Which ink brush pen is best for the job? An illustrators review!

My most used, tried and tested brush pens that I have used in my illustrations. All in black!

My most used, tried and tested brush pens that I have used in my illustrations. All in black!

So to start off my blog (exciting!) I thought I’d go with a question I get asked a lot, about which brush pens I find work best for my illustrations. Obviously a lot of the time, when illustrating for clients especially, I stay true to my iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate combo – where I use the calligraphy shale brush, and the ink brush (more on those another time), I mainly use the iPad for efficiency and the ability to keep it clean, and make amends, but I do try to replicate my hand-drawn process to an extent. In my hand-drawn illustrations that I work on for myself, on my travels, in my sketchbook and my visual journal, I have used a variety of brush pens – and have some opinions on all as they all vary quite a lot.

Whenever I go into an art shop, and try out pens on the little notepad, it seems I always draw the same little man if trying out a brush tip. So I’ve used him for this post too! If you see him on your shopping travels, especially around Bristol – he’s mine, and maybe draw him a friend!

Kuretake Bimoji Fude Brush Pen (Medium bristle tip)

Kuretake Bimoji Fude Brush Pen (Medium bristle tip)

So up until recently, this has been my go-to pen! It has a real bristle tip, which is the most important thing to me as lets you get a really nice variation in the stroke, and a scratchy real brush effect. I also find this pen really easy to control with the rubbery grip.

The water proof pigment ink is supposed to be water proof when dry, but I’ve found it gives my colour Tombow brush pens a slight black gradient if used to heavily against each other, I stopped using this pen as they stopped selling it in my local independent art shop (and from what I could find – any where in Bristol). Which led me to look for an alternative…

Pentel Fude Brush Pen (Medium)

Okay, so this is currently my hot contender for taking the top spot. It has that all important bristle tip, and when you first get it you have to pierce the cartridge to allow the ink to flow down (which looks really satisfying), and the flow of ink you get is heavy enough to feel inky and solid, but you also get the brush effect in the line stroke too. Lends itself to a slightly heavier line in your illustration than the Kuretake, but tapers to a super skinny tip so is still possible to get the thin gentle lines too.

The cartridge I mentioned – it’s replaceable! This pen is the most pricey of the ones I mention here, at around £6-7, but the cartridge is really big (so big the pen may not actually fit in some pencil cases) and the refills are about £3 so I think that alright really.

I do wonder how the brush tip will be holding up after a few cartridges worth of use, but as this is my chosen pen for my upcoming India trip, I will soon find out!

Illustration drawn with a refillable Pentel Fude Brush Pen

Faber Castell PITT Soft Brush Pen (SB)

This pen was given to me as a present by my dad as part of a set of Faber Castell pens, and I have enjoyed using it as a back up brush pen.

This one has a fibre tip, so you can see the slight difference in the line compared to the Pental and the Kuretake – you don’t get the bristle effect, and I find the line a bit more unpredictable when varying the pressure, which sometimes I like – but I do really miss the more painterly effect of the bristle tip.

That said, you can still get some really thin to fat marks. And it uses indian ink which I like, but again I find this isn’t always great with colour markers.

Illustration drawn with a Tombow Dual Brush Pen

Tombow Dual Brush Pen

Now I know this is a popular one, I see people using it a lot, and it’s the one which got me into using a brush pen in my work a few years ago.

It has a fibre tip brush, which as you know now isn’t my favourite, and the line is too uniform and controlled for my liking – I want it to look a bit more rugged – I’m not drawing it on my ipad for a reason!

But – it does come in a huge variety of really nice colours, from nice tonal ones, to punchy brights, and as suggested by  having ‘dual’ in the name, it also has a fine tip on the other end for smooth lines.

The big range of colours means this pen is my go-to for adding colour to my drawings.

Illustration drawn with a POSCA Brush tip Acrylic marker pen

POSCA Brush tip Acrylic marker pen

This is another new one for me, but one I’m really excited about!

It has a bristle brush tip (yay!) and uses acrylic paint, rather than ink!  Which means the black is super opaque and flat which I love, while also keeping the bristly brush texture in some of the lines.

The brush tip is on the thicker side, so it lends itself to a heavier line weight, though a thin, steady one is there if you try.

The paint also stays on strong when using with colour markers, or watercolour, which was my main incentive for buying. The only thing I would say, is this pen is a little chunky to hold in the hand for me, but hey, that means more paint! This is another one that is coming away with me, and I’m really excited to start using it.

I hope that was helpful, and answers some questions! I’d love to know your favourite pens, especially if you use a brush pen regularly that I haven’t tried yet (and you think I should!).


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