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.

To check out other brush pens, visit

Availability on Amazon:
Kuretake Brush Pen | Pentel Brush Pen

Platinum converter:

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



Thanks for the review! Ive

Thanks for the review! Ive been curious for the pentel. I have been using this Kuretake with Speedball Ink (which is water proof), works perfect, and have done so both refilling cartridges and with the platinum converter, no problems with clogging. The ink that comes with the pen is a bit bluish in my opinion, speedball is black but less darker. Also tried it with Carbon Ink but this ink takes a bit to dry, so I prefer speedball so far. You can check examples of drawings here:
Also have the Kuretake N8, thanks to Louie del Carmen's recommendation, and its just like this Kuretake you review (which I think is N4) but the 8 is longer. The bristles and construction seems to be the same except for the longer exterior and its way cheaper. I do prefer n4 cause of its weight.

Great review, I love brush

Great review, I love brush pens, go through several a month. thanks :)

btw, if you use brush pens, you might like Dscript, looks great in brush pen style.
Dscript is a 2D writing system that allows you "mush" all the letters of a word together into a single solid glyph, but stil be legible.. more info at (Intro PDF) .. or just google "dscript"

So I want to try brush pens

So I want to try brush pens so I went and bought kuretake no. 40, and I use rotring isographs a lot and have this rotring drawing ink. You said you used it with no. 13 pen over a period of weeks and it works just fine with a brush pen. My question is will my kuretake no.40 with real sable brush hair be also fine and undamaged after using this rotring drawing ink?


If you use it frequently, it should be fine. If you leave the ink in the pen without using for a long period of time, it's going to make the bristle hard and could damage it.

You mention using other inks;

You mention using other inks; I have a Kuretake on order, and I had been hoping I might be able to refill it with the Iroshizuku inks, which I love. Since the ink it takes is water-based- as is the Iroshizuku ink- I think this should not be a problem?

So, after all this time, is

So, after all this time, is the pen still doing fine with waterproof ink? Have you tried other waterproof inks?

I got one of these some days ago, and I'm thinking about getting a waterproof brown ink in order to work with watercolors, but I'm still a little fearful since I really liked the controll you have over thin lines compared to the pentel one.

I bought a Kuretake way back

I bought a Kuretake way back when I hadda order it from Japan. It was the "sumi" model, but it still hadda nylon brush nib. I use Platinum Carbon Black ink, a Platinum converter, and never clean it. I was advised to buy an extra tip and toss the pen's cap for the plastic cap that comes with the extra tip, which I did.

So, I have a 2nd tip on the original pen and and a brand new one I jes found.

Plus, Platinum Pigment ink is

Plus, Platinum Pigment ink is now available in red, blue, and sepia, besides Carbon Black, which is also waterproof (no cartridges) and there is a red Kuretake "sumi" brush pen. I also have an .05 nib on a red Platinum Plaisir fountain pen (unused).

I hope the red "pigment" Is as painless as the Carbon Black.

I recommend Lindsey Bugbee's (The Postman Knocks) "Kaitlin" brush pen calligraphy course. It taught me how to use my Kuretake "sumi" brush pen for calligraphy. ;)

Hi, I just filled my Kuretake

Hi, I just filled my Kuretake Sumi (the red one) with noodler's black ink, the first time I use this brush pen. It's a new bottle of noodler's that has been sitting for many months. The result is the ink is a light grey. Not dark at all.

So I shook up the noodler's and then refilled it and now the ink is like a medium grey but still not black. Shouldn't it be black? I squirted some of the ink on my paper from the syringe and it's definitely black ink.

I'm not sure what to do.

I think the problem was I

I think the problem was I didn't shake it up and there was water or less pigment at the top. the second time I refilled it, it was better. But when I compare my pen to the brush pen, the brush pen is a little lighter.

Thanks for the blog and I just found your youtube videos, a goldmine of information.

Is the Rotring ink is the

Is the Rotring ink is the same as Koh-I-Noor? It's the same bottle, and I've heard that their technical pens also have interchangeable parts... I've been using Koh-I-Noor Ultradraw ink which is meant for technical pens and it works fine with my brush pens.


I've not used Koh-I-Noor ink before so I can't say for sure. But if it works fine, it works fine. Look for crusty ink particles around the bottle opening. If there are solid particulars, the ink is not safe for use inside pens or brush pens.

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,
Thanks for the review - very useful. I have a petrel pocket brush pen and find fine lines easier on the pentel colour brush pen though coverage when inking in is less precise and lines less defined. I am interested in the Kuretake no.8 and no.13 though. I thought I had read though on Cult Pens in the UK that they are compatible with Platinum cartridges so the Platinum carbon cartridge should work for waterproof ink shouldn't' it? Regards

Thanks for the review and the

Thanks for the review and the hack for refilling! Kuretake has two types of ink cartridge refills: dye-based (not waterproof) and pigment-based. Although this pen comes with dye-based cartridges, you can buy the pigment-based refills and use then in this oen.

I have the no.85 brush pen,

I have the no.85 brush pen, which is basically the no.8 in a different colour but Congress with the pigment cartridges (code D106). They are not nearly as water resistant as Pentel or Platinum cartridges and are almost impossible to source, in the UK anyway.

Does anyone have leakage from

Does anyone have leakage from the Platinum converter with this brush pen?

I refilled it by taking the converter out and submerging it into the ink bottle then putting it back to the brush pen.

The ink will leak at the area between the converter and brush pen.

Hello! This is SO helpful,

Hello! This is SO helpful, thank you!

I'm going to invest in a brush pen from Kuretake; I've been using a dip pen and then a brush but feel a brush pen would be much better. I've used the Pental BP and do love it's the ease and no need to keep loading up on ink and the problem of gloopy ink and drops using an ink pot. I wanted to ask, if could I use the Rotiring ink/refill system on a No. 50 pen that has sable hairs, as supposed to this pen that has synthetic hairs? Also, is there a video or blog page that shows how to clean the pen brush after using? Many kind thanks! Rik


You can clean it under running water. There's no special or specific way to clean.

If you have no plans to use the brush for regularly, it's better to clean the brush before storing it away.

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