25 Feb 2016

Choosing The Right Brush Pen, Part 2

Last week, I went over a few of my favorite brush pens for beginners. Those pens are fantastic when you’re first starting out, but they’re barely a drop in the bucket compared to all of the options that are out there. When you’re ready to branch out from your starter pen, the hundreds of options are overwhelming and make finding the right pen difficult!

Lucky for you, I’m an art supply junkie, which means I own 18 different types of brush pens. And I’m cataloging each and every one of them here, including information on the tip type, flexibility, firmness, ink type, and line weight/contrast. I’ve also categorized them as beginner, intermediate, or advanced pens based on the learning curve I’ve had with each one.

Without further adieu, here is your comprehensive guide to choosing a brush pen! I’ve compiled this table and the explanation of pen qualities from part one into a handy PDF you can download so you can take it with you whenever you go pen shopping.

Beginner Brush Pens

Tip Flexibility Firmness Ink Weight
Copic Multiliner – M Felt Medium Soft Normal Medium, High Contrast
Kuretake Disposable Pocket* Felt High Firm Normal Fine, Low Contrast
Kuretake Zig Cocoiro Felt Medium Firm Normal Fine, Low Contrast
Kuretake Zig Fudebiyori Felt High Firm Normal Medium, High Contrast
Pentel Sign Pen (aka Touch) Felt Medium Medium Normal Fine, Medium Contrast
Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided* Felt Medium Medium Normal Fine & Medium, High Contrast
Tombow Dual Brush Felt High Medium Normal Medium, High Contrast
Tombow Fudenosuke (soft)* Felt Medium Soft Normal Fine, Low Contrast
Tombow Fudenosuke
Felt Medium Soft Normal Fine, Low Contrast
Uni Brush Pen Set Felt Low Firm Normal Fine & Bold, Medium Contrast
Uni Mitsubishi Double-Sided* Felt Medium Hard Normal Fine & Bold, High Contrast

Intermediate Brush Pens

Tip Flexibility Firmness Ink Weight
Copic Multiliner – S Felt High Soft Normal Medium, High Contrast
Pigma Micron Brush Pen Felt High Soft Normal Medium, High Contrast
Zebra Disposable Brush Pen* Felt Low Firm Normal Very Fine, Low Contrast

Advanced Brush Pens

Tip Flexibility Firmness Ink Weight
Kuretake No. 6 Double-Sided* Felt High Soft Normal Medium, Medium Contrast
Pentel Pocket* Synthetic Hair High Soft High Fine, High Contrast
Pilot Pocket (Soft)* Felt High Soft High Fine, High Contrast
Zebra Double-Sided* Synthetic Hair High Soft Streaky Fine & Bold, High Contrast

Download as a PDF

The pens I classified as advanced are the pens that I find I have the most difficulty controlling. The Kuretake No. 6 and the Pilot Pocket both have a very flexible tip that feels rubbery (it even often squeaks on the page!) and I’ve found transitioning from thick to think smoothly to be extremely difficult. The synthetic hair tips especially have a high learning curve because the hair is much more flexible and a little less predictable than felt.

*Many of the pens above I purchased together in Jet Pens’ brush pen sampler packs, which are a great way to try new pens. And they give you a pretty solid distribution of beginner, intermediate, and advanced pens! I’ve linked to individual pens above, but you can try out the classic brush pen sampler or the double-sided brush pen sampler to get try out all of those pens and bang for your buck.  

What’s Your Favorite?

By now, you realize that there’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a brush pen – and we didn’t even get into color options or waterproofness! (By the way, as far as color choices go, the Tombow Dual Brush, Pentel Sign Pen, and Zig Fudebiyori are your best options). What are your favorite brush pens? What do you love most about them?

  • Grace Hung

    Thanks for this comprehensive guide. My favorites are Tombow Fudenosuke (soft), Tombow Dual Brush and Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen!

    • Amber Garner

      Three great choices Grace! I love all of those. And I just splurged on the 12 color set of the Fude Touch!

  • Crystal Pursuit

    What a great list! Thanks for sharing it with the Lettering League Facebook group, it’s going to help so many people with their brush pen decisions! You’re probably going to turn everyone into art supply hoarders like us as well.

    I totally agree that the Pilot Pocket soft is difficult to control. I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to create something I liked with it, and I’ve been at this lettering thing for over a year now. I’d argue that the Pentel Pocket brush belongs in the intermediate category, though! It’s a bit of a learning curve to get used to, but nothing compared to the Pilot Pocket soft.

    I’ve actually got a couple more brands of brush pens from my embarrassingly frequent Jet Pens orders. If you’d like to expand on this list I’d love to help you out with any you don’t already have. If you’re interested you can send me an email at crystalnpetersen@gmail.com or message me through the Lettering League FB group! 🙂

    • Amber Garner

      Hmm, maybe I need to give the Pentel Pocket more of a chance! I just have such a hard time getting those synthetic hair brushes to cooperate. I’ve heard the Pilot Pocket hard is supposed to be a great beginner pen, on par with the Fudenosuke & the Fude Touch, but I haven’t given it a try yet – have you?

      I would LOVE to expand this list with some additional pens you have (and my fiance will thank you for preventing me from buying more 😉 )! I’ll send you an email. Thanks so much!

      • Crystal Pursuit

        I bought the Pilot Pocket hard at the same time I bought the soft version and I want’t a huge fan. I could see how people would consider it a beginner pen and similar to the ones you mentioned, but it’s not something I would recommend to anyone. It was pretty unmemorable in my opinion.

        Yay! No problem, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂