you. The Pentel brush pen, however, comes with waterproof ink in the cartridges that come with the box.

As mentioned above, the Kuretake brush pen is made of metal, so it looks and feels more dignified. The Pentel brush pen looks a feels like a more cheaper art tool. So if you want something more slick, get the Kuretake.

In my opinion, I like the Pentel Brush pen better because of the longer brush tip. It allows me to have fuller thin to thick brush strokes easily. Plus the ink is waterproof. That's important for me. But I must say that I like the Kuretake brush pen for it's good control over super-fine strokes. I'm happy to own both. Now, if I can only get the Kuretake brush to have waterproof ink.

After a few weeks...

Kuretake recommends using only their cartridge refills. But since I wanted waterproof ink in my brush pen, I got out my platinum convertor and filled it with Rotring ink using a needle and syringe. Just suck the ink out from the Rotring bottle and push the ink out into the convertor. (squeezing the ink from the rotring bottle into the convertor will make a big mess, trust me.) After testing it out for a few weeks, it still flows fine and yes, I've made my Kuretake brush hold waterproof ink now! Woohoo.

Reviews/forums have said that refilling it with other kinds of ink damages the brush or might make it function not as smoothly. I do think this is true. I've tried filling the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen with fountain pen ink and it didn't flow very well. But rotring ink works on both my brush pens (Kuretake and Pentel) and the ink is pretty dark. The only difference after switching inks is that the ink flow is very very very slightly more "flowy" than the ink that comes in the Kuretake cartridges. That means that your super fine lines might be a very tiny bit thicker. Well, different inks flow differently. But the difference is small enough that it doesn't bother me.

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Availability on Amazon:
Kuretake Brush Pen | Pentel Brush Pen

Platinum converter:

Try searching on Jackson's Art Supplies (UK) also.