[+Video] Comparing Brush Pens

Thanks to those who joined me on Periscope Saturday! Aside from knowing where to start, lettering enthusiasts are always looking to get new toys and play with pens.

You may have missed the Periscope but you can catch the replay here:


Don’t have 20 minutes to watch? Here are some highlights:

  • I attempted to introduce the pens from most stiff and manageable for beginners to the softer, intermediate brush pens
  • Me trying to split attention between writing and chatting (LOL)
  • I self-taught brush calligraphy as a stepping stone to pointed pen (with the traditional metal nibs and dip ink) – once I got familiar with varying the pressure, it made dip calligraphy much easier
  • Be careful with your grip to make sure you don’t fray your brush pens – it’s tempting to write with them like your regular pens and markers but you should make sure to write at an angle.  When you hold your pen, have it sit about 35 degrees from the table.  This allows you to protect the tips of your pens AND give you access to the wide part of the brush for downstrokes
  • I’m hoping to do more tutorials now that I’m on Periscope and YouTube – so let me know if there’s anything you want to see.  For now the list of topics includes more of these pens in action, masking fluid, blending Tombows, multimedia lettering and watercolor, and more.

The Supplies Featured:

Experimenting with brush calligraphy and wondered what brush pens looked like before you bought them? Check out the comparison (with video!) of these popular brush pens // www.prettyprintsandpaper.com
Some popular brush pens for experimenting with lettering // http://www.prettyprintsandpaper.com

Please note: * Some of the above links may be affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love! (Learn more here)

  • Rhodia grid pad – because the paper is smooth like butter and takes ink super well – it does not bleed or ghost that much, which is why I also have a Rhodia dot grid notebook for my bullet journal collections
  • Tombow Fudenosuke hard tip – amazing beginner brush pen, very manageable stiff tip; easy to use for small and large works
  • Pentel Sign Brush Pen – another beginner brush pen with a stiff and maneuverable tip; I even bought this black one at Michael’s craft store. This comes in about 10 fun and common colors. No bleeding and almost no ghosting on the inserts I use.
  • Pilot Petit3 – these are super fun baby brush pens with bright colors – the tip is similar to the Pentel Sign and is easy to use as a beginner. It’s still a fine tip so you can write pretty small. No bleeding or ghosting!
  • Kuretake Zig CocoIro – in extra fine, these are the pens I use for very small pieces, or little headers in your bullet journal layouts.  The tip is super stiff but do not be afraid to push down really hard to get your thick downstrokes.  The tip makes for VERY thin hairlines, and might take a few tries to get used to.  Limited to about 8-10 colors, it won’t bleed at all on your journals
  • Faber Castell brush pens – now we’re moving up brush tip sizes! This tip is stiff but bigger, and comes in a huge variety of BEAUTIFUL colors.  I find that these dry out quicker than some of the others but still enjoy using them.  For me it’s a little tougher to get as fine of a hairline – but that may be user error!
  • Zig Brushables – At just under 3 USD a pop, I LOVE these. Big brush but there’s some stiffness that makes it easier to wield.  Each pen comes with 2 colors and brushes, and with each downstroke it creates a stunning gradient effect – still quite a bit of color selection.  These will ghost a minimal amount on my YellowPaperHouse, May Designs, and Rhodia inserts. This is a great option for lettered headers in your bullet journal.
  • Tombow Dual Brush Pens – Just over 3 bucks, everyone’s favorite and most recognized brush pen – in 96 stunning colors it is a really fun pen to play with.  I actually would recommend some of the firmer tips listed as more beginner pens than these – but once you get into these, you have a whole world of playing, blending, and larger works. These do not bleed at all in my Rhodia, Yellow Paper House, or MayDesigns inserts – they ghost just a tiny bit depending on your color.
  • Zig Fudebiyori – This is a broad tip – I don’t see a lot of people using these as a way to get really thin upstrokes, but I see a lot of awesome brush lettering with it (the type you see on @typegang).  I find it a little more difficult to use than the Tombow due to the brush size how it bends, but the metallics are beautiful. These will ghost on notebooks.
  • Copic marker – This is the most expensive marker on the list at 6 bucks. To be honest, I don’t feel worthy of these markers – I know people love them so I have a lot of learning to do. Anyone have a favorite resource to share with me?
  • Sai Watercolor Brush Pens – Once you feel comfortable with controlling some brush pens, these are a fun experiment.  Definitely for larger works, these pens are bristle brush which makes them harder to maneuver.  If I got these last year, I could not have used them! These teach me patience because you have to go slow for the brush to curve and to create the downstrokes and I’ve just started playing with these.  You will love the beautiful colors! See this marker in action here. I would not use them in your bullet journal unless you are filling up a lot of space.
  • Wink of Stella/Luna – these are also pricey (just under 7 bucks a pen), but the inks and sheens are unlike any other.  They are glittery and shimmery – Stellas are more overtly glittery while the Luna is more of a metallic sheen – and have very long bristle brush tips.  This is another example of a pen I could not have used last year! They are great on larger work with some slow control.

After chatting with you all I’ve added the Clear Color brush pens and Koi markers to my wishlist! I hope I can play with those in the next few months.  Are there others you are playing with that I should try for myself?

I mentioned some great resources in my video, AND I’m adding some lesser known but amazing accounts for lettering inspiration.

  • Lauren @renmadecalligraphy is an awesome Lefty Calligrapher, to say the least!
  • @LittleCiayGirl does a bit of everything – pointed pen, brush calligraphy, watercolor
  • @ElizahCalligraphy – she is super talented and has incredible galaxy technique
  • @trinetollefsen – Trine does a variety of things with a variety of mediums – she’s a sweetheart and is full of inspiration
  • Becca @thehappyevercrafter – she hosted the #showmeyourdrills challenge and is all around inspiration for pointed pen and brush calligraphy

For pointed pen tutorials check out @anintran who does a standard Copperplate, and Sharisse @piecescalligraphy.  I hope to be putting more of these tutorials up in the months to come, so let me know what will be helpful for you – what are you working on?




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