Posts filed under Brush Pen

Pilot Futayaku Double Sided Brush Pen Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.)

Here is the crux of my problem with brush pens - they are the imperfect imitation of an attainable thing. They are a cover band. They are the movie version of a beloved book. They are turkey bacon. They are not brushes, they are barely brush-like.

The problem with every felt tip brush pen I have ever used is the lack of "snap" or "spring." Sure, a real brush can be a bit unforgiving at times, but it's worth it for that je ne sais quoi when the ink meets the page and line thickens right where you want it too and as the brush lifts and the tip flicks back to its original shape leaving a line tapered to perfection like a wisp of smoke. Sweet ink bliss.

So, now you know how I feel about this sort of thing. This is a review of the Pilot Futayaku Double Sided Brush Pen. It's tips are felt. Hold on to your butts.

When I picked this thing up I didn’t want to compare it to a brush. I really didn’t. Promise. I figured that I would end up aggravated, so I wanted to take my own advice and treat it as something else. A tool, which it is. A tool that knows it's failures and has a built in compensation. In that way it ceases trying to be an imitation and embraces the functionality it does have.

This pen has, you guessed it, two tips. One large, one small. The small side's largest line width is precisely the thinnest of the wide side. They meet in the middle. The difference between to the two tips is so perfectly divided that it leads to an amount of flexibility I’ve not found in another felt tip brush pen. I know that it sounds lazy, but flipping the pen to use the other side is so much better than stopping to dig for another pen.

It has double caps; one for each side and the large end cap has a clip. You can switch cap sides, the large cap fits the small side and vice versa. The caps also nest within one another, so you can always fit the one on top of the other side you aren't using, stacking two caps on one end. This seems like a no-brainer, but so many dual pens do it wrong or poorly. The pen isn't unwieldy long either. It is lightweight, but not so much that it’s thrown off when one side has both caps.

Ink delivery is smooth and consistent. About a 4 second dry time and you are safe to touch the paper. This helps when re-positioning your hand over previously laid lines to use the other side of the pen, which is great because that is exactly how I was using this pen. The dual nature of the pen works wonders with my workflow and felt like it was the antidote to my problems with other brush pens.

I stopped expecting to get the variance of line width that a real brush would give me and leaned into the predictability of the line widths and their limitations. The damn pen has two tips, make sure you use both. The lines are easier to control and leave a smoother stroke, where sometimes a brush will echo the minor shakes of my hand. In that respect, it actually trumps a brush in performance. This pen could be a more forgiving alternative, not replacement, to a brush. Now, it didn't disappear in my hand like I was suddenly communicating directly to the paper as ink incarnate, like I sometimes feel with brushes (we've all been there, am I right?). But it was like using a well-made tool whose makers understood the limitation of what the tool was and perfected it because of that.

The Futayaku is available at JetPens and is well worth dropping one on your cart to have a new pocket friend ready to ink up a page.

(Disclaimer: This product was provided for me free of cost but I am not otherwise being compensated for this review. The opinions contained are my own.)

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under Brush Pen, Pen Reviews, Pilot.

Pentel Aquash Water Brush Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.)

As opposed to constantly asking for more brush and art posts I thought I would just crank one out about my new favorite tool: JetPens. Disclaimer - I am not using this pen as the recommended (with water), but I have not modified it in any way. Any who, lets dive in to the dirty details.

This is a product from Pentel. Those of you who are ArtSnacks subscribers should have received one in your April snack box, I bought mine at an art store for a cool $5. It is marketed by Pentel as a water brush to create washes over watercolor pencil work, but I load it up with ink and have found it to be the best brush in my arsenal. It is an empty plastic reservoir body with removable (twist threaded screw top) brush tip, a plastic cap fits snuggly over the plastic bristles. The model I have is the medium, and that size is perfect for my use. It can swing from barely visible fine lines to thick area fills. I guess I should mention that it is empty when purchased. I have mine filled with Liquitex carbon black ink, but have also used a variety of india inks that all behaved comparably.

The Good

-- The action on the brush tip is tight and predictable, with a ton of variance that makes it a joy to use.

-- Filling it is easy (so long as your ink has a dropper in the cap, most do.)

-- The ink reservoir has just the right amount of "give" that the brush doesn't run dry or flood the bristles.

-- If you are inking a large area you can give the barrel a squeeze to get more ink to the tip. -- Reservoir is big enough that you can draw everyday for a month and not run dry. (obviously has some variance to how much of your page gets inked.)

-- It is remarkable that at this price point to have such a high level tool.

The Bad

-- While it is portable, I would avoid tossing it into a bag or pocket unguarded. The cap only snaps on, and while it hasn't popped off on me yet, I still take precaution. (I have an old zippered eyeglass case I keep it and the ink in).

-- If you are a sticker for aesthetics, look elsewhere. It is plastic by function (so you can squeeze the barrel for more ink), so I have no idea how a higher end one would look or function.

I have been down nearly every brush road: Pilot pocket brushes, Faber-Castell art brush pens, Variety brush packs from big box stores and Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable to name a few. My favorites were the Series 7, but I hated having to get out all the accoutrements (ink well, cup of water, endless paper towels, etc.) every time I laid down some ink. I kept veering down the brush pen roads in an attempt to find a more portable option, but found they all lacked the snap of an actual brush and would run dry after a week of use. I bought the Pentel Aquash Water Brush on a whim and boy and I glad I did! I am very tempted to get four more to fill with different colors to have on hand, and at this price point I could do so without breaking a sweat (or the bank.)

They can be purchased at JetPens or your local art supply store.

Posted on June 25, 2015 and filed under Brush Pen, Pentel, Pen Reviews.

Sailor Fude Nagomi Brush Pen Extra Fine Review

I like the fact that I am seeing more and more Sailor pens of the non-fountain pen variety become available. It's possible these pens have been all over Japan for years, but I feel like it is a special treat when someone like JetPens imports them and makes them available to more people.

The Sailor Fude Nagomi Brush Pen was made in conjuction with a popular Japanese calligrapher named Ryofuka. She had a hand in the design of the pen, including the curved grip section, which I quite enjoy. In looking at the pamphlet of tips that came with the pen, it appears she prefers holding the pen at a very vertical angle. I find that interesting because I do that when writing, but for the broader strokes required with brush pens it seems odd.

It may work well with this extra fine model though, because there is very little line variation to be had. It reminds me a lot of the Kuretake Fudegokochi which I love for its general writing ability. This Sailor is very much the same, and will be primarily used for tasks that require smaller, more defined styles.

Many other, more standard, brush tips are available too, so be sure to take a look at all of the options that Sailor has brought to the table if you like the shape and style of this barrel.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on June 12, 2015 and filed under Sailor, Brush Pen, Pen Reviews.

An Introduction To The Brush Pen Sampler

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

A few months ago, I wrote about my introduction to the brush pen genre with the Pilot Petit3. Shortly after that, JetPens began offering a sampler pack of 5 popular brush pens under the $30 mark. I ordered one right after seeing it, and I've been trying them out since. The main thing I've learned? Not all brush pens are created equal. Each one has a purpose, and as long as you understand that, you'll get along just fine.

The criteria

Recently, JetPens released a fantastic video that explains the different qualities of brush pens and how that affects the writing, drawing, lettering, etc. experience. I'm using the same qualities in my review, so let's have a quick look at what they are:

  • Tip type: This describes what the tip is made out of. This could be natural hair bristles, synthetic bristles, or felt. Depending on the type of material used in the tip, the rest of the characteristics of the pen will vary greatly.
  • Firmness: This can range from soft, medium, and firm. Soft tips will create wider line variation, but require more control and finesse. Firm tips are easier to use, but do not have great line variation.
  • Fineness: This can range from fine, medium, and broad. This refers to the line width the pen produces, similar to your fountain pen nib sizes. Brush pens with a soft firmness can hit all three line widths.
  • Elasticity: You guessed it, this refers to how well the brush tip can hold its original shape after being expanded with additional pressure. Basically, bristle tip pens will maintain the wide shape once you let off, and you'll have to fiddle with it a bit to make it fine again, whereas a felt tip pen will immediately return to its original width when the stroke is complete.
  • Ink flow: Again, if you're familiar with fountain pens, this one will make sense. This refers to how much ink comes out when making marks, similar to how we refer to a nib as "wet" or "dry."
  • Saturation: Another common term with fountain pens. This refers to the coloration of the ink. In the case of a black ink, a saturated ink will create a deep, dark black on the page, whereas a not-so-saturated ink will make a gray or brown shaded black mark.

Now, with that out of the way, let's take a look at these 5 pens.

Kuretake Disposable Pocket Brush Pen, Fine

The Kuretake brush pen is a fine felt tip pen that is really easy to use. It's disposable, which means that once the ink dries up, you throw it away. The barrel is a sparkly dark blue color with gold text. The cap sits firmly on the pen when closed.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: I think this pen errs on the side of firm, but you can get some decent variation if you press hard enough.
  • Fineness: Fine
  • Elasticity: The tip returns to its original shape immediately.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow, as it requires the slightest pressure to put ink on the page.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, Soft

Of the felt tip brush pens in this pack, the Tombow is my favorite. I love how it writes, even if it isn't so pretty on the outside. This pen also comes with a handy little lettering guide, but I honestly haven't found much use for it. The body is a dark gray color with white text and lots of little graphics.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: I'd call this a medium because you can get a bit of line variation fairly easily.
  • Fineness: Fine to medium.
  • Elasticity: The tip returns to its original shape almost immediately.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow — requires almost no pressure to make a mark.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen, Super Fine

The Zebra, even though its called "super fine," is very similar to the Tombow. You can get a decent amount of line variation, but it doesn't write as well as the Tombow. It's an excellent pen, but just a couple marks behind the Tombow. The body looks very similar to the Kuretake — dark sparkly blue with gold text, so it's very easy to confuse them.

  • Tip type: Felt tip.
  • Firmness: Firm to medium, but not as soft as the Tombow.
  • Fineness: Fine with the ability to reach medium.
  • Elasticity: Returns to original shape very quickly.
  • Ink flow: Very good ink flow, but a tad drier than the previous two.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Pilot Pocket Brush Pen, Soft

Ah, the Pilot brush pen. Of the broad, "lots of variation" group, this is my favorite. The pen is black with gold Japanese lettering on the body and red lettering on the cap. There isn't a word of English on this pen, so I only know it's the Pilot from a process of elimination.

  • Tip type: Felt.
  • Firmness: Very soft.
  • Fineness: Capable of making fine to broad lines easily.
  • Elasticity: Returns to original shape fairly easily, but might need some help after making broad lines.
  • Ink flow: Exceptional ink flow for such a wide tip.
  • Saturation: Very dark saturation.

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy

Of the bunch, this is the only bristle tip pen, and it's a hoot to use. This one takes the most practice and patience when using, and it's absolutely not suited for writing. The pen body is black some minimal silver text on the cap. Also, of the bunch, this pen uses an ink cartridge, so you can refill it after its empty.

  • Tip type: Synthetic bristles.
  • Firmness: Soft — very soft.
  • Fineness: Medium to broad. You can get an insane level of variation from this one.
  • Elasticity: Needs help returning to a medium point. It likes to stay pretty broad when making lines.
  • Ink flow: The ink flow is "good enough" for most things, but it's not nearly as good as the other 4.
  • Saturation: The saturation also leaves something to be desired, as the lines can look a bit brown on the page.


All in all, this sampler pack is a great way to break into the brush pen genre. For me, I still feel like I have no idea how to use these properly, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the heck out of them. I don't consider myself an artist, but these pens make me want to draw, and for that I'll eternally love them.

If you're curious about brush pens, I highly suggest you start here.

Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Tombow, Pentel, Kuretake, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Zebra, Brush Pen.