Kuretake ZIG Clean Color FB Brush Pen Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

When I was a kid, my mom always had a lot of brush pens. She was studying Japanese, so they were a useful tool. Occasionally, my brother and I would find them and have a blast. The Kuretake ZIG Clean Color FB take me back to that play, only without the time-out that usually followed.

Brush pens have certainly improved since then--I remember them drying out and fraying quickly, though that may have been due to my childish coloring techniques. But these pens were very smooth on both Rhodia and watercolor papers and didn't dry out on me during use. I expected to feel some feedback or even see bits of tipping or paper on the watercolor swatches, but they were perfectly well behaved.

The ink is a water-based dye ink. It is most likely not lightfast. It can be blended with water for a paint-like effect, though not all of the colors are equally successful with this. Some spread easily and completely, while others barely moved at all, and many still showed the original marker lines underneath. The ink is odorless, xylene-free, and AP-certified nontoxic. So they're great for leaving them out where your kids can find them and foster and early love for stationery.

The colors are very vivid, even when diluted with water. The Pure set includes carmine red (022), cornflower blue (037), gray (090), green (040), May green (047), mustard (067), oatmeal (064), orange (070), pink (025), platinum brown (903), violet (080), and yellow (050).

The felt brush tip is not super flexible (it may loosen up after some more use), but using the side angles of the brush can create some great line variation. The tip is not replaceable and the ink is not refillable.

The body is a sturdy grey plastic and the snap cap is clear, with a nice wide clip. I suppose the clear cap might help to identify the color, but many colors look fairly indistinct through the plastic. In order to identify the color you'll have to check the bottom disc of the pen, or navigate the novel of text on the pen body looking for the color name. This drove me bananas when I was using these. If you have them in a pen cup or stored in sleeves, you're better off just memorizing the color numbers, because all that info will be hidden. Unless you store them upside-down, which may be a perfectly good option with these. This brand's other lines of brush pens have a colored plastic section, making color identification quick and easy. I'm not sure why they didn't go that route with these.

As far as price goes, at just under $2 per pen, these are right in the middle of the road. I did notice that there is almost no cost advantage to buying the sets. A set of twelve costs only 2 cents less than buying 12 open-stock pens. One the one hand, I think that's a bit of a bummer, but on the other hand that means you can just pick whatever colors you want without feeling like you're not getting the best deal.

I don't think these pens are great tools for artists, but they're a lot of fun for more casual use. I'm looking forward to trying them in coloring books and leaving them out where my kids can find them.

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

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Posted on August 10, 2017 and filed under Kuretake, Brush Pen, Pen Reviews.