Some Thoughts on the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens

June 6, 2016


Above: Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (bold) with Daniel Smith Watercolors. Please note the washes you see here are watercolor NOT ink washes. You cannot make washes with this pen. This sketch is in a Moleskine Sketchbook with the new whiter and toothier paper.

Toward the end of my time in my test Moleskine I wanted to test some pens so you'll see some of those images on the blog this week.

See the full review of the Moleskine Sketchbook’s new paper here.

First up is a pen and monochromatic watercolor sketch of Dick, sitting on the TV-room couch under a very bright lamp!

I was using a Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen Bold. It is a fiber tipped pen and an excellent choice for people who want to get an interesting and varied line (angles and thickness) but feel more comfortable with a little more control. Because of the fiber tip, which bends and moves as one unit (as opposed to individual hairs), you’ll feel more push back in pressure when you apply it to the paper and you can modulate your strokes more quickly with less feedback. You give up the lovely texture of an actual “hair” brush (either natural or synthetic). But the experience can still be fun and rewarding.

Additionally you can work very fast with this type of brush pen, without outrunning the ink feed—something I typically do when using any of the “hair” brush tips because I tend to work very fast.

You can read my original review of these pens here. A couple things have changed—I have pretty much given up my Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Brush Pens in favor of these as they have more spring than the original F-CPABPs did but more control than the new "soft" brush pens from Faber-Castell. And because I left these out to sketch with and write with I grew to love them—tastes change. 

The Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen comes in three sizes—FB, MB, and BB, for fine, medium, and bold brush. The fine brush tip for me is the most problematic as the two I’ve tested both tended to create a spilt line. (If you go to the link at Jet Pens that I provide below, and look at the handwriting image in the product line up, you’ll see exactly what I mean by the split line phenomenon with the fine tipped pen!) But If you want very fine detail it’s still a great choice.

I find that both the MB and BB are also capable of fine detail if you modulate the pressure you apply. This means they have a wider range of line widths and are more fun for me to use. They are great for working smaller in scale than some of the thick tipped "hair" brush pens. They open up possibilities of scale. You will see some sketches made with these pens on larger journal pages in coming weeks.

The BB is also the softest in “feel” because it is largest and when you apply pressure they tend to bend over a bit and create a thick luscious stroke as the pen tip settles down to the paper. This might be too loosey-goosey for some sketchers. The MB remains just about right for everything.

I have found the ink from these pens to be highly water resistant on most papers from drawing papers to watercolor papers that I use them on. (Allow additional drying time on a heavily sized watercolor paper.) I sketch quickly and go to paint right away, so I'm not waiting many minutes or even secons before I’m applying washes. On some papers I get a very slight bleed that won’t show in a color wash.

They are listed as having archival, waterproof ink that is also fade resistant.

I’ve purchased these pens in a 3-pen set at Wet Paint in St. Paul. Jet Pens will sell individual pens. Here you see the bold.

(I don’t work for either company I just buy supplies from them and have always had great service.)

I find this pen is also fun to use for lettering.

I have a small adult female hand and I find the pen fits my hand well, even though it is long. It is also very light weight and I find that it is easy to work for long sessions with this pen, even when my hand-grip issues are acting up.

I’ve been through 6 pens now and they last for a long time, and the tips retain their resilience. With a price below $4 I think they are a great value.

    • Mareena
    • June 6, 2016

    Your technical posts are always so informative.I was wishing for a video on how exactly one holds a pen like this while drawing. Just a thought. Love, Mareena

  1. Reply

    I just discovered these pens a few months ago and have really grown to like the resilient yet expressive tips. Some of the non-hairy (as I like to call them) brush pens get mushed down really quickly, but these stay firm until the ink is gone.


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