Four More Brush Pens to Consider

January 25, 2009


Above: Apologies for the glare filled photo but the light would not cooperate today! These brush pens are from the top— A) Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen – Gray Ink (KURETAKE LS5-10) = $3.15; B) Pilot Brown Barrel Brush Pen – Hair Brush (PILOT SN-30FM-B) = $4.50; C) Kuretake No. 30 Double Sided Brush Pen – Hard & Hair Brush (KURETAKE DY151-30B) = $7.50; and D) Zebra Disposable Brush Sign Pen – Fine (ZEBRA WF1) = $2.25 (Click on the image to see an enlargement.)

I'm perfectly happy with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, but I do like to know what is out there, so recently I ordered a few pens, not available locally, through JetPens. In the photo caption above I have copied the name as it appears on my invoice so that you will have ordering and price information.

Left: a page from my journal where I did a first test, writing and waterproof. Click on the image to see an enlargement. (The writing matches up to the pens in the following order, top to bottom: C, A, D, B.) Note that the paper in this journal is a cream color so the gray ink of the second pen pops less than it would on white paper.

The pens have just arrived, and the packaging is in Japanese so I don't know if any of these inks are lightfast. I have a test that I've put up but it will be some time before I have that information (check back in a couple months!).

In the meantime I was able to do some quick tests and can report as follows.

A) Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen – Gray Ink (KURETAKE LS5-10) = $3.15
I purchased a gray ink pen for this style because the black version was sold out, and I was curious about the gray ink. It is a lovely soft gray and some people might enjoy sketching with this color of ink. It totally dissolves in water! (It is the second blurb in the writing sample.) The tip is a felt tip or "hard" tip of some sort and really writes as if it is a very fine felt tip marker. You can get some line variation so there is some flexibility, but it has resiliency and bounce.

B) Pilot Brown Barrel Brush Pen – Hair Brush (PILOT SN-30FM-B) = $4.50
This pen has a very soft, long brush tip. These are individual hairs. I find that the body of the tip is too soft and doesn't have the resiliency I like in a brush tip. When I push, it collapses. Also, even brand new it seems to have a bit of an ink flow problem, i.e., it is always dry brush. It doesn't seem like the pen is dried out, it just seems like this is the way the ink plays out onto the tip. If you are interested in doing a lot of dry brush work, and you enjoy flattening the brush against your paper to do a broad area of fuzzy ink ("gray") this is probably a pen you will enjoy. It also dissolves when touched with a wet brush so you will be able to draw out washes to shade your sketches. One HUGE NEGATIVE: IT SMELLS! The ink has a strong chemical smell, not as bad as Sharpies, but it gave me a headache just working with it for about 2 minutes.

C)  Kuretake No. 30 Double Sided Brush Pen – Hard & Hair Brush (KURETAKE DY151-30B) = $7.50
This pen actually has two tips. The larger tip is a hair brush, made of individual bristles. The opposite end of the pen has a small hard tip that is also a brush pen but is of the solid tip variety. Drawing and writing with this pen (the hair tip; it's the last blurb on the image page) I found that I could get a finer line with this pen than with pen B, but that it was very delicate also, and still a bit too sloppy, and not enough spring (so more spring than B, but nothing like the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen's tip). The ink flow is excellent for dark black passages in sketches. Also, this ink dissolves when touched with a waterbrush; something that will be useful if you like to pull out shading from your ink lines. I found the hard, small tip at the other end not much fun to use. It felt like a wobbly felt tip rather than a brush tip.

D) Zebra Disposable Brush Sign Pen – Fine (ZEBRA WF1) = $2.25
This pen has a felt tip brush tip. The tip is softer and springier than the other "hard" tips in this batch. In that respect it responds more like a hair brush tip. I found that I could get a wide variety of line widths with this pen, from ultra thin to quite bold. I have no sense however, how long this pen will hold up and retain that range. Tips of this sort tend to loose the fine line range early. Only time will tell, but it isn't a fun pen to use. It seems to bend and make a sort of silent pop, something that I feel in my hand when I sketch. Worse, my brand new pen, when put on the side creates a SPLIT line. This split quality shows up in other strokes and letters as well, just when writing. I'm not a fan of this pen because of that. Maybe another pen of this type would be better, but there isn't any incentive for me to try another one. This was the only pen in the tested batch that was waterproof. There is a slight discoloration around the writing sample (third block from the top) but I think that was a function of a slightly dirty waterbrush. I would count on this pen not to bleed when wet.

So that's what I know for now about these pens. I have no idea if they are archival or acid free. Since one is sold as a sign pen I doubt it is something to be counted on over time, but you never know. I have put a light test up and will post results when I have them. In the meantime I'll try to get the packaging translated.

If you are looking for a pen to use in your journal, depending on how heavy your hand is, you might enjoy one of the above, but I really recommend the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen as a more versatile hair tip to use and have fun using!

  1. Reply

    Thanks for the review!

    This is my favorite brush pen:

    I’ve tried lots of others, but always come back to this one.

    • Roz
    • January 25, 2009

    So Angela, is the ink waterproof??? Inquiring minds want to know. Please let us know. I’m going to have to try this out!

    • Roz
    • January 25, 2009

    Angela, I went to the Jerry’s site and checked out the pen. It didn’t look familiar. I found a place to click on an enlargement and they showed the cartridges and then I remembered this pen.

    I tested it about 15 years ago. It’s a nice brush pen but I found the felt tip (it’s not an individual hair tip) too soft for me, as a felt tip. For people who use the Faber Castell Pitt Artist Brush and want a softer felt tip you’d really like this.

    Sadly I never used this pen in any journal so I can’t find images with it. And my test notes from that far back are packed in boxes in the attic, so I don’t recall if the inks were waterproof.

    I hope you let people know so that they can decide if they want to try this out. Having the sepia option is a nice one.

    Another thing. I didn’t want to buy the whole pen to test it because I was getting it a retail with no sale, so I only purchased the cartridges, which are the ink and the brush tip all in one. If you want to try out the brush without investing people could try that too. It’s not the most ergonomic thing to hold, but it’s fine for testing. Of course Jerry’s has quite a nice price so maybe buying a single cartridge is overly conservative?

    Thanks for making me walk down memory lane (pun intended; I did that for Tom, who refrained from punning on my b-day).

  2. Reply

    That’s funny – I actually like it because it’s not so soft as a lot of the others I’ve tried. I’ve had the same one for quite awhile – maybe a year, and the tip is still very sharp.

    I love how easily I can control the thinness or thickness of line and how smoothly it transitions.

    Nope, not waterproof – but it doesn’t bleed a whole lot if you add water. It’s perfect for pen and wash studies.

    I’ll have to dig around and see if I have any of the Pentel ones.

    I’m not half so good as you are at articulating what I like or don’t like about them though!

    • Roz
    • January 26, 2009

    Angela, I think you did a great job describing it. Makes me think it’s not the same pen since you say you’ve used the same one for a year. Is the tip and cartridge one piece and replaceable at the same time? Or was I remembering a different pen?

    It’s good to know about the non-waterproof-ness, but it sounds like it is useful for folks who like to do washes and I think there a lots of people who do like this in a pen!

    Thanks for reporting back!

    • Jack Frost
    • January 13, 2011

    I love the Memory Brush Pen, and I’ve even refilled one with watercolor, but I’m a tinkerer so you may not be advised to try this. The pens were very cheap when a got them several years ago at Jerry’s.

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